๐Ÿ’ฐ My 2024 Costa Rica Trip Cost: A Budget Breakdown

A woman standing in a street with the silhouette of a volcano in the background.

Costa Rica, a country famous for its rainforests and volcanoes, can be visited with a budget of $55 to $200 a day.

My two-week trip to Costa Rica cost a total of $3,470. In this post, I share:

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected travel costs
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Budgeting tips
  • ๐Ÿ’ต How much cash to bring
  • โœˆ๏ธ My trip’s costs by category
  • ๐Ÿ“ My trip’s costs by destination

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Costa Rica.

Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!

Is Costa Rica Expensive To Travel To?

Costa Rica is the most expensive country to visit in Central America. The country’s primary industry is tourism, and the government abolished its army and redirected its funds into social programs related to education and health, leading to better standards of living and higher prices.

For those hoping to make a budget trip to Central or South America, other countries with beautiful nature that are more affordable include Nicaragua, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip Daily Budget for Latin American Countries

For comparison, I visited these countries in Latin America within a year of visiting Costa Rica, and here’s how much I spent per day at each one:

CountryDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica$233
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize$186
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru$149
Daily Travel Budget for Destinations in Latin America

See all my daily budget for each destination I’ve visited.

How Much Is a Trip to Costa Rica?

This section covers estimated trip costs depending on your travel style. I share my actual travel expenses further below.

๐ŸŽ’ Budget Traveler โ€“ Costa Rica Trip Cost

Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $55 per day or $770 for two weeks of travel in Costa Rica, excluding flights.

Here’s what a budget traveler’s cost breakdown can look like:

CategoryCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$20
๐Ÿ› Food$15
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$10
๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment$10
Total$55
Costa Rica Daily Budget for a Budget Traveler

Traveling Costa Rica on a Budget

To travel on a budget to Costa Rica, below are some things youโ€™ll need to do.

  • ๐Ÿ  Accommodation โ€“ For the cheapest options, stay at a hostel for $15 to $20 a night in popular places like La Fortuna. This can save you $10 to $30 per day compared to staying at a budget hotel.
  • ๐Ÿš™ Transportation โ€“ A common way to get around Costa Rica is by shuttle, which is more affordable than flying. Opt for group shuttles over private shuttles, which can more than triple the cost of a ride.

You can also try taking Costa Rica’s local buses, which are the most common public transportation. However, I found them less tourist-friendly, as they’re not always marked, and knowing a bit of Spanish is helpful.

  • ๐Ÿ› Food โ€“ Eat street food and check out some of Costa Rica’s local markets. You can get meals for as cheap as $6 at “sodas,” which is what the Costa Ricans call their local, small restaurants.

The tap water in Costa Rica’s developed districts is clean and safe to drink, so bring a reusable water bottle to avoid paying for bottled water.

  • ๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment โ€“ Many of Costa Rica’s natural attractions charge an entrance fee, and some require guided tours, but plenty of local places are free.

Costa Rica has 28 beautiful national parks, and most have an entrance fee, but they’re free to everyone every year on August 24th in celebration of National Parks Day.

  • โ˜€๏ธ Travel Season โ€“ The best time to travel to get the best deals on accommodations and tours is during Costa Rica’s low season, which runs from May to November. Unsurprisingly, this coincides with the rainy season.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-Range Budget Traveler โ€“ Costa Rica Trip Cost

A mid-range budget traveler like myself can expect to spend approximately $200 per day or $2,800 for two weeks of travel in Costa Rica, excluding flights. I break down my trip expenses by travel category below.

About My Costa Rica Trip

To give context to the expenses below, hereโ€™s what you need to know about my trip to Costa Rica:

  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธย Two weeks โ€“ I spent two weeks in Costa Rica, visiting four places:
  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ I went to Costa Rica in March, which is considered the peak season.

Costa Rica’s high season runs from December to April and coincides with its dry season.

  • โœŒ๏ธ Group travel โ€“ I traveled with one other person, so we were able to split some costs, such as housing.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget โ€“ I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler, and these expenses reflect that. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend.
  • ๐Ÿ€ Self-funded โ€“ My trips are self-funded, so I paid for everything listed below. None of my excursions or experiences are sponsored.
  • ๐Ÿ’ต US dollars โ€“All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, converted from Costa Rica’s local currency, Costa Rican Colรณn.

The exchange rate was $1 USD = 522โ‚ก at the time of writing.

The blog author looking out at a lush green rainforest with a volcano in the background.
La Fortuna’s Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

Total Cost for a Costa Rica Trip: $3,470

My two-week trip to Costa Rica cost a total of $3,470, including flights.

See the highlights of my trip in this Costa Rica itinerary.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Costa Rica

Here’s a quick overview of my expenses by travel category:

CategoryCost% of TotalDaily Budget
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$2056%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,27137%$91
๐Ÿ› Food$34210%$24
๐Ÿš— Transportation$41412%$30
โญ Entertainment$1,23736%$88
Total$3,407100%$233
Costa Rica Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Daily Budget in Costa Rica: $233

My Costa Rica trip cost $233 per day, excluding my round-trip flights from and to the United States.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$233
Including flights$248
Costa Rica Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $200 per day in Costa Rica. This generally means staying at accommodations that cost less than $100 per night, eating at primarily $ to $$ restaurants, getting around by shuttle, and paying to visit some of the country’s top attractions and activities.

โœˆ๏ธ Flight Cost to Costa Rica: $205

My round-trip flight from the East Coast of the United States to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose was $205.

A round-trip flight between the US and Costa Rica that costs under $200 is considered cheap; international flights typically cost over $300.

๐Ÿ  Accommodation Cost in Costa Rica: $1,271

My average cost of accommodation in Costa Rica was $91 per night. I was able to split my accommodations with one other person at all times.

Here are the accommodations I stayed at and how much I paid for each:

AccommodationTotal CostCost per Night
Nosara hotel$707$236
La Fortuna hotel$146$49
La Fortuna Airbnb$158$39
Monteverde hotel$115$57
Manuel Antonio Airbnb$147$73
Costa Rica Trip’s Accommodation Cost

Basic accommodation in Costa Rica starts at around $60 per night, so be prepared to pay over $100 per night for mid-range hotels. Luxury hotels range from $300 to $1,500 per night.

A giant rainbow against a sky over a valley with a cabin hotel on the left side.
View from my Monteverde hotel.

๐Ÿ› Food Cost in Costa Rica: $342

My average cost of food in Costa Rica was $24 per day.

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend about $30 per day on food in Costa Rica.

Cheapest Meals in Costa Rica

Here are the most affordable meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
TamalesSoda 5 Tejas (La Fortuna)$4
CasadoSoda La Hormiga (La Fortuna)$4
Casado and soupSoda Vรญquez (La Fortuna)$5
Cheapest Meals in Costa Rica

Local food in Costa Rica is very affordable. You can get a full meal with a juice drink for $10 or less if you visit authentic, local restaurants called “sodas.”

Two plates with rice, beans, a protein and salad.
Casados in Costa Rica.

Casados are among Costa Rica’s most affordable meals. They are a typical Costa Rican meal with rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and protein (chicken, beef, pork, or fish).

Most Expensive Meals in Costa Rica

Here are the most expensive meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
Seafood platterLa Luna (Nosara)$39
Fish and saladHarmony Cafe (Nosara)$25
Steak and riceTravesรญa (La Fortuna)$18
Most Expensive Meals in Costa Rica
Two bowls: one has potatoes and meat and the other has fish in a marinade.
Dishes from Harmony Cafe.

๐Ÿš™ Transportation Cost in Costa Rica: $414

My average cost of transportation in Costa Rica was $30 per day.

Here are the transportation methods I took and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal CostCost Per Ride
Taxis$28$3
Private shuttles$254$127
Group shuttles$132$44
Costa Rica Trip’s Transportation Costs

Budgeting Tips for Transportation in Costa Rica

There are several ways to get around Costa Rica, and the prices can drastically vary, depending on the level of inconvenience you’re willing to accept.

  • Bus โ€“ Traveling by a local bus is the most budget-friendly but inconvenient option. Some public buses are also not very tourist-friendly. I took a few in Manuel Antonio, a tourist town, and despite speaking decent Spanish, I had a difficult time navigating.
  • Taxis and shared shuttles โ€“ The most common ways to get around are by taxi and shared shuttle. The average price of a shared shuttle for long distances (about three hours) is $30 to $40 per person.

Shuttles are the best way to get around if you want to balance convenience and budget. I primarily took shuttles while traveling around Costa Rica.

  • Private shuttles and local airlines โ€“ The most expensive and convenient ways to get around are by private shuttles and local airlines, which generally cost more than $100 per trip.

Several of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations, like La Fortuna and Nosara, have small airports, so you can take a small plane to travel around the country.

  • Rental car โ€“ A rental car will average about $40 per day, not including gas.

๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment Cost in Costa Rica: $1,237

My average cost for activities and guided tours in Costa Rica was $88 per day. This total includes a 10% to 15% tip at certain places.

A typical mid-range traveler in Costa Rica can expect to spend about $50 a day on entertainment.

Here are all the activities and attractions I paid for and how much each cost:

ActivityCost
Shopping (Nosara, Monteverde, La Fortuna) $161
Massages (4x in Nosara & La Fortuna)$147
Ziplining & whitewater rafting combo tour (La Fortuna)$134
All-day ATV guided tour (Nosara)$110
Ziplining & sloth combo tour (Monteverde)$94
Hanging Bridges guided tour (La Fortuna)$91
La Fortuna Waterfall guided tour (La Fortuna)$83
Arenal Volcano horseback riding tour (La Fortuna)$75
Ecotermales hot spring package (La Fortuna)$72
Sky Tram tickets (La Fortuna)$68
Monteverde Cloud Forest guided tour (Monteverde)$60
Coffee and chocolate guided tour (La Fortuna) $44
Yoga (2x in Nosara)$35
Wildlife Refuge night walk guided tour (Monteverde) $31
Manuel Antonio Park entrance fee (Manuel Antonio)$18
Los Lagos hot spring (La Fortuna)$17
Costa Rica Trip’s Entertainment Cost
Two people riding horses with a covered volcano in the background.
Horseback riding tour with Don Tobias in La Fortuna.

Tourism is Costa Ricaโ€™s biggest industry, so almost all activities are included in a tour package. Most packages include the attractionโ€™s entrance fee (if there is one) and transportation to and from your accommodation. When assessing the price of a tour, you should account for these costs to determine whether it’s worth it.

Cost Breakdown by Destination in Costa Rica

Below are my trip expense breakdowns for La Fortuna, Monteverde, Nosara, and Manuel Antonio. These are major locations that are often featured in first-timers’ travel itineraries.

๐ŸŒ‹ La Fortuna Trip’s Total Cost: $1,173

During my seven-day trip to La Fortuna, I averaged $1,173 in daily travel expenses.

La Fortuna was easily one of my favorite places because of all the quintessential Costa Rican activities. Some of my favorites were horseback riding in Arenal Volcano National Park, taking a coffee tour, and relaxing at hot springs.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$303$43
๐Ÿ› Food$101$14
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$51$7
๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment$717$102
La Fortuna Trip’s Costs by Category

See all the great things to do in La Fortuna.

The blog author standing in a park with a silhouette of a volcano in the background.
Standing in front of Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna.

La Fortuna is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. Even though it attracts a lot of tourists, the small town still has a lot of locals. La Fortuna guided tours will not be cheap, but you can save money by staying at nearby Airbnbs and eating at sodas.

โ›…๏ธ Monteverde Trip’s Total Cost: $544

During my two-day trip to Monteverde, I averaged $272 in daily travel expenses.

I stayed at a hotel overlooking a valley and did several guided tours of the cloud forests, which helped me spot animals.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$115$57
๐Ÿ› Food$59$29
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$126$63
๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment$245$123
Monteverde Trip’s Costs by Category

See how to spend two days in Monteverde.

The blog author hanging on a zipline overlooking a misty rainforest.
Ziplining through one of Monteverde’s cloud forests.

Monteverde is another of Costa Rica’s most visited destinations and is famous for its cloud forests, so expect to do a few $50 to $90 tours related to its forests.

๐Ÿ„โ€โ™€๏ธ Nosara Trip’s Total Cost: $1,227

During my three-day trip to Nosara, I averagedย $409 in daily travel expenses.

I stayed at a nice resort, spent a bit on a private shuttle to get to Nosara, took a few yoga lessons, and went on an all-day ATV tour through rivers and waterfalls.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$707$236
๐Ÿ› Food$126$42
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$138$46
๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment$258$86
Nosara Trip’s Costs by Category

See great things to do in Nosara.

Silhouettes of a man carrying a surfboard against a sunset dipping into the ocean.
Vivid sunset in Nosara.

Nosara is an expensive beach town, so the cost is generally higher. Across Costa Rica, you can generally find cheap, local meals and budget $20 for food per day, but I found that difficult in Nosara.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Manuel Antonio Trip’s Total Cost: $327

During my two-day trip to Manuel Antonio, I averagedย $160 in daily travel expenses.

I stayed at an Airbnb, enjoyed some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches, and explored Manuel Antonio National Park, one of its most famous national parks.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$147$73
๐Ÿ› Food$56$28
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$100$50
๐Ÿฆฅ Entertainment$18$9
Manuel Antonio Trip’s Costs by Category
The blog author laying down inside a tide pool part of an ocean surrounded by jungle.
Inside Manuel Antonio National Park.

Do You Need Cash in Costa Rica?

Although Costa Rica has a great credit card infrastructure, some areas are still based on cash transactions. This is especially true once you wander outside the touristy areas, so make sure to bring some cash.

Below are tips on bringing and using cash in Costa Rica.

๐Ÿ’ต 1. USD is widely accepted in Costa Rica.

The US dollar and Costa Rican Colรณn are widely used in Costa Rica, so you can withdraw cash in either currency.

If you use USD, expect to receive change in Costa Rican Colรณn, and be aware that you may not get a favorable exchange rate.

๐Ÿง 2. Carry about $20 to $30 worth of cash per day in Costa Rica.

On a typical day, a mid-range budget traveler in Costa Rica will need at least $20 in cash to cover food, transportation, and attractions. A daily cash expense breakdown can look like this:

  • $10 at a small, local restaurant
  • $10 to tip drivers, tour guides, and other service providers
  • $2 to $5 at a juice stand or bar for a drink

I keep my cash in my crossbody bag, but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, carry it in a hidden money belt instead.

๐Ÿ’ต 3. Certain places in Costa Rica are cash-only.

While credit cards are commonly used in Costa Rica, I still had to use cash many times during my two-week trip. These are the places where I couldn’t use my credit card in Costa Rica:

  • Tipping โ€“ Tour guides and drivers only take cash, as tipping by credit card is not typically an option.
  • Local restaurants and grocery stores โ€“ Small restaurants and shops, especially those in La Fortuna and Monteverde, were cash-only.
  • Fruit and juice stands โ€“ Any stand by the side of the road won’t have a portable credit card scanner.
  • Souvenir shops โ€“ These are common stops during a long tour or shuttle ride; in my experience, most are cash-only.

๐Ÿ’ฐ 4. Tipping is customary in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, a 10% tip is customary and standard. You can also tip 15% for exceptional service.

  • Dining out โ€“ Many restaurants in Costa Rica automatically add a 10% service charge to the bill, and locals generally do not leave additional tips. That said, if you think the service was above average, an additional 5% to 10% tip will be very appreciated.
  • Tour guides and drivers โ€“ Tipping drivers and tour guides 10% to 15% is not mandatory in Costa Rica, but it’s commonly expected from tourists.
  • Hotels โ€“ It’s also common for tourists to leave a few dollars for hotel cleaners.

See other essential travel tips for Costa Rica before visiting.

Costa Rica Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Costa Rica trip planner.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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If you find my travel tips helpful, say thanks with a bubble tea๐Ÿง‹!

3 Comments

  1. JackKodiak

    Lukiih, this is some really great work. wow. A lot of time and energy into making this detailed travel guide.

    You Are Amazing!!!

    I have never seen better work by an amateur traveler.

  2. Kendra

    I averaged $65/Day this winter in Costa Rica over 110 days, staying in 11 different areas. All private rooms, only two shared bathrooms, often had a kitchen where I could cook. But I do not do many activities that aren’t free.

    1. Lukiih

      That’s incredible. I do think a lot of countries can be traveled on a budget with advanced planning, research and/or know knowledge.

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