๐Ÿ’ฐย Costa Rica Trip Cost: 2023 Travel Budget Breakdown

The blog author leaning in a quiet pool with a bridge and lush trees in the background.

Known for its volcanos, rainforests and happy locals, Costa Rica is an expensive Central American country that can be visited with a budget of $70 to $200 USD a day.

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

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

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica guide covers things to know before getting there, including top places to visit, how to get around, common scams and cultural differences.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Is Costa Rica Expensive To Travel To?

Costa Rica is the most expensive country to visit in Central America. Their #1 industry is tourism, which drives prices higher.

Costa Rica abolished their army after the 1948 civil war and the government redirected military funds into social programs related to education and health, which has led to better standards of living and higher prices.

For comparison, here are my travel daily budgets for all countries in Latin America that I visited in the same year:

Daily Budget
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica Trip$233
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru Trip$156
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize Trip$207

How Much Is a Trip to Costa Rica?

Here’s how much you can expect to spend in Costa Rica on a daily basis and during a one-week trip, depending on your travel style.

๐ŸŽ’ Trip Cost for a Budget Traveler

Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $70 per day or $490 for one week of travel in Costa Rica, excluding flights.

To travel on a budget in Costa Rica, here are some things you can do:

  • Accommodation: Stay at a hostel for $20 to $30 a night, which can save you $10 to $30 per day compared to staying at a budget hotel.
  • Food: Eat $6 meals at “sodas”, which is what 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 fill up and avoid paying for bottled water.

  • Attractions: Many of Costa Rica’s natural attractions have an entrance fee, but you can find ones that don’t if you want to cut costs. Costa Rica has 28 beautiful national parks and most of them have an entrance fee, but they’re free during certain times.
  • Transportation: 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 to take Costa Rica’s public buses, but I didn’t find them to be the most visitor-friendly (and I have a good handle on Spanish).
  • Season: The best time to travel to find the best deals is during Costa Rica’s rainy season, which runs from May to November.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip Cost for a Mid-Range Budget Traveler

A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $200 per day or $1,400 for one week of travel in Costa Rica, excluding flights. I break down my Costa Rica travel expenses by 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 Two weeks. I spent two weeks in Costa Rica visiting four areas: La Fortuna, Monteverde, Nosara and Manuel Antonio. I have broken down my expenses for each area below.

โ˜€๏ธ High season. 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. Its low season is from May to mid-December.

โœŒ๏ธ Two travelers. I traveled with one other person at all times in Costa Rica, so I was able to split accommodation, transportation and food costs.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend. Overall, I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.

๐Ÿ’ต US dollars. 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 = 540โ‚ก at the time of writing.

The blog author looking out at a lush green rainforest with a volcano in the background.
Looking at La Fortuna’s 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. I did a Costa Rica itinerary similar to this one.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Costa Rica

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

Cost% of Total CostCost per Day
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$2056%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,27137%$91
๐Ÿ› Food$34210%$24
๐Ÿš— Transportation$41412%$30
โญ Activities & Misc.$1,23736%$88
Cost breakdown for a trip to Costa Rica.

๐Ÿ’ต Daily Budget in Costa Rica: $233

If I include my flight costs, my Costa Rica trip came out to $248 per day.

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $200 per day in Costa Rica. This generally means staying at a <$100 per night mid-range accommodation, eating at primarily $ to $$ restaurants, getting around Costa Rica by private or group shuttles, and paying to do some of the country’s top attractions and activities.

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

My round-trip flights from the United State’s east coast to Costa Rica were $205.

Costa Rica has two international airports: one in San Jose (Juan Santamaria International Airport, SJO) and another in Liberia (Daniel Oduber International Airport, LIR). I flew into the latter and flew out of the former.

Most flights from the United States to Costa Rica will be in the $200 to $400 range, with $700 to $800 being in the higher range. Cheap flights will be anything below $250.

The most expensive months to fly to Costa Rica from the United States are June and August and the cheapest month to fly is September, according to Skyscanner.

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

My average cost of accommodation in Costa Rica was $91 per night.

I primarily stayed at mid-range hotels and Airbnbs (except one resort) and split my accommodation costs with one other person at all times. I stayed at Olas Verdes Hotel in Nosara, Cabaรฑas del Rio in La Fortuna and Rainbow Valley Lodge in Monteverde.

Total CostCost Per Day
Nosara hotel$707$236
La Fortuna hotel & Airbnb$303$43
Monteverde hotel$115$57
Manuel Antonio Airbnb$147$73

Basic accommodation in Costa Rica can be $60+, so be ready to pay $100+ for mid-range accommodations. I found that mid-range Airbnbs are generally cheaper than mid-range hotels in Costa Rica. Here’s more information on where I stayed in Nosara, La Fortuna and Monteverde.

A giant rainbow against a sky over a valley.
A rainbow view from the Monteverde hotel I stayed at.

๐Ÿ› Food Cost in Costa Rica: $342

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

My most expensive meals in Costa Rica were:

  • $39 dinner at La Luna, which is a restaurant known as an ideal place to catch Nosara’s vivid sunsets
  • $25 dinner at Harmony Cafe, a Nosara restaurant with nice vibes
  • $18 dinner at Travesรญa, a restaurant in La Fortuna right on the edge of town

My most affordable meals in Costa Rica were:

  • $4 lunch at Soda 5 Tejas, a small restaurant in La Fortuna with delicious tamales
  • $4 lunch at Soda la Hormiga, my favorite soda/restaurant in La Fortuna that attracts both tourists and locals
  • $5 dinner at Soda Vรญquez, another La Fortuna small restaurant with an amazing soup

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

Casados are one of the most affordable meals you can get in Costa Rica and I got them frequently. A casado is a typical Costa Rican meal with rice, black beans, plantains, salad and protein (chicken, beef, pork or fish). My food average is higher since I also visited a few pricier restaurants.

Two people with a plate of rice, beans, yuca and chicken in front of them.
Eating casados in La Fortuna.

๐Ÿš™ Transportation Cost in Costa Rica: $414

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

Total CostCost Per Ride
Private Shuttles$254$127
Group Shuttles$132$44

๐Ÿ’ก Cost of Getting Around Costa Rica

There are several ways to get around Costa Rica and they can drastically vary in price, depending on how much inconvenience you’re willing to take.

  • Traveling by bus is the most budget-friendly, but inconvenient way. Some of the local buses are also not very tourist-friendly. I took a few in Manuel Antonio, which is a touristy town, and had a difficult time navigating despite speaking decent Spanish.
  • The most common ways to get around are by taxi and shared shuttles. A standard shared shuttle for long distances (about three hours) will cost $30 to $40 per person.
  • The most expensive and convenient ways are by private shuttles and local airlines, which generally cost more than $100 per trip.
  • You can also drive a rental car in Costa Rica, which will average about $40 per day.

๐ŸŒณ Attraction and Tours Cost in Costa Rica: $1,237

My average cost for activities and guided tours in Costa Rica was $88 per day.

Total CostCost Per Day
Rainforest guided tours (Monteverde, La Fortuna)$199$14
Massages (three sessions in Nosara and La Fortuna)$147$10
Ziplining and whitewater rafting tour (La Fortuna)$134$10
ATV guided tour (Nosara)$110$8
Shopping (Nosara) $96$7
Ziplining and sloth tour (Monteverde)$94$7
Hot springs (La Fortuna)$89$6
La Fortuna waterfall tour & entrance fee (La Fortuna)$83$6
Arenal Volcano tour (La Fortuna)$75$5
Sky tram (La Fortuna)$68$5
Coffee and chocolate tour (La Fortuna) $44$3
Yoga (two sessions in Nosara)$35$3

Given that tourism is Costa Ricaโ€™s biggest industry, almost all activities are provided in a tour package. Most tour 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 can account for these costs to determine if it’s worth it for you.

Two people riding horses with a covered volcano in the background.
On the horseback riding tour with Don Tobias in La Fortuna.

Cost Breakdown by Location in Costa Rica

Here are my trip expense breakdowns for the four places I visited in Costa Rica: La Fortuna, Monteverde, Nosara and Manuel Antonio.

๐ŸŒ‹ La Fortuna Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $1,173 USD for one week in La Fortuna, so my average cost was $168 per day. I stayed at an Airbnb and a mid-range hotel, Cabaรฑas del Rio.

La Fortuna was easily one of my favorite places because of all the thrilling activities available. I did a lot of the quintessential Costa Rica activities, like whitewater rafting, going on a chocolate and coffee tour, zip lining, relaxing at hot springs and horseback riding in Arenal Volcano National Park. This La Fortuna travel guide outlines other great things to do there.

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 local, small restaurants.

Total CostCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$303$43
๐Ÿ› Food$101$14
๐Ÿš— Transportation$51$7
โญ Activities & Misc.$717$102
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.

โ›…๏ธ Monteverde Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $544 USD for two days in Monteverde, so my average cost was $272 per day.

I stayed at Rainbow Valley Lodge, a hotel overlooking a valley, and did several guided tours of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Monteverde is another of Costa Rica’s most visited destinations and is famous for its cloud forests, so expect to do a few tours related to its forests when visiting. Here’s a Monteverde travel guide on great things to do there.

Total CostCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$115$57
๐Ÿ› Food$59$29
๐Ÿš— Transportation$126$63
โญ Activities & Misc.$245$123

๐Ÿ„โ€โ™€๏ธ Nosara Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $1,227 USD for three days in Nosara, so my average cost was $409 per day.

I stayed at a nice resort, Olas Verdes Hotel, 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. This Nosara travel guide has other great things to do there.

Nosara is a well-known, expensive beach town so the cost there is higher in general. Across Costa Rica, you can generally find cheap, local meals and budget $20 for food per day if you want to, but I found that difficult to do in Nosara.

Total CostCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$707$236
๐Ÿ› Food$126$42
๐Ÿš— Transportation$138$46
โญ Activities & Misc.$258$86
Silhouettes of a man carrying a surfboard against a sunset dipping into the ocean.
A vivid sunset in Nosara.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Manuel Antonio Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $321 USD in Manuel Antonio and my average cost was $160 per day.

I stayed at an Airbnb and spent some time enjoying some of Costa Rica’s best beaches and getting to know one of its most famous national parks, Manuel Antonio National Park.

Total CostCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$147$73
๐Ÿ› Food$56$28
๐Ÿš— Transportation$100$50
โญ Activities & Misc.$18$9
The blog author laying down inside a tide pool part of an ocean surrounded by jungle.
Enjoying a tide pool inside the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Do You Need Cash in Costa Rica?

Most tourist areas in Costa Rica have a well-established credit card infrastructure, but youโ€™ll still want to bring some cash for smaller, local businesses.

Here are some tips on using and handling cash in Costa Rica:

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

Both 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 Tip #2: Bring at least $30 worth of cash per day to Costa Rica.

If you’re a mid-budget traveler, you can expect to spend approximately $30 in cash per day in Costa Rica:

  • $10 at a small, local restaurant that’s likely cash-only
  • $2 to $5 at a juice stand or bar for a drink
  • $10 to tip drivers, tour guides and other service providers

I kept my cash in my crossbody phone pouch (it feels secure enough for me), but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, you can carry a hidden money belt.

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

These are the places where I couldn’t use my credit card in Costa Rica:

  • Tipping tour guides and drivers
  • Small, local restaurants, especially those in La Fortuna and Monteverde
  • Most fruit and juice stands, especially ones by the side of the road
  • Small grocery shops
  • Small souvenir shops, which are popular stops during a long tour or shuttle ride

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

A 10% tip is customary and expected for tourists in Costa Rica.

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

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica guide has other practical travel tips, like common scams, tap water safety and top places to visit.

Costa Rica Trip Planner

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

The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the 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 the Costa Rica trip planning template (built on Notion).
A Notion template screenshots is shown giving more details to the itinerary.
Preview of the Costa Rica trip planning template (built on Notion).

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

๐Ÿง‹ This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours writing each article to ensure its accuracy and conciseness. If you find my site helpful, you can say thanks by buying me bubble tea!


  1. 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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