A country known for its happy locals, volcanos and rainforests, Costa Rica is an expensive Central American country that can be visited with a budget of $70 to $200 a day.
My 2-week trip to Costa Rica cost a total of $3,470. Here, I share my Costa Rica travel expenses, budgeting tips and outline where and how much cash is needed.
I also compare the costs of four popular Costa Rica areas that I visited: La Fortuna, Nosara, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio.
- Is Costa Rica Expensive To Travel To?
- About My Costa Rica Trip
- Costa Rica Trip’s Total Cost: $3,470
- Cost by Costa Rica Location
- Cost Breakdown for Costa Rica
- Do You Need Cash in Costa Rica?
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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 the prices higher. An interesting fact about Costa Rica is that they abolished their army after their 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. The second most expensive country to visit in Central America is Belize.
- My Costa Rica trip’s cost per day: $233
- My Belize trip’s cost per day: $207
🎒 A budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $70 per day or $490 for one week of travel in Costa Rica, not including flights. To travel on a budget in Costa Rica, you can:
- Stay at a hostel for $30 a night
- Eat $10 meals at sodas, which is what Costa Ricans call their local, small restaurants
- Fill up your water bottle with tap water, which is very safe and clean in developed districts, and avoid having to pay for bottled water
- Explore nature for free and go to the free beaches. Many of Costa Rica’s natural attractions have an entrance fee, but there are some that won’t have one.
💳 A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $200 per day or $1,400 for one week of travel in Costa Rica, not including flights.
About My Costa Rica Trip
To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my Costa Rica trip:
🗓️ 2 weeks. I spent two weeks in Costa Rica in March, which is considered one of the more popular times to visit the country as it’s the dry season.
📍 4 areas. I went to four popular locations in Costa Rica: La Fortuna (7 days), Monteverde (2 days), Nosara (3 days) and Manuel Antonio (2 days).
For details on the cost breakdowns of each specific location, visit each location’s travel guide: La Fortuna, Monteverde and Nosara.
✌️ 2 travelers. I traveled with one other person at all times in Costa Rica, so I was able to split accommodation, transportation and food costs.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’m thoughtful about how and where I spend. Overall, I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.
Costa Rica Trip’s Total Cost: $3,470
I spent $3,470 in Costa Rica during my 2-week trip with an itinerary similar to this one.
All costs listed here are per person and in USD, converted from Costa Rican Colón ($1 USD equaled 631₡ at the time of writing).
Cost by Costa Rica Location
Here are my Costa Rica travel expenses by location:
|Location||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|🏄🏻 Nosara (3 days)||$1,262||$421|
|🌋 La Fortuna (7 days)||$1,185||$169|
|🦥 Monteverde (2 days)||$507||$254|
|🏖️ Manuel Antonio (2 days)||$311||$155|
|Total (not including flights)||$3,265||$233|
- The differences in cost per day by location are significantly impacted by the type and cost of accommodation. For example I stayed at a much nicer hotel in Nosara, which accounts the high cost per day. I stayed at an Airbnb in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio, which brought the cost per day down.
- Nosara is an expensive beach town so cost there in general is higher. Across Costa Rica, you can generally find cheap, local meals and budget $20 for food per day if you want to, but I would find that difficult to do in Nosara.
Cost Breakdown for Costa Rica
Here are my Costa Rica travel expenses by category:
|Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost per Day|
Flight Cost to Costa Rica: $205
My round-trip flights from the US east coast to Costa Rica were $205.
Most flights from the US to Costa Rica will be in the $200-$400 range, with $700-$800 being in the higher range. The most expensive months to fly to Costa Rica from the US are November and December and the cheapest month to fly is May, according to Kayak.
Accommodation Cost in Costa Rica: $1,244
My average cost of accommodation in Costa Rica was $89 per night.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|🏄🏻 Nosara hotel||$682||$227|
|🌋 La Fortuna hotel & airbnb||$300||$43|
|🦥 Monteverde hotel||$115||$115|
|🏖️ Manuel Antonio airbnb||$147||$147|
A basic accommodation in Costa Rica can be $60+, so be ready to pay $100+ for mid-range accommodations. I found that staying at Airbnbs helps reduce accommodation costs.
Food Cost in Costa Rica: $339
My average cost of food in Costa Rica was $24 per day.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|🌋 La Fortuna||$110||$16|
|🏖️ Manuel Antonio||$46||$23|
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.
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 a protein (chicken, beef, pork, fish). My food average is higher since I also visited a few pricier restaurants.
Transportation Cost in Costa Rica: $418
My average cost of transportation in Costa Rica was $30 per day.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|🌋 La Fortuna||$52||$7|
|🏖️ Manuel Antonio||$100||$5|
There are several ways to get around Costa Rica. Traveling by bus is the most affordable, but inconvenient way. The most common way to get around is by taxi or shared shuttles and the most expensive and convenient ways are by private shuttles and local airlines, which generally cost $100+ per trip.
Activities and Tours Cost in Costa Rica: $1,264
My average cost for activities and tours in Costa Rica was $90 per day.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|🌋 La Fortuna||$723||$103|
|🏖️ Manuel Antonio||$18||$9|
Given that tourism is Costa Rica’s biggest industry, almost all activities are provided in a tour package. Most tour packages include the attraction’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.
Do You Need Cash in Costa Rica?
Yes, bring some cash to Costa Rica. Most tourist areas accept credit cards, but you’ll want to bring cash for smaller, local businesses.
Here are some tips on using and handling cash in Costa Rica:
- Tip #1: USD is widely accepted in Costa Rica. If you use USD, expect to receive change in Costa Rican Colón and remember that you may not get a favorable exchange rate.
- Tip #2: Tipping is customary and expected in Costa Rica. A 10% tip is customary for tourists. Areas like La Fortuna, where more American tourists visit, tipping is even more expected.
- Tip #3: Many smaller, local businesses are cash-only, so carry at least ~$40 worth of cash in Costa Rica. The places where I needed cash were:
- To tip 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 stopping location during a long tour or shuttle ride
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
More Costa Rica Travel Guides
- 🦥 Costa Rica Travel Guide: 4 Amazing Destinations + 12-Day Itinerary
- 🌋 La Fortuna Travel Guide: 8 Great Things To Do, 5-Day Itinerary and Cost Breakdown
- 🌳 Monteverde, Costa Rica Travel Guide: 5 Great Things To Do + 2-Day Itinerary
- 🧘🏻 Nosara Travel Guide: 7 Great Things To Do, 4-Day Itinerary and Cost Breakdown