How much does a trip to Costa Rica cost in 2024?

Are you wondering how much does a trip to Costa Rica cost? Here’s how much we spent while experiencing the best of the country.

With beautiful national parks, tropical wildlife, adventurous activities, and friendly locals, Costa Rica’s popularity is rising year after year – and so are the prices. 

It’s more expensive here compared to neighboring Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. And sure, if you don’t pay attention, you can easily spend half a fortune on fun activities and luxury hotels.

A trip to Costa Rica won’t be cheap, but it also won’t be that expensive either.

Before we dive into how you can travel to Costa Rica on a budget, let’s take a look at how much it typically costs to visit.

Read next: How to spend 10 days in Costa Rica

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costa rica travel costs

How much does a Costa Rica vacation cost?

How much did I spend?

In total, I spent $50 USD per day in Costa Rica. And surprisingly, I didn’t go over budget. When I planned a backpacking trip through Central America, I expected to spend extra in Costa Rica, since it’s the most expensive country in the region.

But Costa Rica surprised me in a good way. I actually ended up spending LESS than I had budgeted for – without missing out on adventures, comfort, or quality.

You can read my top budget tips at the end of this post. First, here’s how I traveled to Costa Rica on a budget and how much I spent per day:

  • Food – $15
  • Alcohol / bottled water – $4
  • Accommodation (hostels and Airbnb)– $16
  • Activities – $5
  • Local buses – $1
  • Cabs – $5
  • Miscellaneous – $4
Selvatura Park Monteverde - Trip to Costa Rica cost
costa rica travel costs

The cost of traveling to Costa Rica

To help you plan for your trip to Costa Rica, I’ve listed here the highest expenses. 


It’s not as difficult to visit Costa Rica on a budget as you might think. Especially because you’ll find accommodation for every budget, whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels or Airbnb.

Below, I’ve written some examples to help you plan your stay according to your budget.

You can expect higher prices in tourist towns like Arenal, Manuel Antonio or Tamarindo, and it also depends on which season you’re visiting (high or low). 

  • Hostels: $18 – $40 per night
  • Mid-Range Hotels: $40 – $100 per night
  • Luxury Hotels: $100 – $200 per night
Costa Rica on a budget


A good meal at a nice restaurant costs around $20.

There’s already an included tip, so you don’t need to tip further. Western food is generally at the expensive end, too.

A great and more affordable option that might give you a feel of the local culture is a soda. It’s a local family-run restaurant that serves huge plates of Costa Rican food for as little as $5 – $8. 


You’ve got three main ways to get around Costa Rica: by bus/shuttle bus, air, or rental car

Busses: The cheapest way to go from A to B is by local busses. That’s how we traveled through Costa Rica, and I found the buses reliable and comfortable. A bus ticket costs about $3 from one town to the next and you can travel half the country for ~$10 USD

Shuttle busses: Another option is to travel by shuttle bus. You can expect to pay around $40 – $80 USD to get from one town to another. It’s faster by shuttle bus and a more direct way to travel.

Rental car: If you’re up for a road trip, you can rent a car in Costa Rica for as little as $150 per week (for a small 4×4 SUV).

It’s a great way to explore the country at your own pace, and roads are generally well-maintained and signed. One thing you should keep in mind, though, is that some roads get flooded during the rainy season.

Also, you’ll be driving on gravel roads (with potholes) in the nature parks, small towns, and near waterfalls – so I recommend a 4×4 rental unless you’re only planning to drive in and around San Jose or directly to the coast.

Domestic flights: If you’re short on time, you can also fly with the local airlines Sansa and NatureAir between several of the main cities. It’s the most expensive way to get around in Costa Rica, but if you book in advance you can get a flight down to $50. 


Guided tours and hikes can quickly swallow up a big chunk of your budget in Costa Rica.

While adventure activities like zip lining, white water rafting and jungle night safaris require you to join a tour, you can easily do surfing, diving, and jungle trekking on your own. 

Here’s an estimate of how much the different activities cost in Costa Rica:

  • Zip lining: From $35 to $75 per person
  • Horseback riding: From $35 -70 per person
  • Scuba diving: About $115 for a two-tank dive 
  • Surfing: A 2-hour group surf lesson costs around $55 or you can rent a board for around $20 a day
  • Canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls): Around $85 per person
Costa Rica on a budget

How to visit to Costa Rica on a budget

There are lots of ways to visit Costa Rica on a budget.

I’ve mentioned some of them already, but here are eight more simple tips to avoid your budget going through the roof.

1. Travel off-season

The low season (or rainy season) in Costa Rica goes from May to November. Visiting during this time will help you stay on a low budget. It rains, yes, but the early months of the rainy season are actually a fantastic time to go since there aren’t so many tourists and everything is green and lush.

Read next: The best and worst time to visit Costa Rica

2. Take local busses

Now, I wouldn’t recommend this for all countries in Central America, but the public bus system in Costa Rica is cheap, reliable, and extensive.

When we traveled from Monteverde to San Jose, we could get a minibus for $50 (Intershuttle). The local bus, which was way more comfy, was only $5! 

3. Drink tap water

¨If you don’t mind the iron taste, it’s perfectly safe to drink tap water. And with bottled water costing between $1 and $3, you’ll definitely save a few bucks refilling your own bottle.

4. Cook your own meals

Another way to visit Costa Rica on a budget is to cook your own meals – which is easy because house and apartment rentals are pretty popular throughout the country.

They come with a kitchen, fridge, and bathroom, so there’s plenty of possibilities to buy and prepare your own meals. We bought our own breakfast, dinner, and beer and we always had toast bread, and different sorts of meat (and peanut butter) to make sandwiches. 

5. Eat at the sodas

The food is actually not that expensive if you know where to look. Costa Rica has small, homely restaurants called sodas, where you can get a meal between $5 – $8.

6. Make friends with locals

Costa Ricans are very friendly people and they’re always eager to help point you in the right direction. Ask and get good advice on transportation, restaurants, sights, and adventures.

We got advice on visiting Llanos de Cortez, a beautiful waterfall that can’t be found in typical guidebooks. We took a local bus there for under $1 and got this amazing sight for free!

7. Buy beer from the supermarket

Simply go to the local Mercado instead of ruining your travel budget on the bar prices. Bring it with you to the beach when watching the sunset.

The Nicaraguan beer, Toña, is the best in all of Central America if you ask me. Only $1,5, whereas you pay double at most bars.

8. Do self-guided hikes

Finally, I recommend doing self-guided tours and hikes. Most of the time, you don’t need to have a guide for activities, especially if you rent a car or just take the local bus.

For example, visiting Poas Volcano is very straightforward and easily done without a guide.

Costa Rica on a budget

FAQ – How much does a trip to Costa Rica cost

How much should I budget for a trip to Costa Rica?

For a week in Costa Rica, expect to spend about $850 to $1,450. This is for average hotels or rentals and standard tours, shared by two people.

But if you’re eyeing beachfront spots or fancy activities like deep-sea fishing, your budget will jump, easily going over $2,500.

Is Costa Rica expensive as a tourist?

Costa Rica can be expensive, yeah. It’s more costly than other Central American countries like Nicaragua or El Salvador.

It’s quite developed and has a big tourism industry, so things tend to cost more there.

What is the cheapest time to travel to Costa Rica?

The cheapest time to visit Costa Rica is during the green season, from May to November. It’s less busy and more affordable then.

The dry season, December to April, is when most tourists visit, so it’s more expensive.

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Is it possible to visit Costa Rica on a budget? Yes, absolutely. Here's how much we spent while experiencing the best of the country, incl. budget tips. #costarica
Is it possible to visit Costa Rica on a budget? Yes, absolutely. Here's how much we spent while experiencing the best of the country, incl. budget tips. #costarica

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  1. I liked your information, but a “soda” isn’t a restaurant chain, it’s what they call small “mom and pop” type local restaurants.

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