This post details the estimated cost of travel in Costa Rica. Below you will find suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets. We also have some information about typical backpacker costs and sample prices.
Backpacking Costa Rica – Budgeting Advice
Costa Rica Travel Costs on a Shoestring Budget
US$30/day | 18,000 Costa Rican Colones
Costa Rica certainly ranks as one of the more expensive Central American countries. The cost of travel is similar to that in our Mexico backpacking budget and certainly more than in Guatemala or Nicaragua. It has a thriving tourism industry, much of which isn’t really geared towards budget travellers but it is still overall quite an affordable place to visit if you steer clear of the pricier tourist places.
Our Costa Rica backpacking budget of $30/day gives you enough for a dorm bed, some local food and drinks in budget restaurants and bars with a bit of money for day-time activities but not a huge amount. The country is pretty small and getting from town to town is really good value and you might not need much more than $20 to get from one end of the country to the other.
However it is expensive in other ways with activities and accommodation likely to take up a good chunk of your budget. Certainly as a solo traveller you won’t be able to afford a private room on this kind of budget as there is quite a leap from the cost of a dorm bed to a private here. Even couples or friends travelling together may struggle to stick to $30/day each if you are staying in private rooms everywhere. Hardcore budget travellers might want to consider bringing a tent and camping which is quite easy to do in Costa Rica.
More Comfortable Costa Rica Backpacking Budget
US$50/day | 30,000 Costa Rican Colones
Adding an extra $20/day will give you a lot more freedom to do more organised trips in the day or to spend more time in the national parks which can be expensive to visit. Costa Rica isn’t really the kind of place where you can spend days wandering around towns with the natural sights the main attractions here and they generally cost money to get to and some of them can only really be visited as part of a tour or with your own guide. To get the most out of Costa Rica consider upping your budget to something in the region of US$50/day.
Read more: Where to go in Central America
Cut down on Costa Rica Travel Expenses
Signing up to join Worldpackers is a decent plan as it will give you access to a large number of work/volunteer placements (currently 84 opportunities in Costa Rica). This can include anything from social media work at an eco lodge to help caring for rescued dogs and cats.
You won’t get paid any cash but typically you will get free accommodation and food which should help you cut your travel costs down. Find out more about travel with Worldpackers here.
How much does Costa Rica cost?
Local transport from one town to the next – around 1500 CRC ($2.50)
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 4000 CRC ($6.50)
Typical local dish of meat, rice and fried plantains in a small local cafe/restaurant – 1600 CRC ($2.60)
Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 1000 CRC ($1.70)
Dorm bed – from 5000 CRC ($8)
Budget private double or twin room – from 15000 CRC ($25)
Boat or Kayak tour in Tortuguero National Park – 25,000-30,000 CRC (roughly $40-50)
Zip-lining in Monteverde Cloud Forest – 25,000-40,000 CRC ($40-65)
Note, these prices haven’t been checked since 2016. Everything else on this page was updated in early 2019.
Compare expenses with the cost of travel in Cuba.
Currency – Costa Rican Colon
£1 = 790 CRC
€1 = 685 CRC
US$1 = 600 CRC
(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2019)
US Dollars are also pretty widely accepted in Costa Rica and usually at quite a fair rate so it’s useful to have a stash of both dollars and colon.
Spend a few days in rural Costa Rica by staying at the very chilled Hostel Casa Chirripo.
This post was updated in January 2019.