Nicaragua Backpacking Budget – How much money do you need per day?

Nicaragua backpacking costs

This post details the estimated cost of travel in Nicaragua. Read on for suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for this Central American country. We also have some information about using dollars and sample prices.

cost of travel in Nicaragua
Map of Nicaragua from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Nicaragua Cost of Travel in 2023

Shoestring Backpacker Budget

  • US$25/day | 900 Nicaraguan Córdoba

Nicaragua is one of those countries where hardcore shoestring types will manage to get by on very little. Getting around the country via the local chicken buses as opposed to the faster tourist buses which have schedules but often don’t even stick to them will save you a lot of cash. Eating local food in local-geared restaurants is also very cheap and usually less than half the cost of the Western alternatives such as burgers and pizza. Hostel dorms are cheap and not that hard to find in most of the main backpacker destinations.

For anyone backpacking Nicaragua on a low budget, expect to spend roughly $25 per day on average. If you don’t visit the more expensive Corn Islands, you could probably get by on $20 most days, although you may want to look at the more comfortable Nicaragua backpacking budget (detailed below) if you plan to spend a lot of time there.

Speaking Spanish will be of great help too in terms of sticking to a shoestring budget in Nicaragua but with attractions normally costing just a few dollars, there’s not much potential for extra expenditure beyond the basic necessities unless you really party hard at night. Overall it ranks as one of the cheapest countries in Central America to travel in.

More Comfortable Nicaragua Backpacking Budget

  • US$35/day | 1,300 Nicaraguan Córdoba

Nicaragua is cheap to visit. However if you’re reluctant to use the local buses or eat local food, or just have a limited amount of time for your trip and want to experience as much as possible, a budget of $35/day may be more suitable. This will allow you to travel around using more comfortable, tourist buses and eat out more often in restaurants serving international food.

This may also be a more realistic budget if you want to spend longer on the coasts, particularly Caribbean destinations such as beautiful Little Corn Island. Finding budget accommodation can be a bit harder in these places and prices rise generally with costs more comparable to those in nearby Panama rather than Guatemala or El Salvador where typical backpacking costs are also more in the region of $25/day for shoestring travellers.

Leon, Nicaragua
Locals play basketball in colourful León, Nicaragua.

How much do things cost in Nicaragua?

Approximate Price in USD
Chicken bus or local minibus from Leon to Granada (approx 3-4 hours via Managua)$3
Tourist bus from Leon to Granada (approx 2 hours 30 mins)$12-15
Meal in a local restaurant$3-5
Local beer in bar/restaurant$1-2
Dorm bed in a hostelFrom $6
Budget private roomFrom $12
Surfboard rental in San Juan del Sur$10
Travel insurance for backpacking NicaraguaDepends on age, length of trip & other factors – Get a quote from Heymondo in less than a minute!

Nicaragua isn’t a place with loads of “attractions” as such and many of its most interesting museums and sites of interest are either free to visit or cost just a dollar or two. Its tourism industry isn’t extensive but there are options for extra activities and tours from Granada, although many places can easily be visited independently using public transport.

Overall, as you can see from some of the prices above, the cost of travel in Nicaragua in 2023 remains low and you can comfortably get by on under $10/night in terms of accommodation if you stay in dorms. That represents good value when compared to the cost of travel in Costa Rica and indeed most other countries around the world.

How do you pay for things in Nicaragua?

Currency – Nicaraguan Córdoba

£1 = 45 NIO

€1 = 39 NIO

US$1 = 37 NIO

The official currency in Nicaragua is the Córdoba which can be exchanged at the rates above as of February 2023. However US Dollars are widely accepted for paying for things such as taxis, meals and accommodation. You will often be able to pay for things in Dollars with the change given in Córdobas so before long, you’ll have a decent mix of both currencies which is the best way to go.

The Nicaragua travel costs on this page were last updated in February 2023.

Nicaragua Backpacking Budget – How much money do you need per day?

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