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What We Spent In Nicaragua


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Tawsha Bone



Nicaragua, a beautiful country located in Central America, offers an array of attractions for travelers seeking a unique and enriching experience. From its stunning landscapes and vibrant culture to its rich history and warm-hearted people, Nicaragua has something to offer everyone.


But before embarking on any adventure, it’s important to have an understanding of the costs associated with a trip to Nicaragua. Budgeting and expense planning play crucial roles in ensuring that you have an enjoyable and stress-free experience.


In this article, we will take a closer look at what we spent during our time in Nicaragua, providing valuable insights into the various expenses you might encounter during your own visit. This guide aims to help you plan your budget effectively and make the most of your time in this remarkable country.


Keep in mind that the expenses mentioned below are based on our personal experiences and may vary depending on your travel style, preferences, and the duration of your stay. Nonetheless, this article will give you a general idea of the costs you can expect while exploring Nicaragua.


So, let’s dive into the details and explore the key expense categories during our time in Nicaragua.


Accommodation Expenses

Choosing the right accommodation is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable stay in Nicaragua. The country offers a range of options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts, catering to different preferences and budgets.


During our time in Nicaragua, we opted for a mix of accommodations to experience different aspects of the country. On average, we spent around $40 to $80 per night on accommodation.


If you’re looking to save money, budget-friendly hostels can be found in popular tourist destinations like Granada and Leon, with prices ranging from $10 to $20 per night. These hostels often offer dormitory-style rooms, communal spaces, and basic amenities.


For those seeking a more comfortable experience, mid-range hotels and guesthouses are available at an average cost of $30 to $60 per night. These accommodations usually offer private rooms, Wi-Fi access, and additional amenities such as breakfast and air conditioning.


If you’re willing to splurge, Nicaragua boasts some exquisite luxury resorts and boutique hotels, especially in beachfront destinations like San Juan del Sur and the Corn Islands. Expect to pay upwards of $100 per night for these upscale accommodations, which often provide amenities like swimming pools, spa facilities, and ocean views.


It’s worth noting that prices may fluctuate based on the season and local events. Peak tourist seasons, such as Christmas and Easter, tend to see higher rates, so it’s advisable to book in advance to secure the best deals.


We found that online booking platforms like Booking.com and Airbnb were useful for comparing prices and finding accommodation options that suited our needs and budget. Additionally, reaching out to local tourism offices or utilizing travel forums can provide valuable insights and recommendations from fellow travelers.


To summarize, budget-conscious travelers can find affordable accommodation options in Nicaragua, while those seeking a more luxurious experience can indulge in upscale resorts and hotels. Whatever your preference, planning ahead and researching different options will help you find the perfect place to stay and make the most of your Nicaraguan adventure.


Food and Dining Expenses

Nicaragua offers a delightful culinary experience, with a diverse range of flavors and influences from indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean cultures. Exploring the local cuisine and savoring the country’s authentic flavors is an integral part of any visit to Nicaragua.


During our time in Nicaragua, we found that food and dining expenses can vary depending on where and what you choose to eat. On average, we spent around $10 to $20 per person on meals per day.


For budget-conscious travelers, street food stalls and local markets are the way to go. You can find delicious and inexpensive street food options such as tacos, empanadas, and gallo pinto (a traditional rice and beans dish) for as little as $2 to $5 per meal. These local delicacies not only satisfy your taste buds but also provide a glimpse into the vibrant street culture of Nicaragua.


If you prefer dining at restaurants, mid-range eateries offer a variety of cuisines, including Nicaraguan, international, and fusion dishes. Prices for main courses usually range from $8 to $15. These restaurants often have a cozy ambiance and provide an opportunity to try local delicacies in a formal setting.


If you’re in search of a more upscale dining experience, upscale restaurants in tourist areas or luxury hotels offer an impressive array of gourmet dishes and fine dining options. Expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 for a meal at these establishments.


It’s worth mentioning that Nicaragua is known for its excellent coffee, and exploring the local cafes is a must for coffee enthusiasts. A cup of freshly brewed coffee typically costs between $1 and $3.


In addition to the meals themselves, it’s customary to leave a small tip for good service. In Nicaragua, a tip of around 10% is appreciated but not obligatory. Be sure to check if service charges are already included in the bill before leaving an additional tip.


When it comes to beverages, Nicaragua offers a range of thirst-quenching options. Bottled water is widely available and costs around $1 per liter. Local beers and cocktails can be enjoyed for $2 to $5, depending on the location and establishment.


To summarize, Nicaragua offers a variety of dining options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re indulging in street food, exploring local restaurants, or dining in upscale establishments, the country’s culinary scene provides a flavorful adventure for food enthusiasts.


Transportation Expenses

Getting around Nicaragua is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Understanding the various transportation options and their associated costs is crucial for planning your travel within the country.


During our time in Nicaragua, we used a combination of transportation modes, including buses, taxis, and rental cars. Here’s a breakdown of the transportation expenses you can expect:


1. Buses: Buses are the most common and affordable mode of transportation in Nicaragua. Local buses, known as “chicken buses,” are colorful and vibrant, and they connect various cities and towns. The fare for short-distance trips typically ranges from $0.50 to $2, depending on the distance traveled. For longer journeys, intercity buses are available at slightly higher prices, ranging from $5 to $15, depending on the distance and route.


2. Taxis: Taxis are readily available in most urban areas and are a convenient option for short distances or when you’re traveling in a group. Taxis in Nicaragua usually operate on a metered system, and the starting fare is around $1. Additional charges may apply for luggage or late-night rides.


3. Rental Cars: Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Nicaragua at your own pace, especially if you plan on visiting remote areas or less touristy destinations. Rental car prices start at around $30 per day for economy vehicles, with additional costs for insurance and fuel. Keep in mind that driving in Nicaragua can be challenging due to the condition of some roads and local driving habits.


4. Domestic Flights: If you’re planning to cover long distances quickly, domestic flights are available between major cities in Nicaragua. The cost of domestic flights varies depending on the airline, season, and route. On average, expect to pay around $100 to $200 for a one-way ticket.


It’s worth noting that prices may vary depending on the location, time of year, and negotiation skills. In some cases, booking in advance can lead to better deals and lower fares.


Additionally, keep in mind that Nicaragua has a reliable network of tour operators and transportation services that cater to specific activities or attractions. For example, if you’re planning to visit volcanoes, islands, or remote nature reserves, guided transportation options may be available, often packaged with entrance fees and guided tours.


In summary, Nicaragua offers a range of transportation options to suit different budgets and travel preferences. Whether you choose to travel by bus, taxi, rental car, or even domestic flights, planning ahead and considering the various costs will help you navigate this beautiful country with ease.


Entertainment and Activities Expenses

Nicaragua is a country that offers a plethora of exciting entertainment and activity options for travelers of all ages and interests. From exploring pristine beaches and volcanic landscapes to engaging in cultural festivities and adrenaline-pumping adventures, there is never a shortage of things to do in Nicaragua.


During our time in Nicaragua, we indulged in a variety of entertainment and activities, and here are some approximate expenses to consider:


1. National Park Entrance Fees: Nicaragua is home to several stunning national parks and reserves, each with its own unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Entrance fees for national parks generally range from $5 to $10 per person, depending on the park and the activities available within.


2. Volcano Hiking: Nicaragua is famous for its volcanoes, and hiking up these majestic peaks is a must-do activity. Volcano hiking tours typically cost around $30 to $50 per person, which may include transportation, a guide, and park entrance fees. Some tours also offer the opportunity to swim in crater lakes or witness volcanic activity.


3. Surfing Lessons: With its beautiful coastlines, Nicaragua is a surfer’s paradise. If you’re interested in learning to surf, expect to pay around $20 to $50 for a beginner’s lesson, which usually includes equipment rental and guidance from experienced instructors.


4. Boat Tours: Nicaragua is home to breathtaking lakes and islands, making boat tours a popular activity. Prices for boat tours vary depending on the duration, destination, and inclusions. On average, expect to pay around $20 to $50 per person, with options to visit islands, spot wildlife, or even go fishing.


5. Cultural Tours: Immerse yourself in Nicaragua’s rich culture and history by taking part in cultural tours. These tours may include visits to historical sites, indigenous communities, and local markets. Prices range from $10 to $40 per person, depending on the complexity and duration of the tour.


6. Adventure Activities: If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, Nicaragua offers an array of adventure activities such as zip-lining, ATV tours, and canopy tours. Prices for these activities typically start at $30 and can go up to $100, depending on the nature of the adventure and the location.


It’s important to note that prices may vary depending on the location, tour operators, and season. It’s advisable to compare prices, read reviews, and book through reputable tour operators to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Lastly, don’t forget to allocate some budget for spontaneous activities and local events that you may come across during your trip. Nicaragua is known for its vibrant festivities, such as carnivals, music festivals, and cultural celebrations that showcase the country’s unique traditions.


In summary, Nicaragua offers a wide range of entertainment and activities to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re exploring national parks, hiking volcanoes, trying out water sports, or immersing yourself in the local culture, budgeting for entertainment and activities will ensure that you can fully enjoy everything this captivating country has to offer.


Souvenir Expenses

Bringing back a piece of Nicaragua as a memento of your trip is a wonderful way to cherish the memories and share the beauty of the country with others. Nicaragua offers a wide range of unique and locally crafted souvenirs that make excellent keepsakes or gifts for loved ones.


During our time in Nicaragua, we found that the cost of souvenirs can vary depending on the item, quality, and location. Here are some popular souvenir options and their approximate expenses:


1. Handicrafts: Nicaragua is known for its vibrant handicrafts, including pottery, textiles, hand-woven hammocks, and wooden carvings. The prices for these items can range from $5 to $50, depending on the size, intricacy, and craftsmanship. Markets and artisanal shops in popular tourist destinations like Granada and Masaya offer a wide selection of handicrafts.


2. Coffee and Cacao Products: As one of the top coffee producers in Central America, Nicaragua is renowned for its high-quality coffee beans. You can find Nicaraguan coffee in various forms, including whole beans, ground coffee, and packaged coffee blends. Prices for a bag of coffee range from $5 to $20, depending on the brand and size. Additionally, Nicaragua is also known for its delicious cacao products, such as chocolate bars and cacao nibs, which make for delectable and unique souvenirs.


3. Traditional Attire: Traditional Nicaraguan clothing, such as embroidered blouses, dresses, or shirts, can be beautiful and meaningful souvenirs. Prices range from $20 to $50, depending on the intricacy and quality of the garment. Traditional attire can be found in local markets and small boutiques.


4. Artwork and Paintings: Nicaragua has a thriving art scene, and you can find a variety of paintings, drawings, and sculptures created by local artists. The price of artwork varies depending on the artist’s reputation, the size of the piece, and the medium used. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars for an original piece of artwork.


5. Nicaragua-themed Accessories: From keychains and magnets to t-shirts and hats, Nicaragua-themed accessories are popular and affordable souvenirs. Prices for these items typically range from $2 to $15, depending on the design and quality.


When shopping for souvenirs, it’s always a good idea to explore local markets, interact with artisans, and support fair trade initiatives. Bargaining is also common in Nicaragua, so don’t hesitate to negotiate the price or ask for discounts, especially when purchasing multiple items.


Lastly, keep in mind that there may be restrictions on certain souvenirs, such as wildlife products or historical artifacts. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the customs regulations of your home country to avoid any issues while bringing back your souvenirs.


In summary, investing in souvenirs allows you to take a piece of Nicaragua’s rich culture and craftsmanship home with you. Whether it’s handicrafts, coffee, art, or accessories, budgeting for souvenirs ensures that you can bring back cherished mementos that reflect the beauty and uniqueness of this captivating country.


Miscellaneous Expenses

Aside from the major categories of expenses mentioned above, there are always miscellaneous expenses that come up during any trip to Nicaragua. These expenses can vary depending on individual preferences and circumstances. Here are some miscellaneous expenses you might encounter during your visit:


1. Travel Insurance: It’s highly recommended to have travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost baggage. The cost of travel insurance varies depending on factors such as duration, coverage, and age. On average, expect to pay around $5 to $15 per day for comprehensive travel insurance.


2. SIM Cards and Mobile Data: If you wish to stay connected during your trip, purchasing a local SIM card and data plan is recommended. SIM cards can be purchased at various retailers and mobile carriers. The cost of a SIM card with data typically ranges from $5 to $15, depending on the data package and provider.


3. Internet Cafés and Wi-Fi: Most hotels, restaurants, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi, but there may be instances when you need to use an internet café or pay for Wi-Fi access in certain areas. Prices for internet café usage and Wi-Fi access vary, with rates typically ranging from $1 to $5 per hour, depending on the location.


4. Laundry Services: If you’re planning an extended stay, laundry services might be necessary. Many guesthouses and hotels offer laundry facilities or can arrange laundry service for a fee. Expect to pay around $5 to $10 per load, depending on the size and type of clothing.


5. Tips and Gratuities: Tipping is not mandatory in Nicaragua, but it is appreciated for good service. It’s customary to leave a tip of around 10% of the bill at restaurants, and a small tip for taxi drivers and hotel staff is also appreciated. Be sure to check if service charges are already included before leaving an additional tip.


6. Bank Fees and Currency Exchange: When withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging currency, be aware that banks may charge fees for these transactions. It’s advisable to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage, and compare exchange rates and fees to get the best value for your money.


7. Medications and Health Precautions: Depending on your health needs and preferences, you may need to budget for medications, vaccinations, or travel health insurance. It’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before traveling to Nicaragua to determine any necessary health precautions and associated costs.


It’s important to budget for these miscellaneous expenses to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip. While they may seem small individually, they can add up over the course of your stay. Therefore, it’s advisable to have some extra funds set aside to cover any unexpected costs that may arise.


In summary, miscellaneous expenses include travel insurance, SIM cards and mobile data, internet access, laundry services, tips, bank fees, and health-related costs. Allocating a portion of your budget for these expenses will help you navigate any unforeseen circumstances and make the most of your time in Nicaragua.



Planning a trip to Nicaragua involves understanding and budgeting for various expenses to ensure a memorable and stress-free experience. By considering the different aspects of your trip, such as accommodation, food, transportation, entertainment, souvenirs, and miscellaneous expenses, you can estimate and allocate your budget accordingly.


Throughout our time in Nicaragua, we found that accommodation expenses can range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts, catering to different preferences and budgets. Food and dining expenses vary depending on whether you choose street food, local restaurants, or high-end dining establishments. Transportation costs fluctuate depending on the mode of transport you choose, whether it’s buses, taxis, or rental cars. Entertainment and activities expenses involve national park entrance fees, volcano hiking tours, water sports, cultural tours, and adventure activities, catering to a variety of interests and budgets. Souvenir expenses allow you to bring back a piece of Nicaragua’s culture and craftsmanship, with options ranging from handicrafts to coffee and traditional attire. Finally, miscellaneous expenses include travel insurance, SIM cards, laundry services, tips, and bank fees.


It’s important to remember that the expenses mentioned in this article are based on our experiences and may vary depending on your personal preferences, travel style, and the duration of your stay. It’s advisable to research and plan ahead, comparing prices and seeking recommendations from fellow travelers, to get the most accurate estimate of expenses for your upcoming trip.


By budgeting and being aware of the potential costs associated with different aspects of your trip, you can plan and allocate your funds wisely, maximizing your enjoyment of Nicaragua and making lasting memories. Whether you’re exploring the stunning landscapes, immersing yourself in the vibrant culture, or indulging in the delicious cuisine, Nicaragua offers a truly unforgettable experience.


So pack your bags, prepare your budget, and get ready to embark on an incredible adventure in Nicaragua!