Travel Prices in Nicaragua

Granada

In most respects, Nicaragua is the cheapest place to travel in Latin America, which makes it the cheapest destination in the Americas period. Since it’s also close and easy to get to for a reasonable airfare, at least for those of us in the U.S. and Canada, your total cost for visiting Nicaragua is going to be lower than almost anywhere else you could go internationally.

Granada

This huge “meal of the day” was $2.50 with drink and tip

Naturally, you have to give up a little comfort in the process though. You’ll be on a “chicken bus” now and then if you get off the main tourist track. Budget hotel choices are a good value, but the selection and overall level of quality are not always up to what you find in Guatemala or even Honduras—again, outside the main tourist towns that is. In part this is because domestic demand hasn’t been there and while tourism numbers are growing fast, they’re still relatively small.

This is a country where you can feel like an adventurer though, with almost no tour buses in sight, affordable restaurants everywhere, cheap drinks, and limited hassles from touts and scammers. If you’re looking for somewhere to kick back for a while and let your budget recover, here you can do it in a beautiful colonial city (Granada), on a beach (San Juan del Sur or a more isolated surfing village), or in the mountains of coffee country.

At the time of writing, the exchange rate was 23 cordobas to the U.S. dollar. So if two happy hour cocktails are 35 as in a photo of a bar I visited below, that’s around $1.50.

hotel

A $52 splurge (with full breakfast) in Granada

Hotel and Hostel Prices in Nicaragua

Dorm bed: $3 – $8 per person, often incl. basic breakfast & Wi-Fi
Basic double room with shared bath: $6 – $15
Double room with private bath, A/C, TV, maybe a fridge: $10 – $30.
Nice double room with all that, good bedding, daily maid service, breakfast, maybe a pool: $25 – $60
(There are probably only about 12 hotels in all of Nicaragua where rates for a standard start at more than $125 double per night.)

Food & Drink in Nicaragua:

Market stall lunch: $1.50 – $3
Basic restaurant lunch: $2.50 – $7
All-you-can eat buffets: $4 – $8.
Fancy restaurant meal, cloth napkins: $7 – $15
(There are probably only about 20 restaurants outside Managua where you can spend $20+ per person on dinner excluding drinks.)

Flor de Caña rum, 4-year: $2.50 – $4 per liter
Flor de Caña rum, 7-year: $4 – $9 per liter depending on where.
Cheap local rum: $1 – $2.50 per liter.
Rum cocktail in a bar: $1 – $2.50.
Small beer in a bar: 60 cents to a dollar in a bar
Liter-sized beer in a bar: $1.50 – $2 (Less in a store or at happy hour.)

Seasonal fruit: 50 cents to $1 a pound
Tortillas: 50 cents for a handfull
Bread: 10-20 cents for sandwich roll, 50 cents for a baguette
Coffee: 50 cents to $1 a cup, from good local beans

Transportation in Nicaragua:

The regular buses in Nicaragua are mostly converted school buses discarded by U.S school systems and on their second life here. They can be slow and crowded, but will often only cost you a dollar or less to get you where you’re going.

Express bus: 60-80 cents per hour of travel.
Express minibus: around $1 from Managua to Granada, around $2 Managua to Leon.
Tourist door-to-door shuttle: pricey, but quick and air-conditioned. $27 for Granada to San Juan del Sur, $18 to $35 each between Granada and the Managua airport depending on group size.

Local buses in cities: 15 – 25 cents.
Taxi ride: 50 cents to $4 in city limits anywhere. $6 to go across Managua, more from the airport.
Taxi from the Ometepe ferry dock in San Jorge to the bus station in Rivas: $1 – $2 (depending on your bargaining skills.)

Ometepe

Ferry from San Jorge to the main port on Ometepe: $1.50 (small boat on the right above) to $3 (air-conditioned large ferry, on the left).
First-class air-conditioned seat on the overnight trip from Granada to San Miguelito: $9. (Second class is $4, but can get crazy crowded.)

Bike rental: $3 – $8 per day, less for half day.
Scooter/motorcycle rental: $12-$40 per day depending on quality, demand, season, and your bargaining patience.

Internal flights: $80 to $140 round trip on a puddle jumper prop plane.

Other Prices for Travelers in Nicaragua:

Hop-on, hop-off tourist site buses: $10 – $22 per person
Internet access in cafe: 75 cents to $1.50 per hour
Hourlong massage from a blind masseuse in Granada – $15
25-minute VoIP phone call home – $1 USA, $1.50 Europe
Museum admissions – 25 cents to $2

Comments
  1. On Board

    Not sure what to think about a hop on/off bus ticket costing as much as a hotel room with private bath, AC, etc, but I’ll take it! It’s so nice to visit a place when you feel like you’re the only visitor around. Nicaragua sounds great–thanks for the info, as always!

    • tim

      Well, you can take the local bus and traverse half the country for the price of a hostel bed. That’s going to take a good bit longer though.

  2. kelly

    I will be definitely putting this on my places to visit. Cheap and cheerful is always good. Thank you for giving us a breakdown of the costs. Nicaragua is never a place I would of contemplated but it is now:)

  3. sjacks

    Really?
    It is VERY easy to spend more than $20 for a meal for two at “not that fancy” of a place – specifically in Granada and SJDS.

    Not sure if it was mentioned but I found it interesting that cigarettes are $1 a pack and a regular size Bic light is only 50cents.

    • Linda

      Cause you halved what he said sjacks.

      “…where you can spend $20+ per person on dinner excluding drinks.”

      • tim

        What she said. Per person. You pretty much have to go to a top-end hotel’s restaurant to spend that.

  4. Janit

    Seems like a real good deal for sure.

  5. samy

    Nicaragua is a nice and cheap destination, drink and food prices pictures is amazing!

  6. Jesse

    That $2.50 meal is a shocker for me knowing how those kind of dishes served. Definitely a good review to add for a Nicaragua travel guide.

  7. Sophie

    Wow, sounds like you had a great time. I’m hoping to get to Nicaragua next year – thanks for telling me a bit about the prices :)

  8. switi

    Nicaragua is one of the places I’m interested in. Looks like it is a beautiful place to travel to. ;)

  9. marco

    Nicaragua looks like a nice place to relax.

  10. Amie

    Im headed to Nicaragua on Jan 20- Feb1 2014. We are arriving and staying at the Camino Real for the evening and then spending the rest of our lovely time there at the Redwood Beach resort. However we are to come back into Managua on the 31st of January and I have no clue where to stay in the city. Where is a safe area for 4 people to get a room and maybe do a little shopping and such?

    • Tim Leffel

      I’ve only stayed in Managua once, at a Holiday Inn that was fairly central. It’s not a walking around city anyway though and taxis are cheap, so check a guidebook for recommendations. The Moon Handbook is the best one.

    • Gary Sweet

      Ihave stayed at the Hotel Monzonte two years ago. It was $55.00 Us a night and included breakfast. Not 5 star but comfortable and their taxi guy took 4 of us around Managua and sites for a full 8 hour day for $80.00. We thought it was very good as he spoke english and provided with a guided tour for that money. Good Luck

      • Elwood Jones

        Wow, that is absolutely amazing for the price you paid. I am looking for a different vacation destination rather than the usual southern US or Caribbean stuff. That has become same old, same old for me. The only good thing is the heat since I am from Canada and travel south during our winters which can be miserably cold, IE: -30 C at night and barely -10 C in the day during January and February.

  11. Jack

    I’m off to Nicaragua this summer and I was wondering what your thoughts were on carrying money vs. using cash machines. On my visa and STA cards, I’m charged extortionate sums every time I withdraw so I feel like I should take a lump sum with me (but there are obvious problems with that…..) I also wasn’t sure whether to buy cordobas before going or to work mainly in dollars (baring in mind I’ll be spending most of my time in rural areas). Sorry for the onslaught! Very grateful for any help.

    • Tim Leffel

      You can use dollars in some parts of Nicaragua and exchange them easily. Really though if your bank is charging you huge ATM fees, you should find a different bank. Or a credit union, or a cash account a parent sets up with Schwab, E-trade, or Fidelity. Then take out the max each time and you should be set for two or three weeks. You get a much better exchange rate than you will from a money changer in most countries, though in Nicaragua the spread isn’t too wide.

      The opposite is true in Argentina though if you’re going there. The street rate is currently around 11 to the dollar while the official rate is 8.

  12. Erin

    I wonder, can a single woman in her 50’s travel here alone and feel safe? It sounds wonderful. Are there options to hookup with like minded singles to tour around with?
    Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Erin, the usual precautions apply—there are plenty of good books and articles out there from well-traveled solo women—but in general Nicaragua is safer than any of its neighbors. There’s a pretty well-worn traveler route, so it wouldn’t be hard to find others heading the same direction you are without setting up anything in advance. And most of the small group tours here are reasonably priced.

  13. Wickieup

    My wonderful bride of 35 years, is retiring next August and we’re seriously considering moving lock, stock and barrels, to Nicaragua. Myself are handicapped to power chair and walker, wanted to know how adaptive I need to be or is this a country that can accommodate such disabilities? We would also be interested in finding a rural location to settle, any help or suggestions are appreciated.
    Thanks.

  14. Marko

    Nica is indeed extraordinarily cheap- however, be warned that you risk SERIOUS illness and a quick way to drop 10 lb if you drink ANY water that isn’t bottled here…trust me.

    • Tim Leffel

      Marko, you can say that about half the world, unfortunately. Between Mexico and Patagonia, it’s true more often than not. Bring a SteriPEN.

  15. Sanne

    any tips on where to rent two motorcycles for 3 weeks for a good price in september 2015 in NIcaragua. we drove vietnam and cambodia on 250 cc offroad bikes and are looking for something similar ( no 650 cc big bikes). greetings from Holland

  16. elanya

    Thats for all the info! I will be heading to Nicaragua in August, so I imagine that I should brush teeth with bottled water as well?
    thanks in advance!

    • Tim Leffel

      In Costa Rica, no, but in Nicaragua bottled water or (better yet) carry a purifier.

  17. Hi Tim,

    Is it possible to open up a surf boutique hotel or B& B? How much cash should one bring for relocation? Thanks Tim!
    Sarah

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, and if you open a business that employs at least one person it is easier to get residency without being a pensioner. I have no idea how much money that would require though. You’re better off checking local sources for that (I list a few of the best ones in the book A Better Life for Half the Price.)

  18. mathieu tallard

    Hi
    i don`t know where to go. The cheapest and welcoming country in the world is Venezuela. But i got attack and rob alongside a road at 4 in the afternoon so it is less tempting to go back. All countries are unsafe but Venezuela is really dangerous.
    From Mexico down to Colombia, i went every where. except for Guatemala and Panama that i didn`t see much. Latino countries are all mostly alike. Not that much of a difference. I love having cute girls in my room and being naked on a beach. Love full tan. North Peru and Ecuador seems tempting but i don`t know for the beaches like i like them and for the girls. Nicaragua have o.k. beaches long anough to ge easy to enjoy as one wishes and for the girls, i knew too late it should be a good place for that too. So i think i`m gone a go back. Asia and Thailand may be better for what i look for in travel but i know how happy i am to get off the plane after 6-7 hres. I am scare having to do 3 time that to reach Thailand or Cambodia or Indonesia. It freak the hell out of me thinking about it. Brazil too expensive and probably dangerous too. Nicaragua seems the best option even ik i am tied of Latinos countries. Dominican Republic is great for beaches, mangos and cocos and i love those, things hard to find and enjoy in Nicaragua but people are not so nice with tourist in RD and the girls too expensive , lot of them too fat, like in most Latinos countries, except for Colombia but expensive in Colombia too. Too bad long long long hours flight scare me so much. But i know myself. And too bad Venezuela so dangerous. It would be o.k. if i was travelling in boxes, like taxi or buses but i travel with a home made scooter, i love it, but my luggages are exposed and it makes me a too easy target for dangerous countries. I don`t know if you have any suggestions where to go to find what i like in travel, outside Nicaragua. Please don`t try to morolised me. It is not my fault if women have a different view on sex for play than men and found that way to make money to buy cellars and clothes they don`t really need,i don`t point a gun on them, locals goes to them too and if i enjoy being au natural on beaches. Once you have done it, impossible to go back. Thank you Mathieu

    • Tim Leffel

      You might need a therapist more than a travel adviser.

      • John64

        I agree with Tim haha

      • Diego

        I love it,, You are sooo right Tim,, Thanks for instant and correct advise!!

  19. Roberto

    Hello Tim. This is such a great source of info to arrange my budget for spending a week in Managua attending a congress. Are those prices from 2012 very similar to the prices these days? Thank you.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, if anything prices have gone down because of a stronger dollar.

  20. M Khan

    Hi,
    Thinking about heading to Nicaragua next month. Can someone please recommend cheap hostel in Managua.
    THANK
    Khan

  21. Brent

    Please recommend a cheap but nice hotel for around $10 – 12 USD per nite.

  22. Heather

    My Husband and I are so anxious to start travelling but we will be on a tight budget and really do not want to do your typical Cuba, DR and Mexico all inclusive resort style travelling at all. Could you recommend places to stay In Nicaragua and places to eat? My goal is to travel a bit while I still can because eventually MS will make it too difficult for me to travel! Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  23. Nat

    Hello Tim,

    I am visiting Nicaragua in August. Any tips to combat the heat / humidity or what I can expect?

  24. Sand

    What is the typical cost for light in Late March? I am planning to go next year and what airline…when to buy… etc? Thank in advance.

    • Sand

      P.S. I have to travel on Sat, Sun, or Monday due to work/vacation schedules… I am a teacher that teaches in the summer as well.

  25. partha

    Hi, i am PC from India .we are a family of three members .our budget is approx 30$ a day. Advice where to visit in this budget, best time etc.

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