Nicaragua Travel Budget: My Experience

Nicaragua on a Budget
Traveling in Nicaragua on a Budget
Budget Travel

Is it possible to travel in Nicaragua on a budget? Learn how much it cost me to backpack in Nicaragua — along with my favorite tips & highlights.


I think I’m in love. The Central American country of Nicaragua was a big surprise. I quickly got sucked into it’s laid-back pace of life, incredibly friendly people, and low cost of living.

I wasn’t planning on spending much time here. That scenario soon changed once I got to know the place!

Do you want to travel back in time? It’s possible in Nicaragua.

Venture into any of the many small towns to experience rural farming communities where water is collected with buckets, horses are the only way to get around, and even basic electricity can be hard to find.

Living in Nicaragua for a while was a refreshing pause in my journey, and I became captivated by it’s magic.

Nicaragua Travel Costs:

Nicaragua travel budgets can vary greatly. Here is a breakdown of how much money I spent over 4 months of travel there.

  • Food & Drink: $1,444 US (groceries, restaurants, water, alcohol)
  • Accommodation: $595 US (hostels, hotels, camping fees)
  • Transportation: $92 US (buses, taxis, boats)
  • Activities: $110 US (entrance fees, rentals, classes, tours, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous: $299 US (laundry, sundries, souvenirs, visas, etc.)




Budget Notes: I stayed almost 2 months at a hostel in Granada called La Casita that charged only $4 a night because it was low-season.


– Watching my first cock fight
Volcano boarding down Cerro Negro
– Building ovens out of poop
– Hitchhiking to visit Alberto
– Chicken buses


– The heat of Leon
– Sleeping on the deck of a cargo boat
– Crashing a motorcycle
– Witnessing how people live at La Chureca
– Chicken buses


– How cheap the country is
– How friendly the people are
– Chicken buses!

Stories & Adventures From Nicaragua

Planning to travel to Nicaragua soon? Browse all my blog posts from Nicaragua to get ideas & recommendations for your own adventures!

Read More Stories From Nicaragua Here

Final Thoughts

Nicaragua has a little bit of everything. Beautiful beaches, great surfing, active volcanoes, nature preserves, freshwater lakes, jungle rivers, quaint colonial cities, and a good chunk of the country is not easy to access and off the beaten track (just the way I like it).

Traveling in Nicaragua won’t break the bank either. I know I’ll be back again some day soon.

Additional Examples?

My last trip to Nicaragua was in 2011. Prices have probably changed a bit since then. We don’t all travel the same way either. So to help you get a better picture, here are a few Nicaragua travel budgets from others:

Travel Planning Resources

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.

Book Your Flight

Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Cheap Accommodation

Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.


I hope you enjoyed my Nicaragua Travel Budget! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
Join 20,000 others who receive exclusive email updates!

7 Reasons To Subscribe →
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I'm also a member of other affiliate programs. For more info please read my policy page.

Leave a Comment

Comments (53)

  1. Hi,
    I’m planning 3 weeks in Nicaragua in February. My husband and I are thinking about taking our kitesurfing gear with us. In your opinion, do suitcases tend to be safe in the chicken buses, or would it be better for us to rent a car and drive ourselves around (which is what we usually do when we travel)? Thanks!

  2. Hey thanks for the nice article about lovely Nicaragua. I´ve also spent there 4 months working on a research project and…traveling a lot :) You can also check out my blog for the stories.

  3. We have been traveling around Nica for the last three months, and it definitely is possible to travel on a bare bones budget! Nicaragua has some of the most beautiful pristine nature I’ve ever seen, and also some of the worst pollution. I have to agree with you on the chicken buses as well, they are interesting all right; we’ve seen chicks, chickens, dead chicken, piglets, and buckets of dying fish on them all in the same ride!

    • I saw your post on the Vagabond blog, which was written quite a few years ago. Your post was fairly recent, and was wondering whether accommodations are still
      cheap.I won’t to get an idea on monthly cost are for rentals, especially near the beach. Craigslist are probably more expensive than what is typical.

      Thanks Jack

  4. Matthew, the next time you travel to Nicaragua, you should check out the East Coast. It is just as beautiful if not better than the West Coast of Nicaragua. The people on the East Coast, speak both Spanish and creole English.

  5. Hey Matt, Loved the page. I’m headed to Nicaragua for a few months at the end of May and was looking for tips on accessing money. A friend of mine just returned and she brought all her money with her in cash. I’m weary to do the same but heard I should be careful with ATM fraud.

    • I wouldn’t carry it all in cash… and never had trouble with ATMs there. Maybe ask your hostel or hotel about the best ATM in the area. Machines at a bank are less likely to cause problems.

  6. I fell in love with Nicaragua when I was studying abroad in Costa Rica. I went with my school’s gardener to visit his family outside of Rivas, and it was the best week of my life. The cock fights, the pace of life, all the great places to swim, the incredible friendliness of pretty much everyone I met… I didn’t want to go back to CR. Apparently, it’s the equivalent of Costa Rica 10 years ago!
    I’ll be back soon :)

  7. I continue to love all of your articles, so entertaining and inspiring. I also noticed on your pictures that the awesome street food grill lady is the same one we ate at in Leon. How funny, and how amazing was that food! I can smell it now just thinking about it.

  8. Great budget breakdown report! I loved how chicken buses made the highlights, lowlights, and surprises list :) I must ride one before I leave nicaragus!

  9. Ciao Moi! I am so glad that I came across this blog. I am organizing a Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast Festival for May 2014 @ , it will be a tourism and cultural affair. A way to introduce our country to people in Miami along with the tourists visiting. I will share, share your blog. Keep up the traveling and chixken bus travels :-D
    Thanks for such a great review!

  10. Hey your blog is amazing. You inspired us so much. Now we are on our way from montezuma to granada and i wonder if you still know the name and location of the hostel 4$ in granada? Thx :)

  11. I love Nicaragua been going every year since 1998.Going back Oct 5 to Oct 13 can’t wait. Estile is a great town also very cool year round

  12. Looks great – I plan to go to Panama next year but Nicaragua looks very interesting, too. My partner opts for Panama so it will be Nicaragua after that. From what I understood it is still very cheap – that’s what we were told by an American tourist in Costa Rica, he was shocked by the Costa Rican prices compared to Nicaragua. Would you recommend to rent a car there?

  13. SOLD! I just spent my morning searching the Internet if I should go to Panama or Nicaragua…and you just closed the deal for me! Looking foward to be there. Only thing is were going during the christmas break. I hope it wont be too crazy crowded.

    Just one question: we wanted to try surfing for just a day or two. Is San Juan Del Sur as bad as they say??? Favorite beaches there??? I’ve got he reserve, volcanos, and cities covered but still wonder which beaches to go to. We have to plan a bit ahead since we have only 14 days!

    Great blog by the way, I enjoy reading you!

  14. Did you rent the motorcycle? Just wondering as I have my own but not likely to ship there. Wondering about costs for it since I really don’t want to bring all my gear unless I’m actually going to use it.

    • Yup! On the island you can rent a dirtbike for $25-$40 a day. Not sure about long-term rentals in the rest of the country. You may have to do some bargaining too…

  15. Hi- I’m friends with Travelin’ Fool from and I came to visit your site and saw your Nica trip – I love it! I was in Granada and San Juan Del Sur two years ago and I always recommend it for being so cost-effective and friendly. Great to see it getting positive play on other sites as well!

  16. I love this post! Can´t agree with the volcano boarding as a highlight though…I was too busy being terrified. And I just hitchhiked for the first time today. A great experience, although I won´t be telling my loved ones until I return home. Haha. Great post-Too bad we didn´t run into each other!

    • Good for you Claire! Hitchhiking gets more bad press than it deserves. A great way to get around and meet people.

  17. Nicaragua was not on my radar at all when I started planning my 2012 RTW, but from you and a few others, it is locked in. thanks!

    • Same with me actually. Was planning on just skipping through it quickly. Funny it turned into the country I’ve stayed at the longest so far.

  18. Matthew:

    Your trip is truly inspring, and motivates me to start my plans for my next trip. I believe we are very much alike. I too have travelled all over Central America from Panama and Belize and also lived in Hawaii for 5 years, searching for adventure, where we still have a rental house. One question though; did you happen to work at that one hostel off of Kuhio and Kapahulu on that small side street (forgot the name of the street)? we lived at the Waikiki Grand across the street from Kapiolani Park and the Zoo for 9 months and walked by that hostel many times. Or maybe you worked at the other one on Ala Moana? Anyways, I look forward to hearing more about your awesome adventure. I know you will enjoy Panama…but maybe not as much as Nicaragua!

    • Too funny!
      Yes, that was the hostel. The Waikiki Beachside (aka HoKondo).

      In all the time I lived there, I never once visited the zoo across the street! Pretty bad…

  19. LOVED the Nicaraguan slide show!!!!! Hope you keep that as a “regular” feature in your Travel Reports. Surprising to hear how little you spent–you’ve come a LONG way from the kid who had his “summer earnings” spent by the end of June! Guess you couldn’t learn “budgeting” in your own backyard, only by traveling the world!!

    • I’m going to be updating old reports with the slideshow as well… :)

      And thanks for sharing my childhood budgeting skills with the internet, Mom. :roll:

  20. I think I’m going to consider myself lucky that I did not end up with volcano pellets in my skin the first time and not tempt fate with a second run :-)

  21. Traveling around the world indefinitely? When did that happen? A year went to indefinitely pretty quick!! You better budget for trips home for Christmas every now and then, we miss seeing that skinny body. = )

    • My travel addiction is only getting worse! But that doesn’t mean I won’t come home to visit… :D

  22. I was really surprised by Nicaragua. I think I spent almost a month there, and it was definitely not enough. I will return!

  23. Matthew, great overview! I’m looking forward to diving into more of the individual posts. I am getting ready to start working on the 4th edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and am glad to hear it’s still such a screaming bargain there.

  24. Nice write up and even though you spent 4 months there you looked like you had a blast, and best of all cheaply! Any reason why you stayed there so long vs other countries?

    • I needed a break from travel to get some work done, and Nicaragua’s slow pace and time-warp feel just sucked me in.

      I guess it wasn’t one reason in particular, but the combination of many.

      Most of the country has avoided getting over-developed like some others. I’m sure Nicaraguan’s might not be happy about their lack of development, but it makes for a unique travel experience.