Nicaragua Travel Budget: My Experience

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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!

My Nicaragua Slideshow

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!

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:

What About You?

Have you ever traveled to Nicaragua? What did you like or dislike?

Share Your Comments Or Questions!

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  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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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. 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!

  9. 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 :)

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!!

  17. 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. = )

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

    1. 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.