Cost of Travel in Costa Rica - Best Insider Tips

Cost of travel in Costa Rica. This country is a bit more expensive than many other Central American countries, but it’s so worth it.

That said though, it has a relatively high standard of living at a lower cost compared to North America and Europe. Costa Rica has affordable housing, healthcare, and food expenses.

In this guide, we will explore the cost of travel in Costa Rica. We will start with accommodation, which takes up a large part of your budget.

Then we will move on to utilities, giving you the information you need to plan your new life. This includes mobile internet.

After that, we will go into the more practical aspects of the cost of travel in Costa Rica. This includes food, transportation, and lifestyle costs.

Once again, we will give you all the details. For example, we will share grocery stores, food apps, and more.

By the end of this guide, you will know exactly what it would cost for you to travel in Costa Rica.

Let’s get started!

Welcome to Costa Rica

For many Americans, the exotic Costa Rica is one of the best places to go in the winter. In fact, this is the season where most travelers from Europe and North America love coming here.

Costa Rica in winter has mild weather, fewer tourists, fun festivals like Fiestas de Palmares, and thrilling activities such as surfing and wildlife watching.

For those of you who love taking beach pictures, Costa Rica has some of the best. This is a destination that is on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Plus, Costa Rica is super popular with surfers, which is why we recommend getting travel insurance for surfing.

Of course, you will need a passport and visa like anywhere else.


Accommodation - Cost of Travel in Costa Rica

If you are coming to Costa Rica for the first time, we recommend using short-term rentals like Airbnb. They are way cheaper than hotels, and you actually experience the culture better.

If you are staying more than a month, this will limit your risk of being stuck in a place or neighborhood you don’t like.

By using short-term rental, you can move around in a city or area. You will be able to find where you feel most comfortable.

Expect to pay anywhere from 500 hundred to one thousand US dollars per month.

Of course, that is assuming you are not in the middle of everything. San Jose prices are pretty much similar to those of smaller U.S. cities. Other cities are much cheaper.

Utilities in Costa Rica

Cell phone companies are I.C.E., Movistar, and Claro. I.C.E., which stands for "Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad," is owned by the government. They have the best network since they have the largest.

If you do stay in a short-term rental, you will probably only need to pay for your own cell phone service.

To get a SIM card from I.C.E., visit one of their offices. They are in most towns, and the buildings are usually white, blue, and yellow.

Expect lines, paperwork, and possibly a trip to the bank to pay and get a receipt.

You must visit an official I.C.E. office because obtaining a SIM card elsewhere will involve hassle and additional steps.

Food in Costa Rica

Top grocery stores are PriceSmart, Automercado, Mega Super, Mas x Menos, Peri, and Maxi Pali. Food apps include Rappi, Blinkit, Ubereats, and more.

Once accommodation and utilities are set up, you will probably want to know what food will cost you.

The cost of food in Costa Rica varies, but generally, dining out and grocery shopping are affordable.

This makes Costa Rica a budget-friendly destination for foodies.

Meanwhile, there are several large grocery chains you will find across the country. For example, at Peri grocery store, a loaf of bread is 15 hundred Costa Rican or 3 dollars.

That said, if something is imported, it will cost more. For example, a typical product imported from the United States will be double the U.S. prices.

So, you have to shop for locally sourced items consciously when in stores.

If you plan to eat out the entire time, expect to pay around 10 dollars per meal.

Alternatively, you could use food apps to deliver it to your rental. They are cheaper than eating out, and you tend to get more food.


Costa has Didi and InDriver in addition to Uber for ridesharing.

Ridesharing apps like Uber are widely available across Costa Rica.

For example, an Uber ride from the airport to San Jose’s central neighborhoods will cost about 7 thousand Colons. That would equal to about 15 U.S. dollars.

That trip is about 10 miles or 25 kilometers, and it should take about 15 minutes in normal traffic.

In other words, expect to pay about $1.25 per mile in and around town.

If you choose to travel otherwise, there are also private car rentals, public buses, and taxis.

Buses are super cheap, ranging from 50 cents to 2 dollars.

To rent a car in Costa Rica, you need a valid driver’s license, passport, and credit card, and you must be at least 21 years old.

Rental costs vary depending on factors like the type of car, rental duration, insurance coverage, and any additional services requested.

If you decide to rent a car, expect to pay between $500 and $1000 per month, including all of the costs.

Healthcare in Costa Rica

If you are healthy and are only planning to be in the country for less than a year, we recommend getting a travel insurance.

A travel insurance will have more benefits, and it usually costs about the same. A year’s worth of travel insurance will typically cost about a thousand dollars.

If you plan not to have insurance at all, a doctor’s visit will cost about 50 dollars. For more extensive testing or specialization, the prices will go up.

Things to Do

Things to Do

Costa Rica has diverse tourist attractions.

You will find everything from incredible rainforests to gorgeous beaches.

Visit volcanoes, relax in hot springs, and even experience cloud forests.

First of all, this is a country gifted with water activities. Surfing and snorkeling in the clear waters of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts is amazing.

Costa Rica is also famous for its diverse wildlife. You will have opportunities to encounter fascinating creatures.

Howler monkeys, sloths, and toucans are just a few to mention.

If you prefer to just hang out in tourist areas, that’s also perfectly fine. There are a ton of parties here, especially in the summer months.

Costa Rica Lifestyle

Costa Ricans know how to have a good time, and lifestyle costs here are pretty inexpensive.

Activities like visiting beaches, national parks, and museums are mostly affordable or free.

Movie tickets are 5 to 10 dollars, depending on where you go. The fancier the cinema, the more it costs.

Likewise, gym memberships are anywhere from 30 to 50 dollars per month. Once again, it depends where you go.

Averages in Costa Rica

If you plan to do the tourist thing, staying in hotels and eating out, here are some averages.

For backpackers, the average per day cost of travel in Costa Rica, excluding airfare and alcohol, range from 25,000 to 50,000 Costa Rican.

That’s about 50 to 100 dollars per day.

Regular budget travel will be anywhere from 75 to 150 dollars per day.

If you are coming to Costa Rica as a couple for two weeks, expect to spend about 3000 dollars.

AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.

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