Nicaragua Trip Budget: Costs & Tips
There are many wonderful places to visit in Nicaragua. But by the time we arrived here we were fairly sick of moving around, so we opted to stay in Granada and take day trips into the surrounding areas. The upside is that Granada is a fairly cheap place to stay. The downside is the low prices tempted us into splurging more than we should. Here’s my Nicaragua trip budget, and some tips for seeing Nicaragua on the cheap:
The official currency of Nicaragua is the Córdoba. Though many places will accept US dollars (and quote the prices in dollars), we found it easier to stick to just using Córdobas, as they are accepted everywhere. If you do use dollars, make sure they are in perfect condition (no rips or marks), or they may not be accepted. The exchange rate is roughly US$1 to C$28.
We found that a double room in Nicaragua cost the same or even less as two dorm beds. So we opted for private rooms, and spent US$8-10 each per night. Our hostel in Granada had good self-catering facilities, but there were so many wonderful places to eat nearby that we ate out way more than planned!
We took bus trips from Granada to nearby destinations. These trips usually took just 30 minutes to an hour, and cost just C$10-15 (US$0.50). Keep an eye on what other passengers are paying however, as sometimes we were asked for a higher price.
Taxis cost roughly US$1 per kilometre. Arrange a price in advance, and don’t forget to bargain.
Nicaragua Food & Drink
There are some great places to eat in Granada. A meal in a fairly upscale restaurant will cost US$5, while a set lunch in a local diner will cost just US$2. Most places will add 15% tax and 10% service charge to the bill. Bars generally charge US$1-2 for a local beer.
Nicaragua Activities & Entrance Fees
From our base in Granada, we took day trips to some great surrounding areas. We visited one of the Pueblas Blancas, and took in a view of the Laguna (entry to the viewpoint US$1). Although Masaya National Park was unfortunately closed, we visited the scenic town of Masaya. We also hiked to the top of Mombacho volcano, which was our most expensive day, at US$15 for entry and US$10 for the bus back down.
Overall, we each spent C$6,000 (US$208) in 6 days. This works out at C$1,000/ US$34. Surprisingly, our Nicaragua trip budget ended up higher than more expensive country of Panama. Though this was largely due to the fact that, as things were cheaper, we were treating ourselves and eating out more!
Nicaragua Trip Budget Tips
Hike independently. Many trails require a guide and permit, but there are some that can be done independently (though you still may need to pay an entrance fee).
Reuse your water bottle. The tap water in Nicaragua is generally not safe to drink. But if you have a reusable water bottle, you can fill it up from the supply at your hostel, cutting down on both costs and plastic waste.
Take the local chicken buses. The tourist shuttles are quicker and far comfier, but way more expensive. You can cut prices in half (or more) by using local buses.
Eat at local food stalls, and cook for yourself (sometimes). We treated ourselves to a lot of nice meals, and this added up throughout our time in Nicaragua.
For more Central America trip budgets, click here.