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How to Have a Cheap Nicaragua Vacation?

view of a volcano from a lake in nicaragua
Nicaragua is an affordable destination in Central America, but you have an even more affordable trip on a budget if you choose the right accommodation, activities, and transportation.

Traveling can sometimes get expensive, especially if you take along the whole family. Luckily, there are still a couple of things that can be done save when traveling or places to visit that are free or cheap. The cost of living in Nicaragua is much lower as compared to other countries in Central America.

This is a country that offers beautiful beaches and towns like San Juan del Sur, scenic lakes, Active Volcanoes, amazing traditional food, and colorful towns.

You’ll find affordable accommodation options, economical eateries, and numerous free or low-cost attractions. Plus, with a little bit of planning and some insider tips, you can extract maximum value out of your Nicaraguan trip.

In today’s guide, I’ll let you know what cheap and fun things you can do while traveling to Nicaragua, the average costs of accommodation, transportation, activities, and food, and finally, a calculation of the total cost of living.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the different ways to achieve a cheap Nicaragua vacation.

Planning a Trip to Nicaragua?
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The best way to get around is by car

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Cheap and Fun Things To Do in Nicaragua

Leon

There are two cheap things you can do In Nicaragua. First, there is the Cathedral of the city. It is the biggest cathedral in Central America and worth checking out, even if you are not a catholic. It is a beautiful place filled with artwork.

For $ 2 per person, you also get to climb up to the rooftop and explore the whole place. From here, you get an amazing skyline view of the city.

The second one can be a learning experience for everyone. It is visiting the Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs. Here, you get to learn about the civil war they suffered. It commemorates Leon’s fallen revolutionary heroes.

Walking around the towns of Granada and Leon is an amazing experience, and exploring, and checking out landmarks can be done for free.

Granada

This is a huge city, hard to explore on foot, guides charge a lot, and it costs a fortune to go in a taxi, and you don’t get enough information.

The best option for getting to know Granada is on a horse carriage. Yeah, you hear that right; it only costs $10 for the hour.

Your driver will take you to the most important streets of the city and tell you all there is to know.

Masaya Volcano

This is one of the unique activities in Nicaragua. The Masaya volcano is a place where you get to look into the crater of an active volcano. This is something you can’t miss. To be able to get into this park, all you have to pay is $10 for the car and the whole family.

Before getting to the crater, close to the entrance is the Visitors Center. Here you can see a museum, learn about the volcano and see a map of the park. There is also a place with tables where you can have a picnic.

Ometepe Island

This large freshwater island can be easily explored in a fun and cheap way – by horse. It only costs $3 per hour, and you get to ride in the middle of the forest, and kids love it!

If you prefer, you can spend some time resting and having fun with the family at the small beach between the volcanoes that form Ometepe Island. It is considered to be the prettiest freshwater beach in all of Nicaragua.

These are all great things that you can do on your vacation in Nicaragua that won’t leave your bank account empty, but most importantly, you will still have a great experience, enjoying all of these places to visit in Nicaragua.

sunset on ometepe island in nicaragua
Ometepe Island is an unmissable destination in the country and it can be done on a budget vacation to Nicaragua if you book activities in advance and ask for discounts.

The Cost Of Accommodation In Nicaragua

For instance, in San Juan del Sur, expect to pay about $29 per person per night.

On the picturesque Ometepe Island, a night’s stay averages $27. Granada, famous for its colonial architecture, offers accommodation at an average of $15 per night.

In the bustling city of Managua, the rate is slightly higher at $24, while the vibrant city of León presents a more economical option at $17 per night.

Often, these rates exclude breakfast, which typically costs an additional $6. Therefore, the rough total for a stay with breakfast in Nicaragua comes down to around $23-$25 per night, striking the perfect balance between comfort and cost-effectiveness.

Essential Travel Resources

❗Don’t forget travel insurance


This company is the one I trust, it’s one of the most essential things for any trip. It has your back in case you get sick abroad, or have an accident.

🎒Pack smarter, not bulky


Check out this vacation packing list, including all the essentials you need to pack when traveling, from travel clothing to backpacks and more.

🏡Where to Stay – Here are Suggestions


This is my favorite place to look for accommodations, it offers different types, a ton of locations, and good price options.

🗺️Get Around Hassle-Free


This one is the perfect option to look for different transportation options between cities, from flights, buses, and taxis to minivans and more.

🛫Find Cheap Flights


Whenever I need to fly, I head to this website for low-cost flights.

The Cost Of Transportation In Nicaragua

The favored mode of transportation among locals and tourists alike is the ‘Chicken Bus’, named for its packed and lively atmosphere. A trip from the serene beach town of San Juan del Sur to the bustling city of Rivas will set you back just $0.4 per person.

For even more affordability, you can barter a taxi ride from Rivas to San Jorge for a mere $3 each way. And what better way to reach the enchanting Ometepe Island than by ferry, costing only $2 per person each way?

Traverse the country further by hopping on a Chicken Bus from Rivas to Granada for $1, and continue your journey with a Microbus from Granada to Managua, then Managua to León for just $0.4 and $1 per person, respectively.

So, if we sum up, you can get around by spending no more than $1 a day. It’s cost-effective, isn’t it? Well, if you don’t like to travel on a chicken bus, there’s an alternative to the shuttle bus. You can try it, and frankly, it also doesn’t cost you a fortune. 

local colorful bus in nicaragua
Local buses are the most affordable option when it comes to getting around, but be prepared, most of the time those buses are crowded and super uncomfortable.

The Cost Of Food And Drinks In Nicaragua

If I say Nicaragua is a haven for food lovers on a budget, then it wouldn’t be wrong. Most hotels include breakfast, but if not, for a mere $2, you can kickstart your day with a hearty, healthy meal.

Lunch offers a flavorful adventure, with options ranging from tamales to grilled or griddled chicken, beef, or pork – all served with sides of beans, rice, plantains, and shredded cabbage salad – at a mere $3.

As the evening unfolds, savor a delicious dinner featuring grilled meat with rice and beans (Gallo Pinto) and tortillas for just $2.

The local beers and dark rum are available at an average cost of $6. Thus, with an average daily food cost of $7-$10 and an average drink cost of not more than $6, Nicaragua truly offers a cost-effective gastronomic delight.

a dish with rice, beans and tortillas in nicaragua
Food is incredibly affordable in the country but you can save a few bucks if you eat at local restaurants, at places where most local people eat at.

How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Nicaragua

I’ve done some rough calculations based on my experience. Your cost of living in Nicaragua can vary. But the overall cost of traveling in Nicaragua will not be more than $40-50 a day for a single person.

  • Accommodations: $25
  • Transportations: $1
  • Food & Drink: $12
  • Activities: $5
  • Miscellaneous: $3.50

Is It Worth Visiting Nicaragua On A Budget?

Absolutely! Nicaragua is a beautiful country with stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and friendly locals. It offers a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and affordability, making it an ideal destination for budget travelers.

With affordable accommodation options, cheap transportation, and delicious yet inexpensive food and drinks, you can easily explore the best that Nicaragua has to offer without breaking the bank.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on December 12, 2023

One thought on “How to Have a Cheap Nicaragua Vacation?”

  1. Some great ideas there. Being able to get that sort of view into a volcano must be an amazing experience.

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