what do things cost in costa rica?

We're not going to mince our words here. Costa Rica is expensive. If it had not been for family visiting over the festive period (and therefore free accommodation - thanks mum and dad!), we would probably have been through the country in a matter of days. 

Supermarket prices are the same, if not more, than we would have paid back home, accommodation prices will make your eyes water and the cost of activities will stretch even a flashpacker's budget. 

The costs below are the average we encountered on our time in the country, and the individual items have been chosen for their ubiquity across the world and their popularity amongst backpackers. This will allow us, and you, to make a comparison of living and travel costs across Latin America.

Currencies are local/$USD/£GBP. Conversion rate as at time of publication.

average cost of a dorm bed per person

Having only stayed in two hostels during our time here, this is a very broad average but seems relatively comparable (if not sometimes cheaper) than accommodation prices elsewhere. We simply couldn't afford doubles in Costa Rica. 

$C7000 / $13 / £8.7

4 hour bus journey per person

The buses here are comfy, air-conditioned and given the general country costs actually fairly reasonably priced.

$C3000 / $5.6 / £3.8

basic breakfast out for one

You can find reasonably priced breakfasts if you eat with the locals - dine out in gringo-bars and you'll need to at least double this.

$C1500 / $2.8 / £1.9

one litre of water

Take advantage of the fact that tap water is generally safe to drink in Costa Rica. The only places you should opt for bottled is in the port cities of Limon and Puntarenas.

$C800 / $1.5 / £1

one banana

The home of the banana - indulge freely!

$C100 / $0.2 / £0.12


cup of coffee

This is a true average - you can find it for about half that, but pay a lot more if you are discerning or fancy something frothy and fancy. 

$C1000 / $1.9 / £1.2

half dozen eggs

Buy in bulk, it's even cheaper.


$C1200 / $2.3 / £1.5

one litre of local beer

One of the more reasonably priced items on offer here - and definitely the only thing we could afford to drink!

$C1200 / $2.3 / £1.5

400g spaghetti and 400g marinara sauce

Cheaper than a meat heavy dish but the most expensive bowl of pasta in Central America we've made. 

$C2300 / $4.3 / £2.8 

can of coke

A good example of where it costs more in Costa Rica than back home in the UK.

$C595 / $1.12 / £0.74

pack of 20 local cigarettes

Surprisingly cheap considering other costs.

$C1300 / $2.4 / £1.6

check out more of our 'what do things cost' series!