6 Awesome Ways to Have Fun in Costa Rica on a Budget in 2023
Costa Rica is a beautiful and diverse country that offers plenty of fun activities and experiences for every traveler. Whether you are looking to spend time with nature, looking for relaxation, or doing adventures, you can find everything here. But is it possible to visit Costa Rica on a budget?
Yes, it is! One of the best parts about visiting Costa Rica is that you only need a small amount of money to experience it. With some planning and budget-friendly tips, you can have a fantastic trip to Costa Rica without spending a fortune.
First, consider the time of year you plan to visit. The peak season for tourists is from December to April, and you have to pay higher prices for accommodations and other activities.
If you can travel during the low season, from May to November, you will find great deals and discounts for lodging and adventurous activities. Next, look for budget-friendly accommodation. Costa Rica has many affordable options, from camping to hostels and hotels to resorts. Do your research and find the best deals for you.
Transportation is another area where you can save a lot of money. Public transportation will be more economical than hiring a private driver with a rental car. You can easily travel between cities by public transportation.
It would be better to plan your trip according to the activities you want to do. Many national parks and nature reserve spots have entrance fees, but they often offer students and local residents discounts.
Moreover, consider the time of day you plan to visit because some places offer reduced cost of tickets for visiting during non-peak hours.
Always look for opportunities to avail discounts and offers. Also, you must be aware of scams and frauds to save money.
Hiring a local tour guide to spend your money wisely in Costa Rica is best. From affordable accommodations to delicious and cheap food, you can experience all this country offers.
Costa Rica is an excellent destination for budget-conscious travelers! Here are some tips for having a blast in Costa Rica without breaking the bank!
#1: Take Public Transportation
Moving from one place to another is a significant portion of your budget. Though Costa Rica is a small country, hiring a private rental car can be costly and disturb your budget.
So, it is better to take public transport, especially in cities like San José. Costa Rica has modern public transport, which offers a comfortable journey at a low cost.
Other than money-saving, public transportation can be an excellent opportunity for tourists to experience culture and meet locals. Costa Ricans travel by public transport, and tourists can interact with them and learn more about this fantastic country from them.
Public transport also allows tourists to reach places off the beaten path and not easily accessible by car. For example, many of the small tourist towns and villages in Costa Rica can only be reached by local buses. This is a great way to get a sense of the local culture and see the parts of the country that are not as heavily touristed.
Public transport in Costa Rica is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to explore Costa Rica. The country has a well-developed public transport system, including buses, trains, and shuttles, connecting major cities and tourist destinations. Moreover, you can reduce carbon footprints and contribute to the country’s sustainable tourism efforts.
One of the cheapest transportation options is shared vans and mini public buses. If you are planning to travel on long routes, consider taking shared vans which will cost you only 15-25 USD, rather than paying $100 for a private taxi.
Moreover, these shared vans provide an excellent opportunity to interact with local people and learn a little bit of Spanish. However, these vans are usually crowded and can be slow.
Besides using public transport, you can also keep an eye on cheap flights to travel from one place to another in Costa Rica. Many airlines offer discounted rates in off-peak season, and you can get a good deal from one corner of the country to another in less time. It will save you money and time you can utilize visiting some unique tourist places.
In summary, traveling on public transport in Costa Rica is a cost-effective and culturally enriching way to explore this beautiful country. The public transportation system is reliable and well-connected, making it convenient for travelers to reach significant tourist destinations.
So, we recommend you take public transportation to save money and enjoy your trip.
#2: Eat Local
Food can be expensive in Costa Rica if you eat at luxury restaurants that are famous among tourists. Eating three times a day at these restaurants can disturb your budget. So, eating at local restaurants is the best way for budget travelers to save money.
One of the best ways to find local food in Costa Rica is by visiting stress vendors and farmer’s markets. These markets are typically filled with fresh fruits, including coconuts, papayas, and bananas, that are grown and raised locally.
The quality of this food is high, and prices are often much lower than those at supermarkets. Also, you can eat street food which is very common among locals and tourists.
There is a wide variety of dishes, which are more affordable than in touristy restaurants. Moreover, the street food in Costa Rica has fantastic taste, and you can not resist eating it again.
You can eat local dishes which are full of taste and will also save you money. Some popular dishes in Costa Rica include “Gallo Pinto,” prepared with rice and black beans.
Also, try “Casado,” a plate with rice, beans, meat, and vegetables. Also, try a plate of beef, pinto, and fried plantains at only $3, which you can find at any local food stall.
These will be enough to enjoy the local taste at a low cost. Many local restaurants offer these fantastic dishes, and you will feel full after eating them.
Another traditional open-place restaurant run by local families, Soda, is an excellent place for dining at a low cost of around $5 to $8. The ambiance of these places is incredible, and you will feel like a local Costa Rican while sitting and eating here.
To enjoy bakery items, pizza, sandwiches, and drinks at cheaper rates, you should try local bakeries in Costa Rica. Tutu and Musamanni are some of the most famous bakeries where you can eat by spending as lower as .90 cents to $3 US dollars.
Some rentals and hotels provide a kitchen facility where tourists can make food. You can buy low-cost items from local grocery stores and cook traditional-style dishes at your accommodation. This is the cheapest way to save money for other fun activities.
Local restaurants and Street food are not only tasty but also a great way to save money. Not only does it provides a budget-friendly option, but it also allows you to experience the authentic flavors and the culture of Costa Rica.
#3: Stay In a Hostel
If you are a frequent traveler, you must know that the cost of accommodation covers a significant portion of your travel expenses. Costa Rica has a variety of staying options. You can book a private room in a hotel or rental home.
However, these options can cost you a fortune, and you must run out of money for other fun activities. We recommend you book a spot in a shared dorm room in a hostel, which is cheaper than the other accommodation options. Hostels are a great way to meet other travelers and save money when staying in places like the capital, San Jose, and smaller towns.
Staying in a hostel can be a great way to save money while traveling to Costa Rica. Hostels offer budget-friendly accommodation options for travelers, with many offering dormitory-style rooms with shared bedrooms and common areas. If you are traveling alone or in a small group.
One of the main advantages of staying in a hotel in Costa Rica is that they are often located in popular tourist areas, making it convenient to explore this country’s beautiful places and culture. Moreover, these hostels have lower prices compared to staying in a hotel room.
Many hostels also offer activities and tours tailored to their guests’ interests, such as surfing, hiking, snorkeling, and wildlife watching. This is a great way to explore the culture and make new friends while you travel.
You can meet with other travelers staying with you in the same room. Moreover, hostels have common areas where you can relax and socialize, such as lounges, kitchens, and outdoor spaces. This can be the best time to explore different nations’ cultures worldwide.
When you stay in a hostel in Costa Rica, you can expect the basic amenities a bed, a locker, and shared bathrooms. Some hostels also offer additional facilities like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, laundry facilities, and on-site restaurants. The average cost of a standard hostel room is $10 to $20 per night.
It is important to remember that hostels can be busy and noisy, especially during peak travel seasons, so it is best to be prepared for a more social and less private experience.
Check out some of the best things you could bring if you’re staying in a hostel:
Overall, if you are traveling to Costa Rica for the first time, staying in a hostel is a good option. You can know how many other things cost, and then you can plan your next trip accordingly. We recommend you always check for customer reviews before booking a dorm room in a hostel.
#4: Find Local Discounts
Costa Rica is one of the most popular Central American countries among tourists. Exploring this beautiful country can be costly.
But with planning and money-saving activities, you can visit with even a low budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to find local discounts in Costa Rica that can help you save money while still enjoying all the country has to offer.
One of the best ways to find local discounts in Costa Rica is to ask around. Many attractions offer student discounts or other discounts for locals, so be sure to ask when you’re out and about.
For example, many national parks and wildlife reserves offer discounted rates for Costa Rican citizens. If you’re a student, bring your student ID, as many museums, zoos, and other attractions offer discounted rates for students.
If you want some gifts to take back home, don’t buy them at airport souvenir shops. Buying local gifts from supermarkets is cheaper than the airport gift stores.
For example, if you want to buy a famous coffee maker in Costa Rica, supermarkets are the best option having a price range of $5-10 USD. However, the same coffee maker costs around $30 at souvenir stores.
Another way to find local discounts in Costa Rica is to plan your trip during the off-season. Many tourist destinations offer discounted rates during the low season, typically from May to November.
This is a great time to visit Costa Rica as the weather is still warm and the crowds are smaller. Additionally, many hotels and resorts offer discounted rates during the low season, so check for deals before booking your trip.
One of the most popular activities in Costa Rica is zip-lining. Costa Rica offers some of the best zip-lining in the world.
You’ll find many tour companies that offer discounted rates on zip-lining tours. You can also find discounts on other adventure activities such as rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
Another way to save money in Costa Rica is to buy a local SIM card for your phone. This will allow you to make a much lower rate of local calls than if you used your international phone plan. This can be especially helpful if you plan to do a lot of traveling around the country and need to make a lot of calls.
Costa Rica can be expensive if you do not know how to spend your money. So, finding local discounts can be easy, and every tourist can avail of this opportunity to make their tour budget-friendly and memorable.
#5: Take Advantage of Free Activities
Costa Rica is a popular destination for tourists because they have plenty of activities to do. You can enjoy paid and free activities while visiting this fantastic country.
Visit national parks and nature reserves. Costa Rica is home to many protected areas that showcase the country’s diverse flora and fauna.
Some popular options include Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero National Park, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. These areas offer hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and stunning natural scenery.
Costa Rica is home to several volcanic areas, which means plenty of natural hot springs to enjoy. Some popular options include Tabacón Hot Springs, Baldi Hot Springs, and Arenal Hot Springs. These areas offer a relaxing and rejuvenating way to spend an afternoon.
Visit museums and cultural centers. Costa Rica is home to many museums and cultural centers that offer free or low-cost admission. Some popular options include the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Museum, and the Gold Museum.
Go on a bird-watching tour. Costa Rica is home to many species of birds, and many tour companies offer free or low-cost bird-watching tours. These tours are a great way to learn about the country’s avian wildlife and see some of the rarest species.
Go surfing or stand-up paddleboarding. Costa Rica is home to great surf spots, and many beaches offer rental equipment and lessons. Stand-up paddleboarding is also popular and can be done on the calm waters of many of the country’s lakes and rivers.
Go on a night hike. Costa Rica is home to many beautiful hiking trails, and many tour companies offer free or low-cost night hikes. These hikes are a great way to explore the country’s natural beauty and see some nocturnal wildlife.
Go for Coffee tours. The coffee of Costa Rica is one of the best in the world. There are many local coffee plantations where you can take the time to see how coffee is produced.
We will share some other famous spots which you can visit.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is a popular tourist destination located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The park is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, and diverse wildlife.
The park covers an area home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Visitors can spot monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and many species of birds, as well as a variety of butterflies and other insects.
The park is also home to several hiking trails, which range in difficulty and offer visitors the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems.
One of the most popular attractions in the park is the beautiful Manuel Antonio beach. The beach is known for its clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing on the beach. The park also has several picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Manuel Antonio National Park is also home to several other beaches, including Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. These beaches are also popular with visitors and offer a range of activities, such as snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano National Park is a popular tourist destination located in the northwestern region of Costa Rica. The park is known for its namesake volcano, Arenal, one of the country’s most active volcanoes.
The volcano is a conical shape volcano known for its near-constant activity. Visitors can see the volcano from several lookout points and often see ash and lava eruptions. The park also offers guided tours of the volcano, allowing visitors to learn more about its geology and history.
The park is also home to several hot springs from the volcano’s heat. Visitors can relax in the warm waters of these natural hot springs and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The park also has several picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. During the peak tourist season, the park can get quite crowded, so it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
#6: Budget-Friendly Hot Springs Resorts
There are many hot springs resorts in Costa Rica where you can enjoy the warmth of natural water heated from nearby volcanoes. Los Lagos Resort and Spa is a luxury resort located in the Arenal region of Costa Rica, known for its natural hot springs.
The resort offers a unique blend of natural beauty, luxury amenities, and relaxation, making it a popular destination for travelers looking to experience the best of what Costa Rica offers.
One of the main attractions of the resort is its natural hot springs. The hot springs are fed by the Arenal volcano and offer a range of temperatures and mineral compositions, making them perfect for soaking and relaxation. Guests can enjoy the hot springs in various settings, such as in the open-air pool or private hot tubs.
The resort also offers a full-service spa where guests can enjoy a range of treatments and services, such as massages, facials, and body treatments. In addition, this spa is designed to offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience and uses natural ingredients and traditional techniques to provide a holistic approach to wellness.
Los Lagos Resort and Spa is a popular destination for couples and families and offers a wide range of accommodations to suit different needs and budgets. The resort is also an eco-friendly property and has implemented several sustainability initiatives to minimize its environmental impact.
From hiking through the lush rainforests to sampling traditional cuisine and interacting with the friendly locals, there’s no telling what exciting experiences we’ll have on this one-of-a-kind journey. We can’t wait to see what secrets this beautiful country holds for us.