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Cheapest Central American countries to visit in 2024

For many years, newly-minted travelers put off trips to Central America. These countries are considered one of the poorest ones in the world, and some people think Central American countries are unsafe. We’re here to debunk this myth. Parts of most countries in the world have their shady sides. There’s one simple solution, avoid them.

A woman balancing on a log under a palm tree while watching sunset from a beach in Costa Rica.
Beach sunsets in Costa Rica, Central America © Getty Images

Central America will allow you to see various forms of untouched beauty, whether it’s nature, historical monuments, or fascinating wildlife. See the ruins of Mayan cities lost in jungles, active volcanoes, white sandy beaches of the Caribbean coast, and architectural gems at affordable prices and beneficial currency exchange rates.

Cheap Central American destinations where you can travel on a tight budget

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Honduras
  3. Bahamas
  4. Guatemala
  5. Panama
  6. Belize

Costa Rica – A country where Pura Vida is a lifestyle

Costa Rica is the first magnificent country to debunk all stereotypes about Central America. Just think: this peaceful and prospective country does not even have a standing army (it was disbanded in 1949). Local citizens always say “Pura Vida” (which translates to “pure life”) to highlight how happy they are among mountain ranges, emerald volcanic lakes, waterfalls, and silvery sand beaches. Now’s your chance to experience Pura Vida at a reasonable cost.

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Let’s see what stunning places you can see in this country of happiness.

Nicoya Peninsula – A dream escape

The Nicoya Peninsula gives you the unforgettable atmosphere of a tropical paradise. The white sandy beaches and clear waters of Nicoya are called the pearls of Costa Rica. Many tourists with children gravitate to Santa Teresa beach, where you can find all the conveniences you need for the best beach relaxation.

Relax at Limón – One of the most developed resorts of Costa Rica

Limón is a colorful city that attracts various types of travelers. The resort is well-developed and suitable for everyone: young people who love noisy parties, lovers of water sports, and those who want to soak up the sun while surrounded by exotic nature. There are enough shops, entertainment centers, restaurants with national cuisine, and hotels at different price categories.

Manzanillo Beach Scenery in south Caribbean Costa Rica
Manzanillo Beach Scenery in south Caribbean Costa Rica © Getty Images

Visit the capital of happiness – San José

San José is an incredible city, with smiling people everywhere. You can find good budget-friendly accommodation options even in the city center. The best way to start the day is to go out on the Avenida Central pedestrian street and grab an aromatic takeaway Costa Rican coffee. Sip your morning coffee and admire beautiful buildings in the neoclassical and colonial styles.

Everything you did not know about Costa Rica in numbers

Area: 51,179 km2 Language: Spanish Capital city: San José
Population: 5.09 million Local Currency: Costa Rican colón Time zone: GMT-6

Average monthly temperatures in San Jose, Costa Rica

Avg Temp San Jose Costa Rica

Honduras – As if you traveled back in time

If you want to go back many centuries or wander through the pristine jungles, Honduras is the perfect place for you. Honduras is not a very popular destination, but once you hear about Copán – an ancient city with pyramids, statues, temples, platforms, and a stadium – you will want to visit it.

Best places to visit in Honduras

Besides Copán, there are plenty of places to go in Honduras for a nice vacation.

Spend your vacation in the tropical paradise of Roatan Island

Roatan Island is a perfect vacation spot due to its green hills and crystal-clear water, through which you can see jaw-dropping coral reefs. Diving enthusiasts come here to see tropical fish species, sea turtles, huge stingrays, moray eels, and even whale sharks in the spring. The average tourist can stay here at a high level of comfort for up to twenty dollars per day.

Scuba diver with huge black grouper and Caribbean reef shark
Scuba diver with huge black grouper and Caribbean reef shark in Roatan © Getty Images

Tegucigalpa – A capital with stunning greenery

The capital of Honduras is located on the Chelutek River, next to the picturesque slopes of Mount El Picacho. No traveler should skip the world-famous Lancetilla Botanical Garden, the second largest tropical botanical garden. Admire charming architectural creations, like the church of Iglesia de San Francisco, Morazan Square, and many cozy pedestrian streets.

Everything you did not know about Honduras in numbers

Area: 112,494 km2 Language: Spanish Capital city: Tegucigalpa
Population: 10 million Local Currency: Honduran lempira Time zone: GMT-6
Happy,Traveller,Woman,In,White,Dress,Enjoys,Her,Tropical,Beach
Bahamas paradise © Getty Images

Bahamas – A vacation straight out of an advertising brochure

The tropical paradise of the Bahamas spans 700 islands and over 2,000 small cays scattered across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Each one is stunning and unique in so many ways.

Best places to visit in the Bahamas

Let’s consider the best places to stay in the Bahamas to experience world-class holiday experiences such as fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, and sailing.

Green Turtle Cay – Fly here to break free

The peaceful five-kilometer Green Turtle Cay is a much-loved haven for those seeking seclusion. Beautiful beaches with lakes and the island’s crystal-clear waters offer excellent swimming, diving, snorkeling, and boating opportunities. If boredom strikes, you can also take a ten-minute ferry ride to the bigger and more crowded Treasure Cay.

Dive into a land of contrasts on Long Island

Long Island is the best destination for those who want to see the Bahamas from different angles. Almost 130 kilometers long, the island boasts sandy beaches on the west coast and steep rocky cliffs on the east. Various water activities like fishing, diving, and boating are also available. Take breathtaking shots of the island’s pink-sanded beach at sunset.

Nassau – Travel to the capital

Paradise Island Nassau Bahamas
Paradise Island Nassau Bahamas © Getty Images

Although quite crowded, Nassau is still a must-see in the Bahamas. Spend at least one to two days here to bask on the white sands of Cable Beach; explore the shops, restaurants, museums, and candy-style colonial buildings of downtown and Bay Street; and browse the gift shop at the Nassau Straw Market. You can also take a catamaran ride from Nassau to say hello to dolphins.

Everything about the Bahamas in numbers

Area: 13,880 km2 Language: English Capital city: Nassau
Population: 396,914 Local Currency: Bahamian dollar Time zone: GMT-4

Average monthly temperatures in Nassau, The Bahamas

Avg Temp Nassau The Bahamas

Guatemala – Travel to the country of trees

The name of this country comes from the word cuauhtēmallān, which is Aztec for “a place of many trees.” And not the basic ones! These are trees where real natives still live, where you can take part in mystical shamanic rituals, and where you can see the villages where the descendants of the legendary Maya live with your own eyes. And much, much more.

Best places to visit in Guatemala

Let’s see the best places to get to know amazing Guatemala.

The best things hide in the suburbs of Quetzaltenango

Stop by the park in the central area of Quetzaltenango. Soak up magnificent views of the dramatic volcanoes surrounding Quetzaltenango. Not all great things can be found in the city. Explore the suburbs for a taste of local life, or take a trip to some natural hot springs.

Antigua – Where eternal spring reigns

Antigua has a supreme appeal like no other place in the country. The climate here is amazing: the weather here is mild like it’s spring all year round. Crime rates are the lowest in the country. And the city itself looks like a vast, alluring museum with many buildings of Spanish architecture, elaborate monuments, and cozy restaurants, creating a special atmosphere for your leisurely, commotion-free vacation.

Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua, Guatemala, at sunrise
Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua, Guatemala, at sunrise © Getty Images

See an ancient city in the largest capital of Central America, Guatemala City

The capital of Guatemala is the largest city in Central America. Adventure-seekers should see the famous pyramids, whose purpose is still a mystery. Visit Tikal National Park, hosting the ruins of an ancient city and sanctuaries built over 2000 years ago. History buffs, get ready to be genuinely in awe.

Everything you did not know about Guatemala in numbers

Area: 108,889 km2 Language: Spanish Capital city: Guatemala City
Population: 17.1 million Local Currency: Guatemalan quetzal Time zone: GMT-6

Average monthly temperatures in Guatemala City, Guatemala

Avg Temp Guatemala City Guatemala

Panama – A destination of beautiful contrasts

Panama is a low cost travel destination that surprises you with its contrasts, fascinates you with its beauty, and beckons you with its aroma of coffee. Besides the famous Panama Canal, there’s plenty to see. Just imagine all this in one country: tropical forests and tall skyscrapers, volcanoes, and offices of international banks and offshore companies.

Best places to visit in Panama

Here are a few fascinating places to check out on your trip to Panama.

Have an idyllic, unhurried vacation in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is a heavenly town with white sand beaches. It has everything you need for a relaxing vacation, from good inexpensive hotels to cozy local cafes and tourist attractions to keep the kids occupied.

Boquete – Heaven in the mountains

Boquete is a mountain town perched on the slopes of the highest volcano of Bari. See some of the best coffee plantations in the world, along with beautiful flowers that bloom all year round.

Coffee Harvesting in Panama
Coffee Harvesting in Panama © Getty Images

Those who are retired love Boquete. It’s a brilliant place to settle down after your working career comes to a close. Special benefits for seniors are more than generous, and there’s warm weather all year round.

Feel like a modern citizen and a pirate of the Caribbean at the same time in Panama City

Panama City’s architecture is impressive, from colonial buildings to modern skyscrapers. It takes advancements to a whole new level. Step back in time by taking a short trip to the city of Fort San Lorenzo, an abandoned village with ruins left to be discovered.

Everything you did not know about Panama in numbers

Area: 75,517 km2 Language: Spanish Capital city: Panama City
Population: 4.3 million Local Currency: Panamanian balboa Time zone: GMT-5

 

Belize – Where European and Latin traditions mix and create a unique traveling experience

Belize is the only officially English-speaking country in Central America, which makes it an ideal destination if you are not an experienced traveler and are afraid of a language barrier during your trip.

Best places to visit in Belize

Here are some brilliant places to visit in this colorful country.

Great nightlife and tasty alcohol make you dance all night long in San Pedro

San Pedro is amazing both day and night. By day, you can find some of Belize’s most beautiful beaches. And by night, stop by various bustling discos, cafes, and fancy restaurants to immerse yourself in the nightlife scene.

Belize City – A former capital with amazing architecture

Belize City is the country’s former capital, and wow, is it fun to explore? It remains a symbol of the country, with chic and breathtaking architecture and affordable prices, for everything from accommodations to leisure and souvenirs.

A bus motors along a street in downtown Belize City.
A bus motors along a street in downtown Belize City © Getty Images

Visit the smallest capital on Earth: Belmopan

Belmopan is the current capital of Belize, and it is the smallest capital on Earth. Travelers note that the city has an excellent infrastructure for comfortable staying and sightseeing. As for sites, there are no real touristy places besides Guanacaste and St. Herman’s Blue Hole national parks. Nevertheless, it’s worth coming here to enjoy the city’s beauty, where modern buildings rise among jungles.

Everything you did not know about Belize in numbers

Area: 22,966 km2 Language: English Capital city: Belmopan
Population: 404,915 Local Currency: Belizean dollar Time zone: GMT-6

Average monthly temperatures in Belize City, Belize

Avg Temp Belize City Belize

Want to find out more about the cheapest vacation places? Read Kiwi.com Stories

Frequently asked questions

What are the cheapest countries to retire in?

  • Panama
  • Belize
These are some of the safest countries in Central America.

Which countries have the cheapest gas?
How can I travel on a budget?

  • Be flexible with your dates.
  • Travel in the off season.
  • Search for discounts.

How can I create a travel budget?

  • Budget for flights (how to get to the country).
  • Budget for transportation (bus, taxi, or train for getting around the country).
  • Budget for accommodation (define what type of accommodation you want and count how many nights you will stay).
  • Budget for food (determine how many meals you'll eat a day and the average price of food in the country you're traveling to).
  • Budget for activities (even if you are going to travel on a minimal budget, it is always better to allocate around $10–20 dollars per day, in case you can't resist something interesting).

How can I make money and travel at the same time?

  • Become a freelancer
Find appropriate platforms, get customers, and forget about sitting and working in one place!
  •  Capture and sell
Traveling around countries, you will encounter innumerable beautiful places. Try to take good shots, upload them on stock websites, and get money.
  • Start a travel blog
Give people some tips on how to travel from your past experiences and make money from doing it.

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