A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Guatemala City vs. San Jose

Should you visit Guatemala City or San Jose?

Should I visit Guatemala City or San Jose? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Guatemala City

Referred to by the locals as "Guate," Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala, as well as its capital. While the atmosphere of the place is big, dirty, and dangerous with city fumes and skyscrapers, it is the hub of the country. It is the place where travelers first step foot into Guatemala and, though it is a place of modern chaos, it does have some of the best galleries and museums as well as a selection of bars, cafes, and restaurants.

San Jose

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and is likely to be your first and last stop in a visit to the country. The city is situated in the Central Valley and is surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys, making for a beautiful flight in. The city has an elevation of 1200 meters and sits on a plateau with a beautiful backdrop of lush green forest. Half of the people in Costa Rica reside in the country's capital city. You are likely to stay only a day or two, but there are a handful of things to do and see including museums and markets. You will also find many embassies, as well as the University of Costa Rica in San Jose.

Which city is cheaper, San Jose or Guatemala City?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Guatemala City is $36, while the average daily cost in San Jose is $45. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Guatemala City and San Jose in more detail.




Accommodation

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $19. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Guatemala City the cost is $38 on average.

The prices for places to stay in San Jose can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $27, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $54.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Guatemala City $19
    San Jose $27
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Guatemala City $38
    San Jose $54


Food

On average, meal and food prices in Guatemala City cost around $12 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $4.80.

While meal prices in San Jose can vary, the average travelers spends about $7.73 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in San Jose should cost around $3.09 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in San Jose is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Guatemala City $12
    San Jose $7.73

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Guatemala City

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Guatemala City.

  • Taste Antigua Guatemala Walking Food Tour: $70
  • Guatemala Food Tour from Guatemala City: $117
  • Small-Group Cooking Class in Antigua from Guatemala City: $118
  • Antigua Market, Cooking Class and Choco Museum from Guatemala City: $178

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Jose

For San Jose, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Half-Day San Jose Evening Bus Tour with Dinner and Pickup: $66
  • Vip Evening Sightseeing Tour with Dinner: $66
  • San Jose Evening Tour with Dinner: $77
  • Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner: $160


Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Guatemala City is $4.96 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.

To get around in San Jose, the average visitor spends $7.49 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Guatemala City $4.96
    San Jose $7.49

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Guatemala City

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Guatemala City:

  • Transfer from Airport to Antigua: $70
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Guatemala City Hotels to Airport: $14
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Guatemala City Airport to Hotels: $14
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Guatemala City Airport to Antigua: $16
  • Private Transfer from La Aurora Airport to Antigua Guatemala: $28
  • Private Transfer from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán: $120
  • Private Transfer from Guatemala City to Coban: $155
  • Private Airport Transfer: Guatemala to La Aurora International Airport (GUA): $38
  • Ground Transfer Guatemala City To Panajachel, Lake Atitlan: $128
  • Collective Transfer From Guatemala City to La Aurora Airport: $20
  • Airport transfer from Guatemala City airport to Antigua: $26

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Jose

Some typical examples of transportation costs in San Jose are as follows:


  • Taxi from SJO
    $21
  • Local Bus
    $2.23

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Jose

Also for San Jose, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer: Juan Santamaria Int. Airport (SJO) to Alajuela: $25
  • Departure Private Transfer: San Jose City to San Jose Airport SJO by Minivan: $29
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from SanJose City to SanJose Juan Santamaría Airport: $30
  • Private transfer from San Jose-Heredia-Alajuela Hotels to International Airport: $55
  • Private Transfer from San Jose Airport One Way: $56
  • San Jose Arrival Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $65
  • San Jose Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $65
  • San Jose Arrival Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive Sedan: $65
  • San Jose Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive Sedan: $65
  • Private transfer from SJO Intl Airport to downtown Hotels: $65
  • Low Cost Private Transfer From Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport to San Jose City - One Way: $73
  • Low Cost Private Transfer From Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport to Mountain View City - One Way: $73


Entertainment

Guatemala City's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $0.97 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.

In San Jose, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $4.81 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Guatemala City $0.97
    San Jose $4.81

Tours and Activities in Guatemala City

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Guatemala City are as follows:

  • 11-Day Mayan Ruins Tour: Guatemala and Copán: $1,859
  • 2 Day Tour Share and Private to Copan and Quirigua: $247
  • 2 Day Tour: Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan from Guatemala City: $150
  • 2-Day Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour from Guatemala City or Antigua: $265
  • 2-Day Tour: Auto Safari Chapín Zoo and Monterrico Black Sand Beach from Guatemala City or Antigua: $276
  • 3-Day Tour of Cobán and Semuc Champey from Guatemala City: $391
  • 4-Day Tour: Guatemala City, Antigua, Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan: $345
  • 5-Day Tour from Antigua, Chichicastenango, Panajachel and Santiago Atitlán: $439
  • 6-Day Tour: Traditional Guatemala Including Antigua, Chichicastenango Market, Lake Atitlan and Tikal: $910
  • 8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins: $1,508
  • Acatenango Volcano Overnight Adventure from Guatemala City: $295
  • Antigua City Tour from Guatemala City: $69

Tours and Activities in San Jose

For San Jose, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Skip the Line: The Childrens Museum Ticket in Costa Rica: $7.00
  • San Jose Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • San Jose Welcome Tour: Private Tour with a Local: $30
  • Skip the Line: The National Museum Admission Ticket: $30
  • San Jose Like a Local: Customized Private Tour: $31
  • San Jose ART Walking Tour - small groups, creative experience: $32
  • San Jose Bites and Sights Tour: $34
  • San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture: $38
  • Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary Admission Ticket: $39
  • Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Tour: $44
  • From 2.5-Hour Costa Rica Atlantic Zip Line Tour: $50
  • San Jose City Tour: $53


Alcohol

The average person spends about $5.50 on alcoholic beverages in Guatemala City per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.

Typically, people visiting San Jose spend on average $5.92 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Guatemala City $5.50
    San Jose $5.92

Sample the Local Flavors in San Jose

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in San Jose:

  • San Jose Bar Hunt: Sweet San Jose Bar Crawl: $12



When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Guatemala City and San Jose, we can see that San Jose is more expensive. And not only is Guatemala City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Guatemala City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Guatemala City and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in San Jose would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Jose than you might in Guatemala City.

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Guatemala City vs. San Jose Travel Comparison

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