A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers San Pedro La Laguna vs. San Jose for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Pedro La Laguna or San Jose?

Should I visit San Pedro La Laguna 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.

San Pedro La Laguna

Located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlan is a beautiful volcanic lake ringed by small towns and villages that are highly frequented by backpackers. Panajachal is one of the best known of the towns, as well as the main entry point of the region, while others like San Pedro La Laguna are quieter and more off the beaten path. Lake Atitlan and its villages attract visitors for its scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and Mayan culture nearby.

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 San Pedro La Laguna?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Pedro La Laguna is $29, while the average daily cost in San Jose is $60. 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 San Pedro La Laguna and San Jose in more detail.



Accommodation

An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $13 in San Pedro La Laguna For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.

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 $32, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $64.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Pedro La Laguna $6.62
    San Jose $32
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Pedro La Laguna $13
    San Jose $64

Food

In San Pedro La Laguna travelers spend around $8.80 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.

While meal prices in San Jose can vary, the average travelers spends about $11 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in San Jose should cost around $4.40 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
    San Pedro La Laguna $8.80
    San Jose $11
Typical Food prices in San Pedro La Laguna

For San Pedro La Laguna, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lemonade
    $2.07
  • Cake
    $1.29
  • Ice cream
    $0.39
  • Hot Cocoa & Banana Bread
    $2.97

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

San Pedro La Laguna's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $11 per person, per day on transportation in San Pedro La Laguna.

To get around in San Jose, the average visitor spends $17 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.
    San Pedro La Laguna $11
    San Jose $17

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Jose

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


  • Taxi from SJO
    $20
  • Local Bus
    $2.21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Jose

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

  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from SanJose City to SanJose Juan Santamaría Airport: $30
  • Transfer from San Jose Airport CR (SJO) to Arenal La Fortuna Hotels: $145
  • Transfer from Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport to San Jose: $75
  • Transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose Airport: $169
  • Transfer TO or FROM SJO Airport to Samara Beach: $292
  • Transfer TO or FROM SJO Airport to Puerto Viejo Talamanca Limón: $275
  • Transfer From San Jose To La Fortuna, Arenal: $162
  • San José to Norman Y. Mineta San José Airport (SJC) - Departure Private Transfer: $75
  • San José Airport (SJC) to San Francisco - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $321
  • San José Airport (SJC) to San Francisco - Arrival Private Transfer: $160
  • San Jose Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive Sedan: $130
  • San Jose Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive SUV: $160

Is it cheaper to fly into San Pedro La Laguna or San Jose?

Prices for flights to both San Jose and San Pedro La Laguna change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in San Pedro La Laguna can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $17 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.

In San Jose, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $14 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Pedro La Laguna $17
    San Jose $14
Typical Entertainment prices in San Pedro La Laguna

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for San Pedro La Laguna's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Canopy Tour (for 2)
    $39
  • Kayaking (for 2)
    $1.94
  • Coffee Tour (for 2)
    $6.98

Tours and Activities in San Pedro La Laguna

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

  • Camping, Short hike & Watch the sunrise on the top of Indian Nose (Private tour): $85
  • Chichicastenango Market Day Tour: $60
  • Get fun with an Adventure Tour - Zip Line (Canopy): $51
  • Horseback Riding Tour: $51
  • Indian Nose Hiking Adventure (custom and private tour): $51
  • Lake Atitlan Village Tour - from Panajachel: $205

Tours and Activities in San Jose

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

  • 1 Night in Tortuguero + Tour to the Tortuguero National Park: $555
  • 11-Day Tour from Monteverde Cloud Forest and Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Parks: $1,693
  • 13 Days - Fly & Drive - Touring Costa Rica: $2,770
  • 3 in 1 Eco Tour Rain Forest Aerial Tram, River Cruise & Nature Walk Private Tour: $315
  • 3-Day Monteverde Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio Park Tour All Inclusive: $485
  • 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Tour from San Jose: $355
  • 3-Day Tour to Tortuguero National Park from San Jose: $708
  • 3-Days Eco Adventure Tortuguero National Park walking & Canoe Tour All Inclusive: $390
  • 4 Days Adventure in Costa Rica's Eco-tourism Destinations All Inclusive: $725
  • 4-Day Adventure in Tortuguero National Park: $465
  • 4-Day Arenal Volcano Monteverde and Manuel Antonio Park Tour All Inclusive: $570
  • 5-Hour Guided VIP City Bus Tour from San Jose: $66

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting San Pedro La Laguna spend on average $4.49 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

Typically, people visiting San Jose spend on average $11 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Pedro La Laguna $4.49
    San Jose $11

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 San Pedro La Laguna and San Jose, we can see that San Jose is more expensive. And not only is San Pedro La Laguna much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to San Pedro La Laguna would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in San Pedro La Laguna 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 San Pedro La Laguna.

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San Pedro La Laguna vs. San Jose Travel Comparison

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