Córdoba (C$), US dollar (US$)
Budget: Less than US$35
- Dorm bed: US$9–15
- Typical meal: US$4
- Museum admission: US$2
- Local bus: US$0.15–1
- Double bed in a midrange hotel: US$20–45
- Restaurant meal: US$10–12
- Adventure tour: US$25–30
- Short taxi ride: US$2–3
Top end: More than US$80
- Double bed in a luxury hotel: US$80–120
- Gourmet meal: US$18–22
- Car hire: US$40–60
- Internal flight: US$100–120
All-out haggling is not really part of Nicaraguan culture. However, a bit of bargaining over a hotel room is considered acceptable, and negotiating the price in markets or with roadside vendors is the norm.
ATMs are widespread in most midsize towns. Credit cards are widely accepted in larger towns. US dollars are widely accepted; keep córdobas for small purchases.
ATMs & Banks
Cajeros automatícos (ATMs) are the easiest way to access cash in Nicaragua. They are available in most major towns and tourist regions.
Visa is the most widely accepted card followed by MasterCard. Amex is not generally accepted. Most Nicaraguan ATMs charge a fee (around US$3) on top of what your bank charges.
It's possible to organize a cash advance over the counter in many banks.
Branches of the following banks have reliable ATMs:
BAC Visa/Plus and MasterCard/Cirrus
Bancentro/La Fise Visa/Plus and MasterCard/Cirrus
BanPro Visa/Plus and MasterCard/Cirrus
Banco ProCredit Visa/Plus
Coyotes (moneychangers) are regularly used by locals to change córdobas for US dollars at about the same rates as the banks. Coyotes in cities and towns are generally honest, but you should know the exchange rate and how much to expect in the exchange. Coyotes may also exchange other currencies, including euros, UK pounds, Canadian dollars, Honduran lempira and Costa Rican colones, for a much larger fee.
Coyotes at border crossings are much less reputable. Stay on your toes and avoid changing large amounts.
Nicaragua’s currency is the córdoba (C$), sometimes called a ‘peso’ or ‘real’ by locals. Córdobas come in coins of C$0.50, C$1 and C$5, and plastic bills of C$10, C$20, C$50, C$100, C$200 and C$500. Older plastic bills are flimsy and tear easily and some paper bills remain in circulation. Bills of C$200 and larger can be difficult to change; try the gas station.
US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, but they will be rejected if they are even slightly marked, ripped or damaged. Córdobas are usually easier to use, particularly at smaller businesses and anywhere off the beaten track – always keep at least 200 córdobas on you, preferably in smaller bills.
The córdoba is valued according to a fixed plan against the US dollar. Our listings give prices in US dollars (US$), as the costs in córdoba are more likely to fluctuate with the exchange rate.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted throughout Nicaragua, and you can almost always count on midrange hotels and restaurants to accept them. In places where electricity is unreliable – for instance, most of the Caribbean coast – credit cards may not be widely accepted, so be prepared.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Tipping is not widespread in Nicaragua except with guides and at restaurants.
- Guides Tipping guides is recommended as this often makes up the lion's share of their salary.
- Restaurants A tip of around 10% is expected for table service. Some high-end restaurants automatically add this to the bill. Small and/or rural eateries may not include the tip, so leave behind a few coins.