Costa Rica Travel Guide

Costa Rica
Travel Guide

Costa Rica, our home for over 7 years, a country my family and I traveled almost entirely while visiting top tourist destinations, local villages and experiencing most of the activities you NEED to do in the country. That’s why I can tell you everything you need to know to travel Costa Rica.

Want to swim in a volcanic thermal hot spring or go hiking and deep sea fishing. How about just enjoying the beaches and rainforests filled with wildlife that directly to you? Costa Rica is suitable for any type of vacation, but not only for travelers, it also has become a popular destination for retirees from North America, Europe and Asia.

Costa Rica is famous for its amazing national parks, beaches, rainforests and thrilling things to do like canyoning, rafting, tubing and zip lining. 

Things To Know About Costa Rica

Currency: The Costa Rican currency is called “Colon” (CRC), you do need the local currency for traveling around, but many places accept USD unofficially.

Weather: Costa Rica have many different climate zones, but it’s a tropical destination and the temperatures can be consistent the whole year, from 54°F to 79°F.

Tap Water: The short answer is yes, you can drink tap water in Costa Rica, in most part of the country, excluding rural areas. I would recommend sticking to bottle water anyway.

Visa Free: Travelers coming from the US don’t need a visa, they can travel to the country for 90 day. 

Best time to Visit

If you’re thinking of traveling to Costa Rica, the best time to it is between December and May, during its dry season. The rainy season starts in May all the way to Nov

The temperature is consistent across the year, from 74°F to 79°F for the high and 59°F to 63°F for the lows. . There are 2 seasons: The rainy season and the not-so rainy season.

Places to Visit


Make Every Day An Adventure Costa Rica List

hot spring the spring resort arenal costa rica

Swim in the Thermal Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano

Waterfall Rappelling in Costa Rica

Go Rappelling off a waterfall in the middle of a rainforest

capuchin monkeys at manuel antonio costa rica

Spot Capuchin Monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park

people surfing tamarindo beach costa rica

Go surfing in Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica

diving and snorkeling cano island costa rica

Snorkeling off of Cano Island

Discover Unique Biodiversity of Corcovado National Park

Discover Unique Biodiversity of Corcovado National Park

woman on a hanging bridge in monteverde costa rica

Walk on Hanging Bridges in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest

Zipline through Costa Rica’s Rainforest

Zipline through Costa Rica’s Rainforest


Travel Guides

Where to Stay

Costa Rica has many great hotels of all prices and amenities. Discovering them is part of the adventure.

The Peace Lodge (Poas, Vara Blanca)

woman in a car pulled by bulls peace lodge costa rica

Best for:

  • Adventure Travelers
  • Nature Lovers
  • Beach Lovers

Grano de Oro (San Jose City)

grano de oro san jose costa rica

Best for:

  • Museums Lovers
  • City Walkers
  • Nature Lovers

The Spring Resort
(Arenal Area)

thermal hot spring the spring resort la fortuna

Best for:

  • Adventure Travelers
  • Nature Lovers
  • Relax

El Establo Hotel (Monteverde)

el establo hotel monteverde costa rica

Best for:

  • Adventure Travelers
  • Nature Lovers
  • Birding

Where to Eat

Eating in Costa Rica is a whole experience itself, if you want to truly experience what locals eat daily, head to the SODAS, they are really cheap and serve local Costa Rican food. Plus you can find anything you can imagine from international cuisine to upperscale Tico food.

I recommend eating at SODAS, they are homemade, with tons of food for less than $10 a person, including drinks and desserts. You can find them all over the country

Soda Tapia (San Jose)

Soda tapia san jose costa rica

Source: La Nacion

Costa Rica Food

Celebrations and Festivals

Costa Rica is home to some fascinating festival and celebrations, in fact there are at least 50 festivals in Costa Rica each year. Many people say it's the best way to know and immerse in the culture. Make sure you visit one of the many lively cultural fiestas, events, carnivals, or topes (horse parades) that are held all over the country

Fiestas de Palmares

fiestas de palmares costa rica by Mario Godínez (500s) (Flickr)

Source: Flickr

One of the largest and most anticipated celebrations in the country. Each year, the festivals start on the second Thursday and last two weeks.

Puntarenas Carnival

Puntarenas Carnival costa rica by lance wills (flickr)

Source. Flickr

Also known as the Carnival of the Queen, this festival start on the last week of February each year, welcoming a ton of visitors each year.

How to Get Around

Getting around Costa Rica is simple and easy, most of the local people travel by local buses. Those colorful buses are a whole experience in themselves, and a great opportunity to interact with locals. There are many other options too, shuttles, taxis, and rental cars, ubers.

By Taxi

costa rica taxi by serge ollivier on flickr

Source: Flickr

You can find taxis all across Costa Rica (from local, and rural to regional). In San Jose, most taxis have a meter (locally called marias) but outside the city most taxis don’t have a meter, and you must talk the price with the driver. In some areas you can find shared taxis, but those are hard to come by. For rural and local, most taxis are hired by time (from hours, and half-day to full day).

By Plane

avianca costa rica by dario duque gomez flickr

In San Jose you can find some cheap domestic flights to popular destinations in the country, like Quepos, Puerto Jimenez and Quepos. You’ll notice that Avianca dominates the majority of domestic flights, almost as the national airline. Also, they offer flights to Latin and Central America, and USA. You must know that flights schedule are altered constantly due to the weather, delays happens often.

By Bike

costa rica bikes

The cyclist movement in Costa Rica is gaining a lot of popularity, you can find a wide network of paved roads and there’s an increase in cyclist awareness but you must know there are no bike lanes so far. You can rent mountain bikes and beach bikes in towns that are popular among tourist, prices varies a lot, from $10 to $20 American dollars per day. Also, you can find some bike tours too.

By Bus

monteverde costa rica bus by ebabb on flickr

Like in many Central and Latin countries, you can find Regional and Local Buses. Regional are buses that travel across Costa Rica, and local are those you can use to travel within a city. You can find the major amount of regional buses in San Jose, since it’s the transportation hub of the country. You can find local buses in most main areas of the country, it’s a cheap way to travel from urban and suburban areas.

By Car

rental car office in costa rica

Many people like to rent a car and drive in Costa Rica, in order to do that you must have an up-to-date driver license or a IDP (international driving permit). This way you can drive in the country for 90 days, after that you’ll need to process a diver license from Costa Rica. Gas station are located on the Interamericana road and are available 24h. In remote areas, you may find fuel at corner stores (pulperias).

Travel Tips

Costa Rica is safe: While the country has a well-deserved fame for being a safe place to visit, it's crucial to be aware and have extra caution of your surroundings. Use common sense precautions, such as hiding your cell phone and being aware of flashing costly items or money, especially at night.

But be wary in some areas: Some areas of Costa Rica, such as the capital city of San José and the port city of Limón, have a higher crime rate than other areas. Use caution and follow common sense safety precautions throughout these areas.

Learn some basic Spanish phrases: While a ton of people in Costa Rica speak English, learning some Spanish phrases will let you communicate with locals more effectively and show respect for the local culture.

Bring sunscreen and insect repellent: Costa Rica can be very hot and sunny, but insects are abundant and mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria are a concern. Be sure to protect yourself from the sun and bugs with sunscreen and insect repellent.

Respect the local culture and environment: The country is known for its natural charm and unique culture. Be considerate of the environment and the local people when traveling in Costa Rica.

Avoid the rainy season: Costa Rica has a rainy season (around May through November), and some areas can be affected by heavy rain and flooding. Be prepared for rainy weather and avoid traveling to areas with the highest risk of flooding.

Gasoline and diesel are widely available in Costa Rica: 24-hour service stations can frequently be found along the Interamerica and other major roads. This means that it is easy for travelers to get fuel quickly and easily, and continue on their way without any delay.

Traffic can be insane in Costa Rica: As the roads can get quite busy and crowded. However, with careful planning and thoughtful driving, you can take in all the lovely sights and scenery that this beautiful country has to offer! You'll have an amazing time. So, be careful when driving, and keep a keen eye on the road.

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