Costa Rica Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Costa Rica in 2023
Welcome to Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations for those travelers looking to get away from it all. Idyllic beaches, lush jungles, vast biodiversity, and Pura Vida, the Costa Rican lifestyle that values relaxation and enjoyment over everything else, are some of the things you can find in your next holiday.
We’ve prepared this ultimate Costa Rica travel guide to give you the best information to plan your next trip to Costa Rica.
Document Checklist for Costa Rica
- Health Insurance
- Valid passport
- Sufficient funds
- Return airline ticket
Essential Costa Rica Travel Information
Currency - Costa Rican colón (₡ / CRC). 1 USD is approximately 601.52 CRC
Daily budget for 1 person - ₡46,317 ($77)
Languages - Spanish
Socket type - Types A and B. The standard voltage is 120V, and the standard frequency is 60Hz
Time zone - UTC−6 (CST)
Top 3 cities to visit - San José, Cartago, and Liberia
Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Teatro Nacional, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Playa Negra
Visa Information for Costa Rica
Depending on your nationality, you can apply for a tourist visa or a business visa if you’re planning a short trip to Costa Rica. But the truth is that once you arrive, you won’t want to leave. That’s why we recommend that you apply for a digital nomad visa. Bring your laptop with you and make some of the best beaches in the world your home office.
Digital Nomad Visa
The Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa is a new visa that was implemented to invite foreigners to travel and work in Costa Rica for a year. If you stay in the country for at least six months, you can extend your visa for another year!
This visa allows you to travel around the country, and you can even use it to open a local bank account. You can easily get this visa online. Get the step-by-step process on our product page.
Typical Costs and Budget for Costa Rica
Traveling around Costa Rica can be very affordable. Here, we’ll share the average costs for the most common expenses on your trip.
Daily spending per person - ₡46,317 ($77)
Meals - ₡9,624 ($16)
Transport - ₡9,504 ($15.80)
Hotel - ₡23,459 ($39) for a person and ₡46,918 ($78) for a couple
A one-week trip for a single traveler would cost ₡323,619 ($538), and for a couple, it would cost ₡646,636 ($1,075)
Transport and Ways to Travel around Costa Rica
There are plenty of options when traveling to and around Costa Rica. The most popular option is to travel by plane. There are several international and domestic airlines that operate within the Costa Rican borders.
Public transportation is also a common way to move around, especially between nearby towns and within the cities. Buses, taxis, and ferries are all popular among locals.
But Costa Rica is a small country with much to discover, so the best way to explore it is by getting a rental car or motorcycle to move freely within its borders. You’ll need to bring your international driving license, but if you have it, you’re one step closer to total freedom.
Safety in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the safest countries to visit in Central America. However, there are still risks you need to watch out for, like theft or petty theft.
Luckily, if you exercise some precautions, you’ll be safe throughout your trip. Here are some tips to help you:
Don’t leave your things unattended. Make sure you can always keep an eye on your things when you’re out and about.
If crowded, carry your backpack up front. This tip is especially useful when visiting a market, hopping on public transportation, or in very tourist places. Carrying your backpack on the front side of your body will keep your things safe from pickpockets.
Avoid walking at night on lonely streets. And that’s it. Make sure to follow these tips and you’ll be safe in Costa Rica.
Weather in Costa Rica
Costa Rica enjoys fantastic warm weather throughout the year. But if you want to get the best of your holiday, we suggest that you travel during the dry season.
Between December and April, the days are nice and warm, with clear skies and very little rainfall. These are the best days to enjoy a day at the beach or explore the jungle. However, the dry season is also the high season, so you’ll encounter many other tourists also enjoying the wonders of Costa Rica.
If you prefer to travel during the low season, then you’ll have to visit during the rainy season. But don’t worry, you’ll still get plenty of clear skies, especially in the morning, and the afternoon rainfall is great to take a nap and recharge for the nightlife.
Popular Cities and Towns in Costa Rica
San José - Costa Rica’s capital city looks more like a town than a city. San José is bright, vibrant, and charming. Here you’ll find everything you need, from small cafes to work from to high-end restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine.
Puerto Viejo - What started as a fishing village became one of the most popular surfing hubs in the country. There are lessons for beginners and big waves for the more advanced. But even if you’re not that into surfing, you can still come here and relax. Just wind down, enjoy the warm sand while you drink some coconut water, and eat fresh grilled fish.
Manuel Antonio - This is the place to visit if you’re looking to have the local eco-tourism experience. Manuel Antonio is located in Manuel Antonio National Park, with beautiful wildlife and scenery to explore safely.
Quepos - Due to its proximity to Manuel Antonio, Quepos is often overlooked. But this small town can offer you a great local experience for a lower price. Quepos is a great place to enjoy Costa Rican nightlife. It’s loud and bustling, perfect for those looking to have fun non-stop.
Limón - This small town on the Atlantic coast is full of history and cultural value for Costa Rica. Visit Limón, enjoy the Caribbean-Colonial architecture, and learn about Costa Rica’s African background.
Must Do and See in Costa Rica
Tortuguero National Park - You will need to catch a boat or a small plane to reach it, but the trip is totally worth it. Tortuguero boasts the most amazing wildlife in the country. The park is trendy during turtle nesting season.
Monteverde Rainforest - It is the most popular cloud forest in Costa Rica. There are many eco-lodges in the area where you can relax and get away from it all. But if you’re looking for adventure, you can go on a hike or even try ziplining!
Arenal Volcano - This active volcano is one of Costa Rica’s most impressive landmarks. The volcano is 1,633 meters tall and last erupted in 2010. The scenery around the volcano is amazing. You can organize a trip starting in La Fortuna, a town near the volcano.
Manzanillo beach - It is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica for many great reasons. The beach is stunning as many of the beaches on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. White sand and warm, clear water make it an excellent spot for snorkeling and kayaking.
Vandará Hot Springs - Located in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, these hot springs are the perfect place to relax surrounded by nature. The springs also have clay and mud that is rich in nutrients, so it’s common to see people exfoliating with it for natural skin treatment.
Typical Costa Rica Food to Try
Gallo Pinto - Rice and beans with red bell pepper, onion, and cilantro. It’s usually eaten for breakfast. The secret? Salsa Lizano. A traditional Costa Rican sauce, similar to Worcester, gives the dish its typical flavor.
The Casado - It’s a plate served with many different foods. It can include rice, beans, salad, tortillas, fried ripe plantain, and meat (beef, pork, chicken, or fish). It’s usually eaten for lunch and topped with hot sauce.
Sopa Negra - This soup earns its name thanks to the main ingredient: black bean. It can be eaten for any meal and besides black beans, it includes onion, bell peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, hard or soft-boiled eggs, and spices.
Arroz con leche - This is the typical dessert of every meal. Arroz con leche is a rice pudding made with milk, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s simple yet complex, and sometimes it can surprise you with a hint of lemon zest or cinnamon.
Chifrijo - This is the perfect snack or meal you eat on the go. Chifrijos are made with fried pork rind and beans on a tortilla. They can be topped with pico de gallo, rice, and some tabasco sauce.
Vaccine Information for Costa Rica
Vaccines are not mandatory for visiting Costa Rica, but it is recommended to have all your routine vaccines up to date. Check the CDC’s website for more information about the necessary vaccines to travel to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Is a Great Destination for Ecotourism
For the last two decades, Costa Rica has made a great effort to protect its rich ecosystem. Part of this effort includes a big investment in ecotourism. If you’re looking to enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and care for the environment at the same time, then this is the place to be.
Costa Rica’s territory is made up of national parks more than any other country’s land is. In these parks, you can enjoy many activities like rafting, canyoning, ziplining, hiking, and birdwatching. You can also take tours to learn more about the country’s ecosystems. And you can get plenty of Costa Rica travel tips from many of the eco-lodged and hotels all over the country.
Fun Facts about Costa Rica
Costa Rica is in a blue zone - A blue zone is an area where many people live to be 100 years old. That’s a good life!
There’s a beach shaped like a whale’s tail. It’s called Bahía Ballena, which means Whale Bay.
The Caribbean and the Pacific coast are so close in Costa Rica that you can see a Caribbean Sunrise and a Pacific Sunset on the same day!
Until 2012, there were no street signs in San José! Before then, you would give your address using landmarks.
There are perfectly round stones arranged in lines or curves near gravesites. They’re around 2,000 years old, and nobody knows what they’re for or why they’re there.
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