Costa Rica Travel Guide

Costa Rica is a land of stunning natural beauty, with plenty to offer tourists looking for an adventure. Located in Central America, between Nicaragua and Panama, this relatively small country has a diverse landscape offering something for everyone. In this Costa Rica Travel Guide, we’ll be looking at all the need to know and the best things to do to help you plan your trip to Costa Rica.

Did you know that Costa Ricans are known for their friendly nature and laid-back attitude, which is embodied in the famous saying, Pura Vida?

Pura Vida literally translates to Pure Life in English and can mean many things. From hello to goodbye and everything in between, you’ll find locals using Pura Vida in different ways. And the best part, it all seems to make sense. And before you know it, you’ll be saying it too.

This Costa Rican saying is a great way, to sum up, Costa Rica as a whole. It’s a country that is all about enjoying life to the fullest.

When it comes down to it, there are many things to see and do in Costa Rica. For those who love the outdoors, Costa Rica offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and surfing. Costa Rica also has some of the best beaches in the world, making it a perfect destination for those looking to relax and soak up some sun.

No matter what your interests are, Costa Rica has something to offer you, and this travel guide will help you to plan your epic trip.



Good To Know


🗣️ Languages Spoken In Costa Rica: Spanish

📍 Capital City Of Costa Rica: San José

🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏻 Population Of Costa Rica: 5,094,000

🕌 Religion In Costa Rica: 67% Christianity & 33% Non-Religious

Time Zone In Costa Rica: Central Standard Time (CST) all year round, Costa Rica doesn’t have a daylight saving time zone.

🇨🇷 Flag Of Costa Rica: The Costa Rica flag is a blue and white flag with a red stripe in the middle. The blue represents the sky, the ocean, and the environment. The white represents peace and purity. The red stripe represents the bloodshed for Costa Rica’s independence.

💸 Currency In Costa Rica: Costa Rican Colón but US Dollars is widely accepted. The latest Costa Rica Colones Exchange rates are available here.

💳 Credit Cards And ATM In Costa Rica: Credit cards are widely accepted at restaurants, hotels, during activity bookings and whilst shopping. Though, it is recommended to bring a combination of both cash and card so that you’re not reliant on just one option, especially if you’ll be in the more remote areas of Costa Rica. ATMs are available in the cities and towns, though if you have a Mastercard (including Monzo), it may not be accepted at every ATM.

🔌 Plugs In Costa Rica: American 3 pins (2 flat pins and 1 grounding pin)

Latest Travel Restrictions In Costa Rica: Foreign travel advice for Costa Rica



Where Is Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a Central American country located between Nicaragua and Panama. For context, the country is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Costa Rica famously shares two coastlines, one with the Caribbean Sea and the other with the Pacific Ocean; Which is a true embodiment of the diverse culture in the country.

Map of Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica

There are seven distinctive regions in Costa Rica:

  • The Central Valley Region
  • The Caribbean Coast Region
  • The Guanacaste Region
  • The Puntarenas Region
  • The Northwest Region
  • The South Pacific Region
  • The Osa Peninsula Region

Each region has something unique to offer visitors in terms of activities, scenery, and culture. Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise with an abundance of activities to keep every traveller busy.

Please see further down this Costa Rica Travel Guide for the best places to stay in Costa Rica.


The Best Time To Visit Costa Rica

The best time to visit Costa Rica differs for each person, what is right for one person may not be for another. In this section of the Costa Rica travel guide, we’ll be looking at the seasons, weather and festivals in Costa Rica to help you decide when it’s the best time for you to visit Costa Rica.

Seasons & Weather In Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a tropical country with two distinct seasons – the dry season and the wet season. The best time to visit Costa Rica depends on what type of activities you want to do and which parts of the country you want to visit

The Dry Season

The dry season runs from December to April, and this is the busiest time for tourism. This also means that this is the most expensive time to visit.

Costa Rica is a popular destination for winter vacationers from North America and holidaymakers from Europe, who are looking to escape the cold weather at home. The Costa Rica weather during the dry season is very consistent, with little rainfall and temperatures ranging from 21-37 degrees Celsius (70-97 degrees Fahrenheit).

If you’re looking to visit Costa Rica for the beaches, then the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season. This is when the water is at its calmest and clearest, making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast has some of the best surfing in the world, and the Costa Rica surf season peaks from December to April.

The Wet Season

The wet season runs from May to November, and this is when Costa Rica experiences the majority of its rainfall. The Costa Rica weather during the wet season is still warm, with temperatures ranging from 21-32 degrees Celsius (70-90 degrees Fahrenheit), but you can expect showers on a daily basis.

The Costa Rica rainy season is often referred to as the “green season” because of the lush, green landscapes that result from the increased rainfall. This is also the time when Costa Rica’s tropical fruits are at their peak, so if you’re a fan of fresh fruit, this is the time for you to visit Costa Rica.


Popular Festivals & Events In Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a number of festivals and holidays throughout the year, which can be a great time to visit Costa Rica and experience the country’s culture

Some of the most popular Costa Rican festivals include:

  • Costa Rica’s Independence Day: September 15thLimon Carnival: October
  • Christmas: December 25th
  • New Year’s Eve: December 31st -January 1st

Here is a complete article on the best time to go to Costa Rica. It contains a complete month by month breakdown of the weather and seasons in Costa Rica. As well as the popular events in Costa Rica and when and where in Costa Rica are they hosted.


Flights To Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a major tourist destination, so there are many airlines that offer flights to the country. If you manage to scope out the right day, there are even direct flights to Costa Rica from many major airports in North America and Europe.

Costa Rica is a small country, but there are many different airports that you can fly into. The main airport is the Juan Santamaria International Airport, which is located in the capital city of San Jose. Costa Rica’s second largest airport is the Liberia International Airport, which is located in the northwestern city of Liberia.

There are many different airlines that offer flights to Costa Rica, including major carriers like American Airlines, Delta, United, and British Airways. Costa Rican airlines such as Nature Air and Sansa also offer flights to various destinations within the country.

  • The flight time from London to Costa Rica is about 12 hours. There are direct flights available from London Gatwick Airport with British Airways starting from £1,500.
  • The flight time from New York to Costa Rica is about 5 hours. There are direct flights available from New York Newark Airport with United starting from £217.
  • The flight time from Toronto to Costa Rica is about 5 hours. There are direct flights available from Toronto Pearson International Airport with Air Canada starting from £232.

Be sure to read my expert tips to help you find cheap flights with Skyscanner, before booking it with your favourite booking agent.


Where To Stay In Costa Rica

San Jose

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is home to the main Costa Rican airport Juan Santamaria International Airport. This is very likely the airport that you’ll land in, especially if you’re flying from North America or Europe to Costa Rica.

Whilst the main tourist attractions are outside the city, it is worth spending at least a night or two here to decompress and explore the local sights. These include the La Sabana Metropolitan Park, the National Museum and the Central Market.

If you are a Muslim traveller and want to try some Halal Costa Rican food, then staying in San Jose is your best bet for finding Halal restaurants.

Popular Hotels In San Jose, Costa Rica

La Sabana Hotel Suites Apartments

Best For: Solo Travellers seeking all the holiday amenities without breaking the bank.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Studio Hotel Boutique

Best For: Families looking for a complete experience not too far from the centre of the city.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Farm and Inn

Best For: A luxurious mountain retreat on a working farm on the outskirts of the city.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.


Liberia

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Costa Rica’s capital, Liberia is the perfect place to stay. It’s Costa Rica’s gateway to the north and is full of colonial charm. The city is small enough that you can easily walk around and explore, but there are also plenty of things to do if you want to stay active. These include zip-lining, hiking and horseback riding.

There are also some great Costa Rican restaurants in Liberia, as well as a number of hotels and resorts to suit all budgets.

Popular Hotels In Liberia, Costa Rica

Hostel Dodero

Best For: Backpackers and solo travellers on a budget.

Stars:

Book your stay here.

Casa Lapas Villa Gabriela

Best For: Families or a small group looking for a whole house.

Stars:

Book your stay here.

Apartamento Verde

Best For: Those seeking an apartment with a pool in Liberia.

Stars:

Book your stay here.


Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. The park is home to a huge variety of plant and animal life, including monkeys, sloths, toucans and turtles.

It’s also one of the best places in Costa Rica to see turtles laying their eggs. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see a hatchling making its way to the sea.

There are a number of accommodation options in Tortuguero National Park, from camping to luxury lodges.

Popular Hotels In Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Laguna Lodge Tortuguero

Best For: Those seeking a luxurious experience in the heart of the park.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

Best For: Families or small groups looking for a mid-range option.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Casa Molina

Best For: Backpackers and solo travellers on a budget.

Stars:

Book your stay here.


Arenal / La Fortuna

The Arenal area is one of the most popular places to stay in Costa Rica, and for good reason. The area is home to the Arenal Volcano, which is Costa Rica’s most active volcano.

Despite its name, La Fortuna is actually a small town located at the base of the Arenal volcano. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to the action but don’t want to stay in a big city.

There are plenty of things to do in La Fortuna, including hiking, zip-lining and hot springs. There are also many Costa Rican restaurants to choose from.

Popular Hotels In Arenal / La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Volcano Lodge & Springs

Best For: Families or small groups looking for a mid-range option.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal

Best For: Those seeking a luxurious experience with views of the volcano.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Arenal Backpackers Resort

Best For: Backpackers and solo travellers on a budget.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.


Monteverde

Monteverde is a small town located in the Costa Rican cloud forest. The town is home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations.

The reserve is home to a huge variety of plant and animal life, including monkeys, sloths, birds and butterflies. There are also a number of hiking trails to explore.

Monteverde is the perfect place to stay if you want to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Popular Hotels In Monteverde, Costa Rica

El Establo Mountain Hotel

Best For: Families or small groups looking for a mid-range option.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

Best For: Those who want to be surrounded by nature.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Fondavela Boutique Hotel

Best For: Budget-minded travellers.

Stars:

Book your stay here.


Montezuma

Montezuma is a small town located on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. The town is home to a number of beaches, including Playa Grande, Playa Hermosa and Playa Montezuma. There are also a number of Costa Rican restaurants and bars in town, as well as a few shops selling souvenirs and Costa Rican art.

Montezuma is the perfect place to stay if you want to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere.

Popular Hotels In Montezuma, Costa Rica

Hotel Amor de Mar

Best For: Families or small groups looking for a mid-range option.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Hotel Cabinas Mar Y Cielo

Best For: Solo travellers on a budget who want to be close to the beach.

Stars:

Book your stay here.

Hotel Nya

Best For: Luxury travellers who want to splurge on a Costa Rican beach holiday.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.


Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is a small town located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. The town is home to Manuel Antonio National Park, which is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations.

The national park is known for its beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife. Visitors to Manuel Antonio can expect to see monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and a variety of birds. Look out for the cheeky monkeys on the beach!

Popular Hotels In Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

La Vela Boutique Hotel

Best For: Families or small groups on a mid sized budget.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort

Best For: Those seeking a luxurious experience with views of the ocean.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.

Waterfront Hotel Verde Mar

Best For: Budget minded solo travellers.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

Book your stay here.


Book Your Accommodation Here

Booking.com

Top 6 Best Things To See And Do In Costa Rica

Digital Detox At Tortuguero

Wake up to the sound of howling monkeys, partake in bird watching and wildlife walks before settling on the shores of the Caribbean coast.

Kayaking or SUP At Lake Arenal

Go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding whilst taking in the views of the volcano from the lakeside.

Hike Arenal Volcano

Hike up the most famous volcano in Costa Rica for great views of the landscape during the dry season.

Zip Lining In Monteverde

Where better to go zip lining than in its birthplace of Costa Rica.

Relax In A Hot Spring

Where there’s a volcano there’s usually hot springs nearby. In La Fortuna you’ll be spoilt for choice of spas to relax at.

Hanging Bridges Cloud Forest

The best way to enjoy the mist of the Monteverde cloud forest is by walking in the canopy of the forest.


Other Bucket List Things To See And Do In Costa Rica

1. Boat Tour In The Tortuguero National Park

Take a boat tour in the Tortuguero National Park. Be sure to be on the lookout for the wide array of birds, monkeys, iguanas and caimans. And if you happen to be lucky, sloths too.

2. Nesting Turtles

See the nesting turtles at night in the Tortuguero National Park, during the months of March – October.

3. Coffee Plantation

Visit a coffee plantation and see the coffee making process from start to end. You may even learn a thing or two, such as how espresso is best drank before bed, as it helps you to wind down.

4. La Fortuna Hanging Bridges

Walk the Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna (personally my favourite). On a clear day you’ll get undisturbed views of the Arenal Volcano at the entrance, and once you’re in you’ll have the chance to spot lots of wildlife. Be sure to look out for the cheeky monkeys that dominated the last bridge on the day of my visit.

5. Swim In A Waterfall

Go swimming in the waterfall at La Fortuna. Or, if you’re after something more intimate with a Tarzan swing into the water, opt for the swimming hole in La Fortuna.

Looking for more things to do in La Fortuna? Here’s the ultimate guide to La Fortuna.

6. Canyoneering

Looking for more of a rush? Why not go canyoneering down the waterfalls in La Fortuna. This is a new and popular sport in Costa Rica, which involves rappelling down canyons and waterfalls.

7. Horseback Riding

If you want to see Costa Rica from a different perspective, then a sunset horseback ride through Monteverde may be for you.

8. Surfing In Manuel Antonio National Park

With its off-white sands and blue crashing waves, the beaches surrounding Manuel Antonio National Park are perfect for a surfing lesson. Here you’ll be equipped with a rash guard (top only) as you take to the waves. Expect bruises, slips and falls, so if you would rather spare your legs I highly recommend opting for the leggings too.


Travelling As A Muslim In Costa Rica

Foremost, it’s important to understand that the majority if not all the Costa Ricans you will see and interact with on your trip are not native to Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans you’ll see today have come from all over the world to create one unique and special community. And with that comes tolerance and diversity.

Although the majority of the country are Christians, not once will you feel out of place in Costa Rica as a Muslim. Their kindness, jolliness and general love of life transcend all other barriers. And it is a destination that I can honestly say you’ll be comfortable travelling in, in a hijab.

The one thing you may struggle with, though, is finding Halal meat outside of San Jose. But what you will find is an abundance of seafood and vegetarian options. After all, the national dish is rice, beans and plantains. It doesn’t get more Halal than that.


You May Also Be Interested In


Top 3 Halal Food To Eat In Costa Rica

pico gallo

Gallo Pinto – Costa Rican Rice And Beans

seafood platter

Seafood Platter

Tres Leches - 3 Milk Dessert

Tres Leches – 3 Milk Dessert


Must Try Halal Restaurants In San Jose Costa Rica

  • Sabor del Líbano Halal Lebanese Cuisine
  • Lubnan – Halal Lebanese Cuisine
  • Al Masri – Halal Egyptian Cuisine
  • Taj Mahal – Halal Indian Cuisine
  • Naans & Curries – Halal Indian Cuisine

Solo Female Travel In Costa Rica

Although the majority of my trip was planned out by G Adventures, there were days and dinners when I was alone, or with other female travellers. And I have to say, not once did I feel unsafe as a solo female traveller in Costa Rica. However, that is not to say that you should still use your better judgement when solo travelling around Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a relatively safe country to travel to and there are no real concerns when travelling solo as a woman. Just be sure to take the usual precautions, such as not walking alone at night and keeping your belongings close to you. Also, be aware of your surroundings when travelling to remote areas or taking public transportation.

In general, Costa Ricans are very friendly and helpful, so if you do find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a local Costa Rican.

If you’re planning on travelling solo around Costa Rica, I would highly recommend it! Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country with so much to offer. And, solo travel is a great way to meet new people and have new experiences.


More Costa Rican Travel Guides



Travel Must Haves



The Ultimate Costa Rica Travel Guide

You might also enjoy:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.