Tips Travel Costa Rica

By | December 29, 2023

Tips Travel Costa Rica – Inspired by photos of Costa Rica’s rainforests full of exotic flora and fauna, smoking volcanoes and world-class beaches? We, too. If you’re dreaming of a trip to this Central American country, here are eleven essential Costa Rica travel tips to help you plan your vacation.

Considering it’s featured in our article on the best places to go with kids and our roundup of the world’s best adventure vacations, it’s fair to say that Costa Rica offers a wealth of experiences for all kinds of travelers.

Tips Travel Costa Rica

With so many North Americans flying south for the winter, not to mention locals returning home, it’s important to book early if you want to visit Costa Rica during the high season. The Christmas and New Year periods are especially busy.

Save A Million

Hotel rooms and buses can be sold out weeks in advance, but if you’re smart and use multiple transportation routes (such as a private transfer), you can make things work. Alternatively, you can rent a car for more flexibility.

The week leading up to Easter is another stressful moment, although the parades and processions that take place during this time are quite unique and worth seeing.

Veteran independent travelers can sniff out the idea of ​​going on an escorted tour. Doubly, because Costa Rica is a country where there are many hostels and hotels, and English is quite widely spoken.

Despite this, we recommend that you do not exclude the excursion completely. Many activities have both high demand and surprisingly high prices, and there are few regular public bus routes across the country. Joining a guided tour is one of the best travel tips in Costa Rica as it means you can have tons of experiences in one 10 day visit without worrying about accessibility or logistics.

Costa Rica Travel Tips & Guides

Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips, in-house, offers a full range of travel planning and booking services in Costa Rica. We pair you with a local on-site expert working for a local tour operator to design, book and execute a custom itinerary that’s right for you. Get inspired by one of our test itineraries such as “Discover Northern Costa Rica” or “Beaches and Volcanoes” – all of which can of course be modified to suit your preferences.

When traveling to more remote areas of Costa Rica, try to take a sufficient number of colones (the official currency of Costa Rica) with you, especially in small denominations. There may be less banking services here, and you may have problems exchanging 5000 bills, for example, in the center of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Walking around with stacks of moldy-smelling colonies might seem unsafe, but you should be fine keeping them in your money belt and it will save you hours of waiting in line. Some banks may not accept bent, soiled or torn dollars.

It is also worth noting that due to the influx of counterfeit $100 bills a few years ago, some stores and even banks are unwilling to accept them; if you are bringing them into the country, make sure they are in perfect condition.

Revisiting Costa Rica + Covid Travel Tips

Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Latin America, and it’s not just expensive compared to its neighbors. For some supermarket items, such as bottled water and sunscreen, the country can even rival the UK and the US.

, pay for groceries and other small purchases with colones in local currency instead of dollars, and travel during the low season (also known as the rainy season) at discounted room rates. If you are eating out, be aware that a 10% service charge and 13% tax are added to most restaurant bills and budgets respectively.

In addition, many natural sites, from waterfalls to national parks, charge an entrance fee, so you need to consider that as well. Read our Costa Rica Travel Basics page for tips on budgeting Costa Rica travelers and more.

Costa Rican food, which Ticos calls comida típica (“native” or “local” food), is best described as unpretentious. It may be simple, but it’s delicious nonetheless, especially when it comes to interesting regional variations found along the Caribbean coast, with its Creole cuisine, and in Guanacaste, where traces of the use of maize by ancient indigenous peoples remain.

Guides & Tips

Tipico dishes you’ll find all over Costa Rica include rice and some kind of meat or fish, often served as part of a special plate with coleslaw and plantain, in which case it’s called a casado (literally “married man”) .

The ubiquitous gallo pinto (“painted rooster”), often described as the national dish of Costa Rica, is a hearty combination of red and white beans with rice, sometimes served with huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs). The high concentration of starch and protein testifies to the rustic origins of Costa Rican cuisine: gallo pinto is food for people who are going to work it off.

While Costa Rica is generally a very safe country, pickpockets and petty theft can be a problem. By applying elementary common sense, you will avoid trouble with lost things. First, never leave things for show in a parked car. If you’re heading to the beach, try parking in the car park (some are guarded by enterprising locals) or next to other cars.

Also, be aware that pickpockets operate at bus stops and other crowded places such as markets. Don’t leave your bags unattended, and if you’re unlucky, report the theft to your local police station.

Tips To Know Before Visiting The Costa Rica Crocodile Bridge

Even during the dry season (December to April), visitors to the central highlands and Atlantic coastal plains should be prepared for frequent downpours. The rainy season starts in May.

At the end of September and October, many hotels and restaurants on the Pacific coast close for a break before getting ready for the high season again. You can find more options on the Caribbean coast this time of year.

No matter how clear the sky is at dawn, don’t forget to bring waterproof clothing and dry bags for valuables on any trip to the rainforest. And if the downpours spoil your mood, you can always head west to the sun-baked plains of the Pacific Slope.

In Costa Rica, insect protection is critical to preventing diseases such as dengue and Zika. One of the main tips for travelers to Costa Rica to repel mosquitoes and other insects is to use insect repellant spray containing DEET. It is important to spray on exposed skin and clothing, especially during the rainy season when mosquito populations increase.

How Much Does Costa Rica Travel Cost?

In addition to insect repellent spray, wearing long sleeves and using mosquito nets will also help prevent insect bites.

You won’t have a hard time finding locals with good English in Costa Rica, but learning Spanish can not only bring you fame and a warm welcome, it can really boost your bargaining power.

Those with enough free time can go even further and enroll in one of the many local language schools scattered throughout the country.

Monteverde and La Fortuna are two tourist favorites in northern Costa Rica, and both are great for outdoor activities. However, the transition between the two can be a lengthy process, and most of the adventure offerings are similar.

Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation + Trip Ideas

If you don’t have time for either, one of our top tips for Costa Rica travelers is to choose Monteverde, as it boasts a trump card thanks to its drier climate and hilltop bohemian charm. Book in advance for an all-in-one adventure tour in Monteverde, or if you prefer a more relaxed pace, check out this authentic farming experience, a fun-filled tour for the whole family.

If you are planning on self driving in Costa Rica, you should consider a 4WD vehicle. While some major roads are paved, many others are still nothing more than dirt roads. Throw in heavy rains and you have a messy mess to navigate.

Even if the weather is dry, keep an eye out for potholes that can cause problems with your car. Keep water and snacks in the car in case you break down, and try to bring your cell phone with you so you can contact the car rental company if needed.

Our local expert in Costa Rica will be happy to help you plan and book, for example, on this self-guided trip to the Caribbean. If the idea of ​​driving sounds intimidating, you can opt for a guided ride that includes transportation, such as this ride that discovers the beaches to the south, as well as cloud forests and volcanoes.

Sustainable Travel: 12 Ways To Be A Better Tourist In 2022

One way to avoid the Costa Rican crowds is to head east instead of west. With Liberia International Airport so close to the Pacific coast, it’s an easy-to-reach beach destination. The beaches of the Caribbean coast are much more difficult to reach, which means that the region is also much less developed. If you’re looking for an out of the ordinary experience, you’ll love exploring the Caribbean coast.

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is less well known, so one of the top tips for Costa Rica travelers is to head east instead of west©Simon Dannhauer / Shutterstock

While they are tightly packed into America’s waistline, each Central American nation boasts its own character, sights, and heritage. Nearest neighbors Nicaragua and Panama are the easiest and most obvious addition to a stay in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica Travel Tips: How To Make The Most Out Of Your Trip