When writing about a country such as Costa Rica, the task will not be easy at all. Many things you need to include, many such incredible activities you need to mention, and to be honest, other many things you need to know before you go to Costa Rica. As a travel blogger, I want to tell you all spots you should not miss and this piece could be pretty long. Not enough time to read this all in one sitting? Click to pin for later!
Conjure up your perspective about the best possible vacation, and this country will knock it out of the park. Truly, Costa Rica is a country made to wow everyone. From stunning landscapes to awe-inspiring beaches, and a cultural-diversity hub, this Central American country houses separate cascades spanning between high-soaring ranges of mountains and crystal clear canyons offering views like nothing before.
No matter what your preference is in travelling, Costa Rica will take you in. This country can offer you more than just a beach vacation -which is incomparable to any other country- but also, please don’t be surprised if you come across pink flamingos on a short but sweet catwalk while sipping on a tropical refreshment on a beach in this country.
Basically, you want to let your leash untighten and be ready to see what you have always wanted to see.
In this guide, you will know things to do in Costa Rica, Important tips before you go, and most importantly, why you should visit Costa Rica. Without further ado, let’s dive into this great destination.
Why Should You Visit Costa Rica? More than 5 Reasons Will Push You to Pack Your Backpack Right Away
Serving as the best beach gateway for a romantic vacation or a hiking ever-lasting adventure, Costa Rica is a typical tropical paradise offering incredible views, modern accommodations with stylish services, and modern amenities. If you want to count down the reasons behind anyone’s desire to visit, simply, it could seem so hard since what offers in this charming country can be hardly found anywhere else.
But because we want you to be so confident in your choice and to expect what you are going to witness, we have compiled our picks for the top 7 reasons why visiting Costa Rica will be the best decision you have ever made.
1- One of the Happiest Places in the Globe
According to the annual report published by the World Happiness Report, Costa Rica is consistently among the first big countries as the best place to live in terms of happiness, quality of life, and well-being. For me, it doesn’t come as to surprise. I have already found it heaven that I never want to leave.
Let’s picture what your vacation would look like in Costa Rica. Imagine that you will wake up to admire outstanding landscapes stretched to no end. To have breakfast, go to the nearest market packed with fresh food. Then you are ready to spend a day on a white-sand beach and breathe in the warming sunlight.
Feeling hungry! Don’t fret- head to one of the luxury seaside restaurants and admire the sunset, share your drink with your friends and snap memorable pictures.
Need something more adventurous! Costa Rica got you as well. It has a lot to take in and is easy to be enthralled. Go to jungles and taste the meaning of being overwhelmed by waterfalls, imposing mountains, and tremendous species of birds.
Excited! Let me tell you something, it’s a mere taste of the hilarity you’re going to be dealing with.
2- Totally Safe and Neat
Whether you are travelling alone, with friends, or with family, Costa Rica is a relatively safe destination.
With barely political unrest, Costa Rica has succeeded in settling stability across the country with no military and a civil president determined to keep peace and prosperity.
And if you may wonder what about criminal incidents towards tourists, it’s the lowest among the neighbouring countries. It doesn’t mean you can walk around very quiet districts till night with something that could be very tempting to thieves to take away or ride a luxury car. Or even leave your essentials or valuables out in the open and assume that you will find them untouched.
No, definitely, I do not mean that.
Speaking generally, you don’t have to worry about the safety level of Central American countries as long as you use your sense along your way.
It would be a good idea to stay up to speed with current affairs in any country before booking your flight.
Many mistakes can be made by first-time visitors, and it could cause some trouble for them. That’s why we have prepared a “Things not to Do” after each attraction or place to guarantee a free-hassle journey.
3- A Green Heaven with Dense Jungles
I always dream of living in a green-washed place where I can treat my eyes to the natural landscape wherever I go. So Costa Rica is a dream come true to me, and I guess for you as well because basically any district or city you want to stay in, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view.
Rains have played a critical role in keeping this country lush and refreshing. However, you have to keep your eyes on the weather conditions before going. Showers could be heavier than to handle, and if you live in a tropical climate, it might be challenging for you.
Savvy travellers don’t go anyplace without double-checking the weather forecast to prepare appropriately and plan a brilliant itinerary accordingly.
We advise you to get around the country at the beginning and the end of rainy seasons, during which wildlife is teaming up with birds and different species of flora and fauna. Forests will be greener, offering a great chance to hit hiking trails to spot all these marvels. And another very good news; prices often go down, and you will be able to explore more with your limited budget.
4- Volcanic Adventure
Costa Rica is home to more than 60 volcanoes ranging from extinct to active. These volcanoes don’t just offer a high steep trail until reaching the summit and witnessing this supernatural miracle. Many natural sites have already been developed around dormant volcanoes, which have proven to be popular tourist destinations for a wide range of people, not simply geologists who are preoccupied with observing natural power or tragedies.
It’s also a mecca for everyone prone to experience thrilling adventures.
Many warm springs are scratted around these volcanoes which will give visitors a chance to unwind and relax in natural spa baths.
There is no wonder that big-name hotels are located just right here to take advantage of these unbelievable canyons.
While exploring volcanoes, take your time to communicate with locals in small botanic towns. Costa Rica is incredibly welcoming, and if you want to go far away from the big cities, expect to find amazing people who are always helpful, making your trip even more enjoyable. The only advice for you is that embarking on these journeys with a group will make it easier to adjust and take in everything the national parks have to offer.
5- Countless Outdoor Activities
When it comes to screaming-enticing activities, Costa Rica has a plethora of exciting outdoor activities for everyone. A good example is ziplining, which can be found in every national park. You’ll be dangling on a rope for a while before landing in a turquoise marsh.
Also, water activities are out-of-the-world, ranging from scuba diving, parasailing, kayaking, paddling, surfing, and much more.
Searching for something with less energy! What about fishing? Nothing can beat the fish wealth of Costa Rica, just wait a few minutes, and when your hook seems to be heavier, it will be a good sign that you have caught a big deal, and your tummy will dance with delight since a fresh, delicious fish feast will be ready shortly. Outdoor activities in Costa Rica also include getting on a cute bike and exploring the hidden corners of each city you will visit.
Just contact any local tourist agencies and know precisely their tour packages.
If they fail to satisfy your curiosity and adventure sense, then you would ask for a local private agent and make him tailor an itinerary for your sake.
If all previous activities don’t gratify your desires, or you are a daredevil tracing risky ventures, you are invited to try out bungee jumping or skydiving. It’s something not to be missed while navigating this blessing country.
6- Kicking a Great Start Everyday
You can call any day a good day without sipping a great cup of coffee, and —to be honest— coffee is not made equally. So while travelling, don’t expect you to drink the same coffee at your home. Many flavours and styles of your morning cup are available everywhere, you might like them, or you will find them a nightmare. But in Costa Rica, you will find out a perfect way to start off your day before going out to begin your expenditure.
Several rainforests enable Costa Rica to be on top of coffee producers since it hosts eight regions dedicated to coffee farms. So it comes as no surprise that you have plenty of options out there to choose the best for you.
And we are here not talking about beans coffee. Indeed, the government has issued a strict law to prevent framers from cultivating low-quality beans, only top-notch to maintain a high production standard and preserve their position as a highly competitive coffee supplier.
If I were you, I wouldn’t come back home without purchasing some packets of raw coffee since you will never find the same quality you are searching for! And there is no question that you would regret it further.
7- Less-Visited Tourist Destination
One of the biggest concerns for everyone when deciding to go out to see the world around us is how busy places you will find. When discovering new spots, the last thing you want is to be stymied by crowds. They are about to ruin your mood and take your excitement to zero. Not to mention you will not be able to uncover all the great bends. But, of course, your predicament would be worse if you were easily annoyed by the hubbub.
Consisting of six provinces, Costa Rica is a place to chill out and escape from fuss. You can bump into any place you want, and you don’t have to worry about missing out on famous sights during peak seasons or being overrun by visitors.
A less congested atmosphere also indicates a healthier environment with less polluted air. As a result of the excellent living quality, the life expectancy may reach as high as 79 years.
Have you heard that saying that always urges us to do anything we want because age is just a number? This rings so true in the Nicoya Peninsula, where you may meet people who are over 100 years old and still works on their farm, digging with an axe and harvesting crops, utterly unconcerned about their age.
Top Things You Need to Know Before You Go to Costa Rica
I bet you have just come from Pinterest after tipping in the searching bar “Costa Rica for vacation” or something like that. I bet you are overloaded with photos like a long wooden bridge between two cliffs or a waterfall cascading into a swamp, with someone poised to leap over it. Now, you are already overwhelmed with what is on offer to you. Additionally, you absolutely have your expectations, which —I know without even telling me— are the wildest. And you have a clue, by the way. But please put all your anticipations aside, and let’s discover this country with fresh eyes.
Also, because we want you to make the most of your trip, it would be helpful to know some things before even reserving your flights or accommodations. Moreover, this part will enable you to portray what Costa Rica is about to know if this trip is your type or if you need to reconsider the whole thing.
1- Plan How Many Nights You Spend
Costa Rica is not a big country, spreading over 51,100. However, you will be surprised by the potential of this great nation. This country will be more massive than you might expect in terms of diverse natural resources. Like a biological complex teeming with national parks, jungles, rainforests, and much more, you should wisely plan your trip to set your schedule and visit as much as possible.
Thanks to the excellent transport network lastly extensively renovated and restored to enhance tourism facilities; almost all Costa Rica cities are accessible— particularly big cities. You can reach your destination within no time by flight or a ferry. Each province has a unique atmosphere standing on energetic offerings and vibrant culture. Make no mistake, the history behind each spot of Costa Rica is glorious. Thus, we encourage you not to miss out on heading too many of them.
So how much will it take you to explore Costa Rica? Or How many days can you spend here without being bored?
The reasonable period should not be less than 10 days. But in this case, you need to be more focused and organized. There is no need to hit each national park; some have nothing to distinguish them from one another. Instead, be selective, pick the best mountainous sites and only magical beaches and then combine them to establish your own itinerary.
However, there is no shame in staying for a month, and rest confident that you will not be bored for even a single second throughout your visit. In this scenario, it would be better to explore the country from the north. Make a pit break in the Nicoya Peninsula, where several activities keep you occupied. During your stay, divide your time between the coastal cities and dive deeper into smaller towns. Through your journey, many parks may come on your way; then take a deep breath, and be ready to weave in its pathways.
2- Spanish is the Official Language
The mother tongue of the Costa Rica people is Spanish, and it comes to sense when you know that this country was a Spanish colony for over 300 years once Juan de Cavallón had discovered it through his long ocean sailing.
With a developed tourist infrastructure, you can find many people who speak English, especially in hotspots.
So, you will be okay if you just rely on your English. However, it would be cool to know some simple Spanish words to use during your travel, like gracias -thank you, agua – water, and sai- yes. Of course, you don’t have to do it, but you know it would be a nice gesture and an ideal way to start chatting with locals.
Speaking to Costa Rica locals, you are lucky enough to deal with fantastic people.
However, don’t overestimate and assume that you will find many originally-North American people who can speak English appropriately. Costa Rica is still in its earliest phase of establishing a popular tourist destination. Not all people with a high education level enable them to communicate in a foreign language. Furthermore, if your itinerary includes extended terrains and out-of-town trails, your English doesn’t work out.
Alternatively, downloading a translation app will take care of everything and will always come to your rescue whether you’re attempting to order food or request an upgrade in your hotel, among other things.
Side Tip: There are a number of direct air carriers from which to pick. It’s a five-hour journey from the United States and more than a ten-hour flight from the United Kingdom. For those looking for cheaper options, indirect flights may be worth considering. Always compare prices on Fly-in and Skyscanner to get the most affordable offer possible.
3- It’s Okay to Visit Costa Rica Anytime
A tropical climate is not always a thing you should avoid. It seems that the opposite is true. Costa Rica has pretty fantastic weather year-round, no more than 27°C and no less than 18°C. And since Costa Rica is divided into two different zones, the weather patterns can vary from one place to another in terms of humidity and rains. The Caribbean coast might be wetter with a high moisture level than the Pacific, dry and hot.
The bottom line is the best time to visit Costa Rica is in March when the sun is becoming moderate.
When it comes to peak season, the busiest months are December to March, when people flock to the shores of the Pacific to soak up some sun over the Christmas break; as a result, prices soar dramatically during this period.
After that till October, be prepared to be entirely wetted by rains, and the prices come to decline to make it easier to find exclusive deals. But, of course, it doesn’t mean that you can not visit Costa Rica after March; the point is that you have to pack a raincoat and a tight riding boot. And get ready to be muddy while striding across jungle trails. Moreover, it might be somewhat dangerous to explore rainforests in such weather or go outside the cities, especially by bus since roads are not well-paved.
Eventually, if you are not limited to a tight budget, then book your trip from December to March. If you don’t mind heavy rains and are not obsessed with hiking experiences, then after March will be more than perfect. Most importantly, you will take advantage of wow discounts.
4- Be Savy and Take Advantage of Free Offerings
Travelling is not cheap. I don’t want to make lies and manipulate you with fake information about how to travel across the world with a minus-zero pocket or how to spend a month in Costa Rica with 2 dollars! Forget about it. No one will tell you this because simply, it’s impossible. And even if you have stumbled upon these kinds of headlines along the way, it seems apparently a scam.
But what makes a traveller enjoys his time with fewer expenses than another one is that he had taken this advice from us (kidding! Actually, we might find his reference or any other fantastic travel bloggers). Take advantage of free activities and offerings.
For example, why pay for mineral water in a country that provides its visitors with clean tap water.
You will be shown how to safely utilize the tap water at your hotel and which faucets are suitable for this purpose. Don’t be shy about asking for a complimentary glass of water at restaurants. And don’t forget to drink water in mountainous cities, it’s pretty good.
Bring a little filter with you if you’re still concerned about the quality of the water or have an allergy of any type. These filters are inexpensive and practical. Costa Rica also encourages eco-friendly solutions like refilled water bottles instead of plastic. Show respect to the environment and use the first type. Additionally, some rugged and restored places don’t provide their visitors with potable water. So it’s good to hug your water bottle wherever you go.
Otherwise, Costa Rica is home to a myriad of beautiful, accessible beaches, like Manzanillo and Playa Chiquita.
5- Don’t Count on US Dollars
One of the top things you should know while visiting Costa Rica is its currency and how you handle your money. The official currency is the colon. But here is the surprise; one dollar equals about 643 colons. Like other touristic countries trying to diversify and enhance their foreign currency reserve by tourism, Costa Rica is welcoming everyone to pay with dollars, whether in lodgings, well-known restaurants, or entry tickets for attractions.
Furthermore, it seems that dollars are accepted by many travel agencies and would save you the headache of dealing with fluctuating exchange rates. In other words, you should double-check the privilege of what you’re getting to make sure you’re getting a good bargain.
Instead, if you are interested in having a glimpse of indigenous cultures and meandering around small villages or going shopping at popular markets, then the local currency is the king. By following this, you will guarantee that you will be away from tourist traps. And another thing, you can make great deals with low-costly products.
If you are wondering where you can get colons, the answer might be easier than you think; well, ATMs. Especially in tourist spots or outside well-known hotels, you can get both USD dollars and colons. And if you choose your way to enjoy Costa Rica by hiking outdoors, withdraw some cash before going anywhere since it would be difficult to find any ATMs.
Before you go to Costa Rica, the final thing you should know is that euros are not frequently accepted. So as soon as you get to the airport, exchange enough currency to avoid being surprised when you pay for a taxi trip and the driver tells you, “Sorry, no euros!”
6- Forget About Uber
As a tourist, I always feel safe and reassured knowing that Uber is available in my upcoming destination. Instantaneously, a chill feeling envelopes me, and I am free to tour the city and enjoy a leisurely walk without having to worry about how I will get home or about meeting some terrifying situations such as harassment or even abduction. Simply request a ride, and I may share it with someone else who will be able to find me wherever I am traveling.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this in Costa Rica. Uber is available in some big cities in Costa Rica, like San Jose, but it’s still not totally legal since many local taxi drivers are battling to ban it.
Instead, you can use the local red taxi running by a standard operator. That means you don’t need to haggle for the fare — what the meter calculates is what you should pay. Keep in mind that not every vehicle that offers to transport you to your destination is a legitimate taxi service. You must verify his identity by searching for his license number, which should be displayed on a yellow plate.
For more comfortable alternatives, you can always depend on a private shuttle to travel through Costa Rica and move between small towns, but be prepared to pay $40 to $160 per person.
Planning to rent a car in Costa Rica! Mmm… not sure if it would be a very good idea. It seems that getting to your destination is not an easy mission since there are hardly any signs throughout your way. Ensure that the car is provided with a GPS system, or your data phone works fine.
7- Sodas Are A Great Option for A Great Price
I don’t know if I have mentioned it before in this guide, but it deserves to refer to it repeatedly. Local dishes in Costa Rica are so intense and rich. There is no need to order any other plates except Casado or Tamal. The Costa Rican food section is the most popular among tourists, who are always eager to try the cuisine as much as possible.
Despite this, if you base your plans on renowned restaurants situated in tourist destinations, you may end up spending more than you planned. And, on occasion, the service might fall short of your expectations when compared to the amount you were charged.
The second scenario — perfect and convenient for all travellers— is to head to sodas, a mom-and-pop restaurant serving all local cuisines for unbelievable prices. Your dinner will not cost you more than 4 dollars with great taste and quality, and you can enjoy your night in a great setting with tasteful lighting allowing you a romantic or pleasantly different evening experience.
Avoid ordering meals at the hotel restaurant unless you don’t mind paying an additional fee or treating yourself to a luxury ambiance. But, then, it would put you back at the very least twenty bucks.
Please keep in mind that Costa Rican cuisine is quite spicy and that rice is considered the king component of every meal. Therefore, expect your breakfast to consist of some hot rice and fresh vegetables, so don’t be shocked.
Street food is also fantastic, with a wide range of snacks and little sandwiches to choose from. Just remember that the green sauce is far spicier than the cold red sauce.
Things to Do in Costa Rica
After reading about the allure of Costa Rica, it seems that you are experiencing an adrenaline rush, and you are in good shape. And I don’t blame you. Costa Rica is a matter of endless thrilling experiences.
There are so many great sites and areas of interest to see in Costa Rica that it may be tough to choose the best of the country’s offerings. So, to help you decide what to do in Costa Rica, we’ve put up a list of our favorite activities, destinations, and things not to miss while you’re here. But, come on, you can do better than that! Costa Rica is a place to live, not just visit.
The Best Section of Any Country is to Visit the Capital: San Jose
Half restored and half-wild, San Jose is an idyllic place to kick a start off in Costa Rica. San Jose lies in the mid-west of the Central Valley, capital and centre with photographic landscapes and pretty good lodgings, considered a hub for adventure and no-end hiking trails. Most visitors always come here to check out national parks and explore more about the wildlife.
San Jose has done an excellent job of combining the highlights of contemporary living with the qualities of the natural world. As a result, you may see trends of materialism characterizing the scene compared to other Central American towns. Still, there is little question that it is not a city to be overlooked.
In addition to having a diverse and glorious culture, San Jose is a magnificent city to learn more about Costa Rica’s legacy and history-especially if you head to the city’s downtown, brimming with historic buildings that tell you how authentic it is.
Several times, San Jose has been chosen as one of the top 10 best destinations for spending a great vacation by TripAdvisor’s flocks. This buzzing city might let you have a sense of living in a chaotic place but trust me, it’s an experience in itself.
That’s said, if you are an adventurous traveller, go to San Jose. If you are a history junkie, go to San Jose. Even if you are searching for a superb gateway for a romantic memory, San Jose is also a place to be.
Explore the Most Worthwhile Part of San Jose: Downtown
Location: Avenida Central
How to reach: Take a public bus network and get out at Heredia station. The plaza’s centre is within 5-minute walking distance.
Price: Free access
It is the most unique section of meandering around the capital city where you can enjoy watching attractions and impressive landmarks. Plan to stay here for at least three hours to be able to uncover all things on offer here.
Why Should You Visit Downtown, San Jose?
Most voyagers who head to Costa Rica are enthusiastic about discovering the precipitous part of the country, weaving in serious hiking to challenge their walking skills. Unfortunately, they don’t pay enough attention to such tours. They think it’s just an amateur activity for slothful travellers. There is no shame to allow yourself to try less energetic ventures even if you are a marathon runner!
Downtown is the busiest part of Costa Rica. It will give you a slice of historical feeling every single moment with buskers and street performances held around the avenue. This spot will usually allow you to see the most well-known sections of San Jose. Thankfully, the city is well connected by public buses with crummy fares. One of our travel tips is to make your time to check out National Theater (Teatro Nacional), a must-visit attraction with a history spanning 125 years.
Luxury seekers have a great alternative to immersing themselves in an opulent lifestyle; just reserve a night at Gran Hotel.
Things to Do:
- Roam around cobblestone streets and stop at every intersection. Take amazing photos of historical buildings. It’s always an excellent idea to have a picnic around vintage landmarks.
- Bring your coffee with delicious snacks and continue your non-stop tour. Our only advice is just to come here in the morning during which there are fewer people tourists and locals.
- Have a break at one of the trendy restaurants near the plaza. Touring with the highlights of San Jose can be done on your own, or if you intend to not miss out on any meaningful attractions, then a local guide would be helpful.
- Plan to navigate around Plaza de la Democracia — shopaholics call it heaven. It’s a famous market packed with all goodies and domestic products.
- Pay a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral, which has an impressive interior. Don’t be fooled by the outside, which doesn’t seem to be anything worth stopping for. Yet, you will be pleasantly surprised by what awaits you on the inside.
Things not to Do:
- Don’t go to a bank to exchange money. You will find yourself snarled up in a sea of people, and you will spend millions of hours waiting for your turn to come around. ATMs are convenient and may be located across the nation.
- Don’t be so excited to venture into all activities like zip lines, kayaking, and so on. They are really cool and much fun is waiting for you, but they are a bit pricier, and you need to plan precisely to know what you should take or leave.
- Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Costa Rica is significantly more affordable than the other Central American nations. Costa Rica has a lot to offer in terms of adventure options for various vacation packages, but it is also the most costly location in the area in general.
Pro Tip: San Jose is not a city known for its outdoor activities. It’s about wandering through superior cafes preparing mouthwatering foods from over the world, historic buildings, and fascinating museums, among other things. As a result, if it is not what you are looking for on your trip to Costa Rica, do not include it in your itinerary.
Enjoy a Historical Tour: San Jose’s Musumes
Location: Most of them are in the city’s centre
How to reach: Head to the Coca-Cola” bus terminal, take a bus to the central plaza, and leave at Heredia station. Go straight till you reach Plaza de la Cultura, loaded with extraordinary museums.
Price: Invest in a combined pass to visit most Costa Rica museums for $33.
San Jose is home to numerous excellent museums, each with special exhibits from various times. The route we’ve prepared will ensure that you see all that’s worth seeing in the area… So here’s what we can come up with for you.
Why Should You Visit San Jose’s Musumes, Costa Rica?
Your tour around San Jose can not be completed without visiting a bunch of museums dotted around. The journey among these museums should include:
National Museum of Costa Rica: it’s one of the most prominent museums in San Jose, housing many different artefacts and sculptures. Don’t forget to check out the various sections of the museum, colonial history, geology hall, and religion displays.
The Gold Museum: just underneath the Plaza de la Cultura, you’ll find one of the most precious monuments dating back to the Spanish occupation. This museum boasts the most fabulous golden artworks collection in Latin America. It’s a massive permanent exhibition, and it’s unlikely you’ll see the whole thing, but definitely, you should aim to experience a portion of it.
The Jade Museum: this building hosts a large assortment of jade antiques and relics. It’s a good start for everyone obsessed with Latin heritage.
That begs the question: Which museums do you ought to visit?
Although the Gold Museum is our personal favourite, you may see all three if you intend to remain in San Jose for more than two days.
Things to Do:
- Wander around the museums that will give you insight into the fascinating history of Costa Rica. Ask for an audio guide, or you can join a guided tour in English.
- Be prepared to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art & Design, hosting a large section of indigenous art. It’s a convenient way to be acquainted with unique trends.
- Plan to attend a dinner show in San Jose. It’s a way to suck up the cultural prospects of Costa Rica. Many restaurants offer a great night and show throughout the week, like Mirador Tiquicia on Fridays and Ram Luna Restaurant on Wednesdays and Thursdays. All of them are right next to the city’s centre.
- After a long walking tour, take a respite at one of the pleasant bars, which provide a broad selection of tropical tastes to refresh you.
- Pick a nearby hotel to museums and the city center to have the opportunity to enjoy lively nightlife during which thousands of tourists decide to venture here for shopping, drinking, or just hanging out.
Things not to Do:
- Do not anticipate your bus excursion to depart on schedule, particularly if you want to go outside the capital. Crumby roads and one-way lines often create traffic congestion, so if you’re going to take a road trip across the country, get started as soon as possible to minimize traffic delays.
- Don’t put your reliance on a GPS’s projected travel time. Prepare to add an additional hour till you reach your destination.
- Don’t assume that you will be familiar with all of the organisms that live in rainforests. Because of this, a local agent may be pretty beneficial in allowing you to learn more about the almost extinct species.
Pro Tip: If you’re up for it, I recommend you visit San Jose on a Saturday to attend La Feria Verde, a festival more than just a market filled with snack vendors, stalls, handcrafting works, both domestic and international items, and street shows. Also, foodies shouldn’t miss restaurants in the Escazu neighbourhood.
More Things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica
- Mercado Centrale is another cultural hub dotted with distinct eateries and markets. Plenty of visitors rave about this district and say a visit is a must. It has the ring of being ideal for souvenirs and crafts that showcase Costa Rica’s authentic cultural history.
- It doesn’t make any sense to be hungry while visiting San Jose since, in each hidden corner, you can spot a restaurant. Consequently, we recommend trying Maxi’s By Ricky serving incredible traditional cuisines or Mantras Veggie Cafe And Tea House offering vegetarian dishes.
- Check out Barrio Escalante, giving you access to free walking tours and more laidback cafes and stylish shopping centres.
- You can also go to Barrio Amón, oozing with history and perfect-postcard mansions. Make sure that your phone is fully charged, as every nook and cranny invites you to capture stunning photographs.
Where to Stay in San Jose?
Best Hotels for families:
Best Western Plus San Jose (around $79 a night)
La Sabana Hotel Suites Apartments (around $71 a night)
Best Hotels for couples:
Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Curio Collection by Hilton (around $149 a night)
Hilton Garden Inn Santa Ana San Jose (around $109 a night)
Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:
In the Wind Hostel (around $27 a night)
Casa Kibi Kibi (around $13 a night)
A New Way of Seeing Costa Rica: Head to Playa Del Coco
Location: Costa Rica’s northern coast
How to reach: Fly to Liberia from San Jose then take a private shuttle to Playa Del Coco. The whole journey takes 3h for $200 – $710. For cheaper alternatives, catch a bus from the terminal bus station in San Jose for $8 taking about 6h.
Price: Spending a day and a night at Playa Del Coco will set you back around $140, but it is also dependent on what kind of experience you want to receive from your expedition.
Playa Del Coco is one of the most popular beach little towns in Costa Rica, and it has breathtaking scenery around every corner. In addition to traveling from San Jose, a boat excursion is available to whisk visitors up and down beaches, particularly if they are coming from the Nicaraguan border.
Why Should You Visit Playa Del Coco?
Playa Del Coco is a friendly, welcoming community that embraces people of all nationalities and backgrounds. Many Canadians, Americans, and migrants have settled down here to start over a new life, resulting in an unparalleled lifestyle and unpredictable feast for all your senses. It’s no surprise that many retirees have packed their possessions and relocated to this area to enjoy a tranquil life and a new beginning.
Not just a simple seaside town– throughout the last decade, many fancy resorts and high-end tourist landmarks have been set up along the shore making it a flawless destination filled with summer vibes. Plus, the weather is awesome year-round. Simply, nothing can spoil your vacation in Playa Del Coco.
Things to Do:
- While clutching your Spanish drink in your hands, take in the sunset scene. A breathtaking adventure that you will not want to come to an end.
- Nightlife here is something to come for including traditional parties and dancing till midnight.
- A bike tour across the city is a real treat that will allow you to discover the hidden beauties of the city.
- Board on a boat for a traffic tour around the Caribbean coastline. This adventure will be pleasant in winter and spring alike.
- Discover a number of scuba diving opportunities while watching swaths of awe-inspiring marine creatures.
Things not to Do:
- Don’t expect people in Costa Rica are adhering to traffic rules. Sings mean nothing to them or to be more specific, they mean go faster!
- Don’t drive at night since most roads are bumpy and have dangerous cracks in them. Furthermore, drivers are much more than likely to break all speed restrictions and maintain an insane attitude.
- Don’t show your dissatisfaction to those who harm the natural environment is not appropriate. When it comes to abusive conduct, there is no clear legal standard to follow, and you will either fight for nothing or generate hostility against you as a visitor.
Pro Tip: Staying here for more than two nights is not recommended. There are several activities to do in Costa Rica that are on the table.
More Things to do in Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica
- You can start hiking around vast ranges of jungles in Playa Del Coco but remember you must be down by 6:30 p.m. (Remember: it’s not fairly safe to meander among secluded spots at night.
- When it comes to the top things to do in Playa Del Coco, our journey has to begin in the Gulf of Papagayo with an expansion of 3 kilometers. Stretch out, have a dip, and take in the beautiful mountainous landscape that surrounds you.
- If you’d want to treat yourself to some fresh seafood, this charming fishing hamlet is a fantastic place to do it. Playa Del Coco has a thriving fishing industry that attracts the attention of visitors from all over the world.
- Don’t be limited to just Coco beach. The village boasts some hidden caves and coves coming with white sand beaches and undoubtedly it’s one of our favourite activities in this spot.
Where to Stay in Playa Del Coco?
Best Hotels for families:
Villa del Sueno (around $110 a night)
Hotel & Villas Huetares (around $70 a night)
Best Hotels for couples:
Papagayo Golden Palms Beachfront Hotel (around $160 a night)
Hotel Bosque del Mar Playa Hermosa (around $198 a night)
Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:
Hotel M&M Beach House (around $60 a night)
Laura’s House B&B (around $68 a night)
See What a Small Place You Occupy in the Universe: La Fortuna
Location: northwest of the capital, San José
How to reach: If you are travelling on a budget, consider taking a bus from San Jose downtown. The bus leaves every day at 8:40 am. It will cost you about $5, taking around 5h. For more comfortable alternatives, you can book a private trip by shuttle for everywhere $80 – $100.
Price: On average, it costs $70 to spend a day and a night in La Fortuna (depending on the accommodation you choose but this budget will be fair for a nice hostel)
There is no spot more vital for volcano trekkers than La Fortune, which serves as the sole access point to the Arenal Volcano. La Fortune is a little town that offers numerous opportunities to partake in a daring adventure. So just fuel your energy and don’t discourage your wanderlust, and be ready for this unparalleled venture.
Why Should You Visit La Fortuna?
Arenal Volcano should be one of your reasons to visit Costa Rica. Your journey actually means that you are about to witness some remarkable wonders and natural blessings since the land around the volcano offers diverse and intense landscapes teeming with exciting things that absolutely exceed your wildest dreams. In addition, many great outdoor activities entice you to experience something unlike any before.
Begin with a ziplining adventure that will take you on an incredible trip that will get you right across the other side of the park. Put your belt around your waist and let your feelings out loudly by yelling. It’s part of the experience.
Things to Do:
- Join a group and embark on a long hiking expedition to admire one of the most active volcanoes globally, Arenal Volcano, at the height of 5000 feet.
- La Fortuna is considered one of the most diverse biologically active environments in Costa Rica, securing habitat for a large number of birds, including roseate spoonbills, jabiru storks, and cormorants. La Fortuna’s parks are ideal for a getaway for bird watchers and anybody else who wishes to reconnect with nature.
- Admire the detailed view wherever you go, a backdrop of the volcano, making the city more compelling to discover. Document every moment by snapping images whenever and wherever you go. You will need to keep this voyage in your memory forever.
- Exploring La Fortuna in-depth, taking a break at a local bar, interacting with the people, accepting the challenge, and learning more about Costa Rica’s culture and Latin culinary traditions are all recommended. Be a traveller rather than a tourist. And don’t worry much about your safety. La Fortuna is a touristy destination offering gorgeous views and many relevant things worth your time and energy.
- It seems to be challenging to see everything in your surroundings, which is why we recommend that you stay at a welcoming lodge for at least two days so that you may take advantage of everything.
Things not to Do:
- Don’t just book the first hotels you come across while searching for a place to stay. You must do thorough research, read reviews, and listen to other vloggers who have gone through the process previously. A cheaper hostel does not always imply a better bargain; it might be a snare. Alternatively, please browse through our list of the best hotels and hostels in every city and choose the most appropriate for you.
- Don’t get into any trouble with the monkeys while passing through on your trip to the cloud woods. We understand that they are adorable when leaping trees and staring at you. I really want to feed them…! it should not be done at any cost since sure treats are already hazardous to them, and they will want more. If you do, they will take what you are holding and flee, which will cause you to freak out and bother them badly. Simply enjoy the company of monkeys, or even take photographs with them.
- Don’t miss your chance to learn how to surf if you are a beginner. Many sports clubs will assist you in becoming a master, and during the drier season, the waves become more glamorous and calmer, allowing you to go out into the water with ease. However, to ensure your safety, you must adhere to all surfing norms.
Pro Tip: Protect yourself against mosquitoes since they may transmit illnesses such as dengue fever, which is particularly important while trekking or exploring rainforests. Mosquitoes thrive in stagnant ponds, which is why it’s vital to apply insect repellent to give possible protection.
More Things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
- If you are a massive admirer of sloths, as I am, the Bogarin Trail is a must-visit destination where you can see a plethora of them in their natural habitat. If you believe they’re asleep, you’re probably incorrect. It is not the case; they just spend their whole lives resting in the same area. You may take part in a guided tour to learn fascinating facts about this uncommon creature. The entry ticket to the Bogarin Trail is $10.
- Volcanos are not as bad as you might think. This hottest lava contributes to maintaining ecology and creating other incomparable natural landscapes. You can quickly notice that while meandering around Arenal Volcano, you can find pristine hot springs. Many options are stored for you:
- Book a night at resorts that have taken advantage of these natural spas and chill out in a luxury setting.
- Purchase a pass ticket and spend a whole day besides these canyons. These tickets might include a meal that we highly recommend if you wouldn’t pack snacks with you.
- Make use of the free river, which appears as a natural hot tub.
- Visit a coffee plantation is one of the best things to do in La Fortuna. It’s another outstanding tour in which you can catch up a conversation with locals, and drink a genuine cup of coffee (I bet you will drink at least 3 cups! It will be the best caffeine you have ever tasted)
- Learn more about chocolate production by visiting cocoa farms. Eden Organic Farm is regarded as one of the best in terms of coca crops. Bring plenty of chocolate bars from surrounding markets with you, just in case. Imagine that you’ll be able to eat them directly from the source.
Where to Stay in La Fortuna?
Best Hotels for families:
Hotel Los Lagos Spa & Resort (around $129 a night)
San Bosco Inn (around $75 a night)
Best Hotels for couples:
Volcano Lodge, Hotel & Thermal Experience (around $205 a night)
Casa Torre Eco- Lodge (around $61 a night)
Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:
Arenal Poshpacker (around $14 a night)
Sunset Inn (around $22 a night)
Nothing Can Disappoint you: Puntarenas
Considered the largest province in Costa Rica, Puntarenas is one of the hotspots boasting extensive jungles ranging from Monteverde to Jaco, Montezuma, and Manuel Antonio.
Located on the banks of Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya, Puntarenas is a fishing village for locales and a tourist destination with a rich biodiversity environment along with breathtaking sandy beaches. In addition, the province is home to World Heritage Site Coco Island, comprising the largest beach in the Central American country.
Within an hour’s drive from Costa Rica’s capital, you can stay here for a couple of days, or you can arrange a day trip with a local agent. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the best attractions not to be missed in Puntarenas later on this insider guide. Still, just for now, we will provide you with more facts about this vast place to plan your itinerary smartly.
The only piece of advice I can give you is to avoid going on the weekends since the coast will be swarming with Costa Ricans and non-Costa Ricans who are looking to have a good time.
The capital city of Puntarenas holds the same name; Puntarenas or locales call it is El Puerto. Once you arrive, head up straight to the Paseo de Los Turistas, a long pathway packed with hotels, restaurants, and other points of interest. If you are looking for free activities, you can meander around the city and take its real spirit during the sunset.
Please note that Playa Puntarenas is not dedicated to swimming since it’s a fishing spot, and it could be not so clean with some trash.
Your Gate to Witness Marvels: Monteverde
Location: district of the Puntarenas canto, as part of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range
How to reach: Take one of two buses from San José, 6:30 AM and 2:30 PM. Ask anyone to direct you to the old Puntarenas bus stop taking roughly 5h, and it will cost you no more than $5.
Price: depending on how many forests you want to check out, be ready to pay for at least $20.
Since your journey around Costa Rica is about walking and outdoor activities among thick forests, this place is undoubtedly a must. One of the most significant parks in Central America that represents an excellent retreat for nature and adventure enthusiasts. It’s a reserve teeming with many things to do, offering an exclusive experience.
Why Should You Visit Monteverde?
For anyone wondering where to go for next Christmas and not be limited to checking in malls and capturing a photo with a dazzling Christmas tree, let me introduce you to a paradise for you with tons of opportunities for relaxation and exploration. Monteverde ranks high among other things to do in Costa Rica because of the laidback sensations it provides with each curve you go through on your way to the rainforest.
It’s like a magnet for travelers from all over the globe—obviously, anyone who wants to experience the phenomenal vibes should come here. Monteverde means green mountains, and this name rings so true, making it an excellent destination for admiring the unparalleled natural beauty.
And it’s not just about hiking and gorgeous views; you will get access to many adventurous sports that entice the excitement to the highest level ever.
Things to Do:
- Go hiking among misty mountains, intense forests, and imposing trees surrounding you everywhere that you will not be able to see the sky. You will be about to enjoy the cosy atmospheric spirit while relaxing in this natural oasis.
- Pick one of Monteverde’s onsens, either natural or artificial, to enjoy hot springs and allow your body to get rid of many toxic materials that ruin your physical and mental health.
- Follow the trace of wild animals and get closer and personal to observe their behaviour. Trust me; you can learn a great deal from these incredible creatures.
- Monteverde is a rich ecosystem home to a broad array of birds. It’s the ideal location for bird watchers since it contains species you may not have previously been aware of. Please bring your camera so you can photograph them with a focused lens or use your binoculars to spot them wherever they are.
- Take a ziplining ride around the park, one of the first and oldest lines in Central America. This activity is undeniably ideal for all ages; be ready with your camera to capture this short but thrilling journey.
Things not to Do:
- If you plan to visit Costa Rica during Christmas vacation, don’t expect to find snow or do some snowboarding or skiing. Listen, it’s an excellent destination for Christmas travel; however, you can savour another feast like surfing and diving.
- Don’t expect to find Costa Rica is hot year-round. The country has notorious weather of tropical climate with non-stop rains. However, this does not apply to areas like Monteverde, perched atop a mountain range. The temperature may drop considerably, mainly when the seasonal winds pick up speed.
- Don’t book your flight to Costa Rica without ensuring that you have got vaccinated appropriately. Since you will hit up a strictly intense jungle, you need to keep yourself away from any infection that will be enough to spoil your vacation.
Pro Tip: The most exciting thing about Monteverde is that it’s not so big that you can not make it alone. On the contrary, it’s accessible with different trekking trails that you don’t even need a tour guide or a map. Just follow the paths or make friends with other hikers.
More Things to do in Puntarenas, Costa Rica
- While in Costa Rica, you put all your attention to chilling out on a Caribbean beach holding a tropical drink in the other hand, be sure to visit the farms of Puntarenas. It’s perfect for a family vacation and a prime spot f