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Costa Rica

Quick Overview

Who is this Trip For?

You want to visit stunning beaches lined with palm trees, spend time in the tropical rainforest, dunk in a hot spring, or soar above the trees on ziplines!

All in a well-connected country with the infrastructure for you to see every corner without worrying about getting around, with some of the happiest (¡Pura Vida!) locals anywhere in the world.

Suggested Activities

The beaches in all of Costa Rica are breathtaking, and those found in Manuel Antonio may be the most stunning of them all!

Make sure to bring your camera to capture the wildlife (Monkeys, Sloths, Iguanas, Toucans…) and prove to your friends back home that those sandy, palm tree-lined beaches were in fact real, and not part of a dream.

Monte Verde, located inland near La Fortuna, is THE place to experience the famous Cloud Forest Rainforest of Costa Rica. 

See the trees covered by a thick layer of moist clouds, and summon your inner daredevil to zipline over the canopy for a truly unforgettable experience.

This small town in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica is truly exciting.

With a single straight dirt track acting as the main road, and vibrant travelers from around the world being drawn here for first-class surfing conditions, this town will not disappoint.

If you want to surf and party, look no further, this is the place.

La Fortuna is the most popular non-coastal town of Costa Rica. 

Offering exciting hikes up the volcano, or to the almost unbelievably blue waterfall: Rio Celeste,
as well as free or paid hot springs just outside of town.

The calmer beach in Samara (also Puntarenas Province) is ideal for swimming and then relaxing on the beach or enjoying live music at one of the multiple beachfront restaurants/bars.

After a few days (and sunsets) here you will be very chilled and hopefully a little more tanned than when you arrived.

The famous beach town of Puerto Viejo and the rainforest-covered sandbar that is a nesting site for turtles in Tortuguero are just two of the amazing places that are part of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, definitely worth visiting.

Top Tips

If you want to be polite and also share in the local’s joy of Life, greet them with the phrase: “Pura Vida”!

Meaning “Simple Life” or “Pure Life”, this is not only the Costa Rican’s (Ticos) favorite saying but literally their Way of Life! 

Ticos like to have a very relaxed way of looking at life: no worries, no stress.

If you want to share this spirit, then do as the locals do: and use this phrase for anything and everything.

To say hello, goodbye, everything’s cool, everything’s great; this is the phrase!

Head to the nearest Selina hostel, where there is always some party or interesting bar to check out and mingle with other like-minded travelers.

If you are travelling from a country such as the US or from Europe, then a currency conversion App can be very useful to make estimations of prices much easier.

At the time of writing, the conversion is at around ₡600 CRC (Costa Rican Colónes) to $1 USD.

Make it Unique

These are the local restaurants. If you want to experience dining the way the locals do, this is the way.

Most “Sodas” will have a sign saying “Soda”.

The staple Costa Rican dish is Casado. It is highly recommended and consists of rice, beans, meat, a green or pasta salad, and often fries.

The juice drink “Cas” is also a must-try blend of local Fruits!

Also, eating here is often the most cost-effective option, with “Casado” usually priced around $6 USD.

After a day of hiking, or as a stand-alone adventure, ask the locals how to find the El Salto rope swing near La Fortuna to swing into a river and swim under a small waterfall!

Google Maps Link: (Click Here).

If you want a truly unique experience of the Rainforest, Night Walks are offered in many places, such as in Monte Verde.

On these tours, expect to feel fully immersed with your area of focus shrinking to the beam of your torch, and your guide showing and teaching you some of the rainforest’s fascinating secrets, revealing animal and plant life that you would otherwise miss.

How to get There?

Flying: Costa Rica has 2 International Airports (SJO, near the Capital San José, and LIR, near the northern city of Liberia).
The Majority of flights land at SJO, but an increasing amount of flights from the US, Canada and the UK land at LIR.

Other: Costa Rica has land borders with Nicaragua to the North, and Panama to the South. If you are traveling from a neighboring country, there are multiple border crossing points.

How to get Around?

Buses are by far the most common and cost-effective way to get around Costa Rica.
The public bus system is excellent, with frequent connections to almost all destinations (almost every journey, even from the Panamanian border to San José, costs under US$15).

Often, San José acts as the transport hub, so from many locations, you have to travel to San José first before connecting to the next destination.

Private shuttle buses offer quicker but more expensive transfers.

Taxis are fairly affordable in a group.

Car rental can be quite expensive, and driving can be precarious, with steep drops and potholed roads making tough driving.

How to get There?

Flying: Costa Rica has 2 International Airports (SJO, near the Capital San José, and LIR, near the northern city of Liberia).
The Majority of flights land at SJO, but an increasing amount of flights from the US, Canada and the UK land at LIR.

Other: Costa Rica has land borders with Nicaragua to the North, and Panama to the South. If you are traveling from a neighboring country, there are multiple border crossing points.

How to get Around?

Buses are by far the most common and cost-effective way to get around Costa Rica.
The public bus system is excellent, with frequent connections to almost all destinations (almost every journey, even from the Panamanian border to San José, costs under US$15).

Often, San José acts as the transport hub, so from many locations, you have to travel to San José first before connecting to the next destination.

Private shuttle buses offer quicker but more expensive transfers.

Taxis are fairly affordable in a group.

Car rental can be quite expensive, and driving can be precarious, with steep drops and potholed roads making tough driving.

Safety Concerns

The Global Peace Index states that Costa Rica is considered the safest country in Latin America. It is also the most peaceful country in Central America with a low violent crime rate and high political stability.

While petty crime is the most common threat for tourists in Costa Rica, violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault, does occur. The Costa Rican government provides additional security in areas frequented by tourists.

Where to Stay?

  • Hostels: In most areas there are many great options for affordable hostels, either with shared or private rooms. Hostelworld is a great resource to find and book beds. This is the best value option and ideal for solo-travellers.
  • There are many Airbnb offerings, especially in popular beach towns, and this option may be the best value for families or groups.
  • Hotels often have private beach access and are a good option for families, or people mainly looking to relax.