Costa Rica travel guide

Costa Rica Tourism | Costa Rica Guide

You're Going to Love Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Known as one of the best ecotourism destinations in the world, this Central American country is all about taking in gorgeous natural landscapes and outdoor activities.

What to do in Costa Rica

1. Observe the Arenal Volcano

At over 5,000 ft high, Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Travel between February and April for a better chance to see it.

2. Visit the Smallest National Park in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest nature reserve in Costa Rica. The diversity of its fauna and flora will blow your mind and keep you entertained for hours.

3. Explore San José

The capital city is a vibrant and cultural must-stop in Costa Rica, even if you're in the country for the natural reserves. Explore the neighborhoods Barrio Amon and Barrio Escalante for picture-worthy architecture, bars, and restaurants.

4. Dive Off the Coast in Isla del Coco

Have the diving experience of your life as you get close to hammerhead sharks and other underwater species.

5. Enjoy the Beaches

Playa Rajada, Playa Grande, and Playa Guiones are some of the top-recommended beaches in Costa Rica.

1. Observe the Arenal Volcano

At over 5,000 ft high, Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Travel between February and April for a better chance to see it.

2. Visit the Smallest National Park in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest nature reserve in Costa Rica. The diversity of its fauna and flora will blow your mind and keep you entertained for hours.

3. Explore San José

The capital city is a vibrant and cultural must-stop in Costa Rica, even if you're in the country for the natural reserves. Explore the neighborhoods Barrio Amon and Barrio Escalante for picture-worthy architecture, bars, and restaurants.

4. Dive Off the Coast in Isla del Coco

Have the diving experience of your life as you get close to hammerhead sharks and other underwater species.

5. Enjoy the Beaches

Playa Rajada, Playa Grande, and Playa Guiones are some of the top-recommended beaches in Costa Rica.

When to visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica in September
Estimated hotel price
£85
1 night at 3-star hotel
Costa Rica in September
Estimated hotel price
£85
1 night at 3-star hotel

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April, during the dry season. It's the perfect time to enjoy the beaches and the lush green landscapes that come to life with the rainy season between August and October.

How to Get to Costa Rica

Entry Requirements

Passengers from most countries can enter Costa Rica without a visa, as long as they're not planning to stay for more than 90 days. You'll need a passport valid for at least six months and a return ticket.

Plane

Most international flights to Costa Rica land at the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria in Alajuela, a town near the capital city San José. The second main airport in Costa Rica, in Liberia, is mostly served by international flights from Canada, the United States, and other countries in the Americas.

Car

Getting to Costa Rica by car might be a more expensive experience than flying because of the required paperwork. Travelers driving to Costa Rica need to show proof of ownership of the car and registration, have an International Driving Permit, valid license plates, an updated inspection certificate, and a passport.

Bus

When entering Costa Rica by bus, you'll need to disembark, get your luggage, walk across the border, and then get on the bus again on the other side. Considering that most international buses charge more for a ticket than a local one, you might save some money simply by taking two different local buses: one that takes you to the border and another one on the other side.

Boat

Costa Rica is a popular stop for many private cruise ships. They'll most likely dock at Puntarenas, Porto Caldera, or Puerto Limon.

Entry Requirements

Passengers from most countries can enter Costa Rica without a visa, as long as they're not planning to stay for more than 90 days. You'll need a passport valid for at least six months and a return ticket.

Plane

Most international flights to Costa Rica land at the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria in Alajuela, a town near the capital city San José. The second main airport in Costa Rica, in Liberia, is mostly served by international flights from Canada, the United States, and other countries in the Americas.

Car

Getting to Costa Rica by car might be a more expensive experience than flying because of the required paperwork. Travelers driving to Costa Rica need to show proof of ownership of the car and registration, have an International Driving Permit, valid license plates, an updated inspection certificate, and a passport.

Bus

When entering Costa Rica by bus, you'll need to disembark, get your luggage, walk across the border, and then get on the bus again on the other side. Considering that most international buses charge more for a ticket than a local one, you might save some money simply by taking two different local buses: one that takes you to the border and another one on the other side.

Boat

Costa Rica is a popular stop for many private cruise ships. They'll most likely dock at Puntarenas, Porto Caldera, or Puerto Limon.

Popular airlines serving Costa Rica

Lufthansa
Good (7,356 reviews)
KLM
Good (1,417 reviews)
SWISS
Good (1,799 reviews)
British Airways
Good (6,717 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (3,762 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (9,630 reviews)
Iberia
Good (2,673 reviews)
Air France
Good (1,622 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (10,082 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (4,159 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (7,353 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (9,364 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (3,996 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (8,407 reviews)
Frontier
Good (3,835 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (648 reviews)
Avianca
Good (3,352 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (2,182 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (2,241 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (2,260 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Costa Rica

Hotels and hostels are the most frequent types of accommodation in Costa Rica, especially in more popular tourist destinations. Since Costa Rica is such a famous sustainable tourism destination, high-end ecolodges are popular choices among travelers.

Where to stay in popular areas of Costa Rica

Most booked hotels in Costa Rica

The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal
5 stars
Excellent (9.3, Excellent reviews)
£390+
Oxygen Jungle Villas & Spa
4 stars
Excellent (9.2, Excellent reviews)
£169+
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica
4 stars
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
£318+
Barceló San José
4 stars
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
£54+
Wyndham Tamarindo
4 stars
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
£104+
Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort
4 stars
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
£152+

How to Get Around Costa Rica

Public Transportation

The main towns and cities are connected by a network of local buses. For other areas of the country, taking a metered taxi is a better and time-saving option. In isolated areas, you can rent a taxi for a period of time or negotiate a flat fee with the driver.

Bus

Bus is an inexpensive way to get around Costa Rica, with a one-way ticket starting at approximate ₡500 ($0.86) per person. The capital city San Jose is the main hub, with two connections per day to most other touristic towns.

Car

To rent a car in Costa Rica, you'll need your country's driver's license. In some cases, rental car companies will accept an International Driving Permit as well, if you have one.

Plane

Domestic flights in Costa Rica are operated by local airlines Sansa and Nature Air. Due to weather conditions, flights are frequently rescheduled or canceled.

Public Transportation

The main towns and cities are connected by a network of local buses. For other areas of the country, taking a metered taxi is a better and time-saving option. In isolated areas, you can rent a taxi for a period of time or negotiate a flat fee with the driver.

Bus

Bus is an inexpensive way to get around Costa Rica, with a one-way ticket starting at approximate ₡500 ($0.86) per person. The capital city San Jose is the main hub, with two connections per day to most other touristic towns.

Car

To rent a car in Costa Rica, you'll need your country's driver's license. In some cases, rental car companies will accept an International Driving Permit as well, if you have one.

Plane

Domestic flights in Costa Rica are operated by local airlines Sansa and Nature Air. Due to weather conditions, flights are frequently rescheduled or canceled.

The Cost of Living in Costa Rica

Major tourist destinations will accept US dollars as currency, but keep some colones for remote areas. ATMs are available. Pay in cash as much as possible and use credit cards for larger expenses like accommodation. A one-week supply of groceries costs around ₡10,000 ($17).