Costa Rica Travel Guide (Travel Tips & Itineraries)

Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica Mt. Arenal
Mt. Arenal

Ultimate Costa Rica Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? Full of tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches, this Latin American Country has so much to offer! Costa Rica is located in Central America, boarded by Panama to the South and Nicaragua to the North. This Costa Rica travel guide includes itineraries, tips, practical information, and more to help you plan an epic trip!

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Costa Rica Travel Guide Tips

Here is some practical information and travel tips for traveling in Costa Rica, including popular cities, favorite eats, and more!

Costa Rica Langauge:

Costa Rican’s native language is Spanish, although many can understand and speak English as well. It doesn’t hurt to have Google Translate on your phone.

Costa Rica Capital:

The capital of Costa Rica is San José, and there are around 1.029M people.

Credit Cards/ATM:

Credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica. Some of the major banks are CitiBank, Branco de Costa Rica, Branco Nacional de Costa Rica, and Branco Promerica. Tap and pay is widely accepted.


The currency is Costa Rican Colón. US Dollars can be used, however, it is best to exchange some money for Colones. You will likely need to use cash at some point.

Airports in Costa Rica:

Costa Rica is home to two major international airports. San Jose International Airport (SJO) and Liberia International Airport (LIT). Find flights here.

Getting Around Costa Rica:

Costa Rica is a small country making it relatively easy to get around. Those planning to travel to multiple areas are best renting a car.

During the rainy season, a 4×4 vehicle may be necessary. You can also use the bus system. If you choose this method, make sure you give yourself extra time to get to your destination.

Costa Rica Travel Safety:

Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Latin America. However, safety precautions should be taken.

Petty theft is common. Also, be careful late at night. Tourist areas in general, tend to be safe. During our time, we felt very safe.

Popular places in Costa Rica:

Costa Rica has so many incredible places to visit. Some of the most popular places people enjoy visiting, include La Fortuna, San José, Liberia, Tamarindo, Monteverde, Jaco, Santa Teresa, and Manuel Antonio.

Famous Dishes Across Costa Rica:

When in Costa Rica, make sure to try some traditional Costa Rican food. Popular dishes in Costa Rica include:

  • Gallo Pinto
  • Olla de Carne
  • Casado
  • Sopa Negra
  • Tamal de Maicena.

Tipping is optional in Costa Rica.

Power Outlets:

In Costa Rica, there are two plug types: A and B. Plug type A is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and B is the plug that has the same pins and a grounding pin. Costa Rica operates on 120V supply voltage and 60Hz. I recommend using a universal adaptor. 

Cell Service in Costa Rica:

In Costa Rica, you should have access to 3G, 4G, and 4.5G LTE. Make sure to contact your phone service carrier before going to Costa Rica to make sure your phone is unlocked for international travel if you plan on using a sim card.

The 3 most popular carriers to use are Kolbi, Claro, and Movistar. It is important to note that in some rural areas of Costa Rica you may not be able to get cell phone service like in the mountains in Monteverde.

Costa Rica Bird in tree

Weather in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a diverse, tropical climate. The country itself is made up of many different climate zones. 

April is the official start of Costa Rica’s ‘green season.’ The weather is a mix of rainfall and warmer weather. During the months of May to June, the national parks are quieter, making wildlife more prevalent. So, if the diverse range of wildlife is the main reason that you wish to visit, these months are a great time to do so. 

During July and August, rainfall in Costa Rica increases. This is a great time to see sea-life animals and can still be a fun time to visit if you don’t mind wet weather as the activities are a lot less busy. The average temperature is anywhere between 69°F to 89°F. 

The months of September and October are the height of Costa Rica’s wet season on the west coast, and travel is not recommended. The rainfall makes the roads extremely muddy and difficult to get around on. The temperatures are usually around 68°F to 76°F. However, on the Caribbean side, September and October are two of the best months to visit.

In November and December, the heavy rain ends, and going into January through to April, there is rarely any rainfall. This is the busiest period for Costa Rica as the amazing weather conditions make activities around Costa Rica extremely enjoyable (and expensive). The temperatures range from 86°F to 96°F.

Here is your Costa Rica Packing List!

Rio Celeste Waterfall
Rio Celeste Waterfall

Popular Things to Do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the perfect place for those who are looking for a lot of adventure for their vacation, wildlife, or relaxing by the beach. Some of the most popular activities in Costa Rica include:

  • Ziplining
  • Canyoneering
  • White Water Rafting
  • ATV Tours
  • Surfing
  • Coffee and Chocolate Tours
  • Boat Tours
  • Wildlife tours
  • Surfing
Samantha wearing a coral bathing suit in Costa Rica hot springs - Costa Rica packing list
Rio Celeste Waterfall

Costa Rica Trip Planning

Most people planning a trip to Costa Rica set aside 7 to 10 days. If you have less than that, 4 days will allow you to see one city. A great first-timer itinerary will include the following:

  • 3-4 Days in La Fortuna
  • 2-3 Days in Monteverde
  • 3-4 Days in Jaco, Santa Teresa, or Manuel Antonio

These are all located on the Pacific Side, which is most popular for first-time travelers. The Caribbean side is also beautiful but a little less developed in comparison.

Before visiting Costa Rica, make sure to check these Costa Rica travel tips.

two red eyed tree frogs in la fortuna costa rica at night

Words to Help You Get Around Costa Rica

While English is widely spoken in Costa Rica, here are some Spanish words to help you get around.

  • Hello = Hola
  • Good Bye = Adios
  • How Much = Cuanto
  • Thank you = Gracias
  • You’re welcome = de nada
  • Exit = Salida
  • Where is the bathroom =Dondes esta el bano
  • Pura Vida = A common gesture you will hear everyone say, which means “pure life.” You will hear everyone say it.

Costa Rica Travel Guides

Costa Rica Travel Guide Wrap-up

Now, you should have a ton of tools to help you plan an incredible trip to Costa Rica. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or via social media!

Additional Reading Material: Lonely Planet Costa Rica | Fodor’s Essential Costa Rica | Moon Costa Rica (Travel Guide)

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Costa Rica Travel Guide