Costa Rica is a beautiful small country, known as the happiest country in the world… which is totally explainable if you come and see it for yourself! The beaches are colourful and wonderful, we have huge rainforests holding approximately 5% of the world’s biodiversity (in such a small area), 5 active volcanoes, great food, no army and all kinds of services and activities. So if you love the beach, nature, or just feeling peaceful and relaxed, this is definitely your place.
Before you visit
- Try finding the best season to visit. We have a rainy season and a dry season, where the rainy starts on April till November. If you ask me, the best time to visit our country is from November to February, because March is too hot, and in the rainy season it REALLY rains. Just keep in mind, as a tropical country, we can always have a huge rainfall even in the dry season.
- You don’t need to worry about learning spanish. Almost all of the people in CR speak english as well. Even the tv and cinema plays the movies in english.
- Costa Rica has all kinds of tourism, going all the way from low budget to high end. You just have to choose your hotels right.
- If you are planning to go to the beach, the best thing to do is rent a car because there are many other beautiful beaches next to each other and this way you can move around and visit some of them (make it a 4×4 wheel drive).
- Consider using Yuplon to find great offers on hotels and activities!
- Make sure you bring or buy some insect repellent and sunblock.
Useful tips when you get to the airport
- We have Uber app and it works perfectly fine in the city. When you get to the airport, if you want to save some bucks, make sure you call an Uber driver instead of taking a cab (orange or red) because they are really expensive. If you take the Uber, they will ask you to walk all the way to the restaurant on the airport (after you exit, walk to the right about 25m), to avoid problems with the taxi drivers (they will also ask you to sit on the front).
- Don’t change currency at the airport because it is crazily expensive. If you need costa rican currency, ask an Uber driver of taxi, whatever you want, to drive you to a bank. If you need the cash urgently, the closest banks are on Alajuela town, maybe the best place to go would be on the City Place Mall.
- The coverage of cell phones in Costa Rica is really good, with Kolbi having the best coverage, followed by Movistar and Claro. You can buy a chip on the airport or on City Place Mall if you are going to change some cash there. Remember a chip can be really useful for using Waze if you are driving, or Uber if you want a cheap taxi.
If you are driving in Costa Rica
- Make sure you download the Waze app since in this country, it is way better than Google Maps.
- If you are driving from San Jose to the beach, make sure you bring some costarican cash (colones), since you will have to pass through some tolls and they only accept cash.
- Your best choice for a car if you are out of the city is a 4×4 wheel drive. Depending on your destination, the roads won’t be cemented and could even be full of mud, you could have to pass rivers, or even some high hills.
- Try to avoid driving on holiday weekends (see calendar) because the traffic in and out of San Jose can get ridiculous.
- Try to avoid driving from the city to the beach of a Friday, and if you must, do it in the morning (9-11am) before the traffic jams starts forming.
- The main highways to the beach in Costa Rica are pretty good (the 32, 27, the road to Cañas and the Costanera), but most of the small roads aren’t. Try not to drive faster than 120 km/h first of all because its dangerous since the roads have a lot of curves and because you can get a ticket for temerarious driving
and they are about $600 (not funny).
- If you want to park on a random street, sometimes there are guys watching the cars and they will charge you to do so. Don’t listen to them if they start charging you as soon as you park, but pay them at the end, or they will leave before you are back (or just pay them half of what they charge). Also, depending on the place, you can just pay them about 500 colones (not the 2000 colones they like to charge).
How to move around without a car
Uber works perfectly in San Jose, and you can ask an Uber driver to drive you all the way to the beach if you want to. You can even ask them to stay driving you all the weekend or so, just keep in mind that the Uber service is offered mostly in the city so if you go to the beach and your Uber leaves, it will be really hard or practically impossible to find another one there. We also have taxis of course, but be careful because some of them tend to alter their charging system. A nice idea if you are going to the beach, is to take a small plane from Nature Air or Sansa companies. They will get you fast to your destination and usually they don’t fly to high so that you can admire all the scenery and landscape of our country. Just be ready to land on really rural airports! We also have a great bus service that can get you practically anywhere! Just make sure you ask somebody about the safety of the places you want to go through, because sadly, some bus lines are not that safe depending on the hour (avoid buses at night), or the stops you have to make on the way (read the San Jose and vicinity post to learn about which places to avoid).
Other useful Information
- The tab water in Costa Rica is drinkable almost everywhere and a good way to save some bucks on restaurants.
- The restaurant tips in CR are always included. They are general amount, you can always make it better. Also, credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the city and in the beaches that have little villages or towns close by.
- If you are going to a really rural (and I mean extremely rural) place, make sure you take some cash because they might not accept credit cards. Also, some places offer discounts if you pay cash.
- The food in CR is really good. If you like fruits, make sure to buy plenty because here, they are really sweet, fresh and cheap. Also, the typical costarican breakfast includes “Gallo Pinto” which is rice and beans mixed together with a costarican sauce, accompanied by eggs and fresh cheese… I know it sounds weird but it’s really good, you should to try it!
Ready to choose where to go?
Click here to visit map and read about every interesting location in our country!