Looking to buy an authentic Costa Rican souvenir to remind you of your amazing trip to Costa Rica? Here are our ideas for the best authentic and special Costa Rican souvenirs! Whenever I go back to visit my friends and family, I always do a little bit of shopping to bring back some cute trinkets and gifts. These are my favorite souvenirs to bring back.
Chorreador de Café (Costa Rican Coffee Maker)
Costa Rica is well known for its coffee and you can enjoy a nice cup of steaming Costa Rican coffee made the traditional way with a chorreador, the Costa Rican coffee maker. Before coffee machines and Keurigs, Costa Ricans used these 3 simple items to make delicious coffee. They use what they call a “sock” for the filter, a wooden stand and the blue tin pitcher to make coffee.
This is a great souvenir for several reasons: it is 100% usable, they are very common and it’s as Costa Rican as you can get! You can find painted and plain ones at any souvenir store or supermarket. The painted ones are very beautiful since they have paintings of toucans, macaws and other iconic Costa Rican symbols.
Depending on which one you get, they are usually around $20. They are cheaper if you get the non-painted ones at the supermarket though.
If you’re planning on using it to make coffee, you should buy extra socks. You can also get some painted wooden coffee mugs to go with your new Costa Rican coffee maker to complete the package. Perfect Costa Rican souvenir for any coffee lover!
Costa Rican Coffee
Coffee is the easiest souvenir to buy from Costa Rica. It’s always my go to present!
Here is our tip for buying coffee from Costa Rica: do not limit yourself to the Britt coffee which is the one you will see at the airports. They have the biggest marketing department and the shiniest presentations so it seems like they are the “best” brand.
In reality, if you ask the average Costa Rica, maybe 1 out of 10 Costa Rican buy Britt on a regular basis. We’re not saying it’s not good coffee though, don’t get us wrong! It’s just that there are plenty of other brands that are same quality or even better and cheaper. Britt is considerably much more expensive and commercial.
We recommend Doka, Sunburst, Terrazu by Cafe Rey, 1820 and the one I’m holding in the picture above.
To get the best Costa Rican coffee though, you must take a coffee tour. That way, you can purchase the coffee directly from the plantation. Additionally, many of the big coffee plantations export their highest grade quality and don’t sell to supermarkets, so you can only buy the best stuff at their estate.
We did a coffee tour at Doka Estate and bought a ton of their delicious coffee since it’s one of our favorites!
But if you weren’t able to get any coffee during your vacation, Britt has souvenir stores inside San Jose and Liberia Airport. So you can still purchase some last minute coffee and trinkets.
I personally love the printed towels in Costa Rica. I’ve bought a few of the currency towels as gifts and for myself actually! Since Costa Rican currency is very colorful, they make beautiful prints on towels.
You can also find towels with toucans, macaws, turtles and other exotic Costa Rican wildlife.
The chonete is an iconic symbol of the people that built Costa Rica. This is the “hat of the farmers” and one of the most representative items in Costa Rica history.
You can find the hat in pretty much all the souvenir stores but if you want the real one, go to a “Agropecuaria” where they sell products such as farming tools, machetes and seeds. They sell the real ones that farmers wear.
Ox Cart/Wheel Figurine
The ox cart, or carreta, is one of the most important tools in Costa Rican history. Back in the 1800’s, ox carts were used to carry coffee and other products and also a means of transportation. Painting the ox cart started in the 20th century as a way to signify the driver’s home.
Since ox carts aren’t needed as they once were, artisans make little figurines of the carts and wheels as decoration and souvenirs.
You can find carts of all sizes and they’re quite beautiful, usually painted red with animals and nature on. It’s a trinket of Costa Rica that you can put on a shelf to remind you of the good times you had!
Salsa Lizano is the hallmark sauce of Costa Rica that they use in many of the Costa Rican traditional dishes. It tastes kind of like English sauce but you can use it as meat sauce, to make gallo pinto, it’s a popular condiment and makes for a nice Costa Rican souvenir.
It’s a cheap Costa Rican souvenir and you can find it at any supermarket.
A Futbol Jersey
Costa Ricans sure love their futbol and if you’re also a fan, then a team jersey is a must on your list. Especially since their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas is very popular right now!
The one we are wearing are the la sele (team selection) jerseys but they also have the league jerseys like Saprissa, Heredia and Alajuela. You can find them in all the souvenir shops and on game day, you’ll see vendors hanging selling them on the street.
For those who enjoy alcohol, bring back some Cacique which is the Costa Rican hard alcohol. Cacique is made out of sugar cane and is like vodka with an alcohol volume of 30%. You can buy it at the supermarket or at the duty free stores.
Costa Rican Wood Souvenirs
You can find a handful of nice wood souvenirs, particularly in the small town of Sarchi. Here are some examples.
You can also find many unique handmade jewelry made in Costa Rica. I found some at a coffee tour I really liked that was made by a local lady. All the pieces were organic, made from coffee!
Other Costa Rican Souvenirs
Those are our favorite souvenirs and in Yeison’s opinion, the most representative souvenirs from Costa Rica. However, you’ll find a ton more in the shops that are fun to browse. Some things we really like are shot glasses, sarongs, painted items and towels. You’ll also find lots of animal figurines and statues, painted feathers, soap, chocolate, lotions, stuffed animals, bowls, pots, purses and other knick knacks.
Best Places to Buy Costa Rican Souvenirs
The best places to buy authentic souvenirs from Costa Rica are Sarchi, Poasito, San Jose Central Market, Artesenal Market in San Jose and Heredia Central Market. If you want a truly authentic and unique souvenir from Costa Rica, you should visit the small local towns. Touristic destinations will have more items made from foreigners or all the same items.
Sarchi is known for their woodwork, Poasito is known for their local candies and the new Artesenal market in San Jose has over 90 vendors selling handmade artisan products.
Tips for Buying Souvenirs at the Store or Local Market
Use Costa Rican colones
Although USD are readily accepted in Costa Rica, the rule of thumb is that when it’s listed in colones, pay in colones. When it’s listed in USD, pay in USD. Since supermarkets and souvenir stores list prices in colones, it is best to use colones. This is due to the exchange rate which is not 500 to 1 anymore, it is closer to 600 to 1 now. If you do use USD, make sure to calculate the correct exchange rate as some vendors will try to use the 500 to 1 ratio and you will lose out quite a bit!
Pay in cash
Many souvenir stores will give you a small discount if you pay in cash instead of credit card (so they don’t have to pay the credit card fee).
Check multiple stores first
Before you go crazy and buy the first thing you see, check out several stores to see what you want to buy.
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