Discover pura vida, or pure life, as they say in Costa Rica. Trek through lush rainforests, explore empty beaches and have an epic adventure filled vacation. Our Mytanfeet Costa Rica travel guide will help you plan your dream vacation.
First, Where is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, 8 – 12 degrees above the equator. Nicaragua borders the north and Panama borders the south. Costa Rica is not an island.
Important Costa Rica Travel Information
COVID-19 entry requirements: Please read our Costa Rica COVID-19 travel post and Costa Rica COVID-19 information for more details.
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Many locals in touristic destinations and San Jose, the capital city, speak intermediate to fluent English. Many indigenous languages are also spoken throughout the country.
Costa Rica uses 110 V (same as United States and Canada) and uses the metric system. Driving is on the right side of the road (like US and Canada).
Being 8-12 degrees above the equator, Costa Rica experiences tropical climate meaning it has two seasons: dry and rainy. Dry season is typically end of December – end of April. Rainy season is typically May – November. Average day time and night time temperatures don’t change much throughout the year but there are over 25 micro climates.
It is important to note that the Caribbean coast doesn’t strictly follow the tropical seasons. October is the “summer” month on the Caribbean coast while it is the rainiest month for the rest of the country.
Read more about Costa Rica weather, micro-climates and forecasts and what to pack for Costa Rica here.
The two main international airports are SJO (Juan Santamaria International Airport or San Jose International Airport) and LIR (Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport or Guanacaste Airport). There are direct flights from USA, Canada, Mexico and European countries like Germany, Spain and Netherlands. A direct flight from Newark and LAX to San Jose is 5.5 hours.
Find out how to book cheap airefare to Costa Rica in this post here and read more about going through customs and immigration in Costa Rica here.
Costa Rica’s network of shared shuttles, domestic airports and public transportation offers travelers many options to get around the country. However, due to limited schedules, ever developing infrastructure and pricey routes, renting a car is the best way to explore with freedom and flexibility. Public buses are very affordable but with limited routes. Costa Rica drives on the right hand side of the road, same as United States and Canada.
Read more about getting around Costa Rica, get our Costa Rica car rental discount here and read our renting a car in Costa Rica tips.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during dry season for the best weather. These are generally the months of December through April for the whole country except the Caribbean coast which has its summer in October.
However, rainy season has much to offer, particularly to budget and off the beaten path travelers as prices drop and crowds thin out. Our personal favorite months are May, June, Sptember and November for those exact reasons. The trade off is that there is tropical rain and may be storms.
Read more about the best time to visit Costa Rica.
Where are the Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica?
The main tourist destinations in Costa Rica are La Fortuna, Monteverde, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Papagayo Peninsula, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Tortuguero, Osa Peninsula and San Jose. All these destinations are excellent places to experience the numerous natural attractions such as waterfalls, rivers, volcanoes and beaches in Costa Rica.
Read more about the best places to visit in Costa Rica here.
The official currency of Costa Rica is called the Colón. The exchange rate is around 540 CRC to USD but the exchange rate fluctuates often (it can change day by day, even hour by hour). USD and credit/debit cards are readily accepted in touristic destinations.
Read more about handle money in Costa Rica here.
Ready to start booking your trip? Check out our sample Costa Rica itineraries! We have written itineraries ranging from 5 days to 1 month that you can follow exactly or base your trip off of. There are itineraries for families, couples, solo travelers, backpackers, chock full of information.
Best of Costa Rica
Costa Rica has placed itself as a world leader in sustainable tourism and with nearly 25% of its land protected, it’s a dream destination for wildlife, nature and adventure lovers.
Costa Rica’s abundant nature and open spaces create the perfect playground for kids and adults alike. Experience the tropical jungle on exciting outdoor adventures such as rafting and ziplining. Find out our favorite 50 things to do in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coastlines offer thousands of miles of beautiful beaches of all types, from white sand, volcanic black sand and more. Surf, swim, snorkel, sunbathe and walk on these beaches for the ultimate beach vacation. Find out what our favorite beaches in Costa Rica are!
Thanks to the many national parks, private reserves and wildlife refuges, it’s one of the best places in the world to see exotic tropical animals such as monkeys, sloths, snakes, frogs, turtles and whales. Find out where are the best places and times of year to see wildlife in Costa Rica in this post!
Want even more information about Costa Rica? Join the Mytanfeet mailing list to get our travel tips eBook and receive emails from us once a week to help you plan your trip! We send out all the goodies to our email subscribers first so don’t miss out.
Common Questions About Costa Rica
Is Costa Rica safe? Yes, it is a safe country to visit, even for solo travelers and solo female travelers. Costa Rica doesn’t have an army but they do have a police force and a tourism police. Petty theft is the most common crime.
Can you get around Costa Rica without knowing Spanish? Yes, although it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit. However, as tourism is one of the major economic backbones of the country, many locals speak fluent English, particularly those who work in tourism or live in San Jose.
Do I need a 4×4 in Costa Rica? That depends. First, if you’re going to popular destinations such as San Jose, La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo and Jaco, no. But if you plan to stay in more remote places or if your hotel is up in the mountains, then probably yes, or at least a high clearance car with a strong engine during dry season. These are places like Monteverde, San Vito, Osa Peninsula, Uvita, Dominical, Nicoya Peninsula, Bajos del Toro and Golfito. Always check with your host if a 4×4 is required to get to your lodging.
Which international airport in Costa Rica should I fly into? Depends. It’s always been a bit cheaper to fly into San Jose International Airport (SJO) than Guanacaste Airport (LIR) so compare prices of both first. Then, it will depend on your itinerary. Fly into SJO if you plan to visit the Caribbean coast, South Pacific Coast or Osa Peninsula. Fly into Liberia if you plan to go to Guanacaste or Nicoya Peninsula. You can fly into either to go to La Fortuna and Monteverde.
Is Costa Rica expensive? Yes. Just because it’s in Central America, don’t expect dirt cheap prices like Southeast Asia or Nicaragua. Average prices for standard hotels are around $80-100 USD a night and tours can range from $40-$280 USD per person. Nearly every attraction has an entrance fee. However, it is totally possible to travel on a budget but it does require more planning.
Do I need travel insurance? YES! You should purchase travel insurance whenever you go abroad, not just to Costa Rica. As we all now know, anything from a car accident to a world wide pandemic can happen so be prepared. Travel delays, lost luggage and cancellations are not uncommon nowadays. Click here to purchase travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Travel Videos
Watch below our videos of some of our favorite places and things to do in Costa Rica! You can watch all our videos on our Youtube channel
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: The main town and tourism hub of the South Caribbean. See what the town and the surrounding beaches are like.
Rio Celeste Waterfall: The waterfall of the sky blue river, Rio Celeste, inside Tenorio Volcano National Park.
Tortuga Island: A day trip cruising through the Gulf of Nicoya to the white sand beach of Tortuga Island
Pacuare white water rafting Class 3 & 4: An exciting white water rafting day excursion down the Pacuare River
If you’re interested in booking tours such as the Tortuga Island day cruise and Pacuare white water rafting, please check out our Costa Rica deals and discounts page. We have additional deals for tours in La Fortuna, Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio! There are affiliate links in this post.
Thank you for all the info you publish on this website. Extremely useful! I will be visiting Heredia end of March 2023. My adult daughter will join me on March 31,2023. For a week. We want to visit some good spots that week like La Fortuna and/or Manuel Antonio. I know it’s semana santa. Can you suggest some tours that might still have availability that we could use especially in the first half of that week, April 1 – April 5? Thank you!
Hello Happi, you can check out our Costa Rica discounts page to see the tours we have in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio and once you fill out the booking forms, we will check availability
Can you recommend a private shuttle service between SJO and Uvita?
Hello, we sent you an email a few weeks ago with more information, please check your spam folder if you don’t see one from Mytanfeet
Hi, we are a party of 5 traveling to Liberia airport in February. Is there a private mode of transportation from the airport to our hotel, Riu Palace?
We have a tight connection in Miami so if we prebook a limo and miss our flight what happens to our limo reservation?
Hello Pam, we work with a private transportation provider (shuttle vans only, no limos), we sent you an email with more information
Ilsa Billings says
We have booked air travel for our trip arriving in Liberia on the 25 of January 2023 around 2pm and will be flying out of San Jose on the 6th. Our goal is to do Monteverde/La Fortuna/Coffee tour on the first half, and then take a shared shuttle to Puerto Viejo for some relaxed beach time. We are looking for advice for tours/transportation/lodging for the first part. We would prefer not to rent a car since the idea of utilizing the water taxi across Lake Arenal appeals to us. We are open to any suggestions though. This will be our visit to Costa Rica
Thank you for the info! What would be the best means of transportation from Liberia to Tamarindo for a family of four?
Hello Sarah, we sent you an email with more information
Michelle Decker says
What a super website.
Myself and 2 friends would like to go, all of us first timers, in the first week of November 2022. We would like to know where you would recommend with least likelihood of daily rain.
Hello, please check the following posts
Best places in Costa Rica
Costa Rica weather
Is there a private airport shuttle company you would recommend from Liberia airport to our hotel in Playa Conchal?
Hi Holly, we sent you an email with quotes and information yesterday
james comerford says
I inquired thru email about rental cars at Liberia airport from 3/15-3/29 and I did not receive any notification from you.
How can I best communicate with you? I am on Whatsapp.
Hi James, we haven’t received any communication from this email, the form may have had some problems. Please email us at web @ mytanfeet . com (we do not communicate via Whatsaspp, only email) and we will be happy to help
Thank you for including necessary travel in Costa Rica information from the language, weather, currency, and concerns in this blog. Love how the best spots in the country are also presented.
Hi, do you know if the border crossing near Los Chiles going into Nicaragua is open?
I’m not 100% but it should be as all land borders opened back mid April