Costa Rica Travel Guide

Costa Rica Travel Guide

Dave Lauridsen

Just a few hours’ flight from much of the United States, Costa Rica has always been an attractive destination for travelers seeking surf and biologic... Read More

Just a few hours’ flight from much of the United States, Costa Rica has always been an attractive destination for travelers seeking surf and biological diversity. A true nature-lover’s paradise, this Central American nation offers 800 miles of shoreline and vast stretches of protected rain forest and reserves. Residents, known colloquially as Ticos, are eager to share their ecologically rich home with visitors. Volcano-heated hot springs, cloud forests, and lush river valleys have long enticed adventurers to Costa Rica.

A recent culinary revolution has given new life to overlooked districts like Barrio Escalante, in the capital. Many young chefs, craft brewers, and mixologists can be found transforming San José into a gastronomic boomtown. And with the opening of Liberia’s International Airport in 2012, new luxury developments have begun extending beyond established beach communities. Plan your trip—be it a high-octane adventure or a mellow, family getaway—with Travel + Leisure’s guide to Costa Rica.

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Visit Costa Rica

Best Time To Go

High season is December through April, with reliable sunshine but larger crowds and prices to match. The rest of the year is green season, with better deals and regular rain showers. October is the wettest month, so avoid traveling then if you want to maximize your beach time.

Transportation

Costa Rica’s bus system may be a challenge to navigate in San José, but once you’ve paid the cheap fare (starting at $1 within a city, $10 for cross-country trips) and boarded, transportation is a breeze. For those with bigger budgets, Interbus and Grayline run shuttles between top destinations starting at $40, and Sansa and Nature Air offer quick domestic flights starting at approximately $60.

Weather

Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. Note that the Caribbean is often gorgeous in October, while this is the dreariest month on the Pacific side and in the Central Valley. Costa Rica’s weather varies wildly depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.

Know Before You Go

Costa Rica isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and you will get hit with a 13 percent tax at every hotel and restaurant (in addition to a 10 percent service charge at every restaurant). Tipping is uncommon in restaurants, but it is customary to round up to the nearest 100 colones for the taxi driver and to offer a tour guide a few extra bucks.

Language

Spanish

Electric

Type A (two-prong plug)

Currency

Colones (₡)

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