You can’t leave Costa Rica without experiencing its two most famous and delicious exports: coffee and chocolate. Costa Rica’s government allows only high-quality Arabica beans to grow on coffee plantations, meaning you should get yourself to a cupping session (read: coffee tasting) to taste this famous export and learn all about coffee growing, roasting, and brewing.
World-renowned for miles and miles of beaches on both its Caribbean and Pacific coastlines along with a wealth of biodiversity, the Central American country of Costa Rica offers visitors an unparalleled vacation destination. The country is home to several active volcanoes, large areas of protected jungle teeming with unique wildlife and offers outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of exciting activities. You can go hiking through superb scenery in Arenal Volcano National Park, visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, admire orchids and butterflies on your honeymoon, and see over 500 species of birds. Other activities in Costa Rica include visiting the cultural and historic museums in San Jose, kayaking through mangrove swamps, and learning how to surf on one of the world’s best surfing beaches.
As I mentioned in the beginning, we created this list of activities in Costa Rica with budget travelers in mind. However, there are plenty of other amazing things to do in Costa Rica that will be a bit of a splurge on your budget. For example, we think that zip lining in Costa Rica is a must do activity, but it is not so budget friendly. If you are interested in zip lining we suggest going to La Fortuna or Monteverde for the best views.
Most visitors can get into Costa Rica without the need of a Visa and can stay in the country for 90 days. People of ANY nationality holding valid US, Canada, Japan, South Korea or Schengen visas do not need a prior visa. The only conditions being that the visa must be valid for 3 months and should be stamped in your passport. NOTE: on arrival, ensure you are able to show proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica, especially if entering overland! See below for further details

Visit the Sloth Sanctuary on the South Caribbean coast to see sloths in rehabilitation and overnight in a rainforest treehouse. Venture to Tortuguero to explore the jungle canals and see sloths in their natural habitat. Finally, head to the Arenal Volcano region to stay in a luxurious rainforest casita with a family of sloths living right on the property!


Parque Nacional Guanacaste protects Costa Rica’s northernmost volcanoes, Orosi and Cacao. Like some of the other parks on this list, it encompasses a wide range of altitudes and ecosystems: from the Pacific dry forests near sea level to the premontane cloud forests above 3,000 feet, to the true cloud forests above 5,000 feet or so. It’s well worth the $10-per-adult price of admission.
Enjoy wondrous views high above the clouds at this secluded mountain top oasis. Las Nubes Natural Energy Resort specializes in sustainable indulgence, sourcing energy from solar panels and water from mountain springs. The gourmet cuisine is prepared with fresh vegetables and meat from the small on site farm. In the mornings, the unique open air bungalows let in beams of golden sunlight and fresh mountain air. Spend your days basking in the sun where you can wholly appreciate the natural scenery. After fully embracing barefoot luxury, you will return home feeling newly recharged.

Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.
Looking for standard street addresses? If they exist, folks here generally don’t know them or use them. Costa Rica relies instead on a charming, exasperating system of describing places in reference to landmarks, where “100 meters” denotes the distance to the next cross street, regardless of the actual measurement. “200 metros al norte y 50 metros al oeste de la iglesia” means your destination is two blocks north and a half-block west of the church. Modern Costa Rica uses anything—a gas station, a McDonald’s, a mango tree—as a reference point. As you can imagine, getting a pizza delivered here is a challenge. There is a bright side: Costa Ricans are amazingly helpful. Keep asking. You’ll get where you’re going eventually.
This infinite green also runs through extensive plains such as those of La Fortuna, where the Arenal Volcano rises, or those of the North Caribbean where the rivers flow in sweeping meanders until reaching the sea. Mangroves and wetlands such as Caño Negro, Sierpe and Tempisque give rest to many birds. Costa Rica has a wide choice of hotels with attractive offers for all budgets.

The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera Central mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Cordillera Central, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.[59]


In 2011, there were over 104,000 Native American or indigenous inhabitants, representing 2.4% of the population. Most of them live in secluded reservations, distributed among eight ethnic groups: Quitirrisí (in the Central Valley), Matambú or Chorotega (Guanacaste), Maleku (northern Alajuela), Bribri (southern Atlantic), Cabécar (Cordillera de Talamanca), Guaymí (southern Costa Rica, along the Panamá border), Boruca (southern Costa Rica) and Térraba [es] (southern Costa Rica).
Road conditions throughout the country vary widely. With the tropical climate and mountainous terrain, many roads are difficult to maintain, and many have never been paved. Relatively short distances can take many hours due to poor road conditions or traffic, and some roads are simply inaccessible during the rainy season when rivers swell. It is always a good idea to check with the locals about current road conditions before planning a day trip or taking off in your rental car. These tips can make or break your day.
Rising to an elevation of 2,194 meters, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica is a trip to the Talamanca Mountains. The journey is worth it, especially as you step into a paradise filled with the lyrical humming of more than 170 bird species. Spot a quetzal, or take snapshots of other remarkable birds as you wander into a cloud forest blessed with the crisp mountain air.

The Lankester Botanical Gardens, located in the Central Valley, is home to 15,000 orchids and 3,000 other types of plants. This impressive and gorgeous botanical garden is a must-visit for plant and orchid enthusiasts, or anyone who just loves being surrounded by flowers. Since the 1940s, these gardens have been thriving and attracting visitors from all over the country and the world. Also, due to all of the flowering plants, there is quite a large population of butterflies and birds that make their home here.
Costa Rica’s inarguable mantra is “Pura Vida,” which stands can mean “full of life.” It commonly refers to the way Ticos greet each other, reflecting on their day, week, or life as “going great.” A first-time visit to Costa Rica can be a test in patience for newcomers as locals refer to their timeliness as “la hora tica,” or Tico Time, referring to the slow, relaxed pace of life.  Ticos take their time and do not view tardiness or steadiness as rude, unless in adhering to the rigid timetables of movie showings or health clinic appointments. Whether on a public street or in the privacy of their homes, Costa Ricans will say hello and goodbye to friends with a light kiss on the cheek. Women kiss women; men kiss women; men do not kiss men. However, friendly men will often give one-armed hugs or firm handshakes.
At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.
Speaking of chicken nuggets, Costa Rican cuisine is accessible for even the fussiest American palate. It's essentially rice, beans, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs and tropical fruit, in abundance. Should you, for some dire reason, not want to partake of this cornucopia of amazingly fresh food, American food is also found in abundance, as is Italian, German, French, Argentinean, Chinese and Japanese. You'll pay American prices for this, however; sticking to comida típica is both healthier and cheaper, and you really can't beat a bowl of red snapper and shrimp ceviche on the beach, enjoyed a few yards away from where it was just hauled in that morning. Pura vida, indeed.
Costa Rica is famous for its beaches. Imagine visiting the entire Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica while staying at some of the finest hotels and enjoying a variety of pristine beaches and untouched rain forests. This is one of our more popular packages at CRV and includes stops at the local favorite, Jaco beach and its incredible nightlife. Only a short 1.5 hours from San Jose, Jaco has plenty offer just about anyone.

The Lankester Botanical Gardens, located in the Central Valley, is home to 15,000 orchids and 3,000 other types of plants. This impressive and gorgeous botanical garden is a must-visit for plant and orchid enthusiasts, or anyone who just loves being surrounded by flowers. Since the 1940s, these gardens have been thriving and attracting visitors from all over the country and the world. Also, due to all of the flowering plants, there is quite a large population of butterflies and birds that make their home here.

For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided. 
Kristel Segeren: Currently I even trust my mother-in-law more than Google.maps. I can’t even remember the times I drove into a ‘street’ that brought me close the edge of a nervous breakdown while trying to turn around. And I’m not just talking about the adventures with my Toyota Yaris, even four-wheel drive couldn’t save me at times. Download Waze, seriously. And maps.me for hiking trails.
Oh how we love truchas! This is one of those hidden gems of Costa Rica that most tourists don’t experience, but totally should. The concept is you go to a place with a small freshwater lake. An employee will give you a line with a little piece of bait on the end. You then stand around the lake and try to catch a fish (usually trout). Once you catch a fish for every person in your group you will go into the restaurant located on the property and they will cook up your fish for you.
The natural protected areas represent 31% of the national territory. Here, there are majestic primary and secondary forests, cloud forests such as the Monteverde Reserve, Santa Elena and San Gerardo de Dota, extensive rainforests such as Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiquí, Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, the unique transitional rainforest of the Carara National Park, or the dry tropical forest of Santa Rosa National Park in the North Pacific.
Refined petroleum products - production: This entry is the country's total output of refined petroleum products, in barrels per day (bbl/day). The discrepancy between the amount of refined petroleum products produced and/or imported and the amount consumed and/or exported is due to the omission of stock changes, refinery gains, and other complicating factors.
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) is near Liberia in the Guanacaste province. This airport is closest to the Pacific Northwest coast. Liberia receives flights from Delta, American, Southwest, Sun Country, United, JetBlue, Air Canada, Westjet, CanJet (charter), Sun Wing (charter), and First Choice (charter). Connecting the airport with Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Newark, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, London, etc. The new terminal is open and is a wonderful addition to this airport.
Finally, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica is seeing turtles – nesting and hatching. The best place to see them is Tortuguero National Park. Regardless of the place, make sure that watching the turtles has no impact on them. Things such as intense light and touching are extremely bad for these animals – if you opt for a guided tour to see turtles, make sure this is 100% responsible!
Located well off the beaten track in the Amarillo Valley of the Central Highlands, Bajos del Toro is a relatively undiscovered paradise for nature lovers and all outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers in particular are drawn to the area to explore the many rugged trails through the pristine rain forest and up the back of Poas Volcano. Other exciting activities include trout fishing, mountain biking, river rafting, and horseback riding. Avid adventure seekers can try the thrilling 300-foot waterfall rappel into the crater of an extinct volcano. The extremely scenic drive from San Jose to Bajos de Toro takes around 90 minutes and you can stop along the way to admire lovely wooden crafts in the town of Sarchi.
Accommodation – Hostel dorm beds are between 5,500 to 10,000 CRC (10-15 USD) per night. Private rooms in hostels are usually around 15,000 CRC (25 USD). Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also include free breakfast. The majority of hostels around the country also offer self-catering facilities, too. Budget hotels begin around 17,000 CRC (30 USD) per night for a double/twin room and go up from there (breakfast is often included). For Airbnb, shared accommodation usually begins around 15,000 CRC (25 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 25,000 CRC (40 USD) per night. For those traveling with a tent, camping is an option. Most campgrounds usually charge 5,500 CRC (10 USD) per night though you’ll pay up to double that for camping in national parks.
And though I'm reluctant to see towns like touristy Tamarindo get even bigger and filled with still more traffic, I can't help but spread the gospel of Costa Rica—especially to my fellow Houstonians. The pristine beaches, animal-filled jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes offer endless realms of exploration for the casual vacationers, the adventure-seekers and everyone in between, and getting to this Central American paradise has never been easier.
Surrounded by the famous Volcan Tenorio National Park, the Rio Celeste Hideaway is a gateway to Costa Rica’s pristine nature and wildlife. Guests can explore the lush jungles teeming with wildlife through many of the activities offered on premise or simply take in the natural beauty in the comforts of one of the 26 luxurious bungalows in an ecologically friendly setting. If you are feeling adventurous, get lost on the trails the indigenous animals call home. For a relaxing day, swim in the bright blue river while listening to the musical sounds of the rainforest.
When people hear “Costa Rica”, images of a tropical paradise come to mind. Whether it’s the rainforest, beach, volcanoes, wildlife, the friendly locals, or the slower pace of life that draws over 2 million visitors yearly, Costa Rica has become the most visited country in Central American. “Why choose Costa Rica?” you ask; keep on reading to find out.
A money belt with your passport, cash, credit/debit cards and ticket (bus or plane) is a good way to carry your travel documents. Even if all your other belongings are stolen, you would still be able to get to your next destination. The waist belts are best; a neck pouch can be lifted while you are asleep. A thief would really have to disturb you and your personal space to get a waist belt.
The beautiful National Theatre of Costa Rica is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura in San Jose and is one of the city’s most notable buildings – a must-see for all lovers of art and architecture. The theatre was built in 1897 in the neo-classical style and features an elaborate marble lobby and auditorium decorated with paintings depicting 19th-century life in Costa Rica. Your entrance fee entitles you to a free guided tour (every hour, on the hour), which will greatly enhance your visit. If you can spare the time, you can attend one of the many scheduled performances at the theater, which has excellent acoustics.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft) and the largest lake is Lake Arenal. There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, and six of them have been active in the last 75 years.[57] The country has also experienced at least ten earthquakes of magnitude 5.7 or higher (3 of magnitude 7.0 or higher) in the last century.
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