Costa Rica Ultimate Travel Guide

Ultimate guide to Costa Rica: Rainforests, beaches, and wildlife

Colorful marketplace in tropical mountainous landscape

Welcome to Costa Rica, a tropical paradise filled with stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, or beach bum, this Central American gem has something for everyone. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll provide you with all the practical information you need to plan an unforgettable trip to Costa Rica.

From the best time to visit and must-see attractions to budgeting tips and useful phrases, we’ve got you covered. So grab your sunblock and sense of adventure, and let’s dive into the wonders of Costa Rica!

Why Costa Rica ?

Costa Rica offers a myriad of reasons to entice travelers from all around the world. Here are a few compelling reasons why you should consider visiting this enchanting country:

  1. Breathtaking Natural Beauty: From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to majestic volcanoes and cascading waterfalls, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s dream come true. The country boasts an astonishing biodiversity, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and eco-adventurers.
  2. Outdoor Adventures: Whether you’re into zip-lining through the treetops, surfing epic waves, hiking to hidden waterfalls, or snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, Costa Rica offers an abundance of exhilarating outdoor activities. Get ready to unleash your inner adventurer!
  3. Sustainability and Ecotourism: Costa Rica is a global leader in sustainable tourism. The country is committed to protecting its natural resources and promoting responsible travel practices. By visiting Costa Rica, you’ll not only have an unforgettable experience but also contribute to the conservation of its unique ecosystems.

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica


Costa Rica is a tropical country with two distinct seasons: the dry season (December to April) and the rainy season (May to November). The best time to visit depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in. If you prefer sunny skies and minimal rainfall, the dry season is ideal. However, the rainy season offers its own charm, with lush green landscapes and fewer crowds.

Touristic Seasons

Costa Rica experiences two peak tourist seasons: the Christmas/New Year holidays and the summer break (July and August). During these periods, the country sees an influx of visitors, higher prices, and more crowded attractions. If you prefer a quieter and more affordable experience, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons.


Festive Days

Costa Rica celebrates several festive days throughout the year, offering a glimpse into its vibrant culture and traditions. Here are some notable festive days to keep in mind:

  • Independence Day: September 15th marks Costa Rica’s Independence Day, a nationwide celebration filled with parades, concerts, and traditional dances.
  • Day of the Virgin of Los Angeles: On August 2nd, Costa Ricans flock to the Basilica of Cartago to pay homage to the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Los Angeles.
  • Easter Week: Holy Week, which includes Easter, is an important religious celebration in Costa Rica. Expect to see processions and religious ceremonies across the country.

Main Events

Costa Rica hosts a variety of exciting events and festivals throughout the year. Here’s a monthly calendar highlighting some of the main events:

  • January: Palmares Festival, a two-week extravaganza featuring concerts, bullfights, horse parades, and fireworks.
  • February: Envision Festival, a transformative gathering blending music, art, and holistic wellness practices in Uvita.
  • March: International Arts Festival, showcasing local and international performing arts talents in San Jose.
  • April: Monteverde Orchid Festival, celebrating the incredible diversity of orchids found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
  • May: Jaco Surf Film Festival, a celebration of surf culture through film screenings, live music, and art exhibits.
  • June: Oxcart Parade in San Antonio de Escazu, where intricately painted oxcarts parade through the streets.
  • July: Liberia Festival, a week-long event featuring traditional bullfights, parades, and concerts in Liberia.
  • August: International Music Festival of Guanacaste, showcasing classical music performances in the beautiful town of Liberia.
  • September: Limon Carnival, a vibrant celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture with colorful parades, music, and dancing.
  • October: National Horse Parade in San José, a spectacular display of horses and riders dressed in traditional attire.
  • November: Coffee Festival, a celebration of Costa Rica’s world-renowned coffee culture in the Central Valley region.
  • December: Zapote Festival, featuring bullfights, amusement park rides, live music, and traditional food in San Jose.

Note: The dates of some events may vary each year, so be sure to check the latest schedules before planning your trip.

Transition: Now that you have an overview of the best time to visit Costa Rica and the exciting events that take place throughout the year, let’s dive into the various itinerary options to help you make the most of your trip.

Getting to Costa Rica

To begin your Costa Rica adventure, you’ll need to make your way to the country. The main international airport is located in the capital city of San Jose, which is well-connected to major cities in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world. Several airlines offer direct flights to Costa Rica, including American Airlines, Delta, United, and JetBlue.

Circuits Ideas in Costa Rica

Whether you have a few days or a whole month to explore Costa Rica, there’s an itinerary to suit your travel style and time constraints. Here are some circuit ideas for different durations:

1 Weekend

  • San Jose and Surroundings: Explore the capital city’s vibrant markets, museums, and historical sites. Visit the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens for breathtaking natural beauty.

1 Week in Costa Rica

  • Pacific Coast Adventure: Start in San Jose and head to Manuel Antonio National Park for wildlife spotting and beautiful beaches. Continue to Monteverde for cloud forest adventures, and end your trip in Arenal Volcano National Park, known for its hot springs and thrilling hikes.

10 Days in Costa Rica

  • Essential Costa Rica: Begin in San Jose and venture to Tortuguero National Park, famous for its sea turtle nesting grounds. Explore the Caribbean coast, visit La Fortuna and its volcano, and relax in the beach towns of Tamarindo or Nosara.

2 Weeks in Costa Rica

  • Nature and Wildlife Expedition: Start in San Jose and make your way to the Osa Peninsula, home to Corcovado National Park. Discover the misty cloud forests of Monteverde, soak in the hot springs of Arenal, and enjoy the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula.

3 Weeks in Costa Rica

  • Coast-to-Coast Adventure: Begin in San Jose and travel east to Tortuguero National Park. Head south to the Caribbean coast, explore the Talamanca Mountains, visit the Pacific beach towns, and end your journey in the stunning Osa Peninsula.

1 Month in Costa Rica

  • The Ultimate Costa Rican Exploration: Immerse yourself in the country’s diverse ecosystems, from the remote corners of the Osa Peninsula to the hidden gems of the Guanacaste province. Trek through the cloud forests, visit indigenous communities, and relax on pristine beaches.

Transition: Now that you have an idea of the various itineraries, it’s time to delve into the must-see places in Costa Rica.

Places to Visit in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is a relatively small country, but it offers an incredible array of destinations to explore. From vibrant cities to pristine national parks, here are some of the must-visit places in Costa Rica:

  1. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: Immerse yourself in the mystical beauty of the cloud forest, home to countless species of birds, monkeys, and orchids.
  2. Manuel Antonio National Park: Explore the stunning beaches, hike through lush rainforests, and encounter diverse wildlife, including monkeys and sloths.
  3. Arenal Volcano National Park: Witness the majestic Arenal Volcano, relax in natural hot springs, and take part in thrilling outdoor activities like zip-lining and white-water rafting.
  4. Tortuguero National Park: Discover the rich biodiversity of this remote park, known as the “Amazon of Costa Rica,” and witness sea turtles nesting on the beaches.
  5. Corcovado National Park: Venture to this untouched wilderness in the Osa Peninsula, where you’ll find incredible biodiversity and pristine beaches.
  6. La Fortuna Waterfall: Take a refreshing dip in the cascading waters of this beautiful waterfall, located near the Arenal Volcano.
  7. Tamarindo: Relax on the idyllic beaches of this vibrant surf town, known for its lively atmosphere and world-class waves.
  8. Santa Teresa: Discover the laid-back charm of this beach paradise, perfect for surfing, yoga retreats, and rejuvenation.
  9. Rincon de la Vieja National Park: Embark on thrilling hikes, witness volcanic activity, and swim in natural hot springs in this remarkable national park.
  10. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: Experience the unique blend of Afro-Caribbean and indigenous cultures in this lively beach town, known for its vibrant reggae music scene.

Off the Beaten Track

If you’re looking for lesser-known gems and off-the-beaten-track experiences, Costa Rica has plenty to offer. Here are ten hidden treasures to explore:

  1. Cahuita National Park: Snorkel along the coral reefs and hike through the lush rainforest trails of this underrated national park on the Caribbean coast.
  2. Rio Celeste: Marvel at the enchanting turquoise waters of this celestial river in Tenorio Volcano National Park, known for its mystical color.
  3. Playa Conchal: Lounge on the unique beach composed of crushed seashells, offering a truly memorable coastal experience.
  4. Uvita: Visit the Marino Ballena National Park, where you can witness humpback whales during their migratory season and explore the mesmerizing Whale’s Tail formation.
  5. Montezuma: Discover the bohemian spirit of this charming coastal village, known for its waterfalls, yoga retreats, and alternative vibe.
  6. Tortuga Island: Embark on a day trip to this secluded island paradise, where you can snorkel, relax on pristine beaches, and indulge in a beachfront seafood feast.
  7. Palo Verde National Park: Take a boat tour along the Tempisque River and witness an abundance of bird species and crocodiles in this hidden gem.
  8. Punta Uva: Escape the crowds and find tranquility on the white sandy beaches of Punta Uva, a hidden treasure on the Caribbean coast.
  9. Bijagua: Explore the lesser-known side of Costa Rica in this small village, located near the Tenorio Volcano National Park, offering breathtaking views and stunning hiking trails.
  10. San Gerardo de Dota: Immerse yourself in the cloud forest and spot the elusive resplendent quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in the world.

Transition: Now that you have an idea of the must-see and off-the-beaten-track destinations in Costa Rica, let’s dive into the budget aspects of your trip.

Activities and Experiences in Costa Rica

In addition to visiting the top destinations in Costa Rica, there are plenty of activities and experiences to make your trip even more memorable. Here are some of the must-do activities in Costa Rica:

1. Zip-lining through the Rainforest Canopy

Experience an adrenaline rush like no other by zip-lining through the lush rainforest canopy. Costa Rica is famous for its thrilling zip-line tours, and there are numerous options available throughout the country. One of the most popular places for zip-lining is Monteverde, where you can soar through the cloud forest and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a first-time zip-liner, this activity is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

2. Wildlife Spotting in Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Located on the northeastern Caribbean coast, this remote park is known for its dense rainforests, winding canals, and abundant wildlife. Take a boat tour through the park’s canals, where you’ll have the opportunity to spot monkeys, sloths, toucans, and even nesting sea turtles (if you visit during the nesting season). Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the jungle as you navigate through this unique ecosystem.

3. Relaxing on the Beaches of Guanacaste

Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s premier beach destination, with miles of pristine coastline and crystal-clear waters. From popular resort towns like Tamarindo to secluded beaches like Playa Conchal, there’s a beach for every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking to surf, swim, or simply soak up the sun, Guanacaste has it all. Don’t forget to catch a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean, as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors.

Budget for Traveling to Costa Rica

Costa Rica can cater to various budgets, from backpacker-friendly accommodations to luxurious eco-resorts. Here’s an overview of the cost of things in the country:


Costa Rica offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Here’s a general price range per night:

  • Budget: $10 to $50
  • Mid-range: $50 to $150
  • Luxury: $150 and above


Food in Costa Rica can range from affordable local eateries to upscale restaurants. Here’s an average price range for meals:

  • Budget: $5 to $10 per meal
  • Mid-range: $10 to $20 per meal
  • Upscale: $20 and above per meal


Getting around Costa Rica is relatively easy, but transportation costs should be factored into your budget. Here are some estimated costs:

  • Domestic flights: $50 to $200 per flight, depending on the destination
  • Rental cars: $40 to $100 per day, depending on the vehicle type
  • Public buses: $1 to $10 per trip, depending on the distance
  • Taxis: Vary by location but generally affordable


Costa Rica offers an array of exciting tours and activities. Here’s a range of prices for popular tours:

  • Zip-lining: $40 to $80 per person
  • White-water rafting: $50 to $100 per person
  • Surfing lessons: $30 to $50 per person
  • Wildlife tours: $50 to $150 per person

Tips for Traveling on a Budget

  • Eat like a local: Opt for local “sodas” (small family-owned restaurants) to experience authentic Costa Rican cuisine at affordable prices.
  • Stay in budget accommodations: Consider staying in hostels, guesthouses, or budget hotels to save on accommodation costs.
  • Use public transportation: Utilize buses and shared shuttles to get around instead of costly private transfers.
  • Book in advance: Secure accommodations and tours ahead of time to take advantage of early bird discounts and avoid last-minute price hikes.
  • Cook your own meals: If you have access to a kitchen, shop at local markets and cook your own meals to save on dining expenses.

Transition: Now that you have a better understanding of the budget aspects, let’s explore the money-related information you should know before traveling to Costa Rica.

Money in Costa Rica


In Costa Rica, the official currency is the Costa Rican Colón (CRC). However, US dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Here are some tips for paying in Costa Rica:

  • Cash: It’s advisable to carry small denominations of both colones and US dollars for small purchases and markets where cash is preferred.
  • Credit/Debit Cards: Major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger businesses. However, it’s always a good idea to carry cash as a backup, as some smaller establishments may not accept cards.


To ensure a smooth trip, here’s what you need to know about money matters in Costa Rica:

  • Currency Exchange: It’s recommended to exchange your currency to colones at local banks or exchange offices for the best rates. Avoid exchanging money at airports or hotels, as they often offer less favorable rates.
  • ATMs: ATMs are widely available in cities and tourist areas. Look for ATMs affiliated with international networks like Visa or Mastercard to withdraw cash in colones. Keep in mind that some ATMs may have withdrawal limits, so plan accordingly.


Haggling is not a common practice in Costa Rica, especially in established businesses. However, you may have some room for negotiation in local markets or

when purchasing goods directly from artisans. Be respectful and polite when engaging in haggling, and remember that the final price should be fair to both parties.


Tipping in Costa Rica is appreciated but not always expected. Here’s a guideline for tipping in different situations:

How Much to Give?

  • Drivers: Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory, but rounding up the fare or giving a small tip is customary.
  • Staff & Assistants (Muleteers, Chief Cook): If you’re on a guided tour or trek, it’s common to tip the support staff. The amount can vary depending on the length of the tour and the level of service, but a general guideline is $5 to $10 per day per person.
  • Guides: It’s customary to tip your tour guide as a token of appreciation for their knowledge and service. The suggested amount is $10 to $20 per day per person.

Restaurants & Bars

  • In restaurants, a 10% service charge is often included in the bill. If it’s not, leaving a 10% to 15% tip is considered generous.
  • In bars, it’s common to leave a small tip for bartenders or waitstaff, especially if you received exceptional service.

Transition: Before you embark on your journey to Costa Rica, there are a few essential things you should take care of. Let’s explore the necessary preparations.

Before Leaving for Costa Rica

Visas and Entrance Requirements to Travel to Costa Rica

Most visitors to Costa Rica do not require a visa if their stay is for tourism purposes and is less than 90 days. However, you will need a valid passport with at least six months’ validity from the date of entry. It’s essential to check the visa requirements for your specific country of residence before traveling.

Useful Addresses

Here are some useful addresses and contact information that you may need during your trip:


Before traveling to Costa Rica, it’s advisable to check the recommended vaccines and consult your healthcare provider. The following vaccines may be recommended:

  • Routine vaccines: Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and influenza.
  • Hepatitis A and B: Recommended for most travelers, as hepatitis A and B can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
  • Typhoid: Recommended if you plan to eat or drink outside of tourist areas or stay for an extended period.

Health Recommendations

  • Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Costa Rica is a tropical country, so it’s important to protect yourself from mosquito bites to prevent diseases such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in accommodations with screened windows or air conditioning.
  • Safe Drinking Water: Tap water in major cities and tourist areas is generally safe to drink. However, if you’re unsure about the water quality, it’s best to stick to bottled water.
  • Sun Protection: Costa Rica’s sun can be intense. Pack and use sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a hat, and seek shade during the hottest hours of the day.

Packing List

Here are some essential items to include in your packing list for your Costa Rica adventure:

  • Lightweight clothing: Pack breathable, quick-drying clothes suitable for the tropical climate. Don’t forget swimwear, comfortable shoes, and a rain jacket.
  • Insect repellent: Protect yourself from mosquito bites with a reliable insect repellent containing DEET or another effective ingredient.
  • Sunscreen: Choose a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from the strong tropical sun.
  • Medications: If you take prescription medications, ensure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. It’s also a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit.
  • Travel adapter: Costa Rica uses type A and B electrical outlets, so make sure to bring a suitable travel adapter if necessary.

Safety in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is generally a safe country for travelers, but it’s always wise to take precautions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep valuables secure: Don’t leave your belongings unattended, especially on the beach. Use hotel safes whenever available.
  • Be cautious with transportation: Use licensed taxis or reputable transportation services, and avoid accepting rides from strangers.
  • Stay informed: Stay updated on current travel advisories and follow the guidance of local authorities.
  • Respect local customs: Familiarize yourself with the local traditions and customs to show respect for the culture and avoid any unintentional offense.

Useful Phone Numbers

It’s important to have emergency phone numbers readily available during your trip. Here are some useful phone numbers in Costa Rica:

  • Bomberos (Fire Department): 911
  • Police:


  • Emergency Room: 911

Transition: Now that you’re well-prepared with important information before your trip, let’s delve into practical information that will enhance your overall experience in Costa Rica.

Practical Information

Traditions (Do’s and Don’ts)

Costa Rica has rich cultural traditions that are worth experiencing. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Do greet people with a friendly “¡Hola!”: Costa Ricans are known for their warmth and friendliness, so don’t be shy to greet locals with a smile and a friendly greeting.
  • Do try traditional dishes: Explore the vibrant local cuisine and savor traditional dishes like gallo pinto (rice and beans), casados (typical Costa Rican meals), and ceviche.
  • Don’t rush: Embrace the “pura vida” (pure life) mentality and take your time to enjoy each moment. Costa Ricans value a relaxed and unhurried pace of life.
  • Do respect nature: Costa Rica is renowned for its commitment to conservation. Help preserve the natural beauty by following designated trails, avoiding littering, and respecting wildlife.
  • Don’t forget to try coffee: Costa Rica is famous for its high-quality coffee. Don’t miss the chance to savor a cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee during your visit.

Phone, Wifi, Hour, Electricity


Getting a local SIM card in Costa Rica can be a convenient way to stay connected during your trip. Here are some options to consider:

  • Kölbi: The state-owned telecommunications company offers prepaid SIM cards and affordable data packages for tourists. You can purchase a SIM card at major airports, authorized retailers, or Kölbi stores.
  • Claro: Another major telecommunications company in Costa Rica, Claro also offers prepaid SIM cards and data packages for tourists. SIM cards are available at Claro stores and authorized retailers.


Wifi is widely available in most hotels, restaurants, and cafes in tourist areas. However, the connection speed may vary depending on the location. Some remote areas may have limited or no wifi access, so it’s best to check in advance if you need a reliable connection.

Jet Lag

Costa Rica is located in the Central Standard Time Zone (CST). If you’re traveling from New York, San Francisco, London, or Paris, here’s an approximate time difference:

  • New York: Costa Rica is usually one hour behind Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • San Francisco: Costa Rica is usually two hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST).
  • London: Costa Rica is usually six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
  • Paris: Costa Rica is usually seven hours behind Central European Time (CET).


Costa Rica operates on 110-120V electricity with Type A and Type B outlets. The standard voltage is the same as in the United States and Canada. However, some hotels and accommodations may provide 220-240V outlets for European devices, so it’s advisable to bring a universal travel adapter.


Getting around Costa Rica is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Here’s an overview of the transportation options:

Getting Around by Planes

Domestic flights are available between major cities and tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Several airlines, such as Sansa and Nature Air, operate domestic routes, making it convenient to travel longer distances quickly.

Getting Around in the Cities

In cities like San Jose, taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are readily available. Taxis in Costa Rica don’t use meters, so it’s important to negotiate the fare before getting in the cab or use a ride-hailing app for transparency.

Long Trips Across the Country

For long-distance travel, buses and shared shuttles are popular options. The public bus system in Costa Rica is affordable and extensive, connecting major cities and towns. Shared shuttles are more convenient for tourists, offering door-to-door service and the flexibility to stop at various destinations.


Public buses are a common mode of transportation for both locals and tourists. They are an affordable way to get around Costa Rica, but keep in mind that the schedules may not always be punctual. It’s advisable to check the bus schedules in advance and arrive at the station early.


Costa Rica’s train network is limited, with only one major route operating between San Jose and Heredia. The train is primarily used for commuting and is not a popular choice for long-distance travel within the country.

Accommodation in Costa Rica


Camping is a popular option for outdoor enthusiasts in Costa Rica. National parks and private campgrounds offer designated camping areas with basic facilities. Be sure to check park regulations and obtain any necessary permits before camping.


Bed and breakfast accommodations are available throughout Costa Rica, offering cozy and personalized experiences. You can find B&Bs in various locations, ranging from beachfront properties to mountain retreats.


Hostels are a budget-friendly option for travelers, especially backpackers. They provide affordable dormitory-style accommodations and communal areas where you can meet fellow travelers.


Costa Rica offers a wide range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront hotel or an eco-lodge nestled in the rainforest, there are accommodations to suit every preference.

Lexicon in Spanish

Costa Rica’s Slang

Costa Rican Spanish has its unique slang and expressions. Here are a few common Costa Rican slang words:

  • Pura vida: The iconic Costa Rican phrase meaning “pure life” or “cool.” It represents the country’s laid-back and positive attitude.
  • Tuanis: A slang term for “cool” or “awesome.”
  • Mae: A colloquial term used to refer to a friend or acquaintance. Similar to “dude” or “buddy.”
  • Chunche: A versatile term that can refer to anything whose name you can’t remember or don’t know.

Basic Spanish Phrases

Learning a few basic Spanish phrases can enhance your travel experience in Costa Rica. Here are some essential phrases to know:

  • Hola – Hello
  • Por favor – Please
  • Gracias – Thank you
  • Perdón – Excuse me
  • ¿Dónde está…? – Where is…?
  • – Yes
  • No – No
  • Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
  • Cuánto cuesta? – How much does it cost?
  • Salud – Cheers!

Polite Formulas

Costa Ricans value politeness, so using polite formulas can go a long way in your interactions. Here are some polite phrases to remember:

  • Buenos días – Good morning
  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Good evening/night
  • Por favor – Please
  • Gracias – Thank you
  • De nada – You’re welcome
  • Permiso – Excuse me (when passing through or getting someone’s attention)
  • Con permiso – May I come in?

Useful Expressions

Here are a few additional expressions that can come in handy during your time in Costa Rica:

  • Me gusta Costa Rica – I like Costa Rica.
  • Dónde puedo encontrar un buen restaurante? – Where can I find a good restaurant?
  • Cuál es el mejor lugar para ver la puesta de sol? – What’s the best place to watch the sunset?
  • Estoy perdido/a – I’m lost.
  • Necesito ayuda – I need help.
  • Puedes recomendarme algún lugar interesante para visitar? – Can you recommend me an interesting place to visit?
  • Quiero ir a la playa – I want to go to the beach.
  • Dónde puedo comprar souvenirs? – Where can I buy souvenirs?

With these phrases, you’ll be able to navigate your way through conversations and interactions during your trip to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Dishes to try

1. Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is the national dish of Costa Rica and a staple in every Tico’s (Costa Rican) diet. This hearty dish consists of rice and beans cooked together with onions, peppers, and spices. It’s commonly served for breakfast, accompanied by scrambled or fried eggs, plantains, and tortillas. The combination of flavors and textures makes Gallo Pinto a true Costa Rican classic.

2. Casado

Casado, which means “married” in Spanish, is a traditional lunchtime meal that brings together a variety of flavors. It typically includes rice, black or red beans, meat (such as chicken, beef, or fish), plantains, salad, and sometimes a fried egg. Casado is a wholesome and satisfying meal that showcases the diversity of Costa Rican cuisine.

3. Ceviche

Costa Rica is blessed with an abundance of fresh seafood, and ceviche is a popular dish that highlights the country’s coastal flavors. This refreshing dish features raw fish or shrimp marinated in citrus juice (usually lime or lemon), mixed with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers. The acidity of the citrus juice “cooks” the fish, resulting in a tangy and zesty flavor that is perfect for hot summer days.

4. Olla de Carne

Olla de Carne, or “meat stew,” is a comforting and filling dish that is often enjoyed during cooler months or as a Sunday family tradition. It typically includes beef, vegetables (such as potatoes, yucca, and corn), herbs, and spices. The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, creating a rich and savory broth that warms the soul.

5. Chifrijo

Chifrijo is a delightful appetizer or bar snack that originated in Costa Rica. It combines two popular ingredients: chicharrones (crispy fried pork) and frijoles molidos (refried beans). The dish also includes diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and sometimes avocado. The combination of textures and flavors, especially when paired with tortilla chips, makes Chifrijo an addictive and satisfying treat.

6. Tres Leches Cake

No culinary journey in Costa Rica is complete without indulging in a slice of Tres Leches Cake. This mouthwatering dessert is a sponge cake soaked in three different types of milk (hence the name “Tres Leches”). It’s then topped with whipped cream and often garnished with strawberries or other fresh fruits. The result is a moist and creamy cake that will leave you craving for more.

Costa Rica’s cuisine is a true reflection of its vibrant culture and natural abundance. By trying these local dishes, you’ll not only satisfy your taste buds but also gain a deeper appreciation for the flavors that make Costa Rica so unique. So, don’t miss the opportunity to savor these delicious delights on your visit to this tropical paradise.


Costa Rica is a destination that truly has it all – from stunning beaches and lush rainforests to thrilling adventure activities and a rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a combination of both, this Central American gem is sure to exceed your expectations. With this comprehensive Costa Rica Travel Guide, you now have all the information you need to plan your dream trip to the “rich coast” in 2023. So pack your bags, embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through this tropical paradise. Happy travels!