Top Tips for Travelling in Costa Rica

Eager to explore Costa Rica? Let us guide you through your Central American adventure
Eager to explore Costa Rica? Let us guide you through your Central American adventure | Berti Benbanaste / Unsplash
Gethin Morgan

Content and CRM Executive

This Central American paradise is one of the coolest destinations on Earth. It remains a mystery to many, and there’s much to consider for first time travellers, so here are our top travel tips for Costa Rica.

Plan your itinerary

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Travelling to Costa Rica is no simple beach holiday or European city break, you can’t just rock up and potter about. You’ll need to plan in advance exactly where you want to go, what you want to do, where you’re going to stay and how you’re going to get around. That’s where Culture Trip comes in. We have a ready-made eight-day itinerary, carefully curated by seasoned Travel Experts, who have put together an extensive package that includes all of the best things Costa Rica has to offer. From volcanic hot springs to cloud forests and Pacific beaches, wildlife encounters and ecotourism experiences along with foodie delights and cultural insights – our trip has the lot. Pre-planned by pros, booked all in one go (no need to worry about going over budget mid-trip) and led by local guides. That’s how to get to know The Real Costa Rica.

A knowledgable local guide is invaluable on any trip to Costa Rica

Choose what time of year to visit

Costa Rica’s tropical climate means a great weather variation depending on what time of year you visit. Dry season takes place between December and April, and is naturally the most popular time of year to visit, with sunnier days and more comfortable conditions to explore. May to November is green season, when the landscapes are just as luscious but with far fewer tourists, so if you don’t mind getting a bit wet then this might be a great time to visit. We’d probably avoid September and October, though, that’s when the downpours really hit hard – you don’t want to experience that, trust us.

Expect the odd shower when you’re traversing the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica

Pack for multiple climates

Even if you visit in the thick of dry season, you’re going to need to bring a good set of waterproofs. This is a tropical destination and showers should be expected all year round. Ever-changing microclimates mean that temperatures and humidity levels can vary drastically, from volcanic regions to high-altitude cloud forests and breezy coastal towns, so you’re going to want to pack a variety of clothing options. Lightweight and breathable clothing is essential, as are comfy walking shoes and a good rain jacket, not to mention sunscreen and insect repellent, of course.

You’ll need to pack your swimwear alongside a rain coat

Embrace ecotourism

Few countries have embraced ecotourism quite like Costa Rica. In fact sustainable travel has become synonymous with the country, partly because of the extraordinary natural landscapes here, which are enough to make the biggest climate sceptics out there appreciate the need to preserve. Costa Rica has made large commitments to conservation and has seamlessly blended this into its tourism economy, from gorgeous national parks and wildlife reserves to certified eco-lodges, which can be found all over the country. Any trip here should be done with respect for the environment, so follow preservation guidelines and be sure to take part in outdoor activities like hiking, bird-watching and jungle zip-lining, which not only bring you closer to the environment, but also support the good work that goes into protecting this beautiful landscape. Read Culture Trip’s commitment to responsible travel to learn more about how we keep our trips eco-friendly.

You’ll stay at Volcano Lodge and Springs, an eco-lodge in La Fortuna, on our Costa Rica trip

Learn some Spanish

It goes without saying that picking up some phrases in the local language wherever you go should be high on your pre-travel to-do list. There is a decent amount of English spoken in Costa Rica, but you’ll need some Spanish in your back pocket if you want to get around smoothly. Not only will picking up some phrases keep you firmly on track, but it’ll also bring you closer to the people and earn an awful lot of kudos. Travelling with a guide, like the expert Local Insiders on our trips, means that you get a fluent translator but, more importantly, a willing teacher to help improve your Spanish!

Throw yourself into the pura vida lifestyle

If you hadn’t already heard of this common Costa Rican expression, then get ready to familiarise yourself with the concept. It roughly translates to ‘pure life’ and is a cornerstone of the local culture. It basically celebrates the joys of living, and of relaxing in the laid-back atmosphere of a country that cherishes the good, honest things in life. Take your time to soak in the natural beauty of forests and jungles, engage in pleasant conversation with the ever-friendly locals and immerse yourself in local customs – that’s how you discover the true meaning of pura vida.

The beaches of Costa Rica will teach you the meaning of pura vida

Travel with Culture Trip!

Of course we’re going to say it, but there’s no better way to experience the real Costa Rica than on our immersive eight-day adventure. Book your spot and there’s no need to worry about booking authentic eco-lodges, sorting out local transport and planning your route through the jungle. We’ll take care of all that stuff. Just get yourself to San Jose and we’ll see you there.

The trip has been carefully curated to ensure you get a taste of the country’s most amazingly diverse microclimates, from Arenal Volcano National Park to the highs of the cloud forests in Monteverde and the laid-back lifestyle of Pacific surf towns. Once you’re there, our Local Insider will be your private guide, offering the group a deeper insight into local life and a lived-in knowledge of what it means to be Costa Rican. You’ll also embrace the joys of ecotourism, treating the land and its people with the respect they both deserve.

You’ll visit a local coffee collective – expect your palette to change forever – and soak in the volcanic hot springs of Arenal. You’ll splash in jungle waterfalls and spot sloths on a guided tour, as well as going on a wildlife-spotting nocturnal hike in a cloud forest. You’ll embrace local culinary culture with a Costa Rican cooking masterclass, before raising pulses on a whitewater rafting experience down Tenorio River. We’ll end the trip in the laid-back coastal town of Tamarindo, where you can go mountain biking, take a surf lesson or simply chill on the beach.

Sold on Costa Rica? Book your spot today on our immersive eight-day adventure in this Central American paradise.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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