Few places boast the range of natural attractions available in Costa Rica and Costa Rica holidays guarantee you some extraordinary experiences; beach holidays in Costa Rica are centred on the Caribbean coast and the spectacular stretches of sand there whilst wildlife holidays here are popular ways of exploring the many national parks and eco-tourist destinations.
The capital San José is a great mix of traditional and Spanish architecture. Close to the city is the crater of Irazú; the surreal lunar landscape is one of Costa Rica's most stirring sights. Arenal is one of eight active volcanoes in the country; night-time eruptions are the most spectacular. The thermal springs and mud pools of Volcán Rincón de la Vieja are best explored on horseback or on foot. Trekkers should scale Cerro Chirripó, the country's highest summit.
People looking to spot wildlife should travel to Santa Rosa National Park, which has ten different habitats, or Tortuguero National Park to explore the lush rainforests, long beaches, swamps and lagoons teeming with wildlife, including nesting turtles. Parque Nacional Corcovado is considered one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, whilst Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is perfect for primates including howler monkeys and capuchins.
Costa Rica's best beach is Playa Conchal, whilst the wildest surfing is at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Offshore, in the Pacific, lie San Lucas and Isla del Coco, two attractive islands with fine beaches and plenty of history.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0617.
Temperatures in the Central Valley average at 22°C. Much hotter in the coastal areas. Rainy season May-November, dry season December-May.
March sees one thousand people run from San José to Villa Colón, as part of the Carrera de la Paz. At the same time 500 different species are part of the National Orchid Show in Sabana Sur. Again in March, a Craft Fair on the Plaza de la Cultura sees 150 to 200 artists display their works. 1, 500 people run the Carrera de San Juan to San Juan de Tibás. The Freedom Torch is relayed around the country on 15 September, Independence Day. December is the liveliest time, for Christmas celebrations, and bull fights are also held then.
Common local dishes include casado (rice, beans, beef, plantain, salad and cabbage), sopa negra (black beans with a poached egg) and picadillo (vegetable and meat stew). Snacks, often sold at street stalls, are very popular, especially gallos (filled tortillas). Restaurants serve anything from French to Chinese cuisine.
When addressing people first names are preceded by Don for men, and Doña for women. Beachwear should not be worn away from the beach.
Juan Santamaria (SJO) 17 km from the city.
Some internal flights - reservations cannot be made outside Costa Rica. Standard of roads generally good. Buses are main transport and are frequent and cheap. Car and motorcycle hire available in San José.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Costa Rica. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0617.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Costa Rica. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Costa Rica, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0617.
Rachel Mostyn - Central America Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0617