5 travel tips for your Costa Rica vacation

Costa Rica is a relatively small country and is located on the Central American mainland bridge between Panama and Nicaragua. But why you should not miss the country of Pura Vidas on the world map and helpful travel tips for your vacation in Costa Rica, we tell you here!

This is what you can expect in this article:

1. How to choose the best time to travel?

As in many countries in Central and South America, there is also a rainy season in Costa Rica. For your hiking vacation we recommend you to use the dry season in any case. Good paths can often turn into slippery slopes and hiking through the jungle or to the foot of volcanoes is half the fun.

Our tip: It is best to travel in the months from November to April.

Woman walking through the rainforest in Costa Rica

But also in these months it is advisable to bring good shoes, rainwear and if available a rain cover for your backpack. The rain showers in Costa Rica are never predictable, but usually gone as fast as they came.

Here you can find more tips for the best time to travel in Costa Rica.

2. What currency is used in Costa Rica?

The national currency of Costa Rica is Colones. The different bills differ not only in their color, but there is in each case a country-typical animal illustrated. For example, if you want to buy a 10.000₡ you can ask for a "Sloth" (in German: Faultier).

Flag of Costa Rica

Besides the Colon, US Dollars are also a widely used currency, with which you can pay almost everywhere. It is advisable to bring small bills, up to a maximum of 20$. But if you want to buy something in a small local store, you will always get a better deal if you pay in the local currency.

Savings Tip: Credit card payments are now common, but it is better to pay with cash if possible.

3. What language is spoken?

The national language in Costa Rica is Spanish, but especially in tourist places and the big cities many people can speak English. It is still helpful if you learn a few phrases in Spanish before you leave. This way you will already get the first vacation feelings at home and how proud you will be when you arrive in Costa Rica and order your first fruit smoothie in Spanish?

Pura Vida sign in Montezuma

Our very special travel tip for entertainment in Costa Rica: What you can always say in Costa Rica: Pura Vida.

It is used to say hello, please, thank you, goodbye and okay. In short, it is actually always used. A Costa Rican explained it this way: If something great happens in your life – Pura Vida. If something bad happens in life – Pura Vida. Translated it could mean something like "this is how life plays".

4. What to pack in my suitcase?

Often less is more, this is also true for packing a suitcase. If you forgot something at home, you will find many stores in Costa Rica that offer you (almost) everything you need for your trip.

Costa Rica Packing List

Here you will find some tips on what to bring on your trip to Costa Rica:

  • Well-fitting, ankle-high hiking boots for your hikes in the rainforest, to volcanoes or other activities
  • It is advisable to take a second comfortable pair of sneakers with you. In case your other shoes get wet, you have a good alternative which you can wear in the city
  • At least one pair of long pants and a warm sweater for the evenings in the mountains, where it can sometimes get quite chilly.
  • Besides long thin clothes as mosquito protection mosquito repellent should not be missing in your luggage either
  • A pair of binoculars to watch the animals should be packed in any case, if you have one at home. But on guided tours you can often borrow one as well
  • A small first aid kit should also be in your suitcase. Your family doctor will be happy to help you to choose the right one for your individual needs

5. What culinary delights await me?

When traveling to Costa Rica, it is an advantage to have rice, beans and plantains among the foods you like.

Gallo Pinto

The typical Gallo Pinto is usually served for breakfast. Even if it literally means spotted rooster it has little to do with it. Besides black beans, which are the main ingredient of this dish, mixed with cooked rice, you will usually find scrambled eggs and platanos (fried plantains) on your plate.

Typical dish Casado

Another widespread dish, is the typical main meal Casado. Actually quite similar to Gallo Pinto, the main ingredient is again rice with beans. You can choose between fish, chicken, beef or pork and a vegetarian option. As a side dish, there are also fried plantains and sometimes even salad and tortillas are served with it.

The empanadas are very tasty little dumplings, which are made in Costa Rica from rice flour. Filled with sweet or savory delicacies, they offer a good change from rice and beans. But if you want, you can of course try empanadas filled with black beans.

As far as drinks are concerned, besides the normal juices and beer, there are also Batidos con agua o con leche almost everywhere. The shakes, which can be prepared with milk or water, are a welcome sweet change. If you're brave, you can try many different flavors besides the ones you're familiar with, such as mango, passion fruit and pineapple. Dare!

Freshly picked: Another wonderful refreshment is the pipa. Freshly opened with the machete, you can slurp out the delicious coconut water with the straw and take some nice souvenir photos at the same time.

Experience Pura Vida in Costa Rica

You can't wait to relax on the beautiful sandy beaches of Costa Rica with a coconut in your hand? Watching for sloths in the rainforests and experiencing your first real pura vida moment? Then we can especially recommend you these tours:

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