Costa Rica, Central America: where it is, when to go and what to see

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

Central American country, Costa Rica is a real earthly paradise because here nature reigns supremeForests and jungles where you can meet endemic species such as sloths, wonderful white sand beaches lapped by a crystalline sea, volcanoes to discover. In recent years this state has become a little more touristy but fortunately the ecosystem remained intact.

Here's what you need to know if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, Central America: where is it, when to go and what to see!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where it is
  3. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  4. The main cities
  5. Things to see: the places of interest in Costa Rica
  6. The main itineraries in Costa Rica
  7. What to do in Costa Rica: excursions and tours
  8. How much does a Costa Rica vacation cost? Prices, offers and advice
  9. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 4.900.000
  • Capital: San Josè
  • Languages: Spanish, English
  • Local currency: Costa Rican Colón (CRC) / Exchange rate: € 1,00 = CRC 703,05
  • Weather: temperate in the central area with temperatures between 21 ° and 26 °, warmer and more humid climate in the coastal areas. Temperatures are higher on the Pacific side with an average of 28 °. Rainy season from May to November, dry from December to April. The Caribbean side has an equatorial climate with constant rainfall all year round and temperatures between 24 ° and 33 °
  • Time zone: -7h compared to Italy; - 8h when summer time is in force in Italy
  • vaccinations: no compulsory vaccination. Anti-tetanus, anti-hepatitis A and B are recommended
  • Entry requirements: passport with residual validity of 90 days, return flight ticket. Tourist visa not required for stays up to 3 months
  • Safety info: visit the Costa Rica section on the Farnesina website

Where it is

Costa Rica is a southern state in Central America and borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. It is washed to the east by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its territory is characterized by a series of mountain ranges with volcanoes and peaks reaching 4000 m, from valleys and coastal areas.

How to reach us

Costa Rica's main airport is theJuan Santamaria International Airport of San Josè. Flights arriving from Europe will land here, while from Central America and the United States various connections use the other important airport, the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, in the Guanacaste region.

  • From the main European capitals: several direct flights. British Airways direct flight London-San Jose (14 h), Iberia direct flights from Madrid (10 h 50 min), Lufthansa from Frankfurt (11 h) - Compare flights to Costa Rica

When to go? Info on climate and best time

  • Weather: three climatic regions can be identified. Highlands and area of ​​the capital temperate climate, with a dry season from December to April, temperatures between 15 ° and 25 °, and a rainy season from May to November, temperatures between 17 ° and 26 ° and abundant rains. Coastal area of ​​the Pacific very similar to the previous one, temperatures higher and average of 30 ° all year round. Caribbean coastal area equatorial climate, single season with average temperature 28 ° and abundant rains
  • Best time: from December to April when the rains are mostly absent, except on the Caribbean coast, and the heat is pleasant and not annoying
  • Period to avoid: from May to October November, especially the months of September and October, when the rains are torrential and the danger of hurricanes and typhoons is highest
  • Advice: in the suitcase light clothing, a sweatshirt for the evening, a raincoat, umbrella, comfortable shoes. If you are hiking on volcanoes, layered technical clothing, trekking shoes, poles, sweater. Swimwear, beach equipment and sunscreen

The main cities

In Costa Rica there are different towns and interesting places often used during a trip as a base to go and discover the beauties of the country. Here are the main ones:

  1. San Jose: capital of Costa Rica, in addition to having the international airport where flights arrive from all over the world and various tourist solutions, it is also a beautiful town, perfect base for excursions to the Poàs Volcano National Park (2.740 m) and to the Volcano National Park Irazù, the highest in the country. From the capital it is also possible to go on an exciting rafting on Rio Reventazòn or Rio Pacuar
  2. Q: another ideal town to stay a few days, 160 km from the capital. Although the town itself has little to offer, it is perfect for visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park, where endemic animal species meet and where you can dive into dream beaches.
  3. Limon: main city on the Caribbean coast, reachable by bus from San Josè and equipped with an airport. It is an ideal tourist spot as a base for visiting the Tortuguero National Park and the Amistad Transfrontier Natural Park, between Panama and Costa Rica.
  4. Nicoya Peninsula: along this peninsula overlooking the Pacific there are several villages such as Montezuma or Santa MAria, chosen by those who want to discover and visit the different beaches that are in the area such as Playa Cuevas, Playa Lagartillo, Samarara Beach and many others
  5. Puerto Viejo: fixed point to explore some beauties of the surroundings and reachable by direct bus from San Josè (1 h 40 min). Town equipped with various services and perfect if you want to visit the Cahuita National Park and beaches such as Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva

Things to see: the places of interest in Costa Rica

  1. Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal: surrounded by dense forests that cover the lower slopes and the nearby hills, characterized by a varied and wild territory with a high degree of biodiversity. Here you can take several tours to the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna and hot springs. Also not to be missed is the boat excursion near the Arenal lagoon
  2. Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde: the most famous cloud forest in the country, consisting of a virgin forest shrouded in mist with vines covered with moss, ferns and bromeliads and where the streams run impetuous
  3. Manuel Antonio National Park- Featuring nature and wildlife, palm trees, crystal clear waters, white beaches, playful monkeys, tropical birds, iguanas and sloths.
  4. San Jose: capital of Costa Rica, a typical city of Central America with colorful markets to discover through a food tour, important museums (Natural History Museum and Pre-Columbian Gold Museum) and an interesting historic center. Must-see Isla Tortuga Scenic Catamaran Excursion and Costa Rica's Atlantic Rainforest Zip Line Tour
  5. Irazù volcano: part of the homonymous park, it includes 10 cones and extends for 500 sq km, is 3432 m high and from its top it is possible to see the two oceans. Among the points not to be missed is the Diego Haya crater with the green lake of a thousand shades, surrounded by wonderful nature
  6. Turrialba: small town located on the slopes of the homonymous volcano, which returned to activity in 2016, is famous for the canyons and the Pacuare waterfalls, where it is possible to do one of the 10 most beautiful rafting in the world. From San Josè day trip to the volcanoes of Irazú and Turrialba
  7. Tortuguero: called the small Amazon, in the north east of the country, it is a Natural Park where you can watch the spectacle of hundreds of turtles in a row that build nests and leave their eggs, around an extended beach of black sand. There are also frogs, monkeys, birds, fish and over 500 species in the area
  8. The Parque Nacional Marino Ballena: 180 kilometers from San José, it is an area made up of 4 beaches full of charm where whales, dolphins and sea turtles live as well as being a special habitat for various species of seabirds and reptiles
  9. Cerro Chirripo: the highest mountain in Costa Rica, with 3.820 m of height. Inside there is a park declared a Biosphere Reserve and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The ideal place to discover different habitats, where you can meet tapirs, jaguars, monkeys
  10. Poás Volcano Park: where is the active volcano of the same name, famous for its crater of 2 km in diameter inside which there is a warm lagoon. Nearby there is also a lake that forms waterfalls and a viewpoint from which to admire a splendid panorama
  11. Cahuita National Park: 42 km south of the city of Puerto Limòn, it is famous for the sea and the ideal seabed for snorkeling and for discovering underwater life. Sea urchins, parrotfish, angelfish, manta rays, barracudas, moray eels, lobsters and turtles live here
  12. Drake bay: a small village nestled in the Osa Peninsula and surrounded by the Corcovado National Park. Perfect destination for those who want to totally immerse themselves in nature, including excursions in the tropical forest, trekking among waterfalls, horse riding on the beach and scuba diving snorkeling in the company of beautiful whales and playful dolphins
  13. Playa De Coco: offers all the best of Costa Rican tourism between enchanting beaches and nightlife. Perfect place to practice water sports such as surfing, kitesurfing, and diving with manta rays, whale sharks ... and sharks!

The main itineraries in Costa Rica

There is chi decides to visit Costa Rica together with other states of America central like Panama or Nicaragua and those who prefer to dedicate an exclusive trip to this country.

Based on the days available and the things you like best, you can follow different itineraries that touch more or less areas of the state. Here are the main ones:

  1. Costa Rica tour in 10 days: a trip suitable for those who do not have too much time available and want to know the most beautiful areas of the country. After landing in San Josè, visit the capital and the next day departure for the Tortuguero National Park, where we will stay for a couple of days. Then we move to La Fortuna to explore the Arenal Volcano in a full day. We continue to Playa Tamarindo where we spend the last 2 days to discover the Nicoya rooftop
  2. Gran Tour of Costa Rica in 20 days: a complete itinerary to get to know and fall in love with the country. Among the main stops and locations San Josè, Poas Volcano Park, Arenal Volcano Park, Rio Celeste waterfalls, Monteverde Forest, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Tamarindo, Playa Cochal and Playa Hermosa, Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Uvita and Marino Ballena park
  3. Costa Rica's sea, forests and volcanoes in 14 days: an itinerary that allows you to discover the different environments of the country dedicated to those who have just 2 weeks of time. Among the main stops are San Josè, Catarata de la Fortuna, Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio Park, Monteverde Forest and Tortuguero National Park

What to do in Costa Rica: excursions and tours

How much does a Costa Rica vacation cost? Prices, offers and advice

Costa Rica has two international airports: San José-Juan Santamaria International Airport in the capital San José and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste.

It is possible to discover this state by relying on agencies that organize itineraries and tourist packages, or to go around independently.

For a DIY trip, we recommend rent an off-road car (from € 25,00 per day) and stay in homes and eco-lodges (hostels from € 12,00 per night, private rooms with bathroom from € 30,00 per night). As for the food, keep in mind that on average a plate of rice, beans, and meat or fish costs about 2.500,00 CRC (€ 3,50). Consider one minimum expenditure of about € 70,00 / € 80,00 per day for accommodation, travel and excursions.

If you opt for one instead all inclusive solution, consider one minimum spend of € 1600,00 per person. For lovers of scuba diving or snorkeling, we recommend one of the wonderful diving trips offered by, including flights, accommodation and marine activities such as diving in the company of manta rays, sharks and dolphins.

  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -
  • to San Josè starting from € 483,00 -

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