Trip Tips

Costa Rica´s National Theater

Airports

Juan Santamaría International Airport is the main airport of Costa Rica. It is located in the province of Alajuela, 18 km from the capital city of San Jose. This terminal has won several awards including: Third Best Airport in its category and fourth best airport overall in the Americas.

The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, also known as Liberia International Airport, is the second largest airport in Costa Rica. Located in Liberia, Guanacaste, the Liberia International Airport is about 217 km (135 miles) northwest of the capital city of San Jose. It functions mainly as a hub to serve the growing number of tourists who come to enjoy the great sunny weather and spectacular beaches of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. Arriving at Liberia International Airport is the fastest way to get to places like Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, the Papagayo Gulf, Playa Flamingo, Playa Samara and the Las Baulas (Leatherback sea turtles) Marine National Park.

  • Taxis Airport-San José: US$15-$20
  • Buses Alajuela-San José (5 a.m. – 10 p.m.), stop at the airport every 30 minutes.
  • Departure tax: US$29.00 per person

Flight Connections

Iberia Airline offers a daily nonstop flight from Madrid to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose. Condor flies from Frankfurt via Santo Domingo twice weekly to San Jose. Another option is to fly KLM from Amsterdam to Panama City, and then Copa Airlines to Costa Rica. Additionally, there are many connecting flights to San Jose via the United States (Newark, Atlanta, Miami, Houston and Dallas). There is easy domestic flight service between San Jose and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, among many other points around the country.

Immigration

To enter Costa Rica, European citizens require a passport with a validity of at least six months after their arrival in the country. Maximum stay authorized without a visa is 90 days.  Also, if you travel via the United States, regulations for that country should be taken into consideration.

The main requirements to enter Costa Rica are:

  • Passport valid for six months upon entry
  • Entrance and departure ticket
  • No European country, except Russia, requires a visa to enter Costa Rica.

Security

Costa Rica is a relatively safe country. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of assaults and robberies, so it is advisable to use general safety precautions. Leave expensive jewellery at home. Use hotel safes for your valuables. Do not leave valuables visible in a car. Be aware when walking around. Use taxis at night rather than walk.

Cuisine

Cuisine in Costa Rica is easy to digest and is not spicy. Local dishes are mainly based on rice and beans. The typical breakfast is called “Gallo Pinto” (“spotted rooster”), a tasty mix of white rice, black beans and spices, served with fried or scrambled eggs. Lunch and dinner for Costa Ricans consists of rice, beans, fried plantains, vegetables, salad and either fish, chicken or meat, and is known as a “casado.” Costa Ricans also frequently eat seafood. Costa Rica is a paradise of fruits, which are consumed fresh, or in smoothies made with milk, or juices made with water.  In almost all restaurants, you can find good quality imported wine and local and imported beers.

Drinking Water

The water is safe to drink in most parts of the country; however, we recommend drinking bottled water, especially in areas close to the coasts.

Average Costs

Lunch at a small, local restaurant (in Costa Rica called a “soda”) costs from 5 to 6 Euros. At a larger restaurant, you will pay about 5 to 12 Euros; and in a hotel, from 12 Euros and up. Fruit juices, bottled water and beer can be purchased in supermarkets and stores for about 1.50 Euros.

Money

The Costa Rican Colon is the official currency of the country and can be exchanged at banks for USD, and vice versa. Exchanging Euros is only possible in a few bank branches; for this reason, it is important to bring USD in cash when you travel to Costa Rica. In ATMs networked with Cirrus and Master, you can get cash with the Eurocard; these are especially found in San Jose and the larger cities. The exchange rate for Colones at the airport is less favourable than in banks. Regarding tips, there is no need to tip in restaurants, because the bills automatically include a 10% service charge, plus sales tax of 13%. It is advisable to leave a tip of about 0.50 Euros to hotel bellmen and the cleaning staff and between 1 and 5 Euros per day per person to tour guides.

Cell phones and Telephones

The Costa Rica international access code is (506). Costa Rica has an efficient wireless communications system that lets you use a cell phone, SMS, Internet and other mobile services to stay connected with your company or family. Cellular phones are common, and coverage is widespread. There are companies dedicated to the sale and rental of mobile phones.  Cellular technologies of GSM, 3G and 3.5G are currently used. For more information on this topic please visit the website: www.costaricatelefonos.com.

Internet

Costa Rica has extensive Internet coverage except in very remote areas. Almost all hotels offer internet service, either through a central computer or a wireless connection. In most cities, there are Internet Cafes.

Electricity 

The electrical voltage is 110V throughout the country. A North American system plug adaptor is required.

Rental Cars

Costa Rica’s extensive road network allows you to discover every corner of the country on your own in a rented vehicle. The main roads and highways are mostly in good condition, but secondary roads are often gravel and not in the best state. It is recommended to rent a 4x4 vehicle to move comfortably throughout the entire nation any time of year. Although road signage is continually improving, most rental car companies offer a GPS for hire, which greatly helps with orientation and directions. Along with a rented vehicle, you can enjoy an “Open Voucher" program. Costs are reduced and the program is flexible to suit your tastes. Many rental car companies apply compensation programs for CO2 emissions produced by their operations. Customers who wish to contribute to environmental protection can take this criterion into account when selecting a vehicle rental company.

Culture

In San Jose, you can find libraries and museums renowned throughout Central America. The National Theatre is a local treasure, built by the coffee barons in 1897 as part of their vision to provide the city a suitable place for presentations by famous national and international artists. San Jose features an extensive network of galleries and theatres that ensure a constant offering of culture. Artisans all over the country produce beautiful art out of clay, fabric and fibres, wood, and other materials. Additionally, you can find traditional music and folkloric dance with colourful costumes, music of the marimba, and infectious rhythms.

The city of San José (the country’s capital) has a lot of traffic and congestion, however, we recommend visiting these sites: the National Theatre, the Cultural Plaza, the museums of the Central Bank, the National Museum, and the Jade Museum.

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a destination to which you can travel virtually year-round since it has several climatic micro-zones. The mountain ranges spanning the country from the northwest to the southeast form a barrier that divides the country into two larger climatic zones, the Pacific and the Caribbean. The amazing thing is that the climate is nearly the complete opposite from one zone to the other. The country differentiates between a dry season and a rainy season, also known as green season. It is not often, however, that rains fall for several days consecutively, except between May and November.

 

 

Pacific Coast & Central Valley, including the capital, San José

Caribbean Region & Northern regions, including Sarapiquí & Volcano Arenal

Dry Season

 

 

Green Season

 

 

Rainiest Months

 

 

Temperatures

 

Central Valley & Mountains

Coasts & Plains

During the day

20-27ºC

25-35ºC

During the night

15-20ºC

20-30ºC

At the volcanoes and higher elevations, the temperatures may be cool during the day.

What is advisable to pack?

We recommend travelling with two pieces of luggage – a main suitcase and a sports bag for short trips of one or more days. On some excursions, or for boat transfers and domestic flights, there are luggage limitations of 12 kg per person. Your main suitcase can be stored safely in your hotel in San Jose at no additional cost. It is common on a trip to Costa Rica to use various means of transportation, such as boats, buses or airplanes. To facilitate passenger mobility, it is helpful to carry luggage of a reasonable size and weight. In addition to personal items, it is recommended to pack:

  • Sturdy shoes or good sports shoes
  • A jacket or a warm pullover to visit the volcanoes and higher elevation areas
  • Long pants and a light pullover or long-sleeved shirt for hikes in the forest
  • Light summer clothing
  • Swimsuit
  • Hat or cap
  • Pair of sandals that are good for walking and beach
  • A raincoat or rain poncho
  • Flashlight or torch
  • Anti-mosquito repellent
  • Sun block or sun cream
  • Binoculars
  • Camera