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Five Of The Best Cities and Places To Visit In Costa Rica

As one of the world’s top picks every year for a tropical getaway, Costa Rica has cemented itself as a firm favorite amongst travelers for a long time now. The Central American destination is renowned for its spectacular natural wonders, biodiversity, and a wide variety of adventure activities, making it a country that is alluring to visitors of all interests.

Costa Rica has a wide and varying array of attractions for tourists to enjoy. This small country packs a big punch, from the cultural capital of San Jose to the rainforests brimming with unique animals and the beautifully-formed Arenal volcano. Visiting all of the amazing locations in Costa Rica could take a lifetime.

To help you to create the perfect itinerary for your Costa Rica trip, we have assembled this list of vacation ideas you don’t want to miss.

When’s The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s beautiful, lush rainforests are green all year round, which is a result of the warm place’s lengthy rainy season. Costa Rica has a tropical climate, and the rainy season / summer generally lasts from May to November, when the country experiences fewer tourists. Expect temperatures of around 27°C during this time. Though prices are much lower at this time, the heavy rain can significantly impact your chosen activities, particularly in the southern part of the country.

Costa Rica experiences its high season during the winter months of December to April, coinciding with the country’s dry season. Temperatures sit around 25 – 28°C, and there’s much less humidity, making travel much more enjoyable rather than the warmest time. As expected, visiting during the high season will result in higher airfares, greater prices at hotels and restaurants, and larger crowds.

If you’re looking to visit Costa Rica for a lower price, consider traveling during the months of November or May. These months see the transition from one season to another, so you can have a mix of dry and wet weather. While dry conditions are not guaranteed, if time is on your side, this is a great option.

Five Of The Top Places To Visit In Costa Rica

  • San Jose
  • Tamarindo
  • Monteverde
  • Liberia
  • Limon
Waterfall in tropical rainforest

San Jose – Costa Rica’s Cultural And Historical Center

Many travelers will commence their Costa Rican adventure in the nation’s capital, San Jose. This city is a wonderful place to get a sense of what this country is all about, giving tourists an insight into the country’s interesting history and unique culture through its array of art museums and theaters. While most people come to Costa Rica hoping to explore the rainforests or witness iconic places like the cloud forest, the city of San Jose is not to be missed and deserves its place as one of the country’s must-see spots.

San Jose – What To Do There?

The National Museum – To get a real sense of this country, pay a visit to the National Museum and learn all about this country’s fascinating history, going way back to its pre-Columbian era. This is an excellent starting point for your Costa Rica journey and is actually built on a former military fortress.

Stroll around the city center – One of the best ways to experience this bustling capital is on foot. An afternoon spent wandering around the city will be filled with gorgeous architecture and an insight into local life. Don’t miss spots like the Democracy Plaza, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and the Melico Salazar Theater. Journey through the city at your own pace or join one of the many walking tours on offer.

Coffee plantation tour – Costa Rican coffee is enjoyed and adored worldwide. Make the most of your time in this coffee haven by exploring one of the many coffee plantations outside of the city. See the journey of the coffee beans from plant to cup and sample a selection of different roasts.

Must Try Food And Drink In Costa Rica

Casado – Probably one of Costa Rica’s best-known traditional dishes, a trip to San Jose is not complete without trying a Casado, a mix of black beans, rice, fried plantains (a variety of banana), mild-flavored meat or fish and vegetables, this dish is a taster of some staple Costa Rican foods.

Guaro – The country’s famous liquor, Guaro, is a clear spirit distilled from sugar cane juices. Slightly sweet in taste, Guaro can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with juice or soda.

Tips For Visiting San Jose

  • San Jose offers many free walking tours that you should take advantage of, which are a wonderful way to learn about the country from a local’s perspective. Be sure to tip your guide at the end.
  • Bring all your identification documents wherever you go. Police often stop tourists and ask to see them without any notice.
Beaches of Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica at dusk

Tamarindo – Sand, Surf, Music, And Superb Nightlife

Tamarindo is a beach town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. This hotspot is a hub for tourists seeking long days by the beach coupled with late-night partying at the top clubs. One of the best places to travel for surfers to catch some waves, there’s always something happening in this town, and it has become one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations for travelers looking to escape city life. If you’re searching for a laid-back beach vacation, Tamarindo is the place for you.

Best Things To Do In Tamarindo

Surfing – One of the biggest attractions for tourists to the area is the ample surfing opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner, this is one of the best spots in the country to hit the waves. There’s a plentiful supply of board rentals along the beach, and lessons are available for those looking to try their hand at surfing for the first time.

Las Baulas National Marine Park – Around 30 minutes from Tamarindo Beach lies Grande Beach, famous as a nesting location for the leatherback turtles called Baulas. The Baulas come here each year to dig pits in which they lay their eggs. This national park works to protect and preserve this vast area of over 160 square kilometers, working to conserve these endangered animals.

ATV tour – Explore what Tamarindo has to offer through an exhilarating journey, cruising through forests, beaches, and river crossings on an ATV. Get off the beaten track and travel across a variety of terrains, encountering the local wildlife along the way. This is the perfect activity for adventure-seeking travelers.

Must Try Food And Drink In Tamarindo

Gallo Pinto – A traditional street food meal that’s popular at any time of the day, you’re sure to have Gallo Pinto a number of times during your time here. Consisting of rice and beans and a variety of seasonings, Gallo Pinto is often served with a fried egg for breakfast and commonly with meat or fish at dinner time.

Imperial beer – Costa Rica’s most famous beer is the long-standing Imperial lager, which has been around since the 1920s. This pale lager is popular amongst locals and tourists alike, and though Costa Rica has a growing craft beer scene, Imperial remains the country’s most loved beer of choice.

Tips For Visiting Tamarindo

  • Tamarindo can be an expensive vacation destination. To save some cash, take advantage of the many Happy Hours in the area to avail yourself of cheap drinks.
  • Costa Rica is generally a safe tourist destination, but as with any popular vacation spot, petty theft can be present in busier areas of the town. Be vigilant with your bag at all times, and avoid showing your valuables.
costa-rica-volcano

Monteverde – The Home Of Diverse Forests With Tranquil Lakes And Rivers

Situated in the Cordillera De Tilarán Mountains, Monteverde is an adorable town loved by adventure tourists from all over the world. From lush green forests like the Monteverde Cloudforest to ziplining adventures through the Selvatura Adventure Park, you won’t be short of exciting activities to do.

Cool Places To Go And See In Monteverde

Wander through the Cloudforest – Cloudforests got their name in the world from how high they are off the ground and the number of clouds that pass through them. Monteverde’s Cloudforest is an impressive display of flora and fauna, cascading waterfalls, and rope bridges.

Walk over one of the Rope Bridges – Arguably, Monteverdes’ most popular tourist attractions are the Rope Bridges. A couple of them are hung up throughout Selvetura Park, and some even stretch over 800 meters. Are you brave enough to take one on?

Go ziplining – Whizz through the forests of Monteverde on an extreme ziplining experience. Monteverde is brimming with adventure sports, including ziplining. Many companies allow visitors to zip from high platforms across the Costa Rican skies. Conquer your fear of heights and get a rush of adrenaline as you’ve never had before.

Food And Drink To Try In Monteverde

Olla De Carne – Nothing beats a good old Olla De Carne after being out in the cloud forest. It’s a Costa Rican beef stew made with beef, carrots, plantains, cassava, and taro roots. This dish isn’t widely available in every restaurant, so you’ll have to ask if the chef can whip you up some.

Agua Dulce – Why have coffee with your breakfast when you can have some Agua Dulce? This hot drink is made with boiling water and tapa de dulce, the purest form of sugar cane you can get your hands on. One glass of Agua Dulce will give you a good kickstart to your day.

What To Know Before Visiting Monteverde

  • Make sure you bring your jacket to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, as can come at short notice.
  • Sodas are the best places to eat if you’re traveling on a budget. They’re small family eateries that provide the best value for money.

Liberia – The Gateway To Picturesque Beaches For Honeymoons, Couples And Families

Embedded in the northern part of Costa Rica, Liberia has gained huge popularity in recent years among travelers because of its enchanting national parks like Parque Nacional Palo Verde, majestic waterfalls like La Vieja, and exhibits like the Hidden Garden Art Gallery. The city houses one of the two only airports in Costa Rica, so you can easily take an internal flight from San Jose.

Which Are The Beautiful Places To See Liberia?

Become mesmerized by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano – About 60 kilometers away from the city is fascinating; Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is an active volcano sitting in a 35,000-acre park along with other natural landforms such as hot springs and waterfalls.

Visit Ponderosa Adventure Park – Did you know you can take a safari in Liberia? Embark on a journey through the Ponderosa Adventure Park, scouting out various creatures like zebras and giraffes. You can buy food to feed the animals as you drive through the savannah at reception beforehand for a couple of dollars.

Check out the Parque Nacional Palo Verde – Go on a wildlife spotting adventure through the Parque Nacional Palo Verde, home to various animal species, especially birds. For the best possible chance of seeing something, you’re better off hiring a guide who knows the terrain well and can take you to all the top spotting locations.

Must Try Food And Drink In Liberia

Chan – Rumoured to reduce indigestion, Chan is drunk all over Costa Rica and Liberia. It’s made by mixing dry black chan seeds with honey and water, you leave it to set for about half an hour, and then it’s ready for consumption.

Palmito – Taken from the bud of a palm tree, Palmito is used in various dishes like salads, picadillo, and casseroles and has an acidic flavor that you could point out immediately. The ingredient is sometimes referred to as the newfound love of Costa Rican cuisine.

What Tourists Should Know Before Visiting Liberia

  • Bring mosquito repellent with you wherever you go in Liberia. Tourists sometimes end up with Dengue Fever after getting bitten.
  • Remember your USDs. Dollars are widely accepted, especially by tour companies.

Limon – The Largest City On The Costa Rican Coastline For Sun Lovers

Beautiful Limon is the largest city along the Costa Rican coastline and is a popular point for cruise ships to pull up and allow tourists to explore for the day. But to really get a feeling for Limon, go to exciting places like the Sloth Sanctuary or embark on a journey through the intriguing Veragua Rainforest Park. And that’s only where the fun begins.

What Are The Best Things To Do In Limon?

Lounge on Playa Bonita – The gorgeous Playa Bonita beach is a couple of kilometers away from Limon’s city center. Spend the day kicking back with a cocktail while watching professional surfers hit the waves on the deep blue waters.

Go to the Sloth Sanctuary – Do you know someone who’s a fan of sloths? Spend the day at Limon’s Sloth Sanctuary, getting up close and personal with everyone’s favorite animal. Learn about these fury guys’ stories and how they live their lives through a guided tour from one of the sanctuary’s staff.

Spend the day at Veragua Rainforest Park – Just an hour outside of Limon is the unbelievable Veragua Rainforest Park. With 3400 acres of rainforest, endless rugged mountains, and so many opportunities to spot your favorite animals, it’s no wonder everyone makes the trip to Veragua Rainforest Park when they’re on holiday in Costa Rica.

What Food And Drink Should You Try In Limon?

Patacones – Deep fried and oh so delicious wherever you get your hands on them; Patacones are smashed green plantains that are usually salted and fried and complemented with black beans and some pico de gallo. You can even find them sold in some places in the shape of a nacho.

Resbaldera – This creamy rice-styled drink is made with some simple ingredients, water, rice, cinnamon, sugar, barley, and milk. If you order it out in a bar or restaurant, it will be served to you over ice, and you’ll find most locals consume it with their dinner.

What Should You Know Before Visiting Limon?

  • Always keep an eye out for signs when swimming around the beaches of Limon. Avoid going to the sea alone, and don’t attempt to swim near no-go zones.
  • Earthquakes happen all throughout Costa Rica, but most of the time, they’re just minor. Learn the safety procedures before you arrive.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Costa Rica?
Organize your Costa Rica Trip between the middle of December around Christmas and April, for the nicest weather and not much humidity compared to other times of the year. Yes, the country sees a huge influx of tourists around then, but it's nowhere near as hectic as other countries in the region, like Mexico.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Costa Rica?

Here at Kiwi.com, our sole mission is to give everyone access to the destinations they dream about. We find our customers the cheapest fares online through our travel hacks and technology that no other flight website shows you.

To get started organizing your once-in-a-lifetime holiday, visit our Costa Rica destination page, select which city you'd love to fly into, and we'll give you endless flight options that suit your travel dates.

What Is Costa Rica Known For?
Everyone loves Costa Rica for its amazing national parks, vast forms of wildlife, tasty coffee, exhilarating activities like white water rafting, and intimidating rain forests.
What's The Best Food In Costa Rica?
Costa Rican cuisine doesn't get the recognition it deserves, but as soon as you arrive, you'll realize it's one of the most creative and delicious food scenes in Central America. From simple dishes like Gallo Pinto to rich stews like Olla De Carne.
How Many Days Do I Need In Costa Rica?
Two weeks is an ideal amount of time to see all of Costa Rica's top sights and experience the country's stunning countryside.