costa rica cheat sheet

Want to know some of the basics before you travel in Costs Rica? We've got you covered!


4.7 million

main cities

San José (capital), Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Puntarenas, Limón.

bordering countries

Nicaragua, Panama

top tourist destinations

Monteverde, Puerto Viejo, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Tortugero.


languages spoken

Spanish is the official language, although along the Caribbean coast, English is fairly common.


currency and 2015 exchange rates

Costa Rican Colón (CRC), although US dollars are widely accepted in hotels, hostels, tour companies etc.

$1 =  530 CRC |  £1 = 819 |  €1 = 600 CRC



our route

We whizzed through Costa Rica for a variety of reasons. Illness, Emily having previously visited, Andrew not being too keen on spending much time there and, crucially, the increased cost of travel there in comparison to the rest of Central America.

So, we only really spent time in San José, the capital, and the coastal area around Puerto Viejo (which is a great jump-off point for reaching Panama.)

must-try food and drink

Whilst there are a lot of great restaurants in Costa Rica (helped in large part by the expat community), traditional dishes really aren't terribly exciting. Lots of grilled meats and white rice. 

However, should they mix that white rice with black beans to create gallo pinto - now then you've got a winner!


good for vegetarians? 

Costa Rica has excellent options for vegetarians, even in smaller towns. And with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, picking a hostel with a kitchen is a great way to save some cash.


transport options

Buses are the most popular form of transport in Costa Rica but vary quite considerably in quality, from the old school buses to fancier long distance coaches. 


can I see it in a month?



can I drink the tap water?

Unless you're far off the beaten track, tap water is generally safe to drink across the entire country.


is malaria present? 

Not really. Although there is a very low risk of contracting the disease in the Limon areas, malaria is not present elsewhere in the country. Mosquito avoidance is usually all that is required. As always, it is recommended that you visit a travel clinic prior to your trip.


vaccinations needed? 

Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Although there is no yellow fever, Costa Rica requires proof of vaccination if you are arriving from a country known to have yellow fever.