Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country for everyone - it appeals as much to birdwatchers and luxury travellers as it does to surfers and backpackers. Choose your own adventure in Costa Rica’s tropical paradise - explore the country by foot, horseback or kayak, and discover picturesque waterfalls, misty crater lakes, unique wildlife, and jungle-fringed, deserted beaches.

For culture, the capital city of San Jose is the perfect place to start, with its plentiful museums, town squares, theatres, and art galleries. Alternatively, Jaco combines the amenities of a large city with a long stretch of spacious beaches. The coastal area is ideal for surfing and swimming, and also boasts a wide selection of shops and restaurants to explore.

A trip to Costa Rica wouldn't be complete without being at one with nature. Marvel at the country’s natural beauty at one of the many national parks; filled with soaring volcanoes and teeming waterfalls. Take a zip line adventure through the trees for a unique view of the extraordinary wildlife and lush rainforests. Stroll along one of Costa Rica's beautiful beaches, where the golden sand is backed by shady trees; the perfect place to admire the stunning sunsets and listen to the gentle waves.

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Costa Rica facts at a glance
Flight time:
11 hours
Time difference:
-7 hours
Costa Rican colon
Flying from
Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle

Best time to go

The best time to visit Costa Rica tends to be when it’s driest and brightest; between December and April on its Pacific coast, and between March and September on the Caribbean side. If Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife is a must-see during your trip; avoid the heavier rainfall in September and October.

Things to do

For many, a holiday to Costa Rica wouldn't be complete without experiencing its unique natural attractions. Tour the Arenal National Park and listen closely for the rumblings of the region's volcano or negotiate the hanging bridges in search of numerous bird species. At Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, a cruise along the Rio Frio brings you up-close to sloth, caiman, lizards, tropical birds, monkeys, and turtles. Accessed only by boat or plane, the Tortuguero National Park is an important breeding ground for green sea turtles; with turtle watching a popular activity on this Caribbean shoreline.

The Costa Rican capital of San Jose boasts a plethora of museums, dedicated to everything from jade and gold to insects and natural science; visit the Tech Museum of Innovation and Museo Nacional de Costa Rica to name but a few. Enjoy the city's vibrant culture and the beautiful architecture of its theatres, churches, and cathedrals. Experience the city like the locals and sip coffee while people-watching at a crowded cafe.

Head to the picturesque shores of Dominical, Tamarindo, Jaco, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa for water-based pursuits such as surfing. Tamarindo is also a favourite spot for snorkelling, diving, horseback riding, zip lining, and turtle-watching. Casual open-air restaurants can be found near the coast of Mal Pais and the trendy hotspot of Santa Teresa. Jaco continues this trendy vibe and is ideal for shopping and tasting the local cuisine.

Food and drink

Costa Rica's food embraces a world of flavours; the unique dishes are simple but nonetheless delicious. The Casado is the most traditional meal; it includes white rice, beans, plantains, picadillo, salad, and some type of meat. The gallo pinto is a favourite breakfast dish and comprises rice and beans prepared with onion, celery and other spices, sometimes accompanied with scrambled eggs. Costa Rica is home to a number of unique tropical fruits, with the most popular being a small, acidic sour fruit called cas. Coffee has played a vital role in the development of Costa Rica; discover the history of coffee in Costa Rica at the Doka Coffee Estate.

In the evening

In Costa Rica, evenings out often include live music, whether you’re dancing to a Latin band or chilling at a local coffee house. San Jose’s major theatres, The National Theatre, Melico Salazar Theatre, and National Auditorium, host diverse shows. After dark, discover Costa Rica's dance scene; from San Jose's nightclubs to rural dancehalls, you'll find Costa Ricans swaying their hips and dancing the merengue and salsa to tropical rhythms. Multi-screen theatres across Costa Rica show current hit movies, normally in English or with English subtitles.

Health and entry requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance and vaccinations and / or special medication for your destination. Please consult your GP for advice at least one month ahead of travel. It is essential that you meet the visa and passport requirements for your chosen destination. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office ( website for up to date entry requirements listed by country.

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