Costa Rica Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations in the world right now and it is easy to see why. Expect friendly people, beautiful beaches, lush rainforests and exotic wildlife. Get information, advice and inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to travel, go backpacking or take a gap year in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Activities, Travel Ideas, Backpacking Trips & Gap Year Programs
Travel to Costa Rica
Thousands of people visit Costa Rica every year and you will be blown away by the natural beauty, rich culture and activities. View our guide with tips, ideas for the best things to see and do and information about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
We aim to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, tips for places to stay and advice how to stay safe.
Costa Rica At a Glance:
- Capital: San Jose (Population: 300,000 approx)
- Currency: Costa Rica Colon (CRC) $1 = 500CRC / £1 = 787CRC
- Population: 4,500,000 (approx)
- Language: Spanish + local languages
- Area: 50,000 sq km (approx)
- International Calling Code +506
- Visa: Most nationalities can get a tourist visa on arrival
Top Reasons to Visit Costa Rica
These are just some reasons why you will fall in love with this destination:
- Breathtaking natural beauty
- Modern infrastructure for tourists
- Spectacular beaches
- Beautiful national parks
- Exotic wildlife
Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica
Generally speaking the Eastern side of the country is less visited than the West and being less touristy this makes this side of the country more authentic too. Most tours start in San Jose, unless you are travelling overland on a tour in Central America, this city is not the most glamerous destination but there are still attractions to keep you busy for a few days. Other places you might be visiting include:
- Chirripo National Park
- Rincón de la Vieja
- Corcovado National Park
- Tortuguero National Park
- Playa Jaco
- Arenal Volcano
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
- Multiple Destinations
- 2 weeks - 3 weeks / From: £ 2000
- Costa Rica
- 2 months - 3 months / From: £ 3000+
- San José, Costa Rica
- 1 week - 6 weeks / From: $ 1000
Amazing Things to Do in Costa Rica
- Take part in adventure sports like surfing in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
- See exotic animals at the Parque Nacional Corcovado
- There are not many countries in the world you can climb an active volcano
- During summer (June - August) travel to Tortuguero and watch sea turtles hatching eggs on the beach
- Relaxing on white sandy Caribbean beaches and learn to surf
- Visit a National Park, there are so many to choose from
- At the end of December Costa Ricans celebrate 'Las Fiestas de Zapote' in South-Eastern San José - this is amazing to see!
- Costa Rica is blessed with a stunning coast line, we recommend seeing Playa Conchal
- Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest this has to be in any holiday itinerary
- Get up close and see volcanoes, there are lots in Costa Rica and you might want to check out Arenal
- There are lots of places to see wildlife in Costa Rica, the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio won't let you down
Top Cities to Visit
- San José, the capital of Costa Rica has a lot of things to do, we recommend heading to the downtown markets to get fresh fruit
- Cartago used to be the old capital of Costa Rica, close by you can see volcanoes, the spectacular Orosi valley and the Cachi Dam
- Puerto Limón is the gateway for many cruises through the Panama Canal but there are also lots of adventure water sports you can do here
- Head to Dominical in Southern Costa Rica for a warm climate and beautiful beaches, during certain times of the year you can also go whale wathing here
- Quesada in Northern Costa Rica doesn't get that many international visitors and therefore is a great way to get off the tourist trail
Travelling & Backpacking in Costa Rica
On our directory you can find travel packages with some of the worlds leading travel operators where you can get off the beaten track and immerse yourself in the culture of the country. If you are looking to make the most of the experience though and to see as much as possible our experiences will appeal to you. You will get to enjoy the highlights of the country and get a really authentic experience. This country really does have everything! Get inspired to visit Costa Rica today.
Costa Rica Travel Tips
The cheapest way to travel around Costa Rica is by public transport but sometimes this is very basic without air conditioning and also very cramped. There is a quick and reliable overland public bus service in Costa Rica which is very cheap. There is also a private bus service connecting the country which will offer you a higher level of comfort but you will sometimes pay triple the price of the public service.
Budget & Costs for Travelling in Costa Rica
This country is more expensive than other countries in Central America but it is still cheap compared to Western standards. You should budget for around £15 ($25) per day but this depends if you join excursions. You might be surprised by how high some of the prices are for example a bottle of water can be around £2 ($3) which is more than in some Western countries. San Jose is where most flights arrive and this is quite an expensive city to stay in so try to travel out quickly. Street food and snacks cost around £1 ($1.50) whilst dinner out might cost anywhere from £3-£8 ($5-$12). A lot of travellers choose to drink the local water and you should have no problems doing this, you can expect to save a lot of money this way too as like we detailed above bottled water can be expensive.
Food & Drink
Cuisine in Costa Rica is very tasty, there is Western and Latin options available. All major fastfood outlets are available in Costa Rica but this is a lot more expensive than local cafes. A lot of travelers drink bottle water and have no issues, bottled water can be expensive especially on hostels so bulk buy in supermarkets.
Costa Rica is the oldest democracy in Central America and a very safe country to travel. The citizens of Costa Rica call themselves “Ticos” and we like to think that that they are among the nicest people on earth.
- San Jose
- < 1 week - 2 weeks / From: $ 1750
- Costa Rica
- 2 weeks - 2 weeks / From: £ 3000+
- Costa Rica
- 1 week - 2 weeks / From: £ 250
Gap Year in Costa Rica
If you would like to see more of Costa Rica book a gap year program through our website. You will meet new people, make friends and travel to places off the beaten track getting spectactular pictures and memories along the way. Whether you want to climb volcanoes, explore National Parks, journey to the coast or explore cities like San Jose you can find nieche options to suit all needs and interests.
Costa Rica is one of the best destinations in Central America. Exploring beautiful coastal beaches on a guided gap year trip and go snorkeling, ziplining, hiking and jungle treks are just some of the highlights. Covered with palm trees and with various waterfalls, the highest point on Costa Rica’s rugged landscape is Cerro Punta which is a highly rated destination. Home to a verdant profusion of different flora, the mountain and its surroundings can be enjoyed via 19km of walking trails which snake through the Toro Negro Forest Reserve.
This country is especially popular with United States and UK citizens but people from all around the world visit. To join most gap year programs you will need to be aged 18 and over but there are trips for 16 and 17 year olds too. You will need to apply in advance to secure a place.