Costa Rica Traveling Facts

Costa Rica Traveling

Most frequent questions and answers

Citizens holding a valid passport from the following countries are permitted to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days without a visa:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France and dependencies, Germany, Greece, Holland and dependencies, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay

Citizens holding valid passports from the following countries are allowed to stay in Costa Rica for 30 days without a visa, although once they are in the country, they can apply for an extension from the Immigration office, which allows them to stay a total of 90 days:

Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, San Cristobal/Nevis, San Marino, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, The Vatican, Venezuela

Citizens of all countries not listed above must obtain a visa from a Costa Rican embassy or consulate before their arrival.

Flights into Costa Rica will arrive at the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) is located in Alajuela, only 17 km from the Capital of Costa Rica, San José. If you are starting your vacation in Arenal, Manuel Antonio, the Caribbean, Puerto Viejo, or Tortuguero, the same for Monteverde, this is the closest airport to the above destinations.

Also, flights can land at the Guanacaste Airport, situated just 25 minutes drive from the Papagayo Gulf and 60 minutes drive from Tamarindo, Flamingo, and Conchal, located in the province of Guanacaste. It is also the entrance gate if you go to Nosara, Samara, and the peninsula’s south. 

Airlines flying to and from Juan Santamaría Int Airport include the following companies:

American Airlines 
British Airways 
Condor Flugdienst 
Copa Airlines
Frontier Airlines 
Iberia (España)
Air Canada 
Aero México 
Air France 
Air Panama 
Alaska Airlines 
Air Transat 
Interjet Airline 
Southwest Airlines 
Sunwing Airlines 
United Airlines 
US Airways 

Airlines flying to and from Guanacaste International Airport (LIR) located in Guanacaste include the following companies:

Air Canada
Air Transat
American Airlines
Condor Flugdienst
Copa Airlines
Frontier Airlines
JetBlue Airways
Southwest Airlines
Sun Country Airlines
Sunwing Airlines
Thomson Airways
United Airlines
US Airways


You are unlikely to encounter any serious diseases in Costa Rica. Sanitary standards are high and the health system is excellent. During the past two wet seasons, there have been several outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease dengue but so far there have been no reported cases of the more serious hemorrhaging dengue. No vaccinations are required to enter Costa Rica as epidemic diseases have been all but eradicated throughout the country. Infectious hepatitis, a serious problem throughout Central America, is rarely reported in Costa Rica.

Several private hospitals in San Jose offer emergency medical services to foreigners are reasonable prices: Clinica Biblica (Avenida 14, calles central & 1, tel. 223-6422) also has a 24-hour pharmacy. Costa Rica’s Social Security system (the Caja) offers a medical insurance assistance program for foreigners needing emergency medical assistance. The coverage can be bought at travel agencies, language schools or through tour companies.


January 1st: New Year’s Day

April 11th: Juan Santamaria Day, National Hero.

Holy Thursday and Good Friday: Religious activities.

May 1st: International Labor Day.

August 15th: Mother’s Day.

September 15th: Independence Day.

December 25th: Christmas Day.


July 25th: Annexation of Guanacaste Day.

August 2nd: Virgin of the Angels Day.

October 12th: Christopher Columbus Day.


To make your stay in Costa Rica the most enjoyable experience, take into account these personal traveling tips:

1. Take along a photocopy of your passport. Make sure a photograph of you is easily seen, your personal data and the date you entered the country may all be in it too.

2. Deposit your valuable belongings (money, passport, plane tickets, and traveler’s checks) in your hotel’s safety box.

3. Keep a list of all the numbers and serial numbers of your personal documents.

4. If you stay in popular multiple-use cabins, find out about the security of maintaining your valuables within your room.

5. It’s best not to carry jewelry with you.

6. Avoid changing money on the street. Use banks or well-known exchanging offices. Check in your hotel for recommendations on the subject. Try to take only the amount of money you will use during the day.

7. Don’t leave unattended objects such as cameras and video cameras. Keep your wallet in an inconspicuous place.

8. Make sure you know the address where you are going. Tell the people at your hotel about your destination.

9. Used cabs whose identifications are exhibited on the door. The license plates must have red numbers, and the cars must be red too. As boarding, a cab sees that the meters show zeros, or negotiates with the cabby the price of your trip before starting the trip.

10. When driving, does not give rides to people you don’t know. Try not to park in dark or deserted spots. Use parking lots. These places are legally responsible for your car and anything left in it. Tell the administrator about anything you want to leave in your car.

11. The emergency number is 911. They speak English.

12. Always find out whether the 13% sales tax is included in the goods price you are purchasing. In restaurants and bars, an additional 10% tax is charged. Tipping is optional there.

13. Light clothes are recommended, but it may be wise to carry a sweater or jacket since nights tend to be cool. At sea level, shorts are good enough. If you plan to walk in the forest, long sleeve shirts, jeans, boots, and a hat are more appropriate. Be sure your clothes are made of cotton. Don’t forget mosquito repellent, sunglasses, and suntan lotion or cream. During the rainy season (May through November) a jacket and an umbrella are a must.

14. Telephones, faxes, cellular phones, the Internet, as well as audiovisual equipment are always at hand

15. Most establishments work from Monday to Sunday and are open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Some private places close at noon. Bars and other recreation businesses are open till late at night. Government offices are open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Banks are open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Some banks have offices that remain open until 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm.

16. To rent a car, a current driver’s license is necessary, along with a credit card. The drivers must be over 21 years old, and a deposit should be paid. You drive on the right-side lane, and the international signs are used on streets and roads.

17. Regarding electricity, there is 110 or 220 volts of power all over the country. Check with the people in your place before connecting any electrical apparatus on to the line.

CURRENCY: The COLON is our official currency, and the US $ is widely accepted also. The colon is Spanish for Columbus.  Christopher Columbus “discovered” Costa Rica in 1502 on his third and final voyage to the new world.

US Dollars are widely accepted throughout Costa Rica.  Try to bring only bills in decent condition, not excessively torn or heavily marked, as some places may not accept them if in bad condition. This is because false dollars are not as durable, and deteriorated bills could be suspected of being false. Dollar bills do not have to be in “mint” condition, so don’t go out of your way to get new bills.

EXCHANGE RATE: The current exchange rate as of June 16, 2018, is 564.57 colones to $1 (US).

Do not exchange your US$ for Costa Rican currency in the U.S. before leaving. The US dollar (cash) can easily be exchanged here at a fair rate. When you exchange your US$ for any foreign currency in the U.S., you receive approximately 30% less for your dollars.

Airport currency exchange offices in the U.S. offer about 25% less. Hotels here generally will exchange your US$ for “Colones,” but they will usually use a slightly lower exchange rate of about 1% less as a commission for handling the transaction. Many hotels offer the “official exchange rate of the day”, while others offer slightly higher or slightly lower rates.

CREDIT CARDS: AMEX, VISA, and Master Card credit/debit cards are widely accepted in retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc.   VISA is currently the most widely accepted.

ATMs are also available in major cities accepting Visa, and others accepting only Master Card.  Some accept both.  Amex is also fairly well accepted, but not as much as Visa & MC.

Find important information about traveling to Costa Rica

About Costa Rica

How to arrive / where to go / things to do / etc

Check our beaches

About Guanacaste

Find a review of the most important and visited beaches along the Guanacaste coastline.