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Visiting Costa Rica | A Brief Guide for Foreigners

Home to rich wildlife, unspoiled beaches and lush rainforest, Costa Rica is the dream holiday destination for nature seekers. 

Every year hundreds of international travelers from around the world reach the Central American country to experience its abundant wonders. Here’s what travelers need to know about entering Costa Rica

Why Do Travelers Go to Costa Rica 

A charming Central American nation, Costa Rica boasts of breathtaking rainforests, lush green landscapes and rare animal and plant species. The country is also known for active volcanos and pristine coastal areas. 

Travelers who love to spend their time outdoors hiking and surfing flock to Costa Rica. 

The relaxed and laidback lifestyle of the people in the country also attracts many foreigners who come here to spend their retirement. For foreigners who prefer bustling cities visit San Jose to immerse themselves in the good life 

They can surround themselves with nature’s wonders at the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, La Arenal Volcano, Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Nicoya Peninsula. 

Foreign volunteers and students come here to learn about ecology and the environment and to help in various conservation activities. Many foreigners also visit Costa Rica to learn Spanish and teach English in the country’s various educational institutions. 

Who Travels to Costa Rica  

A developing nation in Central America, Costa Rica’s main source of revenue is tourism and allied industries.

Every year around two million international travelers arrive in Costa Rica. A majority of them come from North American countries like the United States of America and Canada. 

This is followed by tourists from European union states such as Germany, Spain and Switzerland. Most of them visit the country to explore eco-tourism activities.   

It is estimated that over 1,334,000 travelers from America arrived in Costa Rica in 2018. Over 234,000 travelers from Canada and 80,580 from Germany arrived in the country in the same year.

The country gets over two million USDs in revenue per year from the tourism industry. 

How to Reach Costa Rica 

The Central American nation is accessible by land, air and water. Costa Rica has many seaports. 

Puntarenas is one of the major seaports in Costa Rica. International cruise ships anchor in Puntarenas regularly. It offers day-long trips in the rainforests around the country’s Pacific coast.

Apart from the Puntarenas, the country also has many ports such as Quepos, Bahia Culebra, Puerto Limon, Playas del Coco, Curu, Tortuga Island, Herradura, Golfito and Bahia Drake

Costa Rica can also be reached by land. One of the major land border crossings is at Peñas Blanca on Nicaragua and Costa Rica border. International travelers can enter Costa Rica every day from 6 am to 10 pm through this border. The other major land crossing to Costa Rica is Paso Canoas.   

Tourists from over 90 foreign countries including Canada and the USA do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica and stay in the country for 90 days. They can enter the country with their passports with the required validity and a return ticket. 

Tourists from other countries must get a tourist visa to enter Costa Rica. 

Travelers crossing Costa Rica’s land borders can walk up to the immigration officer and show their documents. The officers may ask a few questions and if the answers are satisfactory, they will be provided with the entry stamp. 

Apart from land and seaports travelers can enter Costa Rica by air. Tobías Bolaños International Airport, Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, Juan Santamaría International Airport and Limón International Airport are the major international airports in the country. 

International Airports in Costa Rica 

Juan Santamaría International Airport is located in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Named after the national hero Juan Santamaria, the airport is the third-best international airport in Latin America.  The airport has many direct flights to Central and North America and Europe. 

Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport also known as Liberia International Airport is spread over 390,000 sq ft and is named after the country’s former president Daniel Oduber Quiros. The airport has one completed terminal with all the modern facilities. It is the main gateway to the country’s tourism hubs. 

The other international airports in Costa Rica are Tobías Bolaños International Airport and Limón International Airport. Tobías Bolaños International Airport is located in San Jose and serves as the secondary airport to the city.

Limón International Airport though is an international airport, operates only domestic flights as of now. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica 

The best time to visit Costa Rica is from November to April and from May to June. The weather is pleasant during this period.   

In May and June, travelers can catch the transition of the seasons and the national parks in the country will be at their greenest best. 

This is also the best time to explore the rainforest, national parks and beaches.  

Travelers can explore the rainforests between June and November. However, they must be prepared to face humidity and high temperatures.  

Best Places to Visit Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Located in Manuel Antonio this national park is the best place to explore wildlife including sloths, white-nosed coatimundis, squirrel and howler monkeys and capuchins. The place also has beaches perfect for surfing and sunbathing. 

There are plenty of options for accommodation and commuting. 


Cahutia is home to Cahutia National Park and is known for its culture and cuisine. The city is also famous for hiking stretches, animal spotting tours and swimming in the sea.

Cloud Forests of Monteverde  

Cloud forests in Monteverde and Santa Elena are known for ecotourism. They are rich in rare wildlife and are home to many kinds of mammals and reptiles.  

Puerto Viejo 

Located in Panama, Puerto Viejo is known for its beaches and party atmosphere. Puerto Viejo is popular with surfers and youngsters. 


This too is a sought-after tropical retreat for surfers. Known for its action-packed beaches, Dominical offers cheap accommodation and great food. This is also a great place to spot wildlife especially sloths and monkeys. It also hosts several fests throughout the year. 


Costa Rica is a tropical dream destination that appeals to surfers, environmentalists and backpackers. It offers unparalleled experiences to tourists from around the world. It is a haven for travel enthusiasts from around the world who love holidaying amidst nature.    

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