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Costa Rica Travel Guide

Explore a microcontinent of travel opportunities.

Discover Costa Rica

Dry deciduous forests, lush wetlands, open savanna, and both Pacific and Atlantic beaches, tiny Costa Rica contains the full potential of the tropics. By simply starting on the coastal plains and walking uphill, travelers can journey from the Amazon to a Swiss alpine forest. For outdoor adventurers, the nation’s 12 distinct ecological zones offer endless opportunity to explore land, sea, and sky–think rugged plains by horseback, crocodile safaris, and zipline adventures–while the party crowd will thrive in urban San José, the Afro-Caribbean cultural beat along the coastline, and Jacó, Costa Rica’s most developed resort.

To relax, unwind, and adventure, Costa Rica truly offers something for everyone. Cover every corner of the country with the best of Costa Rica in two weeks, or if you want to experience its beauty and diversity without breaking the bank, start with these helpful tips for how to travel, dine, and explore Costa Rica on a budget. For those hoping to make the move abroad, spend a whirlwind ten days hitting expat hot spots while getting to know the rhythm of life in Costa Rica.

From the thriving nightlife of San José to hiking in the crisp, cool cloud forests of Monteverde to the white-sand beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, experience the incredible diversity of Costa Rica.

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Travel Maps of Costa Rica

Download free, printable maps of Costa Rica for your personal use.

Currently available from the pages of our travel guides are over sixty maps of Costa Rica. These free planning maps cover all the major regional destinations of interest to travelers including San José, the Caribbean Coast, and the Nicoya Peninsula.

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Color map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Map of Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano National Park

Get Inspired With Our Most Recent Costa Rica Articles

Just getting started planning? Here are our four most recent articles to help you find your way, or dig deeper and browse the latest Moon travel articles for all of Costa Rica or check out our living abroad content if you're considering moving to Costa Rica.

A boy studies a preserved specimen in the San Ramón Museum.

San Ramón and the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden

San Ramón is a gateway to Costa Rica’s northern lowlands via a mountain road that crests the cordillera, then begins a long sinuous descent to La Tigra. This agricultural and university town is known for its Saturday feria del agricultor (farmers market). A mere nine miles north is the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden, where superb hiking trails and truly wonderful places to stay.

Ridley turtles during an arribada at Playa Camaronal. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Sea Turtle Nesting Sites in Costa Rica

Five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles nest on Costa Rica’s beaches, and you can see turtles laying eggs somewhere in Costa Rica virtually any time of year. Most of the important nesting sites in Costa Rica are now protected, and access to some is restricted; there are many more dangers to sea turtle populations than humans. Learn about the sites and the cycle of sea turtle reproduction from nesting to hatching.

An artisan working on an oxcart wheel.

The Oxcarts of Sarchí

Sarchí is famous as the home of gaily decorated wooden carretas (oxcarts), the internationally recognized symbol of Costa Rica. The carretas, forced from the fields by the advent of tractors and trucks, are almost purely decorative now, but the craft and the art form live on here, where artisans still apply their masterly touch at two fábricas de carretas (workshops), which are open to view

Río San Juan near El Castillo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Río San Juan: Whose River Is It?

Nicaragua has long disputed Costa Rica’s territorial rights to free use of the Río San Juan, while Costa Rica disputes Nicaragua’s claim that the river is entirely Nicaraguan territory. Despite both countries accepting a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 2009, the conflict continues.