From the category archives:

Costa Rica

Close to the many American backpackers, Central America is a good alternative to Europe for US backpackers. The tourism and travel industry in Costa Rica is well developed and it’s a leader in the region in terms of travel. Costa Rica is a bit more expensive than the neighboring Panama or Nicaragua travel, but close enough for cheap bus rides or quick flights to explore the area. Costa Rica is well suited for backpackers and the government has worked hard to create a safe environment for a wide variety of tourists but it’s the adventure sports, jungles, and nightlife that draws so many backpackers to Costa Rica each year.

It’s also close to South America in terms of flights and you can book a multiple trip using Kayak and continue your travels by backpacking in Argentina or backpacking in Brazil.

Visa Requirements

US citizens may enter Costa Rica with a valid passport (valid for up to 30 days after entry) and can stay in the country on a tourist visa for 90 days. Most EU citizens can enter Costa Rica with a 90 tourist visa as well, except for some of the eastern European countries and Ireland, to which only 30 day visas are granted. If you know in advance you’d like to stay for more than 90 days, you may be able to arrange this through your local embassy although it’s up to the Costa Rican immigration whether they’ll accept an extended stay. Typically a return or onward ticket is required as well as proof of funds. Depending on your stay, budget around $25-50 per day to meet this requirement although you can probably get by with much less.

Hostels and Places To Stay

Starting in San Jose you’re likely to make your way around the country which is easy to navigate by car and bus. As for accommodation you can find a large selection of hostels, reviews, and pricing information on

Getting Around Costa Rica

Transportation within Costa Rica is pretty straightforward and the intricate bus system is the recommended method. The buses between most routes are scheduled often, priced low, and are fairly safe. The prices are also listed beforehand so it’s not as easy to get ripped off since the prices are determined upfront. Renting a car isn’t advised unless the narrow roads don’t intimidate you and you are comfortable driving in higher elevations, often without guard rails. Car rental is also very expensive and requires a hefty deposit to cover against any damages. Even if you’ll be traveling in a group, nearly $1,000 as a guarantee is sure to break most backpacking budgets.

Climate and Weather

Costa Rica enjoys a warm climate throughout most of the year. Located relatively close to the equator, there is plenty of sun and generally good weather there, except for the occasional tropical storm or rare hurricane. Costa Rica one the whole has a great vacation atmosphere and weather. Bring light clothes, things to swim in, and some good walking shoes.

costa rica poas costa rican drums desamparados church

Things To Do

Costa Rica is the place you want to backpack if outdoor activities are your thing.

  • The Rain Forest – Costa Rica’s forests are well known for their wildlife and are teaming with all sorts of plants and animals, including monkeys. There are many tours you can book from your hostel or locally and visit the jungle with a guide.
  • Active Volcano – Many travelers don’t first think of volcanoes when it comes to the tropics, but there are 3 main active (e.g. Poas, Arenal) volcanoes in Costa Rica. Tours are frequent and easily available.
  • White Water Rafting – Fun and exhilarating, white water rafting in Costa Rica will push your limits and it’s certainly an adventure most backpackers will enjoy.
  • Surfing – Want to learn or already an experienced surfer? Costa Rica is the place for you. After a bit of surfing in the warm waters you can grab a drink and relax on one of Costa Rica’s many serene beaches.

Recommended Gear

Not including a surfboard, these are some of the backpacks and gear we recommend.

Backpacking The Region

If you’re considering a regional backpacking trip try combing Costa Rica with:

| Argentina | Brazil | South America |