VISA AND OTHER PROCEDURES
Portuguese and Brazilian citizens only need a passport valid for one month after the date of entry into the country. Passport is stamped on arrival.
Costa Rican authorities may require a yellow fever vaccination certificate to passengers over 9 months of age who come from countries at risk of contracting this disease or who have traveled for more than 12 hours through airports in these countries. The only vaccine that is always recommended is the Hepatitis A vaccine, as it is for most countries.
Visiting Limon province still poses a year-round risk of contracting malaria. Protect yourself from mosquito bites also to avoid getting Dengue fever.
For more information on traveling health, see the Health Portal of the Ministry of Health and Tropical and Traveler Medicine Clinic. In FitForTravel find country-specific health and disease prevention advice (in English).
TRIP TO COSTA RICA
Fly from Lisbon to the Costa Rican capital San José with the KLM and Copa Airlines, via Amsterdam and Paraná city (two stopovers) from €700. THE Iberia fly to San José from Madrid but tickets tend to be substantially more expensive, possibly double the price.
Two companies operate domestic flights from Costa Rica and cover most of the country. They are the Nature Air and Sansa, the latter associated with the TACA group. Both fly from the airport in the capital San José in relatively small planes with a maximum capacity of 20 passengers.
The demand for flights is very strong, especially during the high season when both Costa Ricans and visitors compete for the few available seats. The main destinations are Bahía Drake, Barra del Colorado, Golfito, Liberia, Coto 47/Neily, Palmar Sur, Playa Nosara, Playa Sámara/Carrillo, Playa Tamarindo, Puerto Jiménez, Quepos, Tambor and Tortuguero.
Most agencies rent-a-car they are located in San José and in other tourist places in the country such as Tamarindo, Jacó, Quepos and Puerto Jiménez. San José airport agencies usually charge around 10% commission for each rental.
Costa Rica is a country of strong communion with nature. Even if many of the roads are paved, the ideal is to rent a vehicle with four-wheel drive, so that you can leave the asphalt and face muddy roads and other problems and obstacles.
The rental is not exactly cheap. Count on a minimum of €400 per week for a 4WD, with free mileage and to which you should add around €10 a day for a basic insurance that only covers collision, but no incidents or accidents caused by natural events.
The value of rentals fluctuates substantially depending on whether it is in low or high season. A driving license from the country of origin is accepted for up to 90 days of driving in Costa Rica. Fuel can cost between €0,55 and €0,90, depending on market fluctuations
If you're on a tight budget, even if they're not very fast or sophisticated, buses are one of the best ways to travel around Costa Rica, given that you won't be able to stop to enjoy the best scenery you see along the way. There are buses to practically the entire country with travel prices that are just over €10 for longer routes. In San José there is an ICT (Costa Rican Tourism Institute) desk that provides copies of the itinerary, timetables and updated prices. It is also usually available in visitCostaRica.
Some of the cities operate their own local bus networks. These are the cases of San José, Puntarenas, San Isidro, Golfito and Puerto Limón.
There are more than 200 ICT-accredited tour operators in Costa Rica, each with their own paths and experiences. Many are Europeans or North Americans. They are a valid alternative for those who want to explore the country with guides and as part of a probably international group.
Much due to the relief and simultaneous influence of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Costa Rica has a very complex climate. The ideal time to visit is from December to April (summer) when it rains less than usual. From December to the end of February, schools close and many ticos are on vacation which makes booking accommodation and travel more complicated.
The rainy season (winter) fills the remaining months. In May and June, rainfall periods are usually less frequent and shorter than thereafter. This height causes an increase in the flow of the rivers and the slow muddy of the unpaved roads. By July and August, many of them become impassable.
These months coincide, however, with the holidays of Europeans and North Americans and, despite the rains, concentrate the second peak season of the destination.
Also keep in mind that in the jungle and mountain areas, it can rain with great abundance at any time of the day and year. Scenarios such as Monteverde and Santa Helena parks, for example, are frequently irrigated by heavy rains. In fact most of the country can receive heavy rains without warning.
The local currency is the Colón (CRC). International surveys are possible in major cities and towns, as are credit card payments in more sophisticated establishments.
There is a bit of everything in Costa Rica, with a strong emphasis on truly ecological eco-resorts and others that only claim to be such. A double room in a guest houses backpacking with shared bathroom and only cold water can cost you only €8 to €10 per night. At the opposite pole, the best eco-resorts in the country charge many hundreds of euros a night. In between, there's a bit of everything, from San José's commercial-style hotels to family-friendly inns set in small farms with rewarding settings.
The dish of the day in common Costa Rican restaurants is called Casado. It combines meat or fish with rice and beans and is served with salad and fried banana. It is guaranteed to cost less than €5 and can also include a glass of juice.
More sophisticated and expensive meals are served in restaurants aimed at Costa Ricans and wealthier visitors, especially those at the country's most renowned eco-resorts and eco-lodges
Wi-fi is easy to find and often free in all tourist sites and infrastructures in Costa Rica whether hotels, guest houses, bars or cafes in the main tourist cities and towns. If you have a smart phone, tablet or laptop, you can purchase a local SIM card to access the internet throughout the country. The card will have a symbolic price – around €1 to €3 – while navigation and traffic can cost as little as €1 a day, depending on the tariff chosen. As a rule, it can be charged via SMS or cards available nationwide. Only the big cities and the most touristic places have a 3G signal. Outside of these “centers”, the normal will be to get EDGE or lower.