Costa Rica is a beautiful tropical country filled with lush greenery, beautiful mountain views and endless beaches. Bright colours are plastered all over town where turquoise, orange and pink buildings line the street. Away from the city, you can see birds flying over the rolling mountains and cattle roaming the farmland. With volcanos, cloud forests and beaches to see, it's the perfect mix between adventure and relaxation.
We were on a budget, so we tried to keep our costs low. These are the things I came across when I did my own research that will hopefully be helpful for you. We were only there for a week, so we weren't able to see as much as we would've liked.
Let's Get Started!
Buses: This is the cheapest mode of transportation, but also the most unsafe. I remember tickets being fairly cheap ranging between $5-$10 to get from city to city. They use coach buses there, so the ride is fairly comfortable. I used this website to figure out times. As a note, make sure you keep all your belongings on you. Buy tickets early and make sure you tell them which bus time you want.
Taxis: Use the red or orange taxis! They are the legal ones.
Tour buses/Shuttle buses: This is the most expensive option, but probably the safest and convenient. We never ended up using this, although we were contemplating using Interbus to get from La Fortuna to Puerto Viejo which would've cost $59 USD.
We stayed hostels to stay within budget. They can range between $8-$15 USD. I would recommend booking the hostel near the airport early for when you arrive and depart. For other ones, you can book it when you get there.
Alajuela: Maleku Hostel - $15 for dorm (Would book this one early!)
Puerto Viejo: Rocking J's - $8 for tent (Would not recommend unless you're into a party atmosphere)
La Fortuna: Arenal Backpackers - $15 for dorm
Popular Cities/Towns to visit
La Fortuna: From hiking up volcanos and zip-lining to swimming in the local water hole, it's the perfect place for adventure seekers. What makes it even better are the natural hot springs!
Puerto Viejo: It's a beach town on the Caribbean side of the country. Go surfing, biking or visit the Sloth Sanctuary.
Monteverde: This is the perfect place for eco-tourists. Spend your time exploring the cloud forest, checking out the suspension bridge or visiting the butterfly garden.
Montezuma: It's a beach town on the Pacific side of the country. Spend your time surfing on the gorgeous beaches or spend the day visiting Montezuma Falls.
Tortuguero: It's a bit difficult to get to and pricier, but it's home to the Tortuguero National Park where you can watch turtles lay eggs or eggs hatch.
Manuel Antonio: It's one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica, which makes it a bit pricier. There are tons of chances to see different types of monkeys. You can also visit Manuel Antonio National Park to go hiking, see wildlife or relax on the beach.
Eat at a Soda: These are family-run restaurants with inexpensive meals.
Try the casado: Costa Rican meal with rice, black beans, plantains, salad and tortilla. It's perfect for a hearty dinner after a long day of hiking.
Fruit shakes: We discovered these addicting drinks near the beginning of our trip. They're fairly inexpensive at about $2 a drink. The agua de sandia (watermelon shake) is perfect on a hot day!
Eat at a Musmanni: It's a bakery where we would buy a few baked goods, water and a loaf of bread for the day. It's also fairly inexpensive.
When to go?
The best time to go would be during the dry season which runs from end of November to the end of March. The rainy season runs from mid April to mid November. We went during rainy season which made certain activities a little more difficult.