Backpacking Costa Rica

How about a backpacking trip through the happiest country in the world? The small state offers sandy beaches, volcanoes, swamps, mangroves, lakes and jungle. From the mountain peaks in the interior, you can even see the Atlantic and the Pacific at the same time.



Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking route for Costa Rica.


Important Basics

Official Language

Spanish

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishSpanish
HelloHola
GoodbyeAdiós
Thank youGracias
Yes
NoNo
Capital city

San José

Form of government

Presidential Republic

Telephone area code

+506

Currency

Cosa-Rica Colón

Climate

ø Maximum daytime temperature: 28 to 30 degrees

Ø Maximum temperature at night: 19 to 20 degrees

Due to the location on the equator, there are only marginal differences in temperatures, but no classic seasons.

Fun Fact

Most roads in Costa Rica do not have names, but numbers and in the vast majority of cases there are no place-name signs.

Cities

San José

The centrally located capital is the largest metropolitan area in Costa Rica with 1.6 million inhabitants. The National Theatre and numerous museums such as the National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, and the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, are popular cultural sights. You’ll also find authentic market stands in the lively Mercado Central offering traditional delicacies.

San José is surrounded by natural beauty, so be sure to take a day tour and check it out. Drive through the picturesque Braulio Carrillo National Park towards the Caribbean coast – from there you can take a boat tour through the exotic canals of the impressive Tortuguero National Park. Enjoy secluded beaches, swim in lagoons, come face-to-face with green sea turtles, and watch hummingbirds, butterflies, and reptiles. This exciting jungle expedition only costs 95 euros and includes food, a guide, and a return transfer from San Jose.

Back in San Jose, you can stay at a hostel for 10 euros in a four-bed dorm.

La Fortuna

Continue your journey on a bus trip further north to La Fortuna (for only four euros!).

This lovely little town is the perfect starting point for exploring some of the area’s best spots. We recommend the day tour below for visiting the famous Arenal Volcano and tropical rainforest in the Alajuela Province.

Discover exotic animal species in the Arenal Volcano National Park and hike from the foot of the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano (a lesser-known volcano right next to the Arenal) to La Fortuna – a 70-metre-high waterfall. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious, traditional lunch at a local granja and revel in breath-taking views of lush rainforest and the Arenal Volcano. Relax afterwards with a soothing bath in one of the many hot springs nearby. For dinner, sample more of the region’s cuisine for the perfect end to an eventful day. Return transfer, guide, and meals are included in the price of 128 euros per person.

Stay in town in an eight-bed dorm for 18 euros per night.

Monteverde

A shuttle will take you to the cloud forest region of Monteverde for about 25 euros.

Explore the national park from the small town of Santa Elena, one of the most biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. The Sky Adventures Monteverde Park is a special highlight for adrenaline junkies. Hike overhanging bridges on the Sky Walk or zipline on the Sky Trek and whiz through the cloud forest canopy.

Get to know the region’s animal species in Selvatura Park and check out its butterfly garden. You can also visit a coffee plantation or explore the cloud forest by horseback or on an exciting night walk.

In Santa Elena, you can stay overnight in the center for 12 euros in a six-bed dorm.

Jacó

Head to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to a seaside resort in Jacó by shuttle for about 57 euros.

Relax and unwind on dark, lava-sand beaches after all the excitement in the jungle. If laying on the beach is too boring for you, rest assured – Jacó offers an unending list of outdoor activities, including kayaking, diving, zip-lining, and fishing.

Costa Rica is also known for its ideal surfing conditions. The beaches around Jacó are no exception and are perfect for both beginners and advanced surfers. The weekly farmers’ market is also worth a visit – pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious bread and cheese, as well as regional specialities. At night, go out on the town and indulge in Jacó’s vibrant nightlife.

Stay at a hostel near the beach in an eight-bed dorm for only 14 euros. Keep your eyes peeled, though, because some of the hostels offer surfing lessons!

Quepos

Catch a ride to Quepos for only 2 euros. Near the small, coastal town lies a long peninsula, Isla Damas, that forms an estuary into which four rivers flow. Book a boat trip in Quepos harbour and explore the estuary reserve, which is densely covered with mangroves and home to many regional animal species. Not far from Quepos is the Manuel Antonio National Park, totalling a tiny seven square kilometres. Despite its small size, the park offers a varied landscape with hills, rock formations, forests, and twelve small islands. Relax on white sandy beaches and watch coatis and monkeys swing by through the trees. Take one of the many hiking trails and discover lizards, sloths, macaws, toucans, and many other animal species. Keep walking until you reach a viewing platform and enjoy a spectacular view over this unique natural paradise.

An overnight stay in an eight-bed dorm at a hostel costs 16 euros.

Uvita

Hop on a bus for just three euros and head to your last stop: Uvita.

In this idyllic coastal town, you can experience the truly wild and unspoiled side of Costa Rica since there aren’t many tourists. Uvita’s golden-coloured beach is one of the most beautiful on the southern Pacific coast and is popular with surfers and beachgoers alike.

The Ballena Marine National Park lies off the coast of Uvita and is not to be missed. The rocky reefs around the islands are home to a large variety of species like corals, tropical fish, and dolphins. Go diving or snorkelling and you might even see humpback whales, who migrate through these protected waters from May to December. Swim back to shore and go further inland to find hidden waterfalls, lagoons, and rainforests.

Stay the night for 11 euros at a hostel in a four-bed dorm.

From Uvita, you can take the bus (for about 8 euros) back to San José and catch a flight home.


San José

San José

The centrally located capital is the largest metropolitan area in Costa Rica with 1.6 million inhabitants. The National Theatre and numerous museums such as the National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, and the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, are popular cultural sights. You’ll also find authentic market stands in the lively Mercado Central offering traditional delicacies.

San José is surrounded by natural beauty, so be sure to take a day tour and check it out. Drive through the picturesque Braulio Carrillo National Park towards the Caribbean coast – from there you can take a boat tour through the exotic canals of the impressive Tortuguero National Park. Enjoy secluded beaches, swim in lagoons, come face-to-face with green sea turtles, and watch hummingbirds, butterflies, and reptiles. This exciting jungle expedition only costs 95 euros and includes food, a guide, and a return transfer from San Jose.

Back in San Jose, you can stay at a hostel for 10 euros in a four-bed dorm.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna

Continue your journey on a bus trip further north to La Fortuna (for only four euros!).

This lovely little town is the perfect starting point for exploring some of the area’s best spots. We recommend the day tour below for visiting the famous Arenal Volcano and tropical rainforest in the Alajuela Province.

Discover exotic animal species in the Arenal Volcano National Park and hike from the foot of the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano (a lesser-known volcano right next to the Arenal) to La Fortuna – a 70-metre-high waterfall. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious, traditional lunch at a local granja and revel in breath-taking views of lush rainforest and the Arenal Volcano. Relax afterwards with a soothing bath in one of the many hot springs nearby. For dinner, sample more of the region’s cuisine for the perfect end to an eventful day. Return transfer, guide, and meals are included in the price of 128 euros per person.

Stay in town in an eight-bed dorm for 18 euros per night.

Monteverde

Monteverde

A shuttle will take you to the cloud forest region of Monteverde for about 25 euros.

Explore the national park from the small town of Santa Elena, one of the most biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. The Sky Adventures Monteverde Park is a special highlight for adrenaline junkies. Hike overhanging bridges on the Sky Walk or zipline on the Sky Trek and whiz through the cloud forest canopy.

Get to know the region’s animal species in Selvatura Park and check out its butterfly garden. You can also visit a coffee plantation or explore the cloud forest by horseback or on an exciting night walk.

In Santa Elena, you can stay overnight in the center for 12 euros in a six-bed dorm.

Jacó

Jacó

Head to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to a seaside resort in Jacó by shuttle for about 57 euros.

Relax and unwind on dark, lava-sand beaches after all the excitement in the jungle. If laying on the beach is too boring for you, rest assured – Jacó offers an unending list of outdoor activities, including kayaking, diving, zip-lining, and fishing.

Costa Rica is also known for its ideal surfing conditions. The beaches around Jacó are no exception and are perfect for both beginners and advanced surfers. The weekly farmers’ market is also worth a visit – pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious bread and cheese, as well as regional specialities. At night, go out on the town and indulge in Jacó’s vibrant nightlife.

Stay at a hostel near the beach in an eight-bed dorm for only 14 euros. Keep your eyes peeled, though, because some of the hostels offer surfing lessons!

Quepos

Quepos

Catch a ride to Quepos for only 2 euros. Near the small, coastal town lies a long peninsula, Isla Damas, that forms an estuary into which four rivers flow. Book a boat trip in Quepos harbour and explore the estuary reserve, which is densely covered with mangroves and home to many regional animal species. Not far from Quepos is the Manuel Antonio National Park, totalling a tiny seven square kilometres. Despite its small size, the park offers a varied landscape with hills, rock formations, forests, and twelve small islands. Relax on white sandy beaches and watch coatis and monkeys swing by through the trees. Take one of the many hiking trails and discover lizards, sloths, macaws, toucans, and many other animal species. Keep walking until you reach a viewing platform and enjoy a spectacular view over this unique natural paradise.

An overnight stay in an eight-bed dorm at a hostel costs 16 euros.

Uvita

Uvita

Hop on a bus for just three euros and head to your last stop: Uvita.

In this idyllic coastal town, you can experience the truly wild and unspoiled side of Costa Rica since there aren’t many tourists. Uvita’s golden-coloured beach is one of the most beautiful on the southern Pacific coast and is popular with surfers and beachgoers alike.

The Ballena Marine National Park lies off the coast of Uvita and is not to be missed. The rocky reefs around the islands are home to a large variety of species like corals, tropical fish, and dolphins. Go diving or snorkelling and you might even see humpback whales, who migrate through these protected waters from May to December. Swim back to shore and go further inland to find hidden waterfalls, lagoons, and rainforests.

Stay the night for 11 euros at a hostel in a four-bed dorm.

From Uvita, you can take the bus (for about 8 euros) back to San José and catch a flight home.

Costa Rica Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - San José
Home - San José
Flight
350
Four-bed dorm
10
2. San José
San José
-
Four-bed dorm
10
3. San José
San José
-
Four-bed dorm
10
4. San José - La Fortuna
San José - La Fortuna
Bus
4
Eight-bed dorm
18
5. La Fortuna
La Fortuna
-
Eight-bed dorm
18
6. La Fortuna
La Fortuna
-
Eight-bed dorm
18
7. La Fortuna - Monteverde
La Fortuna - Monteverde
Shuttle
25
Six-bed dorm
12
8. Monteverde
Monteverde
-
Six-bed dorm
12
9. Monteverde
Monteverde
-
Six-bed dorm
12
10. Monteverde - Jacó
Monteverde - Jacó
Shuttle
57
Eight-bed dorm
14
11. Jacó
Jacó
-
Eight-bed dorm
14
12. Jacó
Jacó
-
Eight-bed dorm
14
13. Jacó - Quepos
Jacó - Quepos
Bus
2
Eight-bed dorm
16
14. Quepos
Quepos
-
Eight-bed dorm
16
15. Quepos
Quepos
-
Eight-bed dorm
16
16. Quepos - Uvita
Quepos - Uvita
Bus
3
Four-bed dorm
11
17. Uvita
Uvita
-
Four-bed dorm
11
18. Uvita
Uvita
-
Four-bed dorm
11
19. Uvita - San José
Uvita - San José
Bus
8
Four-bed dorm
10
20. San José – Home
San José – Home
Flight
350

Total price.

Flights 750,00
Transportation 99,00
Tours 223,00
Accommodation 253,00
Total1325,00

Du möchtest 

deine eigene

Reise erstellen?

Du möchtest deine

eigene Reise erstellen?

Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Gallo Pinto: A classic breakfast in Costa Rica consisting of rice and beans with corn tortillas – delicious!

Soups

Olla de Carne: A very hearty meal, this stew with beef, potatoes, and vegetables is often eaten at lunchtime.

Main courses

Empanadas: This half-moon shaped delight is made from corn-based dough and is usually filled with potatoes and cheese or meat and then fried.

Tamales: This dish is usually made with seasoned meat and some vegetables, rolled in cornmeal dough, and wrapped in banana leaves.

Casado: Rice, rice, and more rice! Portions are very generous and are served with beans, salad, and meat like chicken or fish. 

Drinks

Coffee: Coffee is very special in Costa Rica and tastes particularly good. Visit one of the coffee plantations and see for yourself!

Rompope: This sweet drink – similar to eggnog and served with cinnamon and sugar – can be found on every street corner, especially during the Christmas season.

Costa Rica

The exchange rate for 100 Costa Rican Colón is around €0.66 (as of February 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Always stay on marked pathways when hiking, otherwise, you can easily put yourself in danger.

Cover up on the beach! Revealing bikinis are not appropriate here, and it’s always best to wear a light cloth as soon as you get out of the water (if you aren’t sunbathing)

Leave the seashells on the beach. You can get into serious trouble when leaving the country if you have them in your luggage.

Don'ts

Don’t tip in Costa Rica – it’s unusual and even considered to be rude.

Don't travel during Christmas and Easter. Prices rise substantially during this time, so you might not get to do everything you planned.

Don't pick plants! The flora and fauna are protected in Costa Rica, so it’s better not touch anything!

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Not necessary

Vaccine

No

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid at the time of entry for at least the day of entry and the following day and must be in good condition. We recommend researching the travel document, visa and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to Costa Rica, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!