Cheap flights to Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Travel Guide

Once a hidden paradise known only to backpackers and biologists, today people book flights to Costa Rica to be in one of the most popular destinations in Latin America. Thanks to the millions of tourists who book flights to Costa Rica every year, tourism has become the primary source of income for this country, but that doesn’t mean the country has turned “touristy”. 

Costa Rica is still the land of the undiscovered. Almost a quarter of Costa Rica lies within national parks and protected areas. Verdant rainforests give way to white-sand beaches and its diverse landscape features volcanoes, forests, rivers, mountains and marshy lowlands.

Despite the sudden rise in tourism, Costa Rica remains a destination full of ecosystems and natural world wonders. Travelers booking flights to Costa Rica will witness everything from monkeys swinging through the jungle and toucans perched atop trees, to mountainous volcanoes and mile-long beaches. Regardless of one’s reasons for booking a flight to Costa Rica, the trip is bound to be filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

The Central American country has Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean on the west and Caribbean Sea on the east. Costa Ricans are friendly and welcoming, living in a stable democracy so peaceful that the army was abolished in 1949.

The capital is San Jose, a modern and bustling city offering a great introduction to tourists just off cheap flights to Costa Rica. After exploring its districts - El Pueblo for the bars, restaurants and galleries or Calle de la Amargura, a lively area of bars and cheap eateries - and perhaps the Gold Museum, most tourists head out of town to the parks and beaches.

One such park is the Corcovado National Park, renowned internationally for its biodiversity and abundance of wildlife. There are others equally bountiful, including Tortuguero National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Manuel Antonio National Park is also a must see area, and where you will find rainforest, beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and a wide array of tropical plants and wildlife.

With so many beautiful sights to see and things to do, you’ll surely be asking yourself where to start. Here are some tips to help you plan your trip to Costa Rica and enjoy the smoothest possible visit to this paradise.

What’s the weather like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a tropical country with little variation in temperature throughout the year. You will encounter a lot of rain if you visit between May and November, which is general considered the rainy season across most of the country’s regions. The coastal temperatures are typically hotter, but sea breezes make it much more comfortable. The highland areas are cool at night and warm during the day.

When is the best time to fly to Costa Rica?

Peak Season:

The dry season from late November to late April is the best time to book flights to Costa Rica. The weather is extremely pleasant for exploring the forests or laying on the beach. Flights to Costa Rica are more expensive between these months as it's the main tourist season, so expect big crowds and more expensive hotel rates. If you book your flights to Costa Rica early enough you can sometimes find deals.

Off Season:

Winter is between May and November, which is also the rainy season in Costa Rica. However, the temperatures are generally mild and pleasant unless you're up in the mountains. Due to the threat of rain though, this is not the best time to visit if you are hoping to travel around. You can find the cheapest flights to Costa Rica during the winter, and you'll find much cheaper accommodations too. Avoid flights between September and October as they are the rainiest months and some hotels shut down, although you will find cheap flights to Costa Rica.

When is the best time to book a flight to Costa Rica?

The winter offers cheap flights to Costa Rica, so if you book a month or two in advance you can save a lot on your flight tickets. Summertime is a lot more expensive for flights to Costa Rica, especially if you want to visit the main tourist destinations. If you can be flexible with your dates then you'll find cheap flights to Costa Rica without too much trouble, and although the rainiest months are the cheapest, you will find some hotels closed. Sitting on either side of the plane should reward you with spectacular views of lakes and beaches, however this is dependent upon the weather.

How long is the flight to Costa Rica?

Many carriers offer direct flights to San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica, from a limited number of U.S. and international locations. Direct flights from Dallas takes about four hours, while direct flights to Costa Rica from Denver, Chicago or Boston are about five hours long.

Which airlines fly to Costa Rica?

A few dozen major and regional U.S. and international-based airlines fly into San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica, including Aeromexico, American Airlines, Jet Blue and United Airlines. Typically, these airlines offer direct flights from only one or a few airports on certain days of the week only, but you shouldn't have any trouble finding a flight that suits your preferences and budget if you book well in advance.

What should you pack for a flight to Costa Rica?

Being so near to the equator, Costa Rica has little change of seasons and an average daily high of about 70 to 80 degrees (Fahrenheit), depending on the time of year. Mountainous regions tend to be cooler, so bring a light jacket if you plan to spend any time in the highlands, where it can get chilly after sunset. The humidity tends to run high, so consider packing lots of cool, loose-fitting, lighter-colored clothes including shorts, t-shirts and beachwear.

How to get around Costa Rica

There are multiple airports in Costa Rica, including Juan Santamaría International Airport and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport. Here are a few other tips for getting to where you need to go from each of these airports.

Juan Santamaría International Airport:

Juan Santamaría International Airport is the primary airport serving San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The airport is located just a little over 10 miles from the city of San Jose, and there are a couple of different methods of transport between the two. Outside of the airport you can get a local bus directly downtown and there is storage under the bus for luggage. It's the cheapest option to get downtown and you can hail a taxi from there if you need to get elsewhere. When getting a taxi, make sure you agree on a fee before getting in as a lot of taxis charge up to twice the normal amount to tourists, so finding out an average price beforehand is helpful.

Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport:

Also known as the Liberia International Airport, Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is located just a few miles away from the closest beach and only a little more than 7 miles from the city of Liberia, making it convenient for your flights to Costa Rica. Airport shuttles are the easiest way to travel to the city, with the added benefit that they take you directly to your hotel or destination, as opposed to the public buses which are restricted on drop off points. Due to legislation, if you want an airport shuttle you must reserve it in advance; once you've booked your flight to Costa Rica it's advisable to arrange a shuttle as soon as you've organized your accommodations.

What are some things to do in Costa Rica?

Deciding how to spend your stay in Costa Rica can be overwhelming with so much to choose from. It's a country packed with natural wonders, from immaculate beaches to mountain volcanoes and tropical rain forests. There's also a rich offering of world-class restaurants, nightlife, and cultural activities.

Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, with some popular activities including beach-combing, hiking and wildlife viewing. Try to squeeze in a visit to Manuel Antonia National Park a few hours from San Jose on the Pacific coast, popular for its white sandy beaches backed by lush green forest. It's a great park for wildlife viewing, with numerous species of mammals and birds, including dolphins, migrating whales, sloths, monkeys, and hundreds of species of mammals and birds. If you like to snorkel, you'll be delighted by the glittering undersea expanses of the park's coral reefs. Pack your picnic basket and rent horses on the beach for a fun or romantic seaside ride.

Other popular outdoor activities include big game fishing; river rafting; zip-lining, with some zip lines running for miles through forest treetops; and visiting active volcanoes with steaming lava fields. There are also many waterfalls to gaze upon and swim under. Coffee lovers enjoy touring the coffee plantations in Costa Rica's Central Valley, where rich volcanic soil and cooler mountain temperatures produce world-renowned coffee beans.

San Jose has a lively evening scene, with ample nightclubs, restaurants and cultural activities to choose from. See the crown jewel of Costa Rica's performing arts scene and the architectural gem of its capital city when you tour the National Theater. Located in central San Jose, the theater features architectural elements inspired by classical Greece and Rome and has long been the epicenter of San Jose's fine arts scene. For something a little more decadent, try El Steinvorth, a multi-level venue offering karaoke, live bands and dance floors.

Tips for your stay in Costa Rica

  • Visit Costa Rica during Arribada and witness the magic spectacle of thousands of sea turtles coming to the shores!
  • Tortuguero National Park is home to several types of monkeys: spider, howler and white-throated Capuchin. The three-toed sloth lives there too, with 320 species of birds, and a variety of reptiles. It is most famous for the nesting of the endangered green turtle. It is the species' most important nesting site. Other turtles nest there too, including the giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtle.
  • The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to about 2,000 plant species including numerous orchids, more than 400 types of birds and over 100 species of mammals.
  • Costa Rica, and parts of Panama, are home to the highly endangered Red Backed Squirrel Monkey.
  • Visit volcano country! Mount Arenal lay dormant for many years and is now active again. At Arenal National Park, about a five-hour drive from San Jose, you can view the giant. At night, dine in a restaurant at the foot of the volcano. Molten lava spills from its peak, outlining the volcano in fiery red.
  • Canopy tours are a wonderful way to enjoy Costa Rica's wildlife. They also provide a decent shot of adrenaline. Adventurous types climb up ladders onto platforms tied around tree trunks, then zip along in a climbing harness, before rappelling back down to the ground

Finding Flights from Costa Rica

Typically, carriers that fly into Costa Rica fly out of it as well, and finding a flight from Costa Rica is easy with Cheapflights.

Some of the more popular direct-flight deals include:

Cheapflights from Costa Rica to Houston 
Cheapflights from Costa Rica to Chicago 
Cheapflights from Costa Rica to Denver

You shouldn't have any trouble finding transportation to or from the airport. Your hotel may offer a shuttle service, but if not it's easy enough to find a taxi in most parts of Costa Rica. You may find it more cost-effective to hire a shuttle service such as Gray Line, a shared-ride express offering door-to-door transportation to and from Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia.

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More useful information about Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica is a destination full of ecosystems and natural world wonders.
  • Arenal Volcano National Park has short trails to lava fields.
  • Beatiful seaside rides can be found with Casagua Horse Tours.
  • For one way flights to Costa Rica, a popular entry point is the Juan Santamaria Airport.
  • Take a last minute flights to Costa Rica and see the Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve.
  • The ideal time to book direct flights to Costa Rica is between late November and late April.
  • At Butterfly Farm, you can take a two-hour tour through its tropical gardens.
  • With its world-renowned rainforests and immaculate beaches, Costa Rica offers real undiscovered territory.
  • If you have time to visit only one park in Costa Rica, make sure you see the Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • Over the past few years, Costa Rica has become one of the hottest destinations in Latin America.

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How much do things cost in Costa Rica?

Cheap meal $7.05
1 mile taxi journey $1.84
Local draught beer (0.5 liter) $2.12
Large bottle of water $1.92
Small bottle of water (0.33 liter) $1.27
One-way ticket (local transport) $0.71
Taxi - fixed fee $1.13
Bottle of wine $10.58
Cappuccino $2.41
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter) $1.48