The perception of the economic value of any item is very abstract, especially when it comes to the first contact with a foreign currency. The euro, common European currency in 18 countries, allowed us to have an immediate idea of the cost of living when we travel to neighboring countries of the eurozone. But, what happens when we visit more distant destinations? On this occasion, we travel to Costa Rica to know its currency and the value of all activities related to tourism in this Central American country.
To find out, below we give you a rough idea of the value of the most common activities and hobbies when visiting Costa Rica. In general, prices in Costa Rica are a little higher than in other Central American countries, but lower than in most Latin American countries.
Transportation from the Airport to San José. Costa Rica’s main air terminal is Juan Santamaría International Airport, located 18 kilometers from San José, the country’s capital. The easiest way to get to town is to take the bus or a taxi. In addition, there is a public bus service with a frequency of 5 to 15 minutes, to the cities: Alajuela (₡535/0.78€), Heredia (₡515/0.75€) and San José (₡ 535/0.78€).
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A taxi ride to downtown San José can cost around 20 to 30 euros. The taximeter is called “la maría” and you have to make sure that the taxi driver turns it on. It is not necessary to tip. City buses normally offer a good and economical service, depending on the distance a ticket can cost between 0.20 and 0.50 euros.
Gastronomy in a trip is of vital importance and the price of food can vary depending on where it is consumed. The difference between eating at a five-star hotel or eating at a “soda” (local food spot off the tourist trail) can be huge. In this sense, we will try to give you an approximate average.
Breakfast. The typical breakfast in Costa Rica is called “gallo pinto” and the word “substantial” would be correct to describe it. It is a dish of rice with beans, accompanied by scrambled eggs, coffee with milk, toast and orange juice. Its price varies between 3 and 5 euros.
Lunch and dinner. A very popular and not very old dish (appeared in the 90s): Chifrijo is a dish made with pieces of pork, beans, rice, chilli and a mixture of vegetables cut as a garnish. In a traditional restaurant, the dish costs around 4-6 euros, but in some “sodas” the price of the complete menu, both served at lunchtime and in the evening, costs less than 6 euros.
The traditional dish of Costa Rica is the casado, it is a dish that combines white rice with black beans, beef, pork, fish or chicken, accompanied by a salad and plantain. In some places, it is served with fruit juice. Its price is around 4 euros and can cost 8-10€ in higher end restaurants. In tourist areas by the sea, on average, the price of dishes increases between 2 and 4 euros.
Fast food. In fast food establishments, menus such as hamburgers with fries and drink, sandwiches or pizza can cost between 4€ and 7€. The price of the service is included therefore it is not customary to leave tips in restaurants.
Shows and nightlife
Theatre. If you wish to attend a cultural performance, prices vary depending on the venue. For example, a performance of the Symphony Orchestra in the National Theater of Costa Rica
Cinema. Going to the cinema in a foreign country is always an interesting experience. In San José, an entry can vary from 5 euros for the cheapest, to 13 if you choose a VIP room with a meal service.
Nightlife. Entrance to the discotheque costs around 10 euros with normally some drinks included (beer or soda). In more select nightclubs, the entrance can rise to 20 euros with consumption included and musical show.
Beverages. In the bars, in the evening, a national beer like the Imperial costs on average 2 euros but the price can increase up to 5 euros for an imported beer.
If you really want to taste a local drink, I recommend you try the “cacique”. This alcohol (which should not be confused with the famous brand of rum of the same name) is a kind of brandy derived from sugar cane. It is drunk with soda and lemon and is considered one of the national drinks. In a night bar it can cost around 3 euros. On average, a drink like a gin and tonic can cost around 7 euros.
Costa Rica is a country with great biodiversity and a well-known ecotourism destination. Sightseeing excursions can be booked at various travel agencies in San José, at hotels and at airports (the latter option is not recommended as prices are normally higher).