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Getting Around Costa Rica by Car

hace 3 años

By Shannon Farley

Be in charge of your own adventure while traveling in Costa Rica. Self-drive holidays in Costa Rica give you the most freedom and flexibility to go where you want, when you want during your vacation. 

Want to travel from Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches up to the lush rainforest in the mountains? Get there at your own pace, stopping at roadside fruit stands, scenic viewpoints, or that cool-looking lunch spot along the way when you drive your own rental car in Costa Rica. 

See two oceans in one day when you cross Costa Rica from coast to coast. When you drive yourself, you can take rest breaks when you want and possibly even drop by a volcano en route, or a fun adventure tour. Maybe you’ll find that beautiful waterfall the locals told you about that’s not in the guidebooks.

Exploring the country is simply a matter of hopping in the car and going. When you have a rental car in Costa Rica, you can take side trips off the beaten path to lesser-traveled places, and you can pull over when you want to get that amazing panoramic photo. You and your traveling companions can ride in comfort, and you can even listen to your own music. You also don’t have to worry about a fixed time schedule while on vacation.

In size, Costa Rica is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia and a little larger than the country of Denmark. Everything is close in Costa Rica, relatively speaking. You can drive from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean or from the northern border with Nicaragua to the southern perimeter with Panama in one day. And you can go from rainforest to beaches, cities to volcanoes, in only a few hours.

It is important to note, however, that the country’s rugged topography of mountains, volcanoes, valleys, rivers, plains and beaches means that ground transportation usually takes longer than most tourists think based on distances in miles or kilometers, due to rough or twisting mountain roads. So, be sure to be adequately informed and plan ahead.

How to rent a car in Costa Rica

Renting a car is easy at both of Costa Rica’s international airports – the Juan Santamaria International Airport by San Jose, or the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia in the Guanacaste province. If your flight to Costa Rica arrives late at night, you can arrange for a rental vehicle to be delivered directly to your hotel the next morning. You can also rent a car in most of the main tourist cities if you prefer to do so later in your trip. 

It is recommended to reserve your rental car in advance, which you can do easily with Horizontes Nature Tours.

To rent a car in Costa Rica, you will need a valid passport and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You must be at least age 21 or over. Mandatory basic insurance is required with all rentals, and on top of that, you can purchase supplemental full coverage insurance options. Many policies include 24-hour roadside assistance.

It is highly recommended to rent a 4WD vehicle so that you are not limited in driving any of the country’s roads, especially during rainy season (May to November).

For navigating around Costa Rica, it is a good idea to get a GPS with your car rental to save you time and stress. Another good tool is the Waze navigation app, which you can download to your smartphone. Waze is widely used in Costa Rica for real-time information on roads, best routes, accidents, traffic jams, construction, and more. 

Now you’re ready for your self-drive holiday in Costa Rica!


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