After spending 7 days in Nicaragua solo travel, my next stop was Costa Rica. In this blog, I am sharing 3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide including how I did a solo border crossing from Granada Nicaragua to San Jose Costa Rica by bus, where to stay, and more. So if you are looking to do the same, read on.
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Known for its natural beauty, biodiversity, and eco-tourism opportunities, the nation attracts millions of visitors every year. Its diverse landscape includes lush rainforests, active volcanoes, stunning beaches, and rugged mountains.
My goal for this one month Central America itinerary was to see something unique in each of these 7 countries. So I skipped Monteverde Cloud Forest, La Fortuna, and Manuel Antonio National Park as have seen something similar with mountains, and hanging bridges many times before. Plus I had to spend 7 days extra waiting for my emergency passport in Nicaragua so I didn’t mind skipping the north of Costa Rica for the Capital city San Jose, and the coast. But first, let me share how to do the Granada Nicaragua to San Jose Costa Rica border crossing.
3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide
- 3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide
- How to go from Granada, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica?
- Is Costa Rica safe for solo travelers?
- Which hostels to book in San Jose?
- Highlights in San Jose
- Which hostels to book in Puerto Viejo?
- 3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide: Highlights in Puerto Viejo
- Recommend food/drink in Costa Rica?
- Let me know in the comments:
How to go from Granada, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica?
There are a few different transportation options for traveling from Granada, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica:
- Bus: You can take a direct bus from Granada to San Jose, which usually takes around 8-10 hours. The bus journey involves crossing the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which can take some time due to immigration procedures. There are several bus companies that operate this route, including Tica Bus, Nicabus, and TransNica.
I chose this option with an early start which meant I’d have to be at the bus stop in Granada at 530 A.M. You can buy the ticket on their website and take a taxi to the bus stop as it’s lil off the main square. was planning on walking but I cbb in the early morning as it was still dark & chilly.
Also, when I arrived in San Jose, had to take a taxi to the hostel because the bus wasn’t running frequently & again i cbb waiting around forever at the terminal.
- Private Shuttle: Another option is to hire a private shuttle or taxi to take you from Granada to San Jose. This can be more expensive than taking the bus, but it offers the convenience of door-to-door service and may be faster.
- Fly: If you’re looking for a quicker and more convenient option, you can fly from Managua, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica. There are several airlines that operate this route, including Copa Airlines and Avianca. You can either take a taxi or shuttle from Granada to the airport in Managua.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to check the latest travel advisories and border crossing requirements for Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Is Costa Rica safe for solo travelers?
Costa Rica is generally considered to be a safe destination for solo travelers. The country has a stable democracy, a low crime rate compared to other Latin American countries, and a friendly and welcoming culture. However, as with any destination, it’s important for solo travelers to take some basic safety precautions:
- Be aware of your surroundings: Keep your belongings close to you and avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or isolated areas, especially at night.
- Use common sense: Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or electronics, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Research your accommodations: Choose reputable hotels or hostels with good reviews and in safe neighborhoods. (recommended ones below)
- Learn some Spanish: Knowing some basic Spanish can help you communicate with locals and navigate more easily.
- If feeling unsure consider taking organized tours: Joining organized tours or activities can be a great way to meet other travelers and stay safe while exploring.
Overall, solo travelers should exercise caution and common sense while traveling in Costa Rica but should feel confident in exploring this beautiful and welcoming country.
Which hostels to book in San Jose?
There are many hostels in San Jose, Costa Rica that cater to different budgets and travel styles. Here are some popular options:
- Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel: This hostel is located in downtown San Jose and offers a variety of private and shared rooms, as well as a communal kitchen and lounge area.
- Selina San Jose: This stylish hostel is located in the trendy Barrio Otoya neighborhood and features a rooftop terrace, co-working space, and on-site restaurant.
- Hostel Casa del Parque: This eco-friendly hostel is located near the National Museum and features a garden, terrace, and communal kitchen.
- Casa Escalante Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is located in the historic Barrio Amón neighborhood and features a communal kitchen and lounge area.
- Gaudys Eco Hotel: This upscale hostel is offers private and shared rooms, as well as a bar and outdoor pool.
These are just a few options among the many hostels available in San Jose. It’s always a good idea to read reviews, compare prices, and choose a hostel that fits your budget and travel style.
Highlights in San Jose
San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica, located in the center of the country. It has a population of around 340,000 people and is the political, economic, and cultural center of Costa Rica. The city is home to many museums, art galleries, and cultural centers, as well as a vibrant nightlife. Plus, it is surrounded by natural beauty, including national parks, forests, and volcanoes, making it a great destination for outdoor activities such as hiking and whitewater rafting.
With its rich cultural heritage and natural attractions, San Jose, Costa Rica is a popular destination for tourists seeking both adventure and cultural experiences. Here are some of the top highlights to visit in San Jose:
- National Museum of Costa Rica: Housed in a historic fort, the museum offers exhibits on the country’s history, art, and culture.
- Gold Museum: This museum showcases an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts and offers a glimpse into the history of the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica.
- Central Market: A bustling indoor market offering a variety of local foods, crafts, and souvenirs.
- National Theater: This beautiful theater was built in 1897 and features ornate decor and an impressive performance schedule.
- La Sabana Metropolitan Park: A large park offering green space, walking trails, and recreational facilities in the heart of the city.
- Jade Museum: A museum featuring a collection of jade artifacts from ancient civilizations in Costa Rica and Central America.
- San Jose Cathedral: A historic cathedral featuring beautiful stained glass windows and located in the heart of downtown San Jose.
- Costa Rican Art Museum: This museum showcases modern and contemporary art by Costa Rican artists.
- Mercado de Artesanias: An outdoor market offering a variety of handmade crafts and souvenirs from all over Costa Rica.
- Barrio Amón: A historic neighborhood with beautiful colonial architecture, home to many museums, art galleries, and cafes.
Overall, San Jose is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich cultural heritage and plenty of attractions to explore.
Which hostels to book in Puerto Viejo?
Puerto Viejo has several hostels to choose from, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some popular options that you may consider:
- Rocking J’s Hostel: This hostel is located right on the beach and features colorful and unique accommodations, as well as a lively atmosphere with live music and events.
- Selina Puerto Viejo: This trendy hostel is located in the town center and features stylish and comfortable private and shared rooms, as well as a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
- Pagalu Hostel: This eco-friendly hostel is located near the beach and features private and shared rooms, as well as a garden and communal kitchen.
- The Lionfish Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is located near the town center and features private and shared rooms, as well as a rooftop terrace and bar.
- Kalunai Hostel: This hostel is located near the beach and features private and shared rooms, as well as a communal kitchen and lounge area.
These are just a few options among the many hostels available in Puerto Viejo. It’s always a good idea to read reviews, compare prices, and choose a hostel that fits your budget and travel style.
3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide: Highlights in Puerto Viejo
I spent 2 days in San Jose and then went to Puerto Viejo which is a charming town located on the country’s Caribbean coast. Puerto Viejo is known for its laid-back vibe, friendly locals, and stunning beaches. It’s a great place to relax, unwind, and soak up the sun but the main reason I came here was to check out the National Park,
The town is also famous for its many local restaurants and bars that serve up delicious Caribbean cuisine and feature live music performances. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, and tropical cocktails, and dance the night away to the sounds of reggae and calypso music. Btw kinda felt like Bangkok & Bali a bit in the main town..
Here are some of the top highlights to visit in Puerto Viejo:
- Beaches: Puerto Viejo is known for its beautiful beaches, including Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Punta Uva. These beaches offer great opportunities for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
- Jaguar Rescue Center: This animal rescue center is dedicated to rehabilitating and releasing injured or orphaned wildlife, including jaguars, monkeys, sloths, and birds.
- Cahuita National Park: A beautiful national park offering hiking trails, beaches – swim, snorkel, and sunbathe, and opportunities for wildlife watching – monkeys, sloths, and toucans. Entry is based on a donation & one short bus ride away from Puerto Viejo but if you are short in time, it’s a good idea to get off the bus from Nicaragua at Cahuita National Park, (the bus stop is literally 5 mins walk away from the entrance of NP, store your bag at the ticket office or spend a night here – few hostels) explore and then get on a bus to the town of Puerto Viejo upon return from the same bus terminal.
- BriBri Indigenous Reserve: A nearby indigenous reserve offering opportunities to learn about the BriBri culture and visit waterfalls and cacao plantations.
- Surfing: Puerto Viejo is a popular surfing destination, with several surf schools and rental shops offering lessons and equipment.
- Nightlife: Puerto Viejo has a lively nightlife scene, with bars and clubs offering live music and dancing.
- Sloth Sanctuary: A sloth rescue center located a short drive from Puerto Viejo, offering opportunities to see and learn about these unique animals.
- Caribeans Chocolate Factory: A small chocolate factory offering tours and workshops on the chocolate-making process, using locally sourced cacao.
Overall, Puerto Viejo is a laid-back and beautiful destination with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, and laid-back Caribbean charm.
Recommend food/drink in Costa Rica?
Costa Rican cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with many delicious dishes and drinks to try. Here are some popular foods and drinks to try while in Costa Rica:
- Gallo Pinto: This is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish made with rice and beans, often served with eggs, sour cream, and tortillas.
- Casado: This is a typical Costa Rican lunch or dinner dish that includes rice, beans, salad, and a choice of meat, such as chicken, beef, or fish.
- Ceviche: This is a popular seafood dish made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with onion, cilantro, and other seasonings.
- Chifrijo: This is a tasty appetizer made with rice, beans, fried pork, avocado, and pico de gallo.
- Arroz con leche: This is a sweet dessert made with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.
As for drinks, Costa Rica is known for its coffee, which is grown in the highlands and is considered some of the best in the world. You can also try a variety of fruit juices, such as guanabana (soursop), mango, and papaya. Another popular drink is the guaro sour, made with local liquor called guaro, lime juice, and sugar.
Of course, there are many other delicious foods and drinks to try in Costa Rica, so be sure to explore and try new things during your visit.
Let me know in the comments:
If you have any questions about the 3 Days in Costa Rica Travel Guide
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