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3 Things to Know When Visiting Costa Rica

Last November I had the opportunity to escape the cold German winter and spend a week in the beautiful tropical paradise of Costa Rica. As soon as I stepped off the flight and walked into the warm tropical air of San Jose, I was filled with that all-too-common travel happiness.

Visiting friends, I spent about half my one-week-holiday in San Jose. Sure, there were rain forests and volcanoes and nature parks to visit, but part of my trip’s purpose was to embrace the local culture. I enjoy the natural beauty of the world as much as the next guy, but Costa Rica surprised me with the fact that the country is more than its tropical sights.

San Jose is Worth More Than Just a Stopover

Costa Rica’s capital city is more interesting than most tourists credit it. As the center of Costa Rica’s urban life, the city has a number of cool and interesting things to see and do. From the central market, popular for its cheap food stalls and tacky souvenirs; to the National Theater, popular for its theater and dance performances year-round.

There are also a number of noteworthy museums and galleries in San Jose; perhaps most interesting is the TEOR/Ética art gallery in Barrio Amón. The gallery’s goals include featuring works of political and social importance.

Costa Rica is One of Central America’s Most Gay-Friendly Destinations

One of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations is also one of its most gay-friendly. Manuel Antonio, on the Pacific coast, is home to Costa Rica’s most popular national park. The Manuel Antonio National Park is easily accessible, and inside, it’s easy to spot many of Costa Rica’s natural wonders in plain sight — from sloths to monkeys.

The park’s beaches are also some of the country’s most beautiful ones. And Manuel Antonio is also the site of countless gay hotels and LGBT-friendly bars, thanks to the large influx of tourists and expats coming through the beach city. In San Jose, there are also a surprising amount of gay bars and clubs — open every weekend and some weeknights.

Related: Win an LGBT trip to Costa Rica courtesy of, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, and Learn more


Costa Rican Food is Surprisingly Varied

Being a tropical destination, you might expect Costa Rica to have a large variety of tropical fruits — and they do. But, other popular Costa Rican foods are equally interesting. Like most of Central America, the casado is the country’s national dish. It typically consists of rice, beans, picadillo, tortilla, cheese, and a type of meat — frequently chicken or beef, but also fish (especially in the coastal zones). It’s fresh and healthy and common at roadside restaurants called Sodas. One of Costa Rica’s most unique tropical fruits is the cas, a really sour fruit that Costa Ricans eat with salt, or as a juice, which indeed tastes better and is really refreshing. Especially during those hot tropical days.

Costa Rica is a really friendly destination. Ticos — what the locals call themselves — have made the country one of the easiest and most approachable destinations in Central America.

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? What’d you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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