City Information

Now what? You’ve gone through all that information to help prepare you for Costa Rica, and so what’s next?

KEEP EXPLORING! The more you read-up on the cities you will be visiting, the more you will get out of your time abroad! Remember to bounce back to Module 1 and Module 2 of this online pre-departure information any time.

Here are a few more helpful resources for the cities you will be visiting soon!

San Jose

Chepe – as San José is affectionately known – quickly reveals its charms. Take your time poking around the more historic neighborhoods, where colonial mansions have been converted into contemporary art galleries, refined international restaurants and boutique hotels. Colorfully arresting murals and hipster buskers pop up on the most unexpected corners. And in its museums of gold and jade and national history lie all the layers of indigenous heritage, colonial past and great minds that made Costa Rica the environmental champion and military-free country we love today.

Read more from Lonely Planet 

La Fortuna

First impressions of La Fortuna may be somewhat lacking, what with all the tourists and uninspired cinder-block architecture. But, with time, this town’s charms are revealed. Here, horses graze in unimproved lots, spiny iguanas scramble through brush, sloth eyes peer from the riverside canopy, and eternal spring mornings carry just a kiss of humidity on their breath. And always, there’s that massive volcano lurking behind the clouds or sparkling in the sun.

For most of its history La Fortuna has been a sleepy agricultural town, 6km from the base of Cerro Arenal (Arenal Hill). On the morning of July 29, 1968, Arenal erupted violently after nearly 400 years of dormancy, and buried the small villages of Pueblo Nuevo, San Luís and Tabacón. Suddenly, like moths to the flame, tourists from around the world started descending on La Fortuna in search of fiery night skies and the inevitable blurry photo of creeping lava. Since then, La Fortuna has served as the principal gateway for visiting Volcán Arenal. It’s still one of the top destinations for travelers in Costa Rica, even though the great mountain stopped spewing its molten discharge in 2010.

Certainly, the influx of tourism has altered the face, fame and fortunes of this former one-horse town. But the longer you linger, the more you’ll appreciate La Fortuna’s underlying, small-town sabanero (cowboy) feel.

Read more from Lonely Planet

Jaco Beach

Jacó was the first town on the central Pacific coast to explode with tourist development and, despite ups and downs over the years, it remains a major draw for backpackers, surfers, snowbirds and city-weary josefinos (inhabitants of San José). Although working-class Tico neighborhoods are nearby, open-air trinket shops and tour operators line the  main drag .

While Jacó’s lackadaisical charm is not for everyone, the surfing is excellent, the restaurants and bars are generally great and the nightlife can be a blast. Tourist infrastructure here is among the best in the country, and all around the greater Jacó area you can expect some high-quality service for your money. Despite its more off-putting features, it’s impossible to deny Jaco’s good side, which put it on the map in the first place: the sweeping beauty of the beach, the consistently fine surf and the lush tropical backdrop.

Read more on Lonely Planet