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Costa Rica

Where to stay in Costa Rica

forest and a cloudy sky in central valley costa rica

Costa Rica is an eco-tourism dream destination. Nearly 25% of the country is covered in protected jungle, with exotic wildlife. The rainforests, best beaches in Costa Rica and parks like Corcovado National Park draw over two million visitors each year, and Costa Rica is becoming a popular retirement destination for North Americans, too. There are many reasons to come to Costa Rica, and many Costa Rica resorts and hotels to choose from.

We’ve rounded up the coolest places to stay in Costa Rica, whether you are coming for rainforest treks, or lazy days on the beach. While distances in Costa Rica are not great, travel times can be long, so you may want to split up your vacation between multiple areas when you are deciding where to stay in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, all inclusive resorts are found throughout the island. Of the best places to stay in Costa Rica, all inclusive resorts feature high on the list. For all of our European readers that are travelling to Costa Rica via the United States, will need an ESTA Visa, even if you won’t be leaving the airport during the layover period.

We will cover off all types of Costa Rica accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Costa Rica hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Costa Rica, the best Costa Rica hotels, best places in Costa Rica to visit, the best place to stay in Costa Rica, hotels near Costa Rica attractions, Costa Rica neighborhood guide and many more. Check out our detailed list of hotels in Costa Rica, to make planning your future trip super easy!

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San Jose – Best places to stay in Costa Rica

Many travelers to Costa Rica will arrive and depart from the capital city of San Jose. Before you jet off to the rainforest or the beach, considering staying in San Jose for a night or two, as you will get a good sense of the Costa Rica culture and cuisine that you might not find in beach resorts that are accommodating to tourists as it’s one of the best areas to stay in costa rica.

San Jose is also a great place for day trips to nearby cloud forests and volcanoes, such as Irazu or Poas. San Jose has excellent museums, historic architecture, restaurants and night clubs, as well as a wide variety of hotels to choose from.

Where to stay in San Jose Costa Rica

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in San Jose:
Hostel Shakti
Selina San Jose
Hostel Pangea
Hostel 1110

Budget Hotels in San Jose:
Hotel El Maragato
Hotel Cocori
Cocoon Hotel
La Fortuna Roja

Mid range Hotels in San Jose:
Holiday Inn Aurola San Jose
Exe San Jose Center
Hotel Presidente
Balmoral Hotel

Family Friendly Hotels in San Jose:
Hotel Colonial
Radisson Hotel San Jose Costa Rica
Taormina Hotel and Casino
Park Inn by Radisson San Jose

Affordable Luxury Hotels in San Jose:
Hotel Grano de Oro San Jose
Gran Hotel Costa Rica Curio Collection by Hilton

SAN JOSE COSTA RICA - Afternoon scene of the square in front of the famous National Theater of Costa Rica in San Jose in the night

Manuel Antonio – Where to stay in Costa Rica for couples

Often the best place to stay in Costa Rica for first-time visitors is the Pacific beach town of Manuel Antonio. Much of the area is covered by Manuel Antonio National Park, which includes rainforests, beaches and off-shore coral reefs. There are many hiking trails in the park, making it a great place to stay for active travelers who seek adventure on their vacation.

Manuel Antonio is a great choice for where to stay in Costa Rica with family, as it’s easy to get around, fairly close to the San Juan International Airport, and offers many activity choices, as well as hotels and restaurants. With some of Costa Rica’s most romantic resorts, Manuel Antonio may also be the best places to stay in Costa Rica for couples.

Best places to stay in Manuel Antonio

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Manuel Antonio:
Hostel Vista Serena
Hostel Plinio
Selina Manuel Antonio

Budget Hotels in Manuel Antonio:
Hy Paradise Inn
Divisamar Hotel & Casino
Hotel Colibri

Mid range Hotels in Manuel Antonio:
Hotel Flor Blanca
Villas Lirio
Hotel La Colina
Natural Pacific Suites

Family Friendly Hotels in Manuel Antonio:
Villas Lirio
Hotel Las Tres Banderas
Jungle Villa
La Mariposa Hotel

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Manuel Antonio:
Gaia Hotel & Reserve
La Mansion Inn
Parador Resort and Spa
Issimo Suites Boutique Hotel and Spa

View over beach at Manuel Antonio National Park Costa Rica.

Arenal – Where to stay in Costa Rica for first timers

While beaches are a big draw to Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano is also a very popular destination for travelers. If you aren’t staying on the beach, this is the best place to stay in Costa Rica. Arenal is an active volcano about 90 kilometers northwest of San Jose. Arenal is the best area to stay in Costa Rica for first timers, read on to find out why!

The volcano sits inside Arenal Volcano National Park, and there are so many outdoor adventures to be had in this area. The famous La Fortuna waterfall is here, as well as many hiking trails, lakes and hot springs. There are dozens of Costa Rica resorts to choose from in the area, many of which will gladly help book your excursions into the rainforest.

Best places to stay in Arenal

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Arenal:
Hostel Arenal Fortuna
Arenal Backpackers Resort
Hostel Backpackers La Fortuna
Selina La Fortuna

Budget Hotels in Arenal:
Hotel Sueno Dorado & Hot Springs
Cabinas Los Guayabos
Hotel Arenal Rossi
Arenal Bungalows

Mid range Hotels in Arenal:
Hotel Lomas del Volcan
Paradise Hot Springs Thermal Resort
Brisas Arenal Hotel
Arenal Volcano Inn

Family Friendly Hotels in Arenal:
Hotel La Pradera del Arenal
Hotel Magic Mountain
Hotel Villas Vilma
Hotel Campo Verde

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Arenal:
The Springs Resort and Spa
Nayara Resort Spa & Gardens
Nayara Springs
Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa
Baldi Hot Springs Hotel Resort & Spa

volcano el arenal costa rica nature amazing

Tamarindo Beach – Where to stay in Costa Rica on the beach

If you are wondering where to stay in Costa Rica on the beach, Tamarindo Beach is a great option. Just one hour from the international airport in Liberia, Tamarindo Beach is known for surfing, diving and fishing. From October to May, leatherback turtles build their nests along the beaches.

Tamarindo Beach has some of the best infrastructure, and roads, for tourists, as well as many resorts to choose from. For travelers seeking a variety of activities in their Costa Rica vacation, Tamarindo Beach has a little bit of everything: all-inclusive resorts, hotels, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.

Best places to stay in Tamarindo Beach

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Tamarindo Beach:
Blue Trailz Hostel & Surf Camp
Tamarindo Hostel Resort
Tsunami Surf Hostel
Casa Aura Beachfront Premium Hostel

Budget Hotels in Tamarindo Beach:
Hotel Marielos
Hotel Mahayana
Hotel Mar Rey
Seahorse Resort and Dive Center

Mid range Hotels in Tamarindo Beach:
Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel
Hotel Casa Blanca Tamarindo
Hotel La Laguna del cocodrilo
Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas

Family Friendly Hotels in Tamarindo Beach:
Casa Monacita
Sunrise Condos of Tamarindo
Hotel Tamarindo Diria

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Tamarindo Beach:
Jardin del Eden boutique hotel
Cala Luna Luxury Boutique Hotel & Villas
JW Marriott Hotel Guanacaste Resort & Spa
Tamarindo Dreams Hotel & Villas

Aerial view of western Costa Rica seashore

Conchal Beach – Where to stay on Costa Rica on a Budget

Located on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast, Playa Conchal is one of the most exotic beaches in Costa Rica. With nearly ten hours of daylight in the high season, and warm, calm water, Playa Conchal is very popular with swimmers and snorkelers. Tamarindo Beach is not far away, but draws more crowds than Conchal Beach.

The lack of crowds at Playa Conchal is also partly due to lack of major resorts in the area. The Westin Playa Conchal is the largest resort here, but for those looking for a budget place to stay, the nearby town of Brasilito has more accommodation options for every budget.

Best places to stay in Conchal Beach

Budget Hotels in Conchal Beach:
Hotel Brasilito
Hotel Nany

Mid range Hotels in Conchal Beach:
Guanacaste Lodge
Flamingo Marina Resort

Family Friendly Hotels in Conchal Beach:
Seis Playas Hotel
Bahia del Sol Beach Front Boutique Hotel
Villas La Paz

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Conchal Beach:
The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal – All-Inclusive
Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf & Spa

Waves coming in on the beach in Guanacaste

Gulf of Papagayo – Where to stay in Costa Rica with Family

Another great option of where to stay in Costa Rica with family is the Gulf of Papagayo. Protected waters make the beaches here excellent for children to play along the shore. This is also where you’ll find a large concentration of Costa Rica’s all inclusive resorts.

Along the gulf, there are several areas including Ocotal Beach, Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama. The calm waters here are also a great place to spot wildlife, including orcas. The Papagayo Pensinsula is less than one hour from the Liberia Airport, and is home to some of the most exclusive Costa Rica resorts.

Best places to stay in Gulf of Papagayo

Budget Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo:
Vista Bahia Beach Resort

Mid range Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo:
Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Casa Conde Beach-Front Hotel
Casa Vistas del Pacifico Bnb
Occidental Papagayo – Adults only

Family Friendly Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo:
Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica
Casa Vistas del Pacifico Bnb
Hotel and Villas Nacazcol

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Gulf of Papagayo:
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica
El Mangroove, Autograph Collection
Andaz Costa Rica Resort At Peninsula Papagayo

Guanacaste, Costa Rica - : Guests at a resort enjoy kayaking on the Gulf of Papagayo and enjoying the luxury beaches that Costa Rica region offers.

Monteverde – Where to stay in Costa Rica to be near nature

Another popular inland destination in Costa Rica is the area around Monteverde. This is where you’ll find the best cloud forest in Costa Rica, as well as the highly sought Quetzal bird. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is also home to jaguars, ocelots and many other exotic species of animals.

For this reason alone, Monteverde is very popular with bird-watchers and wildlife photographers. The nearby Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve has similar species, but is also home to spider monkeys. There are zip-lines, hanging bridges and aerial trams affording better views of the forests, as well as naturalist-guided tours in the Reserves.

Where to stay in Monteverde Costa Rica

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Monteverde:
Chillout House
Hostel La Suerte
Rainy Days
Hotel BellBird

Budget Hotels in Monteverde:
Mariposa Bed & Breakfast
Hotel El Bosque
Dreams Lodge
Bella Vista Lodge

Mid range Hotels in Monteverde:
Monteverde Country Lodge
Los Pinos – Cabanas y Jardines
Monteverde Inn
Hotel Trapp Family

Hanging suspension bridge in Monteverde cloud forest reserve Costa Rica

Poas – Coolest places to stay in Costa Rica

Another volcano in Costa Rica is Poas, although this one is dormant. At the summit, there are two craters filled with sulfur water, which gives off a beautiful turquoise blue. This is also a great place to visit a cloud forest if you don’t make it to Monteverde on your vacation. At only 90 minutes from San Jose, Poas is a popular day trip destination, but if you decide to find a resort in the Poas area, you can have the park to yourself first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive.

Best places to stay in Poas

Budget Hotels in Poas:
Hotel Catedral Casa Cornejo
El Churrasco Hotel Restaurante
Villa Pacande Bed & Breakfast

Mid range Hotels in Poas:
Villa Calas
Altura Hotel
Villa San Ignacio

Family Friendly Hotels in Poas:
Hotel Casa Antigua
Holiday Inn Express San Jose Airport
1915 Hotel
Xandari Resort & Spa

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Poas:
Courtyard by Marriott San Jose Airport Alajuela
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton San Jose Airport

Main active crater of the volcano of Poas. Costa Rica of Poas. Costa Rica

Alajuela – Where to stay in Costa Rica near the airport

Just 20km from the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica’s second largest city, Alajuela, is a good, central location for travelers seeking a variety of adventures in their vacation. It’s also quite close to the San Juan airport, so it’s a great place to stay if you arrive late or depart early. Poas Volcano National Park is less than one hour away, and the Doka Estate is renowned for their coffee beans. In addition to the natural splendor of Costa Rica, Alajuela has some interesting churches, museums and markets to explore.

Best places to stay in Alajuela

Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Alajuela:
Alajuela Backpackers Boutique Hostel
Hostel Trotamundos
Lajuela Hostel
Hotel Cortez Azul

Budget Hotels in Alajuela:
Hotel el Tucan
Hotel Catedral Casa Cornejo
Casa Makiki
Hotel La Guaria Inn & Suites

Mid range Hotels in Alajuela:
Lajuela Hostel
Bamboo Aparthotel
Holiday Inn Express San Jose Airport
Hotel Casa Antigua

Family Friendly Hotels in Alajuela:
Hotel Santamaria
Hotel Casa Tago
Hotel Santa Maria Inn
Melrost Bed and Breakfast

Affordable Luxury Hotels in Alajuela:
Pura Vida Hotel
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton San Jose Airport

Catholic Church in Naranjo, Costa Rica during a cloudy day

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Where to stay in Costa Rica

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!