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Where can I use Costa Rican Colónes?

The Costa Rican Colón (₡) is the official currency of Costa Rica (plural colones). It’s named after Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus in English).

Costa Rica is one of the must-visit travel destinations in the world right now. Surf incredible waves, see incredible wildlife like the howler monkey and slow-moving sloth, zipline through Cloud Forests and so much more.

You’ll hear everyone in Costa Rica saying “pura vida”, a Spanish phrase which loosely translates to “no worries”. In fact, Costa Rica is so harmonious that it hasn’t had an army since 1948. You’ll experience this relaxed, care-free attitude everywhere you go in the country: people really just love life in Costa Rica. Pura vida!

How much spending money will I need for Costa Rica?

Visitors to Costa Rica often find that it’s more expensive than other Central American countries. The reality is that you probably won’t find the cost of eating and drinking out too expensive compared to the UK.

What’s likely to drive up your holiday spending is the fact that there are so many excursions you’ll likely want to go on while you’re there. Zip-lining in Monterverde, surf lessons on the Nicoya Peninsula, wildlife tours and entry to Costa Rica’s amazing national parks are all fairly pricey when you count everything up.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Costa Rica’s public transport system isn’t very well-established and the roads are quite bumpy, so most travellers choose private transfers or shuttle buses to get them around Costa Rica efficiently and comfortably. Shared transfers are the best value and organised by most hotels or hostels. Be prepared to spend between $40-80 per person if you’re travelling long distances.

Budget your Costa Rica trip

Costa Rica’s economy has been growing steadily in the past few years. Although it’s still known for being a largely agricultural country (Costa Rica is still one of the world’s top producers of bananas and coffee!), much of this economic growth has been fuelled by the country’s reputation as the premier ecotourism destination globally. 

Low budget

Medium budget

High budget

Overall budget (per day): ₡30,000 (£50) Overall budget (per day): ₡59,000 (£80) Overall budget (per day): ₡149,000 (£200)

Food, drink & accommodation in budget

  • Dorm bed: ₡4,000-7,500
  • Meal at a soda (local basic eatery): 1,500-3,500
  • Travel via local bus: 1130 or less

Food, drink & accommodation in budget

  • Basic room with private bathroom: ₡11,300-29,000 pernight
  • Meal at a restaurant geared toward travelers: 28,000-32,000

Food, drink & accommodation in budget

  • Luxury hotel or eco-lodge – 56600-113000 per night
  • Meal at a high-end restaurant: from 11300

Activities in budget

  • Hiking without a guide (free)
  • Lounging on beautiful beaches (free)
  • Surf board hire for 1 day: ₡5,650-8,490

Activities in budget

  • Travel in a shuttle bus: from ₡28,000
  • Boat or kayak tour through Tortuguero National Park: from 22,000
  • Zip lining tour: from 32,000

Activities in budget

  • Guided wildlife-watching excursion: from 34,0004
  • WD rental for local travel: from 34,000 per day
  • Short domestic flight: 28,000-52,000

Costa Rica offers a huge amount to see and do. Touch down in San José, Costa Rica’s largest city and cultural capital, where you’ll find contemporary art galleries, a thriving food scene and an abundance of historic neighbourhoods to explore like the pleasant Barrio Amón. San Jose, while well-worth a visit, is just the jumping-off point to a wealth of natural wonders across the country.

Popular Costa Rican itineraries often include hiking on the slopes of Volcán Arenal and exploring the epic Monteverde Cloud Forest which is home to over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. Then there’s the luscious surf breaks in Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, where you’ll find some of the best surfing and most beautiful beaches in the world. No wonder one of the world’s happiest countries ranks number six on the Lonely Planet’s guide of best countries to travel to this year!

Typical Costa Rica costs



The cost of a bed for a night in Costa Rica can range from £6 for a dorm bed, to £40 for a double room in a mid-range hotel or from £120+ for an upmarket hotel.


Eating out

If you're on a budget, head to a soda (traditional Costa Rican eatery) where you can get a hefty plate of authentic food from between £3.50 and £7. A meal for 2 in upmarket restaurant will cost upwards from ₡20,000 (£27).



Costa Rica is famous for its coffee, which typically costs around ₡1,500-₡2,500 (£2-3). More of a beer drinker? Expect to pay between £2.50 in a traditional Costa Rican bar or restaurant and up to £5 in more touristy places.

What denominations do Costa Rican Colónes come in?

The Costa Rican currency is the colón (plural colones). The currency symbol is ₡.

Notes come in 1000-, 2000-, 5000-, 10,000-, 20,000- and 50,000-colón denominations. Coins come in denominations of five, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones.

Leftover Costa Rican Colón?

No problem. We’ll buy back Costa Rican Colóns you have leftover at excellent rates, leaving you with more cash in your pocket (and a tidier desk drawer).

Costa Rica FAQs

What currency is CRC?

CRC is the abbreviation for the Costa Rica Colón, the official currency of Costa Rica. The currency symbol is ₡.

Do I need a visa to travel to Costa Rica from the UK?

Visitors from the UK don’t need a visa to visit Costa Rica, unless the length of your stay exceeds 90 days. If staying more than 90 days, visitors must pay a Costa Rican departure tax of $29 when leaving the country.

How much should I tip in Costa Rica?

Tipping etiquette in Costa Rica is similar to the UK.

  • Restaurants – typically include a 10% tip in the final bill. If not, leave 10%
  • Tour guides – between 2,800 and 5000 Colones
  • Hotel staff – 500-1,000 Colones per day
  • Taxis – tip only if the driver has gone above and beyond
Do I need cash or card in Costa Rica?

A mixture of cash and card is best for Costa Rica. Cities and popular tourist resorts typically accept major credit and debit cards, but you’ll still need cash for tips, taxis, buses, markets and buying food and drinks from local eateries. When you get out into small towns, you’ll definitely need cash.

It’s a good idea to order your Costa Rican Colones before you go, as you’ll always get a better exchange rate than withdrawing from the ATM when you arrive in Costa Rica. ATMs in Costa Rica usually charge a non-sterling exchange fee of around 3% of the transaction, plus a charge to withdraw the cash. If you use your UK card in shops and restaurants, a spending fee of 50p-£1.50 will also typically be applied each time you use your card.

Should I use US Dollars or Colones in Costa Rica?

US Dollars are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants and attractions, but unless the rate is posted in US Dollars it’s usually better value to pay with Costa Rican Colónes. This is because the vendor will typically add an extra foreign exchange fee to convert the price into US Dollars.

Read up before you go