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Costa Rica Culture – What to Expect

Costa Rican culture is probably very different than your own culture.

The motto for life here is “Pura Vida” which directly translated means “Pure Life.” 

However, in Costa Rica it is used to mean, chill out, life is good.

You will need to some what adopt this attitude while visiting to fully embrace the vibe. 

Food Culture

There are plenty of traditional foods we suggest trying while visiting Costa Rica.

A few essentials are….

Gallo Pinto – A mix of rice and beans with herbs and seasoning. This is usually eaten for breakfast with a side of eggs and fruit.

Casado – A casado is the name for a typical lunch of rice, beans, a protein, salad, and sometimes fried plantain. This is usually very affordable and filling.

Ceviche – Ceviche is made by soaking fresh fish in lime juice with red onion, red pepper etc.

You can find out more great foods in our guide to traditional foods

Celebrating Holidays in Costa Rica

One of the best ways to embrace the Costa Rican culture is by celebrating holidays as a local.

In Costa Rica you can expect to celebrate holidays you are familiar with such as Christmas and Easter, but there are also some holidays that you probably have never experienced before.

Check out our guide to Costa Rican holidays for a complete calendar of holidays and how you can join n the celebrations. 

Oh, and if you will be visiting over Easter, I suggest reading our guide to Easter in Costa Rica. Things run a bit differently at that time of year. 

Cultural Differences

The biggest difference we experienced when moving to Costa Rica was the relaxed lifestyle.

It often feels like nothing gets done here, which can be so frustrating for us city folks.

But, on the other side of that, people here just seem so much happier and nicer. 

I suggest reading through our post on Costa Rica facts and 50 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Costa Rica

Speaking the Language

The man language in Costa Rica is Spanish. However, most people in tourism speak some English.

I suggest downloading the free Google Translate app to help you translate menus, signs, etc. 

For more info and tons of helpful phrases, check out our guide to Spanish in Costa Rica. 

Costa Rican Souvenirs

Our favorite Costa Rican souvenirs are always coffee and chocolate. You can buy these at any grocery stores or at the gift shops in the airport.

While traveling you will likely come across many souvenir shops and artist stands selling unique products.

Check out our guide to souvenirs for more info and what to buy. 

Costa Rica’s Blue Zone

Did you know that Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is one of the few Blue Zone’s in the world?

Do you know what a Blue Zone is?

If not, it is one of the places in the world where people regularly live to over the age of 100.

Check out our guide to Costa Rica’s Blue Zone for some interesting info. 

What it is like to move to Costa Rica

Trust us, moving to Costa Rica is definitely a bit of a culture shock and involves navigating things like looking for a place to live, setting up a wifi account, figuring out visas, etc.

Because we have been through it all and definitely floundered a bit, we decided to share with you what we learned.

Read our guide to moving to Costa Rica for all the details. 

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Costa Rican Coffee Culture

One big part of the culture is coffee.

Coffee is grown throughout the country, but most of the best farms are located in the Central Valley region.

Although, Costa Rica is not the coffee powerhouse it was in the past due to rising costs, it is still a fun activity to take a coffee farm tour here.

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