Tips on Driving in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a wonderful place. To help you make the most of your stay and of your driving experience here, please take some time to read through the following tips and recommendations.

Addresses and Directions

One of Costa Rica's quaint customs is that addresses and directions are usually given in terms of the distance (north, south, east or west) a specific destination is from a well know landmark . For example, to get to our offices in Liberia, Guanacaste, you would be told "From Burger King in Liberia one hundred meters west on the road to the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport and to Guanacaste’s mayor beaches". Street names and numbers are not used except occasionally for downtown San José only. Bear in mind that one block is always assumed to be 100 meters, regardless of whether the block is significantly shorter or longer.

Traffic Symbols and Road Signs

Most traffic symbols are international in design, and should be easily recognized, except that ours are, of course, in Spanish. "Alto" means "Stop", and "Ceda" means "Yield". Turning right at red lights after stopping is allowed unless otherwise indicated at the specific corner.

When driving to a specific destination, for example to Manuel Antonio Beach to the South, it is usual not to see any signs on the road saying this is the route to Manuel Antonio. It is usual to see signs indicating required turn-offs or exits to your, or to other destinations.

Speed Limits and Other Traffic Regulations

Speed limits are 90 kph (about 55 mph) on highways, which is reduced to 60 kph (about 35 mph) on curves and intersections, and to 25 kph (about 15 mph) near School Crossings. Seat belts are mandatory, as is having Child Safety Seats for small children. Breaking Traffic Laws can be expensive, especially with traffic laws introduced in 2010. Drunk driving is a very serious offense in Costa Rica and can actually land you in jail.

Costa Rican Roads

Costa Rican roads can be difficult. Outside of San José or other cities, be on the lookout for potholes, narrow bridges, bicycles, pedestrians and cattle. Some of the more rewarding destinations can only be accessed by unpaved roads, whcih are generally fine to drive on, especially during the Dry Season (December through April). During the Green or RainySeason, we recommend renting a 4x4 if you know your destinations may be a little more difficult to reach.

Emergency Services

In case of a traffic accident, or if you need an ambulance, dial 911 and explain the nature of your emergency. Call Solid Car Rental's emergency numbers immediately so we can assist you directly.


In some remote areas of the country, service stations can be few and far between. Please make sure you have enough fuel when heading away from population centers.

Be Safe!

Costa Rica is, generally, a safe country, but it is always advisable to be cautious and prepared. The following safety recommendations will help make your stay in Costa Rica a pleasant and safe one:

  • Leave your valuables at your Hotel Safety Deposit Box. This includes your passport. Carry some other form of ID or a copy of your passport.
  • Be aware of currency exchange rates. A lot of Costa Rican business do accept dollars but will give you a lower exchange rate than banks.
  • When walking, dont carry obvious valuables or large amounts of cash. Be careful with personal electronics such as cameras, binoculars, iPods, iPads, portable personal computers and similar items.
  • Registered taxis are red and have yellow triangles with their registration number on the doors. Taxis are required to use meters and you should pay what the meter reads. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers, but tips are always appreciated.
  • Try to park only in parking lots or in well illuminated areas. Do not leave valuables in your car, especially in plain sight. Always lock your car.
  • If you are bumped from the rear or are told by another driver you have a flat tire or some other car problem, or if you think you are being followed, DO NOT STOP!, but drive on to a service or public area. Ask for police assistance if needed.
  • Police vehicles should be properly identified with blue and red flashing lights.
  • If you get lost, continue to the nearest service or public area before pulling out your map to get your bearings again.

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