Car rental in Costa Rica is perfect if you want to head to the beach with family, visit a remote rainforest, or if you just want an easy way to get from the airport to your accommodation. For more space and the ability to discover the mountains, a four-wheel drive or SUV is ideal; but if you are driving along the major roads, a saloon will suffice. If you want to explore the coast, a convertible is best for soaking up the sun.
Costa Rican laws about car seats for children are stricter than those in the USA. When you rent a car to or from an airport in Costa Rica, your child must be secured in a car seat if they are shorter than 110 cm (43 inches). Larger children are required to use a safety booster seat until they are 12 years old or 145 cm (57 inches). You will have the option to rent a car seat or booster along with your rental car, which will cost around 2,924 SVC (5 USD) per day per child’s seat. Hertz and Sixt offer these optional extras.
Crossing international borders is forbidden when you rent a car in Costa Rica. However, some car rental companies will let you drop off your car in Costa Rica, cross the border on foot and pick up a new car on the other side of the border for a fee of around 29,585 SVC (50 USD).
The main benefit of renting a car in Costa Rica is the freedom it brings. Rather than wasting time waiting for public transport, you get to maximize your vacation time. Consider taking a road trip from La Fortuna to Monteverde, a 91-mile scenic route through a cloudy forest reserve.
Book your rental car in Costa Rica at least 4 weeks before your trip in order to get a below-average price
Intermediate rental cars in Costa Rica are around 2% cheaper than other car types, on average
FAQs about hiring a car in Costa Rica
On average a car hire in Costa Rica costs $78 per day.
Intermediate (Class Intermediate Car or similar) is the most frequently booked car hire type in Costa Rica.
In the past 72 hours, the cheapest car hires were found at Ace ($27/day), Amigo Rent A Car ($60/day) and Avis ($66/day).
Based on ratings and reviews from real users on KAYAK, the best car hire companies in Costa Rica are Enterprise (7.4, 86 reviews), National (7.3, 55 reviews), and Alamo (6.6, 465 reviews).
If you are planning to rent a car in Costa Rica, you need to remember to drive on the right-hand side of the road. You will notice that all road signs are in Spanish and that some roads may be unmarked and not signposted. There are several toll roads that connect major cities, including Puntarenas and San José, as well as airports. You can pay for tolls in local currency or US dollars. It is commonplace for local drivers to use their horns to alert other road users of their whereabouts.
You must be at least 18 years old to rent a car in Costa Rica. You do not need an international driving permit, but must have had a valid driver’s license for at least a year. You will need to present your license and your passport to your car hire company. You are permitted to drive with your home country’s driving license for three months; beyond that, you will need to apply for a Costa Rica license.
Petrol prices in Costa Rica are around 692.98 SVC (1.17 USD) per liter and 2589.22 SVC (4.43 USD) per gallon. All petrol stations in Costa Rica are government-regulated, meaning that the prices are the same, so you don’t need to shop around. You will find that petrol stations are full-service. If you are traveling a long distance, fill up in advance to avoid running out of gas, as stations are pretty far apart.
The speed limit in Costa Rica is measured in kilometers and varies throughout. The minimum speed on a highway is 40 km/h (25 mph), with a maximum of 120 km/h (74 mph). Unless road signs indicate otherwise, the limit on secondary roads is 60 km/h (37 mph), while in town and city centers, the speed limit is 40 km/h (25 mph). If you are driving close to schools and hospitals, be aware that the limit is 25 km/h (15 mph).
The rates displayed include all taxes and fees for hire cars for the class listed and were found by KAYAK users in the last 24 hours. Offers are subject to change and may not be available on all car hires listed or dates of travel. Some hire car providers charge additional fees for other services (GPS, infant car seats, etc.). Please check the website of the respective hire car provider.