Costa Rica is a popular destination. Offering everything a traveler could want from stretches of tropical beaches and bustling metropolitan cities, to amazing wildlife and incredible activities, it’s got something for everyone. After all, who doesn’t want to try some of the world’s best coffee (obviously a legitimate reason to plan a Costa Rica trip!), or visit the country that was voted 2017’s happiest country in the world?
Whether you choose vibrant Limon city surrounded by beautiful greenery, the historical and white gravelly city of Liberia, or Costa Rica’s vibrant capital San Jose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable adventure. But if you want to experience something extra special, plan your visit during Semana Santa.
What is Semana Santa?
Semana Santa is the Easter holiday and is one of the biggest yearly celebrations. Classed as a holy week, schools are closed, and many Costa Ricans are off work. It’s a week-long period of celebrations – beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday – making it popular time with tourists, too. This means that going on holiday to Costa Rica during March may cost you a little more. However, it’s worth it to witness the events and festivities!
The week of Semana Santa is a riot of color, parades, processions and festivals. Held in cities across the country, the main celebrations take place on Thursday, Friday and Easter Sunday.
On Maundy Thursday, there are special services held in Catholic churches to mark Passover. But it’s on Friday that the real spirit of Semana Santa begins. On this day, you can witness colourful processions as locals come out to watch re-enactments of Jesus being mounted on the cross. It’s a serious and deeply religious affair, with mourners gathering and prayers said as biblical stories are portrayed.
These events lead up to a giant celebration on Easter Sunday. The end of Lent, fasts are broken, locals begin their feasts, there is cheer in the streets and church bells ring out.
Taste Traditional Foods
For tourists, one of the highlights for Semana Santa is the food – it’s a great opportunity to sample traditional cuisine. You’ll find a lot of seafood, particularly shrimp and fried fish, as well as a delicious array of desserts, with the most popular being empanadas (a type of sweet stuffed pastry) made using a seasonal squash called chiverre.
Things to Consider
If you go to Costa Rica during Semana Santa, there are a few things to remember.
Firstly, the sale of alcohol is often limited. In some places, it’s not sold for 48 hours, from midnight on Wednesday to midnight on Friday. Each county does have its own rules, so it’s worth checking before booking. Although in cities and busy tourist areas, this is likely to be less of an issue!
In addition, a lot of local businesses and banks close during this period. However, tourism focused places generally remain open.
Lastly, March is a very hot month for Costa Rica, with highs of up to 37 degrees Celsius! So, remember to pack your sun cream, spend time in the shade and drink plenty of fluids – that means water, not just alcohol!