The roads in Costa Rica vary significantly depending on the route that you are traveling. Roads between most destinations are two-lane, paved roads that wind up and around the mountainous terrain throughout the country.
If you find yourself driving in the country, it is best to drive defensively and avoid driving at night, since the reflective paint that outlines the roads is faded or non-existent, making the curves extremely dangerous for unfamiliar drivers. Lots of hotels or smaller destinations are without a paved road or entrance, so chances are good that at some point you will find yourself along a dirt road during your trip to Costa Rica. Many bridges narrow to a single lane, so drivers must be ready to yield (ceda) to the direction with the right of way.
For your first visit to Costa Rica we generally recommend taking private transports or shuttles to get a feel for the driving conditions. This way, the next time that you visit you will already understand the driving conditions and can decide whether or not to rent a car.
The roads of Costa Rica are no doubt navigable, but the terrain prohibits a freeway system throughout most of the country, and without street signs it is very easy to get lost. Vehicles equipped with GPS devices have significantly improved visitors' ability to tour the country at their own pace. Should you decide to drive, we strongly suggest equipping the vehicle with a GPS unit.
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