In Costa Rica, one of the most special times of the year is Easter and Semana Santa. Meaning "Holy Week", Semana Santa is one of the most important holidays in the country and the celebrations rival those during Christmas.
Semana Santa begins the Sunday before Easter and is one of the busiest times of the year. Thursday and Friday are official holidays but most of the locals will take the entire week off for vacation. Parades and religious processions will fill the streets as many towns will reenact Jesus' procession to his crucifixion. Larger cities will have more elaborate celebrations with San Jose having the biggest procession in all of Costa Rica.
During this Catholic holiday, many Ticos will head to the beach to relax and enjoy time off of work and school. Many religious followers will fast during this week so traditional meals during Semana Santa will include tamales and seafood dishes.
Things to know
Banks and most businesses will be closed the Thursday and Friday before Easter and public transportation will be limited. However, if you are staying in a tourist town, most businesses will remain open to accommodate vacationers. This time of year is very busy in the tourism industry so most businesses will want to take advantage of the extra business.
In non-touristy areas, it will be near impossible to buy alcohol during this week. It is actually against the law to sell alcohol on Thursday and Friday of this Semana Santa.
Recently, the Costa Rican government started letting counties decide on the alcohol sales so this law may quickly be a thing of the past. If you are traveling to Costa Rica during this week, make sure to ask your hotel of the local laws.
If you are interested in visiting Costa Rica during Semana Santa, know it is one of the busiest times of the year. Expect large crowds at the beach and traffic on the highways. However, celebrating this important holiday with locals will allow you to witness some of Costa Rica's most important traditions and feel more apart of the Tico culture.