Inevitably, at some point during your time studying abroad, you are going to have to purchase things. This can include food, like peanut butter, cookies, jelly, and bread, personal care items, such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, and feminine products. Unlike in the United States, you rarely come across superstores that sell everything and if you do prices can be higher for items that you can find elsewhere. These are some stores I have found that I particularly like and what to buy where:
Palí: Located in Barrio Córdoba it gets bonus points for being super close, however in recent weeks my roommate and I have stopped going there, unless it is for a quick bread run. They sell shampoo, conditioner, feminine pads, jelly, milk, bread, cookies, coffee, and it has a limited produce section. I suggest buying feminine pads and bread here since it’s close by and is the cheapest place I have found for them.
Pequeño Mundo: A couple blocks farther than Palí, my roommates and I go here to buy hot chocolate mix, cookies, peanut butter, maple syrup, Nutella, jelly, and Tupperware. They also sell personal care items. This is the best place for cheap peanut butter and I love to buy cookies here because it is the cheapest place in town for Oreo-like cookies that aren’t individually packaged.
Auto-Mercado: A few blocks from the National Theatre. They sell shampoo, conditioner, feminine products, candy, peanut butter, jelly, sushi, and they have a bakery section and a large fruit section. I love their fruit because their apples are cheaper than the other two stores, also if you are looking for a cheap shampoo and conditioner, they sell Suave for less than Palí. They also sell tampons. I love their bakery section too! They sell baguettes and double chocolate chip cookies, which are a fun treat! I suggest not buying peanut butter here since it is expensive, but if you are picky, they sell Jif.
Fería Verde & Fería de Zapote: Fería Verde is in Barrio Amón. It’s a little bit of a hike, but they have a lot of venders of organic fruits, granolas, coffee, chocolate, and souvenirs. One of the best places to have brunch on a Saturday morning! Fería de Zapote is the best place to get cheap fruits and vegetables. Open only on Sunday mornings, you can buy avocados, pineapples, strawberries, mangos, breads, cheeses, meats, carrots, you name it, it is probably there. I love to stock up for the week for only a few colones. If you go make sure you drink from a coconut!
Occasionally I will go to local bakeries to buy bread and cookies for the week, as a personal preference, since I love fresh baguettes. My favorite is The Whisk and Rendez-Vous. Overall, you can buy almost everything in Costa Rica, it just takes some time figuring out where to get it. Hope this helps save you some time getting what you need!