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Things to do in Costa Rica

Things to do in  Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica spans just 170 miles (274 kilometers) coast-to-coast, yet contains six percent of the world's biodiversity. Postcard-perfect beaches; lush, protected rainforests; and a proud history of promoting conservation and eco-tourism have helped make the country a veritable paradise for active travelers and nature lovers—as well as Central America's top travel destination. Many tours begin in Costa Rica's "Golden Triangle" and string together the most popular destinations: Arenal Volcano National Park and nearby La Fortuna, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and Manuel Antonio National Park. In this region alone, there are enough outdoor activities to fill several vacations, ranging from ziplining through the rainforest canopy, to whitewater rafting, to rainforest safaris, and perhaps even a glimpse of the Arenal volcano in action. Many tours offer family-friendly options, and proximity to the Pacific coast makes it easy to include plenty of beach time. Off the beaten path, consider a private tour of Tortuguero National Park, a protected wilderness reserve and seasonal sea-turtle nesting ground that's home to monkeys, crocodiles, and more than 300 species of birds. If you have some time in San Jose, the capital offers a wealth of museums, including the National Museum, the Gold Museum, the Jade Museum, and the Children's Museum. Or tour the lively Central Market to shop for handicrafts. Everywhere you go, Costa Rica casts its spell—don't be surprised if you fall in love with the "pura vida" lifestyle and never want to leave.

Top 10 attractions in Costa Rica


Selvatura Park

Selvatura Park is a popular nature-adventure park in the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Located just outside Monteverde, the park contains over 850 acres (344 hectares) of ecologically diverse forest. Attractions include zipline and suspension bridge tours, hummingbird and butterfly gardens, natural history walks, and reptile exhibitions.More

Tamarindo Beach

Once the site of a quiet fishing village, Tamarindo Beach has become one of Costa Rica's most popular stretches of golden sand. Surfers travel from across the globe to ride Tamarindo's waves, but you don’t need to be a pro to hang 10 here. There are spots nearby that are calm enough for first-time wave riders to learn.More

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de La Vieja National Park is one of the country’s most diverse ecological areas. Surrounding two volcanoes, Rincon (active) and Santa Maria (dormant), the park is also home to an extraordinary display of local flora and fauna, while being a part of the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste World Heritage site. While the plant life is impressive on its own, especially considering the enormous concentration of purple orchids here, it’s the concentration of volcanoes that really wows visitors. The Rincon de La Vieja volcano gave rise to the park’s name and contains nine separate but contiguous craters. It is one of the largest of the five volcanoes in the Guanacaste region and is believed to be over a million years old. Despite being considered active, it has not erupted since the early 1980s. The park does see a lot of volcanic activity, including vents, fumaroles and boiling mud pots and has at least 32 rivers that flow down its sides.More

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

While zip-line tours that take you swishing through the treetops at squeal-inducing speeds certainly have their charm, there are other ways to appreciate Costa Rica’s wondrous wilderness. Unbeknownst to most tourists, the life of the rain forest largely takes place overhead, in the thick jungle canopy of sunlight and opportunity. Most of Costa Rica’s birds, monkeys, giant anteaters, sloths, snakes and amphibians spend the better part of their lives in the distant treetops, far from the snapping cameras of junior photographers. The key to seeing these creatures (and getting the best shots) is ascending into the trees yourself. Hence these 16 elegantly constructed Arenal Hanging Bridges—some suspended high above gorges and others stretching far across jungle floors—that line the winding paths of this epic Costa Rican hike and stretch a total of 2.6 km (1.6 miles) across the steeply pitched landscape.More

Rainmaker Park


La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This popular jungle oasis is the number one ecological attraction in Costa Rica. With incredible hiking that’s easily accessible from the capital city, as well as stunning waterfalls and indigenous wildlife, it’s a destination that’s truly worthy of a visit. Travelers can explore the 3.5 kilometers of rugged trails and 10 animal exhibits on site to gain a deeper appreciation of Costa Rica’s famed biodiversity and natural beauty. Whether it’s hiking to the five waterfalls that give this garden its name, wandering through the cloud forest or venturing into the aviary, there’s plenty to do, see and discover at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The grounds are easy to navigate, and most visitors choose to self-guide their tours. But travelers looking to gain a deeper understanding of conservation efforts, as well as to learn more about the unique flora and fauna here can also opt for a guided tour.More

La Fortuna Waterfall

Plunging down the side of Cerro Chato, Volcan Arenal’s dormant and thickly forested twin, is one of the most impressive, and easily accessible, waterfalls in all Costa Rica. Cascada La Fortuna pours some 65m (200ft) down a sheer, volcanic gray cliff face, perpetually bathed in mists and carpeted in abundant and exotic vegetation. The trailhead for the falls is located just 5.5km (3mi) from La Fortuna proper, a popular bike ride or horseback trek. The descent from the parking lot to the jungle floor isn’t a long or difficult hike; it’s about 20 minutes down, and generally a bit longer climbing back back up. Just keep in mind that the staircase is steep, and sometimes slippery. A the mirador, or viewpoint, allows almost anyone to appreciate this natural wonder no matter what their fitness level.More

Tortuga Island (Isla Tortuga)

Just off the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, close to beautiful Curu Wildlife Refuge, lies idyllic Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica’s most popular island escape. It actually comprises two islands, Alcatraz and Tolinga, but just about everyone refers to them as just “Isla Tortuga,” or Turtle Island. A postcard-perfect paradise of white sand beaches, gently swaying coconut palms, and sapphire blue water, this is the perfect spot to swim, snorkel, or simply enjoy the sunshine. While there’s plenty to do on land—eat, drink, take a canopy tour, play volleyball, or even hike a short but lovely little nature trail through the heart of the island—most people come to snorkel or dive. The volcanic reef, featuring three shipwrecks, which surrounds the island, shelters spinner dolphins, angelfish, porcupine fish, octopi, eagle rays, moray eels, and if you’re lucky, the sea turtles for which the island is named.More

Trip ideas

Top Hiking Trails in Arenal Volcano National Park

Top Hiking Trails in Arenal Volcano National Park

Where to Go Bird-Watching in Costa Rica

Where to Go Bird-Watching in Costa Rica

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

Top activities in Costa Rica

Full day Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall and Hotsprings

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Full day Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall and Hotsprings

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San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour


Recent reviews from experiences in Costa Rica

Best tour ever!
Heather_G, Feb 2021
Buena vista Mega Combo Tour at Rincon de la Vieja Volcano from Tamarindo Beach
We got to experience a variety of activities in one day!
JP_D, Jan 2021
San Jose Night City Tour
It was a pleasant experience to see the see city.
A fun filled day
natalienwanna, Feb 2021
Costa Rica Full Day Combo Tour - Zip lining, Waterfalls, Volcano & Hot Springs
My favorite activities of this excursion included the zip lining and the hot springs right after.
Great tour
Ayesha_A, Feb 2021
Tenorio Rain Forest Hanging Bridges & Sloth Encounter
The waterfalls were beautiful but be prepared to hike up a lot of steps.
Adrenaline and Safety
Joe_K, Feb 2021
Ziplining and Waterfall Rappelling Combo
My favorite has to be flying planes in Las Vegas but a close second was the waterfall rappelling.
The best trip ever!
Ivana_L, Feb 2021
Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner
We were able to see and experience so many different things during one day.
Sarah_C, Feb 2021
Full day Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall and Hotsprings
My partner and I took a couple of breaks as we hiked up the mountains and then down to see the waterfall.
Everything “Pura Vida” on this tour!
Susan_G, Jan 2021
Hiking to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park Private Tour
The trip location was great - got to see rainforest, dry forest, volcanic mud pits, geysers, and got to swim at the Oropendola waterfall!
Highly recommended tour! You won't regret it.
jasmine_w, Dec 2020
Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner
Great price for the amount of activities offered.
Great Family Experience
Chris_K23, Dec 2020
ATV Mountain Tour From Riu Guanacaste or Nuevo Colon
We had stops along the way to see the different beaches grab some waters and saw many monkeys along the way.
Aston_L, Dec 2020
Costa Rica Full Day Combo Tour - Zip lining, Waterfalls, Volcano & Hot Springs
Waterfalls were beautiful.
Loved his tour!!
O_R, Dec 2020
4 Hours of ATV Riding Lunch & Waterfall
After that, we went to a natural pool with a beautiful waterfall.
Full Day of Fun and Memories
davidflack, Dec 2020
Arenal Volcano and Tabacón Hot Springs Day Trip from San Jose
Ideal tour for those who are in San Jose but want to see some of the highlights of the north of the country.
Sonya_W, Mar 2020
Two Volcanoes Extreme Hike in Arenal
Beautiful settings, VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES on day long trip.
Master of transportation
Fordsgirl60, Mar 2020
Liberia Airport Private Transfer To Or From Tamarindo
We arrived into Costa Rica with a long line for immigrations, we got outside to see Brian our driver holding a sign with my name on it.
A Fun Day in San Jose
Mary_F, Mar 2020
Lonely Planet Experiences: San Jose Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit
We might have liked to see more of Central Market.
Anne_C, Mar 2020
Monteverde Sky Walk From Guanacaste
The bus ride through Costa Rica was a great way to see your beautiful countryside.
Must Go Tour
Dixie_C, Feb 2020
Rio Celeste Hiking, Sloth Sanctuary & Llanos de Cortes Waterfall Tour
Beautiful beautiful waterfalls.
Would definitely recommend
saraaahdee24, Feb 2020
Horseback River Tour in Jaco
The stop at the waterfall was lovely.
Excellent Value
jensingh100, Jan 2020
Zipline Experience in La Fortuna with Hotel Pick Up
The tour ended with a day pass to Montana del fuego-a very nice hot springs resort.

Frequently Asked Questions