10 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica

Central | North America Apr 02, 2021

Costa Rica owns sensational landscapes: tropical jungles, volcanoes, stunning waterfalls, fine sandy beaches, but also vibrant cities. The Poas Volcano Region, La Paz Gardens, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano National Park and the beautiful tropical beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park are some of the "ingredients" of a superlative vacation. Let's check out the best destinations you can visit in Costa Rica:

Arenal Volcano National Park

Created in 1994, the national park that includes the Arenal Volcano which has subalpine forest and tropical forest microclimate, and its biodiversity makes it unique in the world.

From 1968, the volcano erupted almost daily with low-intensity eruptions known as Strombolian eruptions, until 2010, when, following an earthquake, its activity stagnated.

The suspension bridges here are one of the most important environmental projects in Costa Rica, which allow the observation of wildlife up close and protect it at the same time.

Tabacon hot springs are an unforgettable experience for many visitors due to the tropical gardens, the mild climate and the warm waters of the springs.

Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler / Unsplash

San José

San José is a cosmopolitan, vibrant city that offers you all the comforts of a modern city: shopping centres, internet cafes, fast food chains, restaurants and universities.

The most important sights to visit in the city are the National Theater, the Cathedral, the Lankester Botanical Garden, the Gold Museum, the Edificio Correos architectural ensemble (which also houses a philatelic museum), El Parque de Diversiones de Costa Rica, Calle de la Amargura, the Jade Museum and the National Museum, as well as the El Pueblo District where there are numerous art galleries, shops, clubs, bars and restaurants.

But San José is more of a starting point for major attractions in the Central Valley and in the country.

Poas Volcano National Park

Located in the province of Alajuela, with a height of 2708 m, Poas Volcano has one of the largest active craters in the world.

The southern crater of this volcano is spectacular due to the crystalline blue lagoon that looks like a quiet natural pool, named Lake Botos.

The northern crater - Laguna Caliente, located at an altitude of 2300 m and with a depth of 300 m, has an extremely high acidity and is a unique representation of geothermal activity, being accompanied by smoke and steam emanations.

Around Poas Volcano, an area of ​​about 5600 hectares is declared a national park. Because it is easily accessible, the views are wonderful, but especially due to the its craters , this national park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica.

Poas Volcano
Photo by Alvaro Hernandez / Unsplash

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park

The gardens of La Paz Waterfalls are a fairytale territory, a natural reservation full of exoticism where you can see the spectacular flora and fauna of the region. The butterfly observatory, the largest in the world, the orchid gardens and the hummingbirds make these gardens an exotic paradise.

Formed on the La Paz River, on a length of 8 km, the 5 waterfalls impress with their spectacular waterfalls and lush vegetation surrounding urge you to explore the area.

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash


Located in the northern part of the state of Costa Rica, in the Limon Province, Tortuguero - the Turtle Land is the starting point for visiting Tortuguero National Park. The beaches near the village are the place where turtles come every year to make their nests in the sand and they lay their eggs.

In Tortuguero, there are 2 scientific research stations, Cano Palma and John H. Phipps, which deal with the research and conservation of local fauna, especially turtles. The small town, which can only be reached by boat or plane, ensures its existence mainly from ecotourism.

Photo by Marco Bicca / Unsplash

Carara National Park

Established as a biological reserve in 1978, the area was transformed into a national park in 1998. Due to its biodiversity, various species of reptiles (crocodiles, snakes, lizards), amphibians, mammals, including monkeys, have their habitat here and various species of waterfowl for which the area is an ideal home. Carara National Park is about 50 km from San Jose.

Keel-billed Toucan
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček / Unsplash

Manuel Antonio National Park

Once establishing of Manuel Antonio National Park in 1972, Costa Rican's citizen have decided to preserve for future generations one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world.

Although it is the smallest park in Costa Rica, the wildlife richness is unrivalled and it is spread over 683 hectares. Manuel Antonio is home to a delightful combination of tropical forests, white beaches and coral reefs.

The beaches are among the most beautiful in the country, with white sand and bordered with abundant vegetation. The forest is home to a number of species such as sloths, iguanas, squirrel monkeys and millions of brightly coloured crabs.

Playa Escondilla and Playa Manuel Antonio
Photo by Atanas Malamov / Unsplash

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Located along the Cordillera de Tilarán Mountains, the reserve comprises 6 ecological zones, of which about 90% are virgin forests. Monteverde is called "cloud forest" and not "rain forest" due to the altitude at which is located and which causes the clouds to descend to ground level.

The crown of the trees is one of the richest in birds, insects, butterflies and plants, and this gives the impression of visiting a real green cathedral: spectacularly tall trees, orchids, bromeliads, ferns, wild vines and mosses. The forests are home to jaguars, ocelots, tapirs and brightly feathered birds, a total of 130 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, 120 species of amphibians and reptiles and over 3,000 species of plants.

Hanging bridges near Monteverde. Tour in the canopy of the trees.
Photo by Angela Erick / Unsplash


The small town of Monteverde in the Province of Puntarenas is a major tourist destination in Costa Rica, due to the many eco-tourist trails that allow, among others, the visit of the Bosque Nuboso Monteverde Biological Reserve, located along the Cordillera de Tilaran Mountains. Monteverde is the turntable that allows access to Isla del Coco, Arenal Volcano, Rio Celeste, Poas Volcano, Tortuguero and Cerro Chirripo.

Rainbow, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Photo by Arianne Beeche / Unsplash

Tarcoles River

Take a boat ride on the Tarcoles River, to the heart of the crocodile territory. It is a unique opportunity to observe reptiles with impressive dimensions in their own habitat and to admire various species of birds.

Located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Guacalillo Estuary and the Tarcoles River offer the opportunity to observe one of the largest populations of American crocodile - Crocodylus acutus in America. Here you can also discover the mangrove area with a large number of waterfowl and one of the most important conservation areas of Macaw Scarlet in the country.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček / Unsplash


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