Costa Rica is a beautiful country, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This well-conserved country has sprawling landscapes and beautiful natural terrains. Here are the best places to visit in Costa Rica to make the most of your trip.
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America but it has a rich history, which can be traced back to the time of the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations. Over the centuries, Costa Rica has been ruled by a number of different countries, including Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.
It’s home to lush rainforests, white-sand beaches, and amazing wildlife. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Costa Rica has something for everyone, and even if you think it’s not your type of trip you’ll leave inspired.
Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. And in a world of a changing climate, you must visit Costa Rica before it’s too late.
This country is absolutely gorgeous with its rainforests, volcanoes, and beaches, and it’s a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. So whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s definitely something for you in Costa Rica.
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Table of Contents
- Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica & Things to Do
- 1. Arenal Volcano National Park
- 2. Manuel Antonio National Park
- 3. Tamarindo
- 4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
- 5. Cocos Island National Park
- 6. Montezuma
- 7. Bay of Papagayo & Papagayo Peninsula
- 8. Rincon de la Vieja
- 9. Tortuguero National Park
- 10. Nosara
- 11. Irazu Volcan National Park
- 12. Dominical
- 13. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
- 14. San José
- 15. Puntarenas
- 16. Explore Playa Bonita Natural Reserve
- 17. Central Valley and Highlands
- 18. Las Catalinas
- 19. Catarate Del Toro Waterfall
- 20. National Park
- 21. Jaco
- 22. Playa Conchal
- 23. Braulio Carrillo National Park
- 24. Islas Murcielagos
- Final Thoughts
- What is the prettiest city in Costa Rica?
- What should you not miss in Costa Rica?
- What places should you visit in Costa Rica?
Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica & Things to Do
Here are our favorite destinations in Costa Rica.
1. Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano is a central landmark of Arenal, the self-declared adventure capital of Costa Rica.
Arenal Volcano National Park is a beautiful park that surrounds the Arenal Volcano. The park is full of lush green forests and provides stunning views of the volcano. There are also many hiking trails in the park, which lead to waterfalls and other beautiful areas.
This national park features one of the world’s most active volcanoes as well as heavenly scenery that will take your breath away!
La Fortuna Waterfall is located in Arenal Volcano National Park and is definitely worth a visit! You can hike to the top of the falls, or take a relaxing swim in the pools below.
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2. Manuel Antonio National Park
Named after President Manuel A. Figueres Ferrer (the founder of democracy in Costa Rica), this park offers some amazing hikes through jungles and waterfalls!
There are plenty of things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park, but some of the highlights include hiking, swimming, and spotting wildlife. The park is home to monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, so keep your eyes peeled as you explore.
Be sure to also spend time relaxing on the beach – the perfect way to end a day of adventure in Manuel Antonio National Park.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
If you’re looking for a great place to visit in Costa Rica, be sure to check out Tamarindo!
This beach town is known for its incredible surfing conditions with its gentle waves along Tamarindo Beach, and it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.
You’ll also find plenty of great restaurants and bars in Tamarindo, so you won’t have to go far for a good time.
The culture of Tamarindo is heavily influenced by its close proximity to the beach. Locals are known for being laid-back and friendly, and you’ll find that people here are always ready to have a good time.
We stayed at El Capitan Suizo and absolutely loved the experience of staying in a room right on the beach.
Tamarindo is also home to a diverse mix of cultures, and you’ll see evidence of this in the town’s architecture, food, and music. If you’re looking for an authentic Costa Rican experience, be sure to visit Tamarindo.
4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a popular tourist destination in Costa Rica, and for good reason. This reserve is home to some of the most fascinating wildlife in the country, including howling monkeys, colorful frogs, and jaguars.
You’ll also find plenty of beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, so it’s the perfect place to get outdoors and explore.
Keep a watch on colorful frogs and howling monkeys. And if you’re looking for a place to relax, be sure to check out one of the reserve’s many charming cafes.
So if you’re looking for an amazing Costa Rican experience, be sure to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
5. Cocos Island National Park
Cocos Island is incredibly underrated and has marvels that rival the wonders of the Galapagos Islands. This incredible national park as part of Costa Rica is very very hard to get to. It’s an island that is almost all the way to Colombia.
Most people don’t even know about it and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Isla del Coco is world-famous for diving. It is appropriate for all levels of divers, but most are intermediate-level divers.
The waters are very cold, between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year. There are white tip reef sharks and humpback whales that reside here year-round.
This national park is one of the most pristine that you will find in Costa Rica. You might even see some dolphins on your trip. It’s a real-life Isla Nublar for the Jurassic Park fans out there.
No seriously, there is a Jurassic Park on the island. If you want to see our beautiful planet Earth in its raw form, this is the place to do it.
A popular beach town located on the Central Pacific coast is home to some of Costa Rica’s best surf breaks!
There’s plenty to do in Montezuma, whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or get out and explore the rainforest! Here are some of the top things to do in Montezuma:
- Relax on the beach.
- Explore the rainforest.
- 4. Go zip-lining through the trees.
- 5. Take a canopy tour.
- 6.Visit the nearby waterfalls.
- 7.Take a hike to the top of Montezuma Hill for stunning views of the area.
- 8. Go horseback riding on the beach.
- 9. Sample some of Costa Rica’s delicious cuisine.
- 10. Enjoy a relaxing massage on the beach
There are a few ways to get to Montezuma from San Jose.
You can take a bus, a taxi, or rent a car. The easiest way is to take a bus, which takes about 3 hours. Taxis are also an option, but they can be expensive.
If you want to rent a car, be sure to do your research first, as the roads can be tricky to navigate.
7. Bay of Papagayo & Papagayo Peninsula
The Papagayo Peninsula is a beautiful and secluded area on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
It’s well known for its amazing beaches and lush rainforest. If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing vacation, the Papagayo Peninsula is definitely a place you’ll want to check out.
This area is known for having some of the best resorts to stay in all of Costa Rica.
There are a number of beautiful beaches near the Papagayo Peninsula, and each one offers its own unique charm and attractions. Here are some of the best ones to check out:
- Playa Hermosa: This beach is known for its stunning white sand and crystal clear waters. It’s definitely a paradise for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
- Playa Panama: This beach is great for surfing and bodyboarding. It’s also home to some of the best seafood in Costa Rica.
- Playa Danta: This beach is perfect for those who want to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica. It’s also great for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
- Playa Ocotal: This beach is known for its perfect, soft sand that stretches along the coastline for miles. It’s an excellent place to relax or to take a morning walk.
8. Rincon de la Vieja
Rincon de la Vieja is a volcano located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, thanks to its stunning natural scenery and the variety of activities available.
Some of the things you can do at Rincon de la Vieja include hiking, zip-lining, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and swimming.
There are a number of great places to stay near Rincon de la Vieja, including the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, Hacienda Guachipelin Volcano Ranch Hotel & Hot Springs, and Hotel Casa Conde. All of these resorts offer great amenities and views of the volcano.
So if you’re looking for a place to stay near Rincon de la Vieja, be sure to check out these resorts.
9. Tortuguero National Park
Costa Rica is home to many beautiful places, but one of the most stunning is Tortuguero National Park. Most notable for its vast array of nesting leatherback sea turtles.
This park is known for its lush tropical rainforest and its miles of unspoiled beaches. It’s also a great place to see wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and crocodiles. If you’re looking for an unforgettable nature experience, be sure to visit Tortuguero National Park.
There are many great places to stay near Tortuguero National Park, but one of the best is the Mawamba Lodge. This lodge is located right in the heart of the park and offers guests a unique and unforgettable experience.
If you’re looking for a place to stay near Tortuguero National Park, be sure to check out the Mawamba Lodge.
The Nicoya Peninsula is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and is known for its beautiful beaches and lush rainforest. Some of the best places to visit on the Nicoya Peninsula include Nosara, Tamarindo, and Santa Teresa.
If you’re looking for an amazing beach vacation destination, be sure to check out Nosara in Costa Rica. This small town is located on the Pacific Coast and is known for its beautiful beaches and lush rainforest.
There’s something for everyone in Nosara, from surfing and stand-up paddleboarding to ziplining and wildlife spotting. So if you’re looking for an adventure-filled tropical getaway, be sure to add Nosara to your list!
11. Irazu Volcan National Park
This park features Costa Rica’s second most active volcano as well as some amazing natural hot springs.
The volcano is located in the Cordillera Central mountain range and is a part of the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Irazú Volcano National Park was established in 1965 and covers an area of 58 square kilometers.
The park features a wide variety of landscapes, including rainforest, cloud forest, paramo, and lava fields. Visitors can also enjoy hot springs, waterfalls, and crater lakes.
Irazú Volcano is known for its spectacular eruptions, which can be seen from great distances. The last major eruption took place just 20 years ago.
With rickety wooden houses, stunning beaches, budget lodgings, laid-back restaurants, and a decent ambiance, Dominical is an island retreat for tropical backpackers.
Costa Rica’s Dominical is one of the best surfing locations in all of Central America.
Surfers who visit the region are trapped and visits frequently extend. Dominical also draws a wealthy crowd that prefers small luxury hotels located on hills or overlooking the town’s outskirts.
They’re commonly set apart from one another, giving guests a close-up view of species such as howler monkeys rousing them at sunrise and toucans flying by pools.
13. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
If you’re looking for a truly unique Costa Rican experience, be sure to check out Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. This town is located in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica, and it has a vibe that’s very different from the rest of the country.
It has tiny cantinas and ramshackle eateries, with the scent of coconut curries and reggaeton music in the air.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation destination, be sure to add Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to your list.
14. San José
San José is the capital of Costa Rica and is home to tons of fun things to do. The city is clean and friendly, with a wide range of century-old buildings as well as modern ones. There are activities for every day of the year all over the city so it would be difficult not to find something you like.
Some of the best things to see and do in San José include:
- Visit the National Museum of Costa Rica, which contains exhibits on the history, culture, and natural history of Costa Rica
- Take a walk through Plaza de la Cultura, which is home to beautiful architecture and several museums
- Stroll through the colorful markets near the National Theatre
- Explore the lush botanical gardens at La Sabana Park
- Sample Costa Rican cuisine at one of the city’s many restaurants
- Visit the Gold Museum, which contains displays of Costa Rican treasures such as pre-Columbian gold
The best places to stay in San José depend on your budget and what you’re looking for.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of hostels and budget hotels available. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, there are also some great options available.
Some of the best places to stay in San José include:
- The Costa Rican Times Hotel, which is located in the heart of the city and offers great amenities such as a restaurant, bar, and pool
- The Alta Hotel, which is a boutique hotel located in a quiet neighborhood and features beautiful gardens
- The Marriott Costa Rica Hotel, which is one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the city
The delightful coastal city of Puntarenas is only about an hour and a half from San José. There’s no shortage of things to do in the entire Puntarenas Province, such as taking a boat tour, bird watching, or enjoying the fabulous food.
Some of the best things to do in Puntarenas include:
- Go on a boat tour and enjoy the beautiful ocean views and abundant wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, and birds
- See aquatic wildlife at the Corcovado National Park’s Whale Marine Biological Center
16. Explore Playa Bonita Natural Reserve
Sample some of the country’s best cuisine in Puntarenas’ many restaurants along with the great beaches this town has to offer at Playa Bonita Natural Reserve.
The best places to stay in Puntarenas also depend on your budget and what you’re looking for.
If you’d like an affordable place to stay, the Hotel Las Brisas is a good choice. The hotel offers basic amenities such as hot water and Wi-Fi but has a fantastic beachfront view.
If you’re looking for luxury, the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel is a great choice. The hotel offers everything that you would need for a luxurious vacation, including multiple restaurants and access to the beach.
17. Central Valley and Highlands
The Central Valley is where most of the population lives. Here you’ll find some cities that are definitely worth a visit. The area features attractions like coffee plantations and delicious restaurants, so it’s a great place to experience both culture and nature.
Some of the best things to see and do in the Central Valley include:
- Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you can hike through trails, swim in natural pools, zip line over one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls, or take a ride on the Sky Tram which takes you dizzyingly close to the falls
- Visit Llorona Hot Springs for a fun day of relaxation and adventure with family or friends
- See if you can spot monkeys, toucans, sloths, and other exotic wildlife at Selva Verde, an animal rescue center that helps injured animals reintegrate into the wild
- Enjoy a cup of coffee from a local plantation or a cup of cocoa grown and harvested by Costa Rican farmers
- Visit the Poás Volcano, which is a popular national park where you can hike around an active volcano and take in panoramic views from the observation points
- Learn about Costa Rican history at Casa Presidencial Museum, where exhibits focus on the history of Costa Rica in relation to world events
- See what life in Costa Rica was like decades ago at Museo de los Niños, an interactive museum for children where they can play with arts and crafts or dress up in historical costumes.
18. Las Catalinas
If you’re looking for a stunning beach town to visit in Costa Rica, be sure to check out Las Catalinas. This picturesque town is located on the Pacific coast, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
There’s plenty to do in Las Catalinas Costa Rica, from swimming and sunbathing on the beach to hiking and exploring the area’s lush green forests.
In addition, the town is home to a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as a few small shops. So whether you’re looking for a quiet place to relax or an action-packed vacation destination, Las Catalinas is definitely worth considering!
Getting to Las Catalinas is easy but adventurous – just fly into the Liberia Airport, and our recommendation would be to take a private shuttle or rent a car.
You’ll drive on the Monkey Trail near the Congo Trail where you’ll get the chance to drive through your first river. Welcome to Costa Rica!
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19. Catarate Del Toro Waterfall
The Catarate Del Toro Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Costa Rica and maybe even the entire Central America. It’s located in the province of Cartago, and it’s well worth a visit!
An amazing volcanic landscape with a dramatic waterfall in the crater, surrounded by lush green forest and tropical plants. The waterfall is within the crater of an extinct volcano and is best viewed at sunrise. It’s worth waking up that early for. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
While technically just outside of San Jose, this small beach town is home to some amazing hotels and resorts.
Getting to Catarate Del Toro Waterfall is easy. Just take the highway from San Jose to Cartago and follow the signs. It’s located right next to the highway, so you can’t miss it.
20. National Park
One of the best places to visit in Costa Rica is the Corcovado National Park. This park is located on the remote Osa Peninsula of southwestern Costa Rica and is known for its amazing wildlife.
You can see animals like jaguars, tapirs, and monkeys in the park, and it’s also a great place to go birdwatching.
There are a few different places to stay near Corcovado National Park. One of the best is the Osa Canopy Lodge, which is located just outside the park. This lodge offers amazing views of the rainforest and has a variety of activities available in Costa Rica, including hiking, birdwatching, and zip-lining.
Another great option is the Lapa Rios Eco Lodge. This lodge is also located just outside the park and offers cabins with views of the rainforest and river below. It also has a variety of activities available, such as hikes, birdwatching, and yoga classes.
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, you can stay at the Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge. This lodge is located right on the beach and has luxury cabins. It also offers surfing lessons, yoga classes, and massages.
Corcovado National Park is the ideal spot for nature lovers and for adventure.
Jaco is a town located on the central pacific coast of Costa Rica. It’s a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beaches, which offer excellent surfing and swimming conditions.
Jaco is also home to a variety of restaurants and hotels, as well as many convenience stores and other businesses.
If you’re looking for a place to stay while visiting Jaco, there are a variety of accommodation options available, including apartments, hotels, and hostels.
If you’re looking for a place to stay while visiting Jaco, there are a variety of accommodation options available, including apartments, hotels, and hostels.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Jaco:
- Apartotel Flamboyant – This apartment complex offers spacious and comfortable apartments, as well as a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool and a gym.
- Hotel Cocal and Casino – This hotel offers excellent facilities, including a casino, a spa, and several restaurants.
- Hostel Pura Vida – This hostel offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in a great location.
22. Playa Conchal
There are plenty of things to do in Playa Conchal, Costa Rica. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the area’s natural beauty, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy.
Some of the best things to do in Playa Conchal include:
- Relax on the beach.
- Take a swim in the crystal-clear water.
- Hike through the lush rainforest.
- Visit the nearby villages and learn about local culture.
- Take a boat tour of the area’s beautiful coastline.
- Take a catamaran tour of the coast and snorkel in some beautiful coral reefs.
There are plenty of places to stay in Playa Conchal, Costa Rica. From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels, you’ll find something to fit your needs and budget.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Playa Conchal:
- Luxury resorts: If you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing experience, then be sure to check out one of the many luxury resorts in Playa Conchal. These resorts offer everything from private beaches to world-class restaurants, and they’re sure to make your vacation unforgettable.
- Budget-friendly hostels: If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry! There are plenty of affordable hostels in Playa Conchal as well. These hostels provide clean and comfortable beds, and they’re a great option for solo travelers and backpackers.
To get there, take a bus from San Jose to Liberia and then flag down a bus towards Playa Pan de Azucar.
Playa Conchal is about an hour and a half away from Liberia. The best way to get there is by car, but if you don’t have one then be sure to take the bus that goes directly there.
23. Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park is known for its lush vegetation and its many different habitats, which make it a great spot for observing a variety of wildlife.
Some of the animals you can expect to see in the park include monkeys, jaguars, and pumas, as well as a wide variety of birds.
If you’re looking to stay close to Braulio Carrillo National Park, there are a few great options. The best place to stay is likely the Hotel Cabinas El Parque, which is located right inside the park.
24. Islas Murcielagos
The Islas Murcielagos, or Bat Islands, are a group of uninhabited islands off the coast of Costa Rica. These islands are best known for their excellent diving and snorkeling conditions, as well as their populations of marine animals, including dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles.
If you’re looking for an amazing diving experience, be sure to add the Islas Murcielagos to your list. This is one of the best places to scuba dive in all of Central America… But only if you dare enter the waters.
Costa Rica is known for its many national parks, which offer visitors a chance to see some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes in the country.
Some of the most popular parks include Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Santa Rosa National Park.
Each park has its unique features and attractions that make it worth a visit. Manuel Antonio National Park is known for its beaches and lush jungles, while Corcovado National Park is home to some of the most diverse wildlife in all of Central America. And Santa Rosa National Park is famous for its miles of unspoiled coastline.
Costa Rica is a popular destination for anyone looking to experience natural beauty. From the lush rainforests to white sand beaches, Costa Rica has it all!
I hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica. Check out some of our other articles if you’re interested in learning more about this amazing country.
In the meantime, Pura Vida.
What is the prettiest city in Costa Rica?
San José is the capital and largest city in Costa Rica. It is also the country’s artistic and cultural center, home to a wide range of theaters, museums, and galleries.
The city features pleasant weather year-round, with an average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Beyond that, the Guanacaste Province is exceptional with its gorgeous beaches and Pacific Coast waves.
What should you not miss in Costa Rica?
There are a lot of things to see and do in Costa Rica, but here are some of the most popular, including the beaches on the Pacific Coast, the vast rainforest, the coffee plantations, visit the volcanoes in Fortuna and Arenal, and check out the wildlife at Manuel Antonio National Park.
What places should you visit in Costa Rica?
This is a difficult question because it all depends on what you like. There are tons of national parks, volcanoes, plantations, waterfalls, and beaches.
Beyond this, there are several outstanding resorts and hotels to visit as well as great beach towns like Nosara, Tamarindo, and Playa Conchal.
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