If you’re planning to visit Costa Rica, there are many things to see and do. Here are some of the best places to visit during your trip!
The tropical rainforests and jungle scenery of Costa Rica make it a must-see destination for eco travelers. Monteverde is one of the most popular destinations in the country thanks to its gorgeous national parks, stunning cloud forests and epic views.
1. Arenal Volcano National Park
The most popular of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, Arenal Volcano National Park is an alluring destination for adventure lovers. With a diverse array of exciting tours available, you’re sure to find an experience that suits your mood and preferences.
Hiking through the forest canopy, ziplining down an aerial tram, or soaking in all-natural hot springs are some of the best ways to take in Arenal’s dramatic landscapes. And no visit would be complete without a glimpse of the mighty Arenal Volcano!
While the volcano isn’t currently active, you can still enjoy hiking through its base to explore old lava flows and learn about its natural history. A guided tour is a great way to do so and get a closer look at the surrounding wildlife, too!
You’ll also find a variety of water activities on Lake Arenal, which is a must-visit for all visitors to the area. Fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding are all popular options here. And if you’re traveling with a romantic partner, book a sunset cruise for stunning views of the volcano and lake.
2. Manuel Antonio National Park
The smallest national park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is home to one of the country's most beautiful beaches and protected rainforest. Spread over just fewer than 680 hectares (1,680 acres), this protected green space is the perfect place to get off the beaten path and explore one of Central America's best-kept secrets.
The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means the wildlife and ecosystems are pristine and must be protected to maintain their integrity. You'll find a range of animal species, including rare squirrel monkeys, three-toed sloths, camouflaged iguanas and thousands of colorful crabs.
If you're looking to see more of the wildlife, we recommend taking a tour with a naturalist guide. They'll take you around the park and give you an in-depth look at the plants, animals, and rainforest.
3. Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica if you’re looking for an unforgettable wildlife experience. Its long stretches of primary rainforest are home to a striking number of sea turtles and there’s plenty to see and do here.
If you’re visiting during nesting season, July to October, you’ll have the chance to witness hundreds of turtles crawl onto the beach to dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs. Then, a few months later, they’ll hatch into baby turtles.
This is a must-do activity for anyone who visits Tortuguero National Park during nesting season (July-October). It’s one of the most exciting things you can do in Costa Rica, and it’s something you’ll never forget!
If you’re not lucky enough to be there during nesting season, there’s still a lot to see. For example, the extensive network of freshwater canals behind the beaches are home to seven species of river turtles, Southern River Otters, and a wide variety of freshwater fish. Birdwatching is also a great activity in Tortuguero, with over 300 different bird species spotted here.
4. La Fortuna
La Fortuna is a small town that serves as the main gateway to the Arenal Volcano National Park. It’s also a popular destination for those looking for other outdoor adventures like ziplining and horseback riding.
- If you don’t have a car, we recommend booking an organized tour that will allow you to visit all the top attractions in the area. This will save you money as well as time.
- You can even combine ziplining with a variety of other activities, including horseback riding! Some tours are very affordable and suitable for kids from 8 years old.
- Another popular activity is to check out the free hot springs in La Fortuna. You can find them across from Tabacon Resort at the public entrance to the river.
- If you’re looking for something a little more adrenaline-pumping, we highly recommend joining an extreme canyoning tour. This Waterfall Jumping & Extreme Canyoning Tour will let you rappel down tropical waterfalls and jump from cliffs into deep canyon pools.