San José, Costa Rica
Natural Attractions & National Parks

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Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Natural Attractions & National Parks

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

1. Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour San José. Your first destination is the Doka Estate coffee plantation, where you'll learn all about the ancient techniques of producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. Experience the careful process involved in the cultivation, harvesting and roasting of the Golden Bean before tasting the delectable product. After your coffee tour, continue to Poás Volcano National Park, where there is a noticeable change in temperature and beautiful scenery in a cloud forest. Climb up Poás Volcano, an active stratovolcano that most recently erupted in 2017. The crater of the volcano is over a mile across and 1,050 feet deep, making for breathtaking views. Hike on a trail to the beautiful Botos Lagoon as you learn about the different ecosystems in the park. Then, continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional Costa Rican dishes. After lunch, explore the lush tropical rainforest. See the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds before returning to San José.

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San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

2. San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

Tour the best locations in Costa Rica and learn about local life and culture from those who live there. Visit a coffee plantation, zip line, and soak in the hot springs at the base of the Adrenal Volcano. Take the scenic route to the Arenal Volcano and visit a coffee plantation along the way. Gain an insight into the world of Costa Rican coffee and taste one of the best coffees in the world. Arrive at the "La Paz" and "San Fernando" waterfalls and admire the exotic tropical birds of Costa Rica, including many species of hummingbirds and rare emerald toucanets. Take in the views at the San Fernando Waterfall observation point before heading to the "Iguana Bridge", where you will have the chance to spot iguanas, sloths, monkeys, and toucans. Stop for an authentic Costa Rican lunch in a restaurant located in "La Fortuna." Then, prepare for a zip-lining adventure in the local rainforest jungles with 9 canopy cables and a 50 meter (150 feet) rappel on the Arenal River. Learn about the culture while listening to a "Maleku" Indigenous tribe presentation from locals. Relax for a couple of hours in the Paradise Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano, surrounded by tropical gardens followed by dinner.

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San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

3. San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

The day begins with pickup from your accommodation in San Jose, Heredia, or Alajuela at 6:00 AM. On your way to breakfast, drive past rolling coffee plantations and admire the mountains of Braulio Carrillo National Park. At around 7:15 AM, stop for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast to set you up for the day's adventure. Enjoy fresh fruit juice, coffee, eggs, and the popular gallo pinto (a typical Central American rice and bean dish.) After breakfast visit a local banana plantation and learn about the process of growing and exporting fruit. At around 10:00 AM, leave the bus behind and hop onboard a boat as you cruise into the jungle of Tortuguero National Park. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, which covers over 29,000 hectares, soak up the magic of this luscious green landscape. As you sail along the jungle canals, see native green sea turtles, as well as other endangered animals such as sloths, monkeys, and manatees. There’s also countless colorful butterflies, toucans, herons, crocodiles, and more. Learn about each of the animals and their habitat in the jungle, as well as about local conservation efforts to protect them. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, enjoy a hearty buffet lunch. After lunch, take a relaxing stroll through Tortuguero Village where you’ll discover local life and learn about the history of the town and its residents. At the end of an unforgettable day, get back on the bus at around 3:30 PM and begin the return journey back to San Jose.

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From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

4. From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

Explore the protected Tortuguero National Park in the Limón Province, reachable only by airplane or boat. Take in the wealth of biodiversity in its eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Trip itinerary: Day 1: After an early morning hotel pickup, admire the biodiversity of a primary forest through the window as you drive past Braulio Carrillo National Park. Sample a delicious Costa Rican breakfast during the drive. Mid-morning, board a comfortable boat and travel along the Tortuguero Canals. Be enchanted by the surrounding paradise and its varied flora and fauna. Then, enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a delicious lunch at the hotel. After lunch, tour the canals and take incredible photos for the rest of the afternoon. Arrive at Pachira Lodge (or similar) for a delightful dinner and a restful night's sleep. Day 2: Discover the flavors of Costa Rica with breakfast at the Lodge. Then, hike along the Lodge's private trail and work up an appetite for lunch. After lunch at the Lodge, visit the Sea Turtle Museum, the beach, and the picturesque village of Tortuguero. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the Lodge again. Day 3: After breakfast at the Lodge, head back to San José, stopping for lunch at El Ceibo in Guápiles on the way. Arrive back in San José in the afternoon.

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San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

5. San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

Start with pickup from your hotel and travel by minibus along the Panamerican Highway until you reach the base of the Irazú Volcano. Travel up the winding road through fertile farmlands where many types of fruit and vegetables are cultivated. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. At the summit of the volcano, on a clear day, marvel at the spectacular view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Next, descend to the city of Cartago and stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica. Discover this local pilgrimage site which has large vaulted ceilings and exquisite examples of stained glass windows.  Continue the tour through the Orosi Valley, an area of magnificent natural beauty. Visit one of the few remaining colonial churches in the region and stop for a tasty typical lunch at one of the local restaurants. Finally, be returned to your hotel to complete the tour.

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San José: La Paz Waterfall Gardens Private Day Tour

6. San José: La Paz Waterfall Gardens Private Day Tour

Embark on a full-day private tour of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the top nature park and wildlife refuge attraction in Costa Rica. Take in the fresh air of the mountain rainforest. Hike through its beautiful waterfalls and spot rare animals on this day trip. The tour begins at your hotel where your guide will meet you. Hop on a luxury air-conditioned vehicle for a 1-hour drive along scenic roads. Pass quaint villages on your way to the beautiful complex of La Paz Waterfall Gardens. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is the most-visited private ecological attraction in Costa Rica. It features the best hiking trails near San José. The eco-park houses a rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 animal species. Enjoy 5 waterfalls, cloud and rain forests, and hiking trails accompanied by your naturalist tour guide. Make the most of their environmental education program. Spot numerous species of birds in the aviary. Partake in toucan feeding, insect exhibit, butterfly observatory, and hummingbird hand-feeding. You can also visit the serpentarium and a traditional house with a petting zoo and ox cart. Give your feet a break by stopping for a delicious buffet lunch. Feast on traditional Costa Rican dishes, complete with a salad bar, pizza, garlic bread, French fries, fresh fruits, and rice pudding. Make this food experience perfect with an unlimited serving of fresh fruit juice, coffee, and tea. After exploring all the unique attractions of the eco-park, return to your hotel in San José by the middle of the afternoon.

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From San José: Sarapiquí Boat Ride & Tirimbina Reserve Tour

7. From San José: Sarapiquí Boat Ride & Tirimbina Reserve Tour

Travel to the Sarapiquí region of Costa Rica on a day tour that’s perfect for thrill-seekers and nature lovers. Embark on an exciting river cruise down the Sarapiquí River. Check out the different flora and fauna around you at the Tirimbina Biological Reserve. Navigate a unique suspension bridge. Begin your adventure early at your hotel where your naturalist tour guide will meet you. Hop on a luxury air-conditioned vehicle for a relaxing drive through the wonderful Costa Rican countryside. On the way, experience the beauty of the second-largest national park in Costa Rica, the Braulio Carrillo. The highway divides the park into 2 big sections, so you can enjoy breathtaking views of the pristine rainforest. Once on the Caribbean slope, learn about the local culture, the unique architecture of the Caribbean, the most important crops including bananas, cassavas, pineapples, heart of palm, cashews, sugarcane, and more. Nestled in the tropical rainforest is the Sarapiquí River. Visit this iconic tourist attraction. In the Upper Part, the river is perfect for whitewater rafting. The Lower Part supports boat tours, transfers, and fishing. Ride a comfortable boat down the Sarapiquí River and enjoy the rich wildlife. Get a close look at howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths, toucans, crocodiles, giant iguanas, river turtles, otters, many aquatic birds, and more. After the 2-hour river safari, taste the local flavors with a delicious lunch. Continue your journey to Tirimbina Biological Reserve, where a nature walk into the rainforest will complete your experience. Look out from the hanging bridge and admire the grandeur of the Sarapiquí River and the rainforest.

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San Jose: Sarapiqui River & La Paz Gardens Tour with Lunch

8. San Jose: Sarapiqui River & La Paz Gardens Tour with Lunch

The day begins with pickup from your hotel in San Jose and heads to the stunning La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This private nature reserve has been designed to educate visitors and provide sanctuary for rescued wildlife through a variety of gardens and exhibits. Enjoy a stroll through the park's luscious green landscapes and see rescued jaguars, colorful butterflies, exotic birds, and unique plants. Theres's also plenty of tropical cascades to admire and snap photos of for your vacation album. Later, discover the wonders of the Sarapiqui River on a relaxing boat cruise. Soak up the tranquility of the river and surrounding rainforest as you listen to the sound of bird’s chirping and trickling water. At the end of an unforgettable adventure, be dropped off back to your accommodation.

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From San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes Full-Day Trip

9. From San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes Full-Day Trip

After getting picked up at your hotel, head to the Irazú Volcano National Park where you can admire and even enter the crater of the highest volcano in the country. You will also be able to experience the unique miniature fauna and flora of Paramo, a tropical dwarf forest nestled in the highlands. Afterward, take the back road to Turrialba Volcano. Here, visit the "Central Town" located at the foot of the volcano. On weekdays, pay a visit to the one-teacher school in the town. Enjoy some time to explore the eerily abandoned town, still filled with farmhouses and buildings. Next, stop for dinner at a family-run grill house for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Finally, before beginning the drive back to San José visit the Archaeological Site of Guayabo, declared a Civil Engineering World Heritage landmark and the most important milestone of pre-Hispanic culture in the country.

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San Jose: Cartago Highlights, Irazu Volcano & Hot Springs

10. San Jose: Cartago Highlights, Irazu Volcano & Hot Springs

Ascend to the top of the Irazu Volcano at 11,260 ft, learn about the history of Costa Rica at the Ujarras Ruins, Orosi Valley, church & museum. Relax and Explore the beautiful gardens at the Rio Perlas Hotel, and enjoy the thermal pool. Begin your tour with a one-hour minivan transfer to the summit of Irazu, which is still an active volcano. Don't worry though, the volcano has only experienced occasional minor eruptions and some small lava flows in the last 50 years. Gaze at the Main Crater lake which has an unusual greenish yellow coloring caused by rainfall dissolving the minerals along the walls of the crater. Visit the four other craters including the Diego de la Haya crater. Admire panoramic views from the top, which on a rare clear day looks out onto both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Explore the national park which is home to local wildlife including armadillos, owls, rabbits, foxes, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. After, head to the beautiful Orosi Valley and town. See the iconic Orosi Church and some of the country's most historic landmarks, including the Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, the oldest church in the country. Get an insight into the rich culture and history of classic Spanish-colonial architecture and the area from your expert local guide. Finally, complete your journey by traveling to Rio Perlas, a beautiful hotel and hot springs complex where you can have a tasty lunch and enjoy the thermal pool, gardens, and rainforest.

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Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 22 reviews

highly recommended day trip! a fantastic tour of a coffee plantation, poas volcano & la paz waterfalls. the volcano crater was super cool to see and the series of waterfalls were beautiful. always great to do this type of tour in a small group to have the opportunity to interact with others in the group...and especially the tour leader. in our case, Erick had a great interactive personality, was super knowledgeable and shared info about Costa Rica and the sites we visited. what a great experience!

The guide, Álvar, very attentive, entertained the trip with explanations and stops. The experience was great and the day was well spent. Perhaps half an hour more in Tortuguero to visit with more pause. I recommend it.

Excellent tour. The guide Óscar is very knowledgeable about all the topics, very willing and very good vibes. It was a very good experience, it completely met my expectations. Fully recommended, we really enjoyed it.

It was amazing. My wife and I really enjoyed ourselves. We're looking forward to coming back. Yordan was an awesome guide.

Wonderful nature, unique and fantastically beautiful, highly recommended