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San José, Costa Rica Outdoor sports

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Outdoor sports

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

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

Start with a 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.

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.

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour from 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.

San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

4. San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

Departing from the nearby meeting point, visit the University of Costa Rica campus, home to some of the largest patches of forest in San Jose. Guided by young biologists, discover the nature hiding in the middle of Costa Rica's largest city. Experience wildlife you wouldn't have imagined existed minutes away from downtown.   On the first stop, you’ll look for resident and migratory birds, lots of incredible insects and amazing flowers. Then, see the largest indigenous stone sphere in San Jose, thought to derive from the extinct Diquis culture. Lastly, visit the main campus to seek out the friendly sloths climbing freely. The goal of this tour is to change the way tourism is done in Costa Rica, while supporting young scientists, researchers, and local entrepreneurs.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

5. From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

Depart from San Jose to discover the highest volcano in Costa Rica. Enjoy a trek through breathtaking scenery to reach the summit of Irazu Volcano and gaze into the emerald lagoon in its crater. Descend from the peak to explore the city of Cartago and enter the Basilica. Get picked up from your accommodations in San Jose and meet your friendly guide and group for the day. Leave the city behind as you travel to the Cartago Province. Arrive at Irazu Volcano and begin the easy hike up to the summit. Pass by all types of vegetation including coffee plantations and ferns as you ascend. Take a deep breath as you make it to the summit and be blown away by spectacular views of the massive crater. Wonder at the green lagoon beneath you and on a clear day enjoy views across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Climb down the rocky trail to the historic city of Cartago, a former capital of Costa Rica. Enter the famous pilgrim site of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and wander under the large vaulted ceilings before returning to San Jose.

Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

6. Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

Expereince the stunning beauty of the Manuel Antonio National Park on this day trip from San Jose. Visit Crocodile Bridge and Tarcoles Beach. Discover the abundant wildlife on the park’s rainforest trails and eat breakfast and lunch at local restaurants.  Enjoy being picked up from the comfort of your accommodation in the San Jose area. Travel aboard an airconditioned coach on the way to have breakfast in a local restaurant located next to the biggest fruit market in the country.  Visit the market to observe a large variety of tropical fruits. Continue your journey with a stop at the popular crocodile bridge where you will have the chance to observe one of Costa Rica’s biggest crocodile’s populations.  Search for scarlet macaws in their natural habitat on Tarcoles Beach where they like to gather. Stop at the Jaco Bay lookout point and take pictures of Costa Rica’s most popular coastal town.  Travel to the Manuel Antonio National Park, hike the rainforest trails with your guide for about and hour and search for monkeys, sloths, toucans, and agoutis. Spend some free time relaxing on the park's pristine beaches or hiking to along rainforest trails. Savor a delicious lunch of local cuisine in a restaurant that provides great jungle and ocean views. Lunch is served in the early afternoon around 2 PM, after which you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.

From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

7. From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

Your tour begins in the morning with pickup in the San José area. Then travel towards the northern part of the country on a very scenic drive, with great views of beautiful mountain ranges, local towns and farms, and the Pacific coast. On the way to Monteverde, enjoy multiple stops. Learn about local fruits at the largest fruit stand of the country. Explore a place where several monkeys are normally observed in the wild at a very close range. Photograph amazing landscapes from a lookout point. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to do the amazing hanging bridges tour in the cloud forest. Hike with your guide for two to three hours, admiring the beauties of this rare ecosystem and searching for the local wildlife, including monkeys, emerald toucans, coatimundis, and the rare resplendent quetzal, the most beautiful bird of Costa Rica. This hike is approximately 3km (1.9 miles) long and is mostly on flat terrain with a few mild climbs.  Late in the afternoon, return to your accommodation in San José or to your accommodation in central Monteverde. 

San José: Guided Volcano, Waterfall & Coffee Farm Day Trip

8. San José: Guided Volcano, Waterfall & Coffee Farm Day Trip

Visit the Poás Volcano, the picturesque La Paz outdoor waterfall, and the one-and-only Starbucks coffee farm on a day trip from San José, Costa Rica. A wonderful choice for coffee aficionados and nature lovers alike, this tour includes a hotel pickup and lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy a convenient pickup directly from your accommodation in San Jose and make your way to your first stop for the day, the Poás Volcano. Travel in an air-conditioned van and admire coffee plantations as well as flower and strawberry farms along the way. Poás is one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes and last erupted in April 2017. The volcano and the surrounding park were closed for close to 17 months and a safety perimeter of nearly 2.5 kilometers was established around the erupting crater. At the volcano, you'll have time to enjoy the impressive main crater with its sulfur fumaroles. Then, follow a trail to the Botos Lagoon, a crater lake located inside the Poás Volcano National Park. As you hike, learn about the different ecosystems in the park. After your trek, refuel with a delicious lunch of local fare at one of the restaurants in the area. Then, head out to your next destination, the La Paz Waterfall. Discover La Paz waterfall as you stroll along paved trails through cloud forests and rainforests. Make the most of excellent photo opportunities as you visit these falls and see them from different vantage points Then, head to your final stop for the day, the Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm, the first and only Starbucks coffee farm. See the visitor center and learn what Starbucks is doing to empower farmers, promote sustainable practices, and develop the next generation of coffee. At the end of your Costa Rica adventure, enjoy a convenient transfer back to your hotel in San José.

San José: Tortuga Island Tour with Lunch & Hotel Transfer

9. San José: Tortuga Island Tour with Lunch & Hotel Transfer

Explore Tortuga Island on a guided tour with hotel pickup and drop-off included. Go on a quick tour of the other islands in a boat, then arrive at Tortuga Island. Go snorkeling or swimming, and eat breakfast on the beach. Opt to do other activities, such as renting a jet ski. Tuck into lunch. Begin your tour by getting picked up in an air-conditioned vehicle directly from your hotel in either Heredia, San José, or Alajuela. Once you arrive at the harbor, hop into your speedboat and set sail on your adventure. Listen to your guide tell you about the local area and take in the views. Go on a tour of the Gulf of Nicoya, and see islands such as San Lucas, Isla Cedros, and Jesusita. Use the opportunity to take photos. Along the way, keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins that are residents of Puntarenas. See if you can spot whales or turtles, and stop to observe them. Upon arrival at the island, be provided with equipment to go snorkeling, as well as instructions on how to use them. Go searching for exotic and colorful fish underwater. Spend time relaxing on the white sand in the shade of palm trees. Savor some fresh fruit for breakfast. Opt to participate in other activities at an extra cost. Rent a jet ski or a kayak, or go paddleboarding. After you have explored the island, head back for lunch on the beach. Enjoy cold drinks and a coffee along with it. Hop back in the boat to be taken back to your hotel at the end of the day.

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

10. From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

Begin your journey by being picked up from your hotel, and going on a scenic 1.5-hour drive along Route 27, making your way to your first stop at Carara National Park. Head straight out onto some flat walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and wheelchair users, and admire the biological reserve's abundant jungle life in person. Look up to the 40-meter high canopy, and keep an eye out for bright scarlet macaws, agouti rodents, stunning poison dart frogs, spider monkeys, dozens of birds, fantastic fungi, and huge wild cashew trees. Next, enjoy lunch like a local and eat at a traditional soda diner, where you have the option of eating fresh fish or seafood. Re-energized, lower your gears and enjoy a relaxing boat ride for some birdwatching on the Tárcoles River. Admire the river's mangroves, which are some of the most unique and scarce ecosystems of the world, and considered to be biodiversity hotspots. Keep a lookout for the 6-meter-long American crocodiles — the largest of the continent. Finally, dig your toes into the sand of a peaceful beach at your last stop, where you will relax with the sound of the waves before heading back to your accommodation.

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Frequently asked questions about San José, Costa Rica

What are the best day trips and excursions from San José, Costa Rica?

The best day trips and excursions from San José, Costa Rica are:

La Fortuna

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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

I had a great day, would do it again anytime. The only thing I didn't like was that the island was very crowded and there was loud partying on the beach. I was hoping that there would be a quieter corner to hike to. But I can still recommend it. April, our tour guide was super nice and helpful. I can only recommend the hike on the island for anyone who wants some peace and quiet and not just lying on the beach

Our tour guide Rigo was very knowledgeable about the birds and city wildlife. He has so much passion on birdwatching and learning about their behavior, characteristics and adaptation; and we found that so amazing. I learned things from Rigo about wildlife that helled me appreciate more the things we saw in the forests in Fortuna and Monteverde.

It was an awesome experience. Our guide Rodger was very knowledgeable and was able to tell us not only about the volcano but also about every location that we drove through. Definitely a worthwhile experience!

What a great tour. Fantastic zip line, we felt very save with our guides. The tour in the gondel with our guide was great too. We come again - 5 stars!!! Hanny and Rolf from Switzerland

Perfect attention from Fernando, excellent guide and driver. Super attentive, punctual, efficient and professional. The tour helps you to know a little about each wonder of Costa Rica!