Top 20 things to do in Costa Rica

We have collected the top 20 things to do in Costa Rica

Top 20 things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country in Central America that is quite small in comparison to other popular tourist destinations, but it is just as beautiful and amazing when it comes to taking a break and having a vacation. The country was inhabited by indigenous people until it was colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century. It was not until 1847 that it became sovereign from its previous ties, and in 1949 it even abolished its army, making it one of the few nations in the world without an army. Costa Rica is known for its progressive environmental policies, being the only country to meet all five of the criteria of the UNDP, which was established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is a popular tourist destination, so we have collected the top 20 things to do in Costa Rica so you may know what’s worth visiting.

  1. San José
    San José is the capital of Costa Rica and its largest city. Soaring offices, apartment buildings and museums will tower above you as you roam through the city’s interconnected districts, not to mention the local restaurants and bars that are quite popular among tourists. The city is a good starting location for your trip, as most of the best features and popular places of the country are located near San José or can be reached from there. Coming here is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica.
2. Nicoya Peninsula
Nicoya Peninsula is popular for its numerous beach-centric towns along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Walking along the beach during the sunset when it’s not as hot is very much recommended, as its a peaceful and relaxing experience. Fishing and cattle-ranching communities, waterfalls and restaurants can be found at almost every town here, so no matter where you go, you’ll find something great.
3. Arenal Volcano
The Arenal Volcano is a very active 1600-metre-high volcano in Costa Rica. It was dormant until 1968 when it became active with a thunderous earthquake which unfortunately wiped out three nearby villages. It has gone back to a dormant state in 2010, but it still popular among tourists due to the fiery rocks and molten lava that you can find there. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is also a great place to see the volcano from a little further aways.
4. Tabacón Hot Springs
If you want a more relaxing experience and less hiking and walking, then you should head to the Tabacón Hot Springs near the Arenal Volcano. The natural hot springs that come forth here will surely give you a tranquil experience, especially at the Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. Volcanic mud wraps, coconut and coffee exfoliations and meditation trails are all available there for your pleasure.
5. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
Located near the Arenal Volcano, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is just that, a haven for many exotic and local animals. Birdlovers will find the jabiru storks, cormorants, ducks and roseate spoonbills all around the place quite wonderful, but don’t forget about the sealife in the local lake and the river that flows through here, as you can spot lots of species in them, not to mention the crocodiles, sloths, jaguars and turtles scattered around the refuge.
6. Guanacaste
The Guanacaste province of Costa Rica is more sunny and dry than the rainforests found throughout the country. This region is well known for its smaller pockets of sand between friendly fishing villages. If you don’t feel like going to the beach then you should head to the Cordillera de Guanacaste, a volcanic mountain range, and hike the mountains or just enjoy the scenery from a high point.
7. Corcovado National Park
The Corcovado National Park is highly popular for its diverse wildlife. While strolling through the verdant jungle you can see a great variety of animals, including buzzing insects, chirping birds, macaws, tapirs, jaguars, spiders and howler monkeys, among many others. It’s recommended to go in the morning as there are usually even more animals to be seen. The national park also has a long shore with beaches if you want to take a break.
8. Manuel Antonio National Park
Another great national park of Costa Rica is the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the smallest of all of them, but it is just as wonderful as any other. Along the trails surrounded by thick rainforests and the beach, you can spot many different kinds of exotic birds, camouflaged iguanas and purple-and-orange crabs. If you happen to like monkeys then all the better, as there are so many of  them in the national park that they even built a suspension bridge for them to use.
9. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve 
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is popular among both citizens and tourists as it is quite unique. It’s a misty oasis with huge trees, around 100 mammal species, 400 types of birds, 2500 plant species and much more. No matter where you look you will probably find something interesting, not to mention the hanging bridges and the ziplines which can give you an even more thrilling experience and view.
10. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a village in Costa Rica known for having a mixture of activities one can do here. Reggae music, funky bamboo bars and a wild nightlife await people who want to stay here. Biking and walking paths are both available in the area, and if you get tired, you can always come back to enjoy some local cuisine.
11. Jacó
Jacó is a more modern city, which became well known as a resort city, and which is frequently visited by those on vacation. Restaurants, hotels, bars and nightclubs are all around the place, as life never stops. The beaches are great for those who like these kinds of activities, but waterwalls and beautiful forests filled with animals are right next to the city as well.
12. La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is famous in the country as it is one of the most beautiful natural environments. The spectacular waterfalls located here are just the beginning, as there are countless colorful orchids and a sea of leafy green canopies above you, not to mention all the different kinds of animals like croaking frogs, fluttering butterflies, rumbling jaguars and howling spider monkeys. It’s truly a paradise for nature-lovers and one of the best things to do in Costa Rica for them.

13. Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park can be accessed by airplane or boat due to its remote location on the shores of the Caribbean sea. The park has a large variety of biological diversity as it is situated within the reserve of eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. The park gives home to jaguars, bridght lizards, white-faced monkeys, toucans, red-eyed frogs and blue morpho butterflies, among many others.

14. Aviarios del Caribe
The Aviarios del Caribe is the so-called “Sloth Sanctuary”, as it is a place dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of the sloths of Costa Rica. They observe the animals, study them, care for them, and conduct scientific analysis and research on their habitats throughout the country. For obvious reasons, the sanctuary is frequently visited by people who want to see these cute animals.
15. Río Celeste
The Río Celeste river is well-known thanks to its beautiful and unique turquoise color that is not due to chemical substances, but from a mixture of sulfur and calcium carbonate which are seeded into the water from the nearby volcano.
16. Diquís Spheres
The Diquís Spheres of Costa Rica are quite mysterious almost perfectly-round spheres made from stone that were unearthed in the 20th century. They were supposedly made by the long-extinct Diquís civilization, but currently now much is known about them.
17. 727 Fuselage Home
The 727 Fuselage Home is an accomodation that resembles a crash site. It was built out of a 1965 Boeing 727, and the bright red airplane has been completely revamped to create a luxurious hotel suite with furnitures, a balcony and everything, and has been put on pillars like it was on the canopy of trees.
18. El Avion Restaurant and Bar
The 727 Fuselage Home is not the only reused and repurposed aircraft, as the El Avion Restaurant and Bar is the sister plane of a C-123 shot down during the Iran-Contra affair. The plane was disassembled and shipped in pieces to where it currently stands, and made into a restaurant and bar, making it quite unique, to say the least.
19. Cocos River Bridge
The small island of Cocos is surrounded by waters that are inhabited by sharks, which bring with them poachers who want to hunt them down and sell their parts for money. Local rangers fight these illegal shark hunters, some of which are stopped thanks to them, leaving behind their nets, lines, and buoys. The Cocos River Bridge was built by using the gear the poachers left behind, and it is a living monument to the efforts of the rangers who devote their lives to keeping sharks safe.
20. Parque Francisco Alvarado
The Parque Francisco Alvarado is a public park in the city of Zarcero that is famous for its beautifully designed shrubs and hedges. Gardener and artist Evangelisto Blanco began shaping these into abstract figures and forms, and today there many kinds of wonderful shapes. Animals, dinosaurs, faces, and a series of green arches that are laid out in rows that create the effect of naturally grown tunnels, through which visitors can stroll.