San José, Costa Rica
Nature & Adventure

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Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Nature & Adventure

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: Guided Nature Walk With Biologists Seeking Sloths

3. San Jose: Guided Nature Walk With Biologists Seeking Sloths

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.

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San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

4. 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

5. 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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From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

6. 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. 

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

7. 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 Jose: City Tour by Night

8. San Jose: City Tour by Night

Learn about the rich culture and history of Costa Rica on a guided tour of the city of San Jose by night. Start the tour with pickup from your hotel and travel to La Sabana Park where you will meet your guide. Here, get an overview of the history of Costa Rica's capital city. Learn about the history and current political climate of Costa Rica as you wander through the city with your guide. Stop outside sites of historical interest such as the National Theater, a monument built in 1897 known as "the Jewel of San Jose." See the Costa Rican Gold Museum, several national embassies, the National Stadium, and the University of Costa Rica. At the end of the tour, enjoy a delicious traditional dinner in one of the most fashionable areas of the city.

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San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

9. San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

Discover the lush Cloud Forests of Monteverde on this Sky Tram and Hanging Bridges trip from San Jose. Travel to the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica on a very scenic ride where you will get great views of mountains, farms, local towns and the Coast of the Puntarenas Province. See the largest fruit stand of the country, where you will see a large variety of tropical fruits. Visit the “Monkey Lady House” and several white-faced monkeys at very close range. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to ride on the Sky Tram, with great views of the whole Monteverde-Santa Elena area. Spend about 15-20 minutes at the highest look-out point, and then ride the Tram down for about 15 minutes.  Then, walk on the amazing Sky Walk Hanging Bridges in the Cloud Forest, where you will hike with your expert naturalist guide for about 2-3 hours, learning interesting aspects of the flora and fauna of this rare and endangered ecosystem.

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Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

10. Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

On your way to Manuel Antonio, stop to have breakfast in a local restaurant located next to the biggest fruit market in the country where you'll be able to observe the large variety of tropical fruits in Costa Rica. 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, a common sight in the area. Then, stop at the Jaco Bay lookout point and take pictures of Costa Rica’s most popular coastal town. Once in Manuel Antonio, hike the rainforest trails of the national park with your guide for about 1 hour and search for local wild animals commonly observed here, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, agoutis, and more.   After hiking, enjoy free time to relax on the pristine beaches of the Manuel Antonio National Park, swim in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, or continue hiking on the longer rainforest trails in the park. The longer trails are a little challenging, but they provide amazing lookout points with views of islands and coves along the beautiful coastline, as well as further opportunities to observe more of the local wildlife.   Next, savor a delicious typical lunch in a restaurant that provides great jungle and ocean views, the perfect environment to enjoy your meal. Lunch will be served in the early afternoon around 2 PM, after which you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.1 / 5

based on 159 reviews

Animal lovers rejoice! Oscar was an outstanding guide. Our small group saw all three kinds of monkeys, countless reptiles, SLOTHS galore, and some of the coolest spiders, butterflies, and other insects I've ever seen. That's just the wildlife. The meals included with the trip are perfect. Begins with a desayuna tipica, then after you work up a real appetite in the national park, a protein-of-choice lunch, also in typical style, but served on the top floor of a gorgeous resort overlooking the beaches and the park you just enjoyed. Lovely to revisit all the animals from above while enjoying a hearty meal. Frequent stops along the way to see crocodiles and macaws and whenever the guide notices something worth checking out. Great way to see the central West Coast of Costa Rica and still make it back to your hotel by sunset.

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!

This was a relaxing yet highly informative tour! Our guide Luis graduated from the University of Costa Rica and was very knowledgeable and passionate about the biodiversity in the area. He explained so many cool facts about fungi, flowers and birds with unmatched enthusiasm. We were all surprised at just how much wildlife we were able to see in the middle of the city. We had such a wonderful time and would love to visit again!

Wonderful experience our guide was sensational great personality great attitude great knowledge of the ecological environment around us. She was amazing and I enjoyed our group very much. There’s no way I could see it going any better than it did. Thank you

Our tour guide Gladys was excellent!! Her. Enthusiasm and happiness is contagious. We had the opportunity to see four sloths and many birds. I recomend i