Exploring Tourism in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
icon Worldwideicon

Costa Rica Popular Places to Visit

Reserva Santa Elena

The Santa Elena Cloud Forest is one of those destinations that make you feel like you just uncovered a secret spot, overlooked by others. While Monteverde Cloud Forest gets more attention (it is bigger after all), it is Santa Elena’s cloud forest that offers you a more personal view of this unique environment. Because one abuts the other, Santa Elena’s forest offers a similar experience as Monteverde with fewer visitors, which lends the forest a magical air.

South Pacific, Costa Rica

Santa Maria De Dota, San José

Santa Maria sits along the mountainous highlands of south-central Costa Rica, and is about 40 miles south of San José. One of the community's biggest claims to fame is the shade-grown Tarrazu coffee that thrives in the volcanic soil of the area. Coopedota, a local cooperative, is the perfect day trip for any caffeine fanatic. Coopedota is one of the longest-standing and most successful names in the Costa Rican coffee industry - a fact that becomes obvious during a tasting. Since 1865, unique blends have been regarded world-wide as some of the finest.

Need even more of a java boost? The Dota Estate produces exclusive blends on a 13-acre Down to Earth plantation, all uniquely created from red and yellow Arabica Catuai beans. Because of the ideal micro-climate of Santa Maria de Dota, the highly regarded coffee is truly one-of-a-kind. Travelers can go on a day tour, night and day excursion or seven day coffee origin program.

Dota, Costa Rica

Los Quetzales National Park

The park is a wealth of ecological resources. It sits along the Talamanca mountain range and has an elevation of 2000-3000 feet. It is part of Costa Rica’s famous cloud forest system.

Researchers have identified three different types of rainforests and 14 distinct ecological zones each with their unique qualities in this national park. In all of Costa Rica there are 6 differents kinds of forestes.

Take a leisurely stroll through oak forests and find four different kinds of oak trees, visitors can also admire lagoons and wetland areas with bogs and amazing cloud forests with short trees and ferns covering the mountainside. There are several trails through the park that take you to the different regions.

Obtain a trail map before you arrive, and always stay on the marked paths to avoid getting lost or injured.

San José, Costa Rica

Bahía Ballena National Park

Ballena National Marine Park is one of the most unique reserves in Costa Rica. Located just offshore along the Central Pacific coast in South Puntarenas, the Ballena National Marine Park protects more than 13,000 acres of ocean and 9 miles of coastline. Comprised of mangrove forests, coral reefs and untouched beaches, the national park is one for travelers who want to view fragile wildlife while escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Uvita, Costa Rica

Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is situated in one of the most stunningly beautiful regions of Costa Rica.

Located just a few kilometers north of the Panama border in Talamanca County, this wildlife refuge protects some the region’s most endangered flora and fauna.

Lying on the Caribbean coast of Limon province and bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east, this refuge is classified as a humid tropical rainforest and also looks after the only natural mangrove oyster beds found along the reefs of the coast.

Encompassing several rare habitats like a lowland rainforest, a wetland and a mangrove swamp, the Refugio Gandoca Manzanillo also safeguards the only orey and jolillo palm swamps in Costa Rica.

This wildlife reserve is very important from an ecological point of view because it contains the only intact mangrove swamp in the Atlantic, and the primary lowland small rainforest found here is the only one of its kind in the region.

Limon, Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park is the backpacking experience of a lifetime. It encompasses the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, and 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats.

There is a good chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants here; Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Red-backed squirrel monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries. It is wet, remote and rugged, but the trails are relatively good, and the camping areas near the ranger stations are grassy and well drained.

Caribbean, Costa Rica

Rincón De La Vieja National Park

The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is the main attraction in this park. This active volcano last erupted in 2011 and as a result, hiking trails to the summit are no longer open, but there is still hiking in the area with trails leading to waterfalls and hot springs. This park is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, with tapirs, sloths, monkeys, and large cats such as the jaguar, puma, and ocelot still inhabiting the park.

Diferent Cities, Costa Rica

Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park, only a 30-minute drive from bustling San Jose, encompasses rugged mountains, waterfalls, canyons, dormant volcanoes, and virgin rainforest. The park's proximity to the country's main gateway means it is an easy way to see some of Costa Rica's unique plants and wildlife.

Many different habitats exist in the park due to the variety in elevation, which ranges from the top of the Barva Volcano (2,906 meters) to less than 50 meters in the Caribbean lowlands. The park is home to mammals such as jaguars, pumas, tapirs, sloths, and monkeys, but easier to see and hear are several species of birds including the Quetzal (national bird), toucans, and eagles.

San José, Costa Rica

Irazu Volcano National Park

The Irazú Volcano is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica at 3,342 meters. The national park protects a 2,309 hectare area of land around the base of the volcano. The summit of the volcano is a lunar-like landscape with craters. Irazú's Principal Crater is 1,050 meters in diameter and 300 meters deep, and the Diego de la Haya Crater is considerably smaller and contains a small lime-green lake that sometimes appears red.

From the summit, it's possible to look out to the Pacific and Caribbean on clear days.

Diferent Cities, Costa Rica

The National Theater

Costa Ricans take pride in the National Theater, which is considered to be the most impressive building in San José. In the 1890s, the ruling coffee barons voted for a tax on coffee exports in order to fund the construction of the theater, and European artisans were imported to design the building.

Completed in 1897, the building features a classical Renaissance columned façade topped by statues symbolizing Dance, Music, and Fame. Inside, the pink marble foyer features allegorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy, and painted murals depicting themes in Costa Rican life.

The most famous of the paintings is one showing coffee harvesting and export painted by Arturo Fontana in Milan in 1897. 

San José, Costa Rica