Costa Rica - Tour Highlights and Travel Tips
The Republic of Costa Rica is a country with a progressive environmental mind and a rapidly developing economy. With one of the world’s most enchanting and diverse bio-diversity, a trip to the country is packed with viewing exotic flora and fauna, rivers, and beautiful beaches that is great for water activities.
- Get to know over 3,000 species of animal in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
- Zipline through the cloud rainforests.
- Feel the vastness in Poás Volcano National Park.
- Dance your feet off while enjoying a quick samba or merengue.
- Enjoy local tamales and other wonderful cuisine.
- Visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels).
- Prepare for the rain. Costa Rica is mostly rainforest, so the climate is humid and rainy except Guanacaste which is known as the ‘dry region’.
- Go with a tour guide; they know what they’re doing and it will only enhance your experience.
- Practice or learn about sustainable tourism while visiting.
- Avoid the tourist busses; while local ones might be slower, they are less expensive.
Popular Tour Types in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica luxury tours: Indulge in a five-star experience of the Osa Peninsula from the comfort of luxurious lodges with stunning ocean and rainforest views. Explore the beautiful Arenal Volcano, go on a sunset sailing tour at Manuel Antonio, and be adventurous at the Corcovado National Park. Our Costa Rica luxury tours offer the ritziest service as you take in the grandeur of the country.
- Costa Rica private tours: Cross the hanging bridges of the Arenal Rainforest and hike to the astounding La Fortuna Waterfall. Ride a boat through the Pochote Mangroves or just relax among the palm trees of the Nicoya Peninsula. Whether it is the sandy beach of Tambor or the Curu Reserve, explore the best of Costa Rica at your own pace with one of our Costa Rica private tours.
- Costa Rica guided tours: Through one of our Costa Rica guided tours, you will gain an incredible experience of what the world’s most diverse ecosystem has to offer. Engage in many adventurous activities as you tour Cafe San Juan, La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Santa Teresa. You will witness the most breathtaking scenery in our zip-lining tour and night safari.
- Costa Rica budget tours: With our Costa Rica budget tours, you can visit all the hotspots of Costa Rica without denting your wallet. Raft down the Pacuare River, take a horseback riding tour through Monteverde Cloud Forest, and zip-line in Santa Elena. If you want to enjoy as well as afford your trip, we recommend focusing your travel plan on a single destination like Samara Beach or San Jose.
- Costa Rica group tours: Join like-minded travelers on one of our Costa Rica group tours for the thrilling adventure of your lifetime. Explore the Sarapiqui Rainforest, kayak through the Tortuguero canals, and take part in a turtle nesting night excursion. Tour the picturesque village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca at your own pace.
- Costa Rica customized tours: Alter and adjust your itineraries to suit your own taste and pace. Whatever your vacation dreams are, make them all come true with a customized Costa Rica tour. Whether it is the Izuru Volcano or Guanacaste that you want to visit, contact our local travel experts in Costa Rica to customize your trip.
Activity-based Costa Rica tours
- Adventure tours: From rafting down the Pacuare River to exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest on a horseback and rejuvenating in the hot springs of volcanic La Fortuna, our adventure tours of Costa Rica are sure to keep you excited. You can also zip line in Santa Elena, greet wildlife while cruising the Tortuguero Canals, and take a calm stroll through the Butterfly Garden.
- Beach tours: On one of our Costa Rica beach tours, you will get to enjoy the beautiful coasts of Costa Rica, tucked away between the shorelines of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. Explore the coral seascape of Manuel Antonio Beach, surf the Tamarindo waves, and snorkel to make some underwater discoveries at Conchal Beach.
- Cultural, religious, and historic tours: Besides the Jade Museum of pre-Columbian jade artifacts and the Guayabo National Monument, Costa Rica is home to a large collection of national history museums, architectures, and landmarks showcasing the country’s culture, and ancient sacred ruins. Cultural, religious, and historic tours of Costa Rica will allow you to take a deeper dive into these treasure troves.
- Getaways and short break tours: You can either spend a relaxing vacation in the tropics at Manuel Antonio Beach and San Jose, a small seaside community hidden away in the wilderness, or plan a quick excursion to Sarchi, San Jose, and Tortuguero National Park. Even though it is only a short and limited time, our getaways and short break tours will help you experience the best of Costa Rica.
- Rafting tours: Our rafting tours of Costa Rica offers a combination of calm paddling and some whitewater thrills as you raft in the Savegre River. Rafting in the Pacuare River provides you with opportunities to admire the abundant flora and fauna around you. Challenge yourselves in the Sarapiqui River and do not forget to dip in the Balsa River when the waters are calm.
- Wildlife tours: Our wildlife tours of Costa Rica are packed with exciting wildlife adventures, from unparalleled wildlife viewing to exploring the verdant rainforests and lush mangroves of Monteverde Cloud Forest. As you travel through San Jose, La Fortuna, and Quepos, catch a glimpse of the howler monkey, look for the elusive quetzal bird, and follow a trail to the base of a waterfall.
Popular durations for Costa Rica trip
We advise staying in Costa Rica for at least 10 days to see all the key attractions. With a 10-day itinerary in Costa Rica, you can experience the best activities, travel extensively through the wide array of national parks, savor authentic cuisines, and get a real taste of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica — Top destinations to visit
- Tick off the major highlights of San Jose: San Jose, the stunning capital of Costa Rica, is in the western region of the Central Valley. Here, contemporary cultures coexist peacefully with the country’s rich history. The National Theater, a stunning decorative building constructed in the neoclassical style, is a symbol of the city's colonial past. Get a sense of San Jose's diverse attractions by attending renowned museums like the National Museum of Costa Rica, and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, or by dancing the night away at one of the popular clubs. Enjoy the lush vegetation of La Sabana Metropolitan Park and the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden to observe butterflies. Our San Jose tours have you covered, whether you are seeking adventure or a relaxing vacation.
- Set out on an exhilarating adventure around Arenal Volcano: Explore Arenal Volcano, which is situated in northern Costa Rica, and dominates the lush terrain of Arenal Volcano National Park. With an average of 41 outbursts a day, it was the most active volcano in the country until recently. Even though the Arenal Volcano is currently dormant, the area is home to many thrilling excursions. At the foot of the Arenal Volcano, is Lake Arenal, Costa Rica's largest lake. Here, you can find opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Arenal Volcano Hot Springs offers thermal pools of water where you can relax your adventurous muscles. Walk across the Arenal Hanging Bridges and embrace the panoramic views of the forest landscapes on a zipline tour or an aerial tram.
- Mingle with nature at La Fortuna: La Fortuna is a charming village nestled at the base of the Arenal Volcano. It is located about two hours from the Juan Santamaria International airport and San Jose. Despite its small size, La Fortuna offers a variety of activities, from relaxing in the town's lively central park to shopping at inexpensive boutiques to adrenaline-pumping activities like horseback riding, whitewater rafting, canopy tours, and more. At the base of La Fortuna Waterfall, go swimming and visit the Venado Caves. To see sloths in La Fortuna, hike the Bogarin trail and saunter through the night in search of wildlife. Relax in one of the many geothermally heated hot springs in La Fortuna following a challenging hike. La Fortuna is a haven for adventurers in Costa Rica because of its breathtaking scenery.
- Observe wildlife at Tortuguero National Park: Tortuguero National Park, located in northeastern Costa Rica, is home to a wide range of rare animals and birds. Between canals and the ocean, this enormous rainforest—often referred to as "the Amazon of Costa Rica"—stretches 300 kilometers. You can travel by foot, boat, kayak, or canoe to explore Tortuguero National Park. Here, you can spot a variety of unusual birds and animals. Explore the canals while keeping an eye out for caimans, river otters, and manatees. In the evening, visit the black-sand Tortuguero Beach, where you can see toucans in the nearby palm trees in addition to saltwater crocodiles, sharks, and baby turtles on the beach. Go for a walk at night to see rare iguana and frog species. Visit Tortuguero village, where there are thatched-roofed restaurants and modest wooden cottages perched on stilts.
- Explore the diverse landscapes of Manuel Antonio: Manuel Antonio, one of Costa Rica's most beautiful locations, is a well-known coastal community surrounded by dense woods and immaculate white sand beaches. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park, which is ranked among the top national parks in the world for its diverse wildlife. Set out on Manuel Antonio's main trail, the 2.2-kilometer Sendero Principal, to see sloths, monkeys, macaws, crabs, toucans, iguanas, and other wildlife. Punta Catedral is a stunning 0.9-mile loop hike with moderate difficulty and some steep inclines for the brave. Explore the park's two main beaches, Manuel Antonio Beach and Espadilla Sur Beach, which are ideal for relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, and surfing lessons. You can combine your beach and rainforest vacations in Manuel Antonio.
- Join an eco-adventure tour of Monteverde: Perched high in the mountains, Monteverde is a lush, ecologically diverse region. Here, travelers can experience stunning nature, such as the rare and distinctive cloud forests. Take a zipline tour of the forest and enjoy a coffee sampling experience while at Monteverde. Explore the Monteverde Cloud forest to see its unique wildlife species. Visit the nearby Santa Elena Reserve for a less crowded hike and swim at San Luis waterfall. Visit the Bat Jungle to learn about the habits of these nocturnal animals. Before visiting the Butterfly Garden, take in the magnificent blooms of the Monteverde Orchid Garden. Taking a horseback ride around the high slopes above Monteverde with the lush green valleys below is surely an unforgettable experience to have.
Peak and low season of Costa Rica
- Peak season: The peak season lasts from December to April, when the weather is warm and clear. This is the best time to visit Costa Rica for some beach fun at Playa Guiones, Playa Manuel Antonio, or Playa Santa Teresa. While San Jose comes to life with its vibrant nightlife, thrill seekers can go hiking in national forests to explore the wildlife. This is also an excellent time to visit the culturally diverse Guanacaste and attend major events such as the Santa Cruz Fiestas and El Tope Carnival.
- Low season: Between May and November, the climate becomes harsh, with frequent showers and heavy storms. Those who want to surf in Playa Tamarindo or go river rafting in Lake Nicaragua, however, will benefit from huge waves, thanks to the monsoon rains. Although this is not the best time to visit Costa Rica, you can avoid the tourist crowds. Due to the lush scenery, wet season destinations such as Monteverde and the rainforests of the Limon Peninsula are especially popular during this time.
Popular Costa Rica trip travel guide
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, you will want to know about the best time to visit Costa Rica as we check out all the available Costa Rica tours. You may also wish to learn more about the top things to do in Costa Rica. Once you are sure about some of the activities you wish to experience in Costa Rica, along with the destinations you want to visit, you may want to consider how many days to stay in Costa Rica. We generally recommend staying at least 7 days in Costa Rica, but recommend 10 days in Costa Rica or more, to get the most out of your trip to Costa Rica.
Next, we recommend you start thinking about the money you can allocate to the trip to know whether you should be looking for a budget tour, a luxury tour, or perhaps a completely customized tour to Costa Rica. If you are in doubt, check out all our Costa Rica tours at the top of this page.
Costa Rica is an amazing country to visit, and there may be other key factors that you wish to consider before traveling there. Please check our "Costa Rica travel guide" which will give you a lot of relevant information about traveling to Costa Rica.