San José, Costa Rica Nature & adventure

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Nature & adventure

From San Jose: Tabacon Hot Springs & Arenal Volcano Day Trip

1. From San Jose: Tabacon Hot Springs & Arenal Volcano Day Trip

See the best of both worlds - the raw, untamed beauty of the imposing Arenal Volcano juxtaposed against the soothing thermal waters of Tabacon hot springs - on a day tour from San Jose. Enjoy the backdrop of lush vegetation and breathtaking views of the nearly perfectly conical volcano. After hotel pickup, head to your first stop, the famous town of Sarchi, known as Costa Rica's craftwork center. Appreciate many of the arts and crafts that Costa Rica has to offer, and perhaps pick up some brightly colored or wooden handicrafts to take back home with you as a souvenir. Next, head to La Fortuna, home to the magnificent natural wonder of the Arenal Volcano, where you will have a Costa Rican lunch. After eating, head to the impressive Arenal Volcano and take a short hike around the base to take photos. Marvel at the conical volcano and its plumes of white smoke. Then, relax at one of the best hot springs in the area, Tabacon hot springs, where you will revel in the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of the thermal waters. Enjoy the combination of the heat of the volcano, the flowing waters of the hot springs, and the pure air of the rainforest. Finally, be dropped back at your hotel in San Jose.

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

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

3. 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: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

4. 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.

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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

6. 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.

Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

7. 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.

Monteverde: Half-Day Nature Experience

8. Monteverde: Half-Day Nature Experience

Treat yourself to a fun-filled day exploring all the very best of Monteverde Cloud Forest. Tour the Butterfly Garden and the Sloth Sanctuary alongside an expert guide. Walk the impressive self-guided suspension bridges at your own pace. For those who want to enjoy the wonderful variety of vegetation and unusual bird life that the area has to offer while appreciating the splendor of the canopy at their own pace, the Tree Top pathway is the best way to experience the cloud forest. One of the biggest on the continent is the magnificent butterfly garden in Monteverde. The garden, which is 300 feet long and 90 feet wide with a massive 50-foot dome ceiling, is home to 50 different butterfly species. Learn about the life cycle, distinctive behaviors, and evolutionary history of these extraordinary species on a guided tour of the live exhibit. Visitors can view many species of colorful birds here, which will awe you with their breathtaking flying tricks. Visit these magnificent facilities and learn about Costa Rica's flora and fauna while accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. At the Sloth Sanctuary, take the opportunity to observe different species of sloths. A natural exhibition has been developed where sloths can move freely along specially made trails.

San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

9. 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.

San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

10. 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 are 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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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:

Alajuela

Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.1 / 5

based on 159 reviews

It was a great experience, my tour was a day before but I couldn’t make it due to heavy rain and extreme traffic, they were able to reschedule my tour. A lot of information about why they live in the rescue centers, it was a bit complicated to get Uber back but the people from the animal rescue ordered a taxi for me they were extremely helpful. Please don’t forget to make a donation all money goes to food for animals, extremely happy with this experience totally recommend it if you are visiting Costa Rica.

One of the best tour I've ever been on. My guide was very knowledgeable about virtually everything. Capture vivid images of sloths and birds right in the heart of downtown San Jose. I'll recommend this tour to any visiting CR. I'm very bad with names but my tour guide was exceptionally brilliant, articulate, very friendly and patient.

It was a fantastic tour to explore a little slice of green within San Jose! Rigo was a great tour guide that took time to teach and showcase the beautiful wildlife of the region. If you are in the San Jose area before heading to your adventure, don’t miss this great opportunity!

This excursion was amazing. The lunch they provided was the best lunch I had all trip. The guide was informative and polite.

Our tour guide was beyond amazing. She was stellar.