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San José, Costa Rica National parks

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica National parks

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

1. 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.

From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

2. 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.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

3. From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

Depart from San Jose to discover the highest volcano in Costa Rica. Enjoy a trek through breathtaking scenery to reach the summit of Irazu Volcano and gaze into the emerald lagoon in its crater. Descend from the peak to explore the city of Cartago and enter the Basilica. Get picked up from your accommodations in San Jose and meet your friendly guide and group for the day. Leave the city behind as you travel to the Cartago Province. Arrive at Irazu Volcano and begin the easy hike up to the summit. Pass by all types of vegetation including coffee plantations and ferns as you ascend. Take a deep breath as you make it to the summit and be blown away by spectacular views of the massive crater. Wonder at the green lagoon beneath you and on a clear day enjoy views across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Climb down the rocky trail to the historic city of Cartago, a former capital of Costa Rica. Enter the famous pilgrim site of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and wander under the large vaulted ceilings before returning to San Jose.

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

4. 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.

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.

From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

6. From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

Travel from San Jose to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and enjoy a walking tour on rainforest trails. See flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, bird, butterflies, and other species and enjoy educational animal exhibits for all ages. Be picked up from your hotel or accommodation in San Jose, and depart for the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Enjoy wandering walking trails in the local rainforest and admire the natural beauty of the area. Watch as white rivers flow and see spectacular waterfalls. Spot local wildlife while wandering through the rainforest, like birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds, and see them in their natural habitats. Stop at different exhibits for local wildlife like the Aviary, Butterfly Observatory, Hummingbird Garden, Serpoentarium, Jungle Cats Exhibit, and Frog Exhibit. Enjoy a buffet lunch after the tour, rated 4 Forks by the Costa Rican Tourism Council, that includes multiple selections of Traditional Costa Rican dishes and much more. Finish the tour after lunch and be returned to your accommodations in San Jose.

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.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano & Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs

8. From San Jose: Irazu Volcano & Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs

Visit a variety of Costa Rican highlights on a single tour leaving from San Jose. Travel to Irazu Volcano National Park, Orosi Basilica, Orosi Valley, and Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs. Make the most of a single day by visiting multiple stops and seeing several iconic Costa Rican sites. Embark from San Jose along the South Panamerican Highway, to start ascending the large Irazu Volcano. Zip along the winding road as it travels through fertile lands cultivated with all kinds of vegetables and observe lovely panoramic views of the farmland. Travel to the top of the volcano, where a number of its volcanic craters can be seen if the weather is clear, and see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Descend the volcano and move on to the city of Cartago, and enjoy a stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica, a peregrination site for many believers. Move on to La Hacienda Orosi, surrounded by beautiful rainforest and lush vegetation, and visit the hot springs, where the land has been gifted with hypothermal mineral water, filtered between layers of the earth, and warmed to nearly 65 degrees Celsius, with properties to stimulate the senses and enrich the skin.

San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

9. 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.

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

10. From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

Begin your journey by being picked up from your hotel, and going on a scenic 1.5-hour drive along Route 27, making your way to your first stop at Carara National Park. Head straight out onto some flat walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and wheelchair users, and admire the biological reserve's abundant jungle life in person. Look up to the 40-meter high canopy, and keep an eye out for bright scarlet macaws, agouti rodents, stunning poison dart frogs, spider monkeys, dozens of birds, fantastic fungi, and huge wild cashew trees. Next, enjoy lunch like a local and eat at a traditional soda diner, where you have the option of eating fresh fish or seafood. Re-energized, lower your gears and enjoy a relaxing boat ride for some birdwatching on the Tárcoles River. Admire the river's mangroves, which are some of the most unique and scarce ecosystems of the world, and considered to be biodiversity hotspots. Keep a lookout for the 6-meter-long American crocodiles — the largest of the continent. Finally, dig your toes into the sand of a peaceful beach at your last stop, where you will relax with the sound of the waves before heading back to your accommodation.

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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:

La Fortuna

Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.0 / 5

based on 57 reviews

Cello, our amazing guide From Oropopo Experience Tour Co. promptly picked us up at the hotel in a very comfy van. There were only three people on the tour which was great because it made us feel like we were on a private tour. Previously, we had tours from a different company where they jammed 16-18 people on a small bus. Cello was very patient, knowledgeable, and passionate about his job. During our tour of the Carara National Park, Cello pinpointed monkeys, toucans, and various species of insects. Next, he took us to Tarcoles River for a boat tour. In this relaxing cruise on the river, we encountered multiple crocodiles, a wide variety of bird species including hundreds of pelicans on tree tops. After the boat ride, Cello took us to a small family-owned restaurant by the beach for an excellent lunch. After lunch, he drove us to a secluded beach taking a short trail to the beach enjoying beautiful scenery, huge rock formations, and surrounding mountain greenery. Amazing day!

Best tour of my trip. Edgar was great guide, very accommodating, informative, and funny. Make sure to bring warm clothing - it can be literally freezing at volcano and very windy. Lunch was terrific at beautiful restaurant. Make sure to go explore the path in the garden below.

Great tour, best way to get to La Fortuna from San Jose as you stop off at several sites including coffee plantation, two waterfalls and zip lining. It was our first day and a great introduction to Costa Rica

Very good combination of the activity in the day. Nice tour guide, small group, very convenient.

Great guide, great excursion. I can only recommend