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San José, Costa Rica Small group activities

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Small group activities

San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

1. 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: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

2. 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.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano & Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs

3. 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 José: Guided City Bus Tour With Lunch & Welcome Drink

4. San José: Guided City Bus Tour With Lunch & Welcome Drink

Get to know Costa Rica’s bustling capital San José on a bus tour with a local guide. Make stops at La Sabana Metropolitan Park, the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Theater, and more. Round off your fun-packed day with lunch at a local restaurant, then get taken back to your hotel. Begin your tour by getting picked up directly from your hotel. Hop on board the double decker bus to the sound of live folk music and enjoy a refreshing welcome cocktail. Sit back and let yourself be entertained by your charming guides, who will begin with a short history of the city. Make your first stop La Sabana Metropolitan Park, where you will be able to take a quick stroll as well as have a look inside the Museum of Costa Rican Art. Hop back on the bus and head to the outdoor Central Market. Take in the atmosphere and buy local goods and food (not included in the price). Next, visit the city’s Central Park to witness the National Monument, a bronze statue of five women. Listen to your guide tell you about the meaning behind the statue and the history of Central American resistance to colonization. Continue on to the National Theater. Follow your guide around the lavish lobby in European design, which was constructed with money from taxes on coffee exports. After another short bus ride, stop at the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and marvel at the impressive gold collection. At the end of the tour, stop off at a nearby eatery for lunch, and chow down on some traditional Costa Rican dishes. Use the opportunity to ask your guide any questions you may have about the city’s history and culture. Finally, allow the bus to drop you off at your hotel.

San José: Night Food and Culture Tour with Dinner

5. San José: Night Food and Culture Tour with Dinner

Follow an expert local guide and explore San José at night on a small-group, food-themed walking tour. See important cultural sites and feast on a traditional dinner with wine or beer pairings. Get up close and personal with the nightlife in San José, starting with Morazán Park where we will learn post-colonial Costa Rican history. From there, the appreciation for San José’s historical architecture continues, with a walk by the Metallic Building, then on to Spain Park for a fantastic view of the Yellow House (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Continue to the harming Barrio Escalante, one of the oldest residential areas neighborhoods in San José. Nowadays, Barrio Escalante has reinvented itself and is now home to many up-and-coming restaurants and at night is a favorite meeting spot for locals and visitors alike. The evening will end with a contemporary traditional meal with wine or beer tastings at a hip local restaurant that is very popular with locals and offers a sampler of traditional Costa Rican pub fare.

San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

6. San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

After getting picked up at your hotel, head to the Irazú Volcano National Park where you can admire and even enter the crater of the highest volcano in the country. You will also be able to experience the unique miniature fauna and flora of Paramo, a tropical dwarf forest nestled in the highlands. Afterward, take the back road to Turrialba Volcano. Here, visit the "Central Town" located at the foot of the volcano. Enjoy time to explore and take some photos of the eerily abandoned town, still filled with farmhouses and buildings. Next, stop for dinner at a family-run grill house for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Finally, before beginning the drive back to San José visit the Archaeological Site of Guayabo, declared a Civil Engineering World Heritage landmark and the most important milestone of pre-Hispanic culture in the country.

From San José: Punta Leona Hotel All-Access Day Pass

7. From San José: Punta Leona Hotel All-Access Day Pass

Spend an Exclusive Beach Day at the beautiful Hotel Punta Leona Resort, this White Sand Beach Resort is just 60 minutes from the capital city of San José; It has an exuberant tropical forest surrounding the entire resort, beautiful white sand beaches with the most amazing green-emerald waters of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains and stop at the world famous Tarcoles River, where you will have the opportunity to view and take photos of crocodiles in their natural environment, some of them measuring up to 19ft long. Once at the resort you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beach with your own beach chairs and umbrella, immerse yourself in the Pacific Ocean and discover our own underwater museum with our snorkeling tour. Then enjoy a first-class buffet lunch and make sure you visit the butterfly garden and natural trails.

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

8. 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.

San Jose: Central Market Tour with Food and Coffee Tasting

9. San Jose: Central Market Tour with Food and Coffee Tasting

Explore the biggest and oldest market in San Jose City on a guided tour. Founded in 1880, stroll through a site that offers a glimpse into the true Costa Rican way of living, their customs, and traditions. Browse through the intricate aisles and taste unique snacks and sweets. Join your professional guide for a trip into the heart of Costa Rican culture. Dive into the busy Central Market for an authentic experience of the local lifestyle. Hear about the history of this ancient market and learn about each of the traditional products sold. Observe and shop for typical handcrafts as you walk around. Sample exotic fruits and dishes that may include empanadas, cheese tortillas, 'chicharrones' (pork rind), and tamales. Sip on artisanal coffee and taste the emblematic 'sorbetera' ice cream.

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

10. 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.

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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

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!

Our guide was very friendly and very knowledgeable. Above all, he was passionate, which is plain to see. Amaral gave us a great and thorough tour of San Jose downtown and the marketplace. We learned SO much and tried SO many foods. If you are a foodie, this is a must for you. Great food, great prices and great tour guide. (Come hungry!) 10/10.

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

Rigo was an amazing tour guide! Learned so much from him and he takes the best pictures!

Great guide, great excursion. I can only recommend