Knowing Costa Rica is an adventure that can take on the excitement you want. From a romantic experience full of spectacular views to an adrenaline experience through its suspension bridges, rivers and beaches. You will return home happy and eager to see its green and blue colors again in so many places that there are to explore in this paradise that is Pura Vida.
The country’s capital was founded in the mid-eighteenth century and is located on the Central Plateau, sheltered by volcanoes and green mountains. To get to know it, it is better to do it on foot. Start at the Plaza de la Cultura and discover the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, a recently remodeled underground building that houses an immense collection of spectacular gold and ceramic pieces that narrate the origin of this nation.
Follow the walk through pre-Columbian history at the Jade Museum, or find out about current trends at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MADC), which is committed to exhibiting, from the point of view of art, responses to aesthetic problems, cultural and social of our time. It is located in the former National Liquor Factory, whose simple and industrial architecture serves as the setting for exhibitions, film cycles and performances.
A walk through San José would not be complete without a visit to Central Avenue and its market. Here you can live a bit of the day to day life of a Tico and enter one of their “sodas”. In these small family restaurants you can eat a typical casado: a dish with rice, beans and fried plantain that is accompanied with some red meat, fish or chicken.
Without a doubt, the capital of Costa Rica is the starting point to move towards all the other adventures that await you.
Not seeing a volcano on this trip is like going to New York and not visiting Central Park. Costa Rica is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire with more than 112 volcanoes, some still active.
An hour and a half from San José is the Irazú volcano, with its five craters and spectacular views. Upon arrival at this national park, the walk will begin in the direction of the viewpoints, among a vegetation formed by myrtle and sage bushes that accompany you until you reach the major crater. The image is impressive: a blue lagoon surrounded by gray walls will make you feel like you’re standing on the moon.
The Irazú National Park is located in the province of Cartago, famous for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, better known as “La Negrita”; according to believers and pilgrims, she is a very miraculous virgin. You can also visit the Lankester Botanical Garden, where more than 15 thousand species of orchids are cultivated.
The Arenal is one of the most beautiful and impressive volcanoes in the world due to its perfect cone and the clouds that always accompany it. Although the trip from San José to La Fortuna is a little longer (approximately three hours), it is worth knowing this volcano that stopped expelling lava just 11 years ago, but today it still exhales fumaroles.
From here, your trip to Arenal can take two directions: hike through the rainforest, listening to the cicadas and howler monkeys, or be more adventurous and jump down a zip line. To finish the tour, you can rest by taking a bath in the hot springs of the Tabacón Thermal Resort Spa, where you will feel like you are reborn by immersing yourself in its hot springs while enjoying the view of the volcano.
The beauty of Costa Rica is not only a gift of nature, but the result of a strong culture of conservation, care for the environment and respect for life. This makes it one of the best places for ecotourism.
150 kilometers and two and a half hours from San José is the Manuel Antonio National Park, a place that intertwines the jungle with the beach in the province of Puntarenas, in the Pacific. It has two thousand hectares of mountains and jungle where you can see the emblematic two-toed sloths and the marmoset monkey, an endemic species in danger of extinction, as well as raccoons, pelicans, toucans and iguanas.
Its beaches make their way through the jungle: Espadilla Sur, Puerto Escondido and the most beautiful, Manuel Antonio. If you travel between July and November, you can see humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins, as well as snorkel, canopy, kayak and zip line.
If you don’t want to go so far from the capital, the closest beach is Jacó, just 90 minutes away by car. If you are lucky enough to do this tour with a Costa Rican, you will surely make a couple of stops: one at the Tárcoles bridge to see crocodiles, another to eat some patacones at Restauranticos.
Jacó and Playa Hermosa are a must for surfers, who at any time of the year can find waves and warm water to spend many hours in the sea. Both beaches are perfect for horseback riding or riding a motorcycle. In addition, its nightlife will keep you awake in one of its bars, casinos and nightclubs facing the sea.
Costa Rica is a country with a strong focus on tourism, which is why it has a wide range of lodging possibilities. However, “accommodation with sustainability” is the most interesting, since it is based on the balance between natural and cultural resources, taking into account the quality of life of the community and its economic contribution. The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism certifies hotels under a broader scale than the stars that we normally know. Take a good look when booking your stay, since your visit to this country can help conserve its ecosystems.
Tips for your trip
The official currency is the colon. I recommend you change your currencies in a bank to do it safely and with a better exchange rate. You can also use ATMs and pay by card.
The weather is somewhat unpredictable and mostly humid. The rain can appear at any time, just as the wind can dissipate the fog from one moment to another.
In Sarchí, in the province of Alajuela, 36 kilometers from the capital, you will find the colorful wooden carts, one of the national symbols, as well as handicrafts at the Eloy Alfaro Workshop.
Before leaving Costa Rica you should buy a good supply of coffee, chocolate and the famous Lizano sauce, the secret of that rice with beans and pepper called gallo pinto that you surely had for breakfast at least once during your stay.
Traveling to San José and from there knowing Costa Rica is an adventure that can take on the nuance you want. From a romantic experience full of spectacular views to an adrenaline experience through its suspension bridges, rivers and beaches. You will return home happy and eager to see its green and blue colors again in so many places that there are to explore in this paradise that is pure life.