Whether you’re searching for natural or man-made Costa Rica attractions or both, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy throughout your stay in this enticing Central American country. Different regions offer different opportunities for sightseeing. It’s best to do a little research before you plan your itinerary and choose attractions that peak your interest. That will help determine which region or regions you’d like to visit, and plan accordingly from the start instead of changing your plan once you’ve arrived in Costa Rica.
If you’ve got lots of time, try to experience a bit of each region for a true taste of Costa Rica. San Jose
While this capital city may not boast jungles and other natural attractions, San Jose is indeed a place where you can enjoy a good introduction to Costa Rica and experience the culture of the country. INBio is a great place to begin your vacation. This Costa Rica attraction is run by the National Biodiversity Institute and is described as part museum, part nature park, and part educational center. Learn about the country’s biodiversity here and hike on paths that re-create the Costa Rica’s many eco-systems.
The National Center for Art and Culture offers several performing arts centers and a museum of Contemporary Art and Design. The Center is especially diligent in promoting local artists and musicians, but also features international exhibits.
Want to see an active volcano? Of all Costa Rica attractions, this regularly active volcanic mountain known as the Arenal Volcano is one of the most visited. While the sight is awesome at any time of the day, the nighttime show of spewing lava is spectacular. Consider staying in the town of La Fortuna for a great evening view.
While you’re near the volcano, make a stop at one of the area’s hot springs for a warm soak in their mineral spring pools. Divine!
Manuel Antonio National Park
In the central Pacific region, visitors flock to Manuel Antonio National Park. While this park is the smallest national park in the country, it’s among the most popular of all Costa Rica attractions. Many spend their entire vacation at the park.
In the park, visitors can enjoy idyllic beaches, connected by paths that travel through rainforest terrain. The mountains and forest are equally as breathtaking and house rare white-faced and squirrel monkeys as well as dozens of other species of animals and birds.
Staying in the nearby town of Quepos, with its lovely marina, also offers guests an opportunity to participate in some terrific sport fishing.
Corcovado National Park
Located in the south on the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado is the largest single expanse of lowland tropical rainforest in Central America. Though it’s a long, long way from San Jose (about an 8 hour drive) and many locations are only accessible by boat or plane, it remains a popular Costa Rica attraction, especially with adventure travelers.
Here you’ll find some of the best nature lodges in the country, many quite luxurious and expensive. They offer a knowledgeable and friendly staff, experienced guides, and many activities and tours for their guests.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Technically a rainforest at a higher elevation, this Cloud Forest is an ideal place for a long walk, as the trails are guest-friendly and the views are incredible. Hire a guide for your trek through this southern Pacific coast attraction or take a Canopy Tour. You’ll learn so much!
Manzanillo-Gandoca Wildlife Refuge
Touted as the best diving spot on the Caribbean coast, this wildlife refuge is home to 4 species of sea turtles, 3 varieties of dolphins, crocodiles, manatees, and hundreds of species of birds. Take a guided boat tour to view these amazing creatures.