15 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica & Things to Do in 2023

Costa Rica is a beautiful country known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich culture. From pristine beaches to lush rainforests, Costa Rica has something to offer every type of traveler. Here are 15 of the best places to visit and things to do in Costa Rica in 2023:

Arenal Volcano National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
Tamarindo
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Cocos Island National Park
Montezuma
Bay of Papagayo & Papagayo Peninsula
Rincon de la Vieja
Tortuguero National Park
Nosara
Irazu Volcan National Park
Dominical
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
San José
Puntarenas

Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing on a beautiful beach, Costa Rica has it all. We hope that this list inspires you to plan your next unforgettable trip to this amazing country.

1. Arenal Volcano National Park

Volcano at Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica, located in the northern part of the country, in the province of Alajuela. The park is named after the majestic Arenal Volcano, which stands at 5,437 feet (1,657 meters) tall and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

The park is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including more than 500 species of birds and mammals, such as jaguars, ocelots, sloths, and monkeys. Visitors can explore the park’s lush rainforests, hot springs, and waterfalls, as well as enjoy activities like hiking, zip-lining, and horseback riding.

One of the most popular activities in the park is hiking to the Arenal Volcano. There are several trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging, and all offer stunning views of the volcano and its surroundings. Visitors can also take a dip in the natural hot springs, which are heated by the geothermal activity of the volcano.

Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Arenal Volcano National Park is definitely worth a visit.

2. Manuel Antonio National Park

Small Monkey on a Tree at  Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park is a stunning coastal park located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in the province of Puntarenas. The park is renowned for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant wildlife, making it one of the country’s top destinations for nature lovers.

Visitors to the park can enjoy activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming, and snorkeling. There are several trails to explore within the park, offering opportunities to see wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and a variety of bird species. The park’s beaches are also popular spots to relax and soak up the sun.

One of the most famous landmarks in the park is Punta Catedral, a rocky outcrop that separates two of the park’s beaches. At low tide, visitors can cross a sandbar to reach a secluded cove on the other side, where they can enjoy some of the park’s most beautiful views.

Due to its popularity, the park can get crowded during peak season, so it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Overall, Manuel Antonio National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty and wildlife.

3. Tamarindo

Aerial View of Tamarindo Coast

Tamarindo is a popular beach town located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste. The town is renowned for its long stretches of white sand beaches, warm waters, and excellent surf, making it a top destination for surfers and beach lovers.

Apart from surfing and beach activities, Tamarindo offers plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. Visitors can go zip-lining through the nearby forests, horseback riding, kayaking, and snorkeling. The town also boasts a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars and restaurants offering delicious local cuisine.

One of the most popular attractions in Tamarindo is the Las Baulas National Marine Park, located just a short distance from the town. The park is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of leatherback sea turtles in the world, and visitors can witness these incredible creatures laying their eggs on the beaches during the nesting season.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventurous getaway, Tamarindo has something to offer for everyone. With its stunning natural beauty and abundance of activities, it’s no wonder that Tamarindo is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica.

4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Woonden Stairs Leading to the Forest
“Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica” by Rick McCharles is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a world-renowned nature reserve located in the central region of Costa Rica, in the province of Puntarenas. The reserve covers an area of over 35,000 acres and is home to some of the most diverse and unique ecosystems in the world.

The reserve is named after the Monteverde cloud forest, which is characterized by its misty cloud cover, unique plant life, and rich biodiversity. Visitors can explore the reserve’s numerous trails and discover a range of habitats, from tropical rainforests to elfin woodlands and cloud forests. The reserve is also home to over 400 species of birds, including the endangered resplendent quetzal, as well as numerous species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

One of the most popular activities in the reserve is the canopy tour, which involves ziplining through the treetops of the cloud forest. Visitors can also take guided night hikes to explore the nocturnal wildlife of the forest or visit the hummingbird gallery to see these beautiful birds up close.

See also  Discover Bordeaux and its surroundings?

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring Costa Rica’s natural beauty and wildlife. Its unique ecosystem and incredible biodiversity make it one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring places in the world.

5. Cocos Island National Park

Lone Island in the Sea
Cocos Island National Park by T2inSF

Cocos Island National Park is a remote and stunningly beautiful island located about 550 kilometers off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is widely considered to be one of the best diving destinations in the world.

The island is known for its crystal-clear waters and is home to a vast array of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, rays, and sea turtles. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular activities in the park, and visitors can explore a range of dive sites, including underwater pinnacles, caves, and walls.

Apart from diving, visitors to Cocos Island National Park can also go on guided hikes to explore the island’s lush rainforest and see a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and numerous bird species. The park is also a prime location for fishing, with abundant populations of game fish such as marlin, tuna, and swordfish.

Due to its remote location, visiting Cocos Island National Park requires a multi-day liveaboard diving trip or a private yacht charter. However, for those who make the journey, the park’s stunning natural beauty and incredible diving opportunities make it a truly unforgettable destination.

6. Montezuma

Trees by the Ocean and Beach in Montezuma
“Montezuma, Costa Rica” by travelmag.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Montezuma is a small beach town located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. It is a popular destination for backpackers and eco-tourists, thanks to its laid-back vibe and beautiful natural surroundings.

The town is known for its stunning beaches, including Playa Montezuma and Playa Grande, which offer excellent swimming, surfing, and snorkeling opportunities. Visitors can also explore the nearby Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, a protected area that is home to a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, and armadillos.

Montezuma is also renowned for its vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries and workshops showcasing the work of local artists and artisans. Visitors can take part in pottery classes, jewelry-making workshops, and even learn to play the traditional marimba.

One of the most popular attractions in Montezuma is the Montezuma Waterfall, a stunning cascade of water that falls into a natural pool, perfect for swimming and cooling off on a hot day. Visitors can also hike to the top of the waterfall for a stunning view of the surrounding rainforest.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, Montezuma has something to offer for everyone. Its stunning natural beauty, laid-back atmosphere, and friendly locals make it a must-visit destination in Costa Rica.

7. Bay of Papagayo & Papagayo Peninsula

Aerial of the Ocean and Island in Papagayo Peninsula

The Bay of Papagayo and the Papagayo Peninsula are located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste. The area is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and luxury resorts.

The Papagayo Peninsula is home to several exclusive resorts, including the Four Seasons and the Andaz. Visitors can enjoy a range of amenities, including world-class dining, spa treatments, and water sports. The peninsula is also home to several beautiful beaches, including Playa Prieta and Playa Nacascolo, which offer excellent snorkeling and swimming opportunities.

The Bay of Papagayo is a popular destination for boating and fishing, with a range of charter options available. Visitors can also explore the nearby Rincon de la Vieja National Park, a protected area that is home to a range of wildlife, including howler monkeys, tapirs, and jaguars. The park also features a range of natural attractions, including hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic mud pools.

In addition to its natural beauty and luxury amenities, the Bay of Papagayo and the Papagayo Peninsula offer a range of cultural and historical attractions. Visitors can explore the nearby town of Liberia, which is known for its colonial architecture and is a gateway to the region’s many natural attractions.

Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both, the Bay of Papagayo and the Papagayo Peninsula offer a range of experiences for visitors. With its stunning natural beauty, luxury amenities, and range of cultural and historical attractions, it’s no wonder that this region is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica.

8. Rincon de la Vieja

Hot Spring in Rincon de la Vieja
“Volcan Rincon de la Vieja-24” by GOC53 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Rincon de la Vieja is a national park located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. The park is named after the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, an active volcano that last erupted in 2021.

The park covers an area of 34,000 acres and is home to a variety of ecosystems, including tropical dry forest, cloud forest, and savannah. Visitors can explore the park on hiking trails that lead through the park’s diverse landscapes and offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

One of the park’s main attractions is the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, which stands at 6,385 feet and offers visitors the chance to hike to its summit. The hike takes around 8 hours and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

The park is also home to a range of other natural attractions, including hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic mud pots. Visitors can soak in the hot springs or enjoy a mud bath, which is said to have healing properties.

The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and more than 250 species of birds. Visitors can take guided tours of the park to learn more about its flora and fauna and the region’s indigenous cultures.

See also  Discover Iceland in all its beauty!

With its stunning natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and range of attractions, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone interested in adventure, nature, and culture.

9. Tortuguero National Park

River and Forest in Tortuguero National Park
“Canals of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica” by Global Water Forum is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tortuguero National Park is a protected area located on the northeastern coast of Costa Rica, in the Limón Province. The park is known for its incredible biodiversity and its importance as a nesting site for sea turtles.

Tortuguero National Park covers an area of 77,032 acres and is home to 11 different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove swamps, and beaches. The park’s canals and lagoons are home to a variety of wildlife, including river otters, caimans, manatees, and more than 50 species of freshwater fish.

The park is most famous for its sea turtles, which come to the park’s beaches to lay their eggs between July and October. Visitors can take guided tours to watch the turtles nesting on the beach, and the park also has a turtle conservation program to protect the eggs and hatchlings from predators.

In addition to its sea turtles, Tortuguero National Park is home to a variety of other wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, jaguars, and more than 300 species of birds. Visitors can take guided tours of the park to explore its diverse ecosystems and learn more about its flora and fauna.

Access to Tortuguero National Park is limited, and visitors typically arrive by boat or plane. The park is a remote and wild destination, offering visitors a chance to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty in a truly unique setting.

With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and incredible biodiversity, Tortuguero National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in nature and wildlife.

10. Nosara

Aerial View of the Boats and Beach in Nosara, Costa Rica

Nosara is a coastal town located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. It is known for its beautiful beaches, surfing, yoga, and laid-back lifestyle.

One of the most popular attractions in Nosara is its beaches, which offer visitors the opportunity to swim, surf, and relax in the sun. Playa Guiones is the most famous beach in the area, known for its long stretches of white sand and consistent surf breaks. Playa Pelada is another popular beach, known for its rock formations and tide pools.

The town of Nosara is also known for its yoga and wellness scene, with a variety of yoga studios, wellness centers, and retreats. Visitors can take yoga classes, enjoy massages, and participate in other wellness activities to relax and rejuvenate.

Nature lovers can explore the Nosara Wildlife Refuge, a protected area that covers 90 acres of tropical dry forest and wetlands. The refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, iguanas, and more than 270 species of birds.

In addition to its natural beauty, Nosara also offers a range of dining and nightlife options, with a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

With its beautiful beaches, thriving yoga and wellness scene, and diverse wildlife, Nosara is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking to relax and enjoy the country’s natural beauty.

11. Irazu Volcan National Park

Lake Surrounded by Mountains in Irazu Volcan National Park

Irazu Volcano National Park is a protected area located in the Central Volcanic Conservation Area of Costa Rica, in the province of Cartago. The park is named after the Irazu Volcano, which is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica, standing at 3,432 meters (11,260 feet) tall.

The park is known for its stunning landscapes, including the active crater of the Irazu Volcano and the surrounding areas of ash and rock formations. Visitors can hike up to the edge of the crater and enjoy views of the crater lake and the surrounding mountains and valleys.

In addition to the volcano, the park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. The park’s forests and grasslands provide habitat for many of these animals, including coyotes, rabbits, and hummingbirds.

Visitors to Irazu Volcano National Park can also explore the park’s many hiking trails, which lead through the forest and along the slopes of the volcano. The park’s trails vary in difficulty, from easy walks to more challenging hikes that lead to the summit of the volcano.

Overall, Irazu Volcano National Park is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone interested in geology, hiking, and nature. The park’s unique landscapes and diverse wildlife make it a truly unforgettable experience.

12. Dominical

Waterfall in Dominical, Costa Rica

Dominical is a small beach town located in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica, on the country’s southern Pacific coast. The town is known for its beautiful beaches, surfing, and laid-back atmosphere.

One of the main attractions of Dominical is its beaches, which are known for their scenic beauty and consistent surf breaks. The main beach in town is Playa Dominical, which is popular with surfers and beachgoers alike. Nearby beaches like Playa Hermosa and Playa Ventanas are also worth a visit, offering visitors a more secluded and tranquil experience.

In addition to surfing and beach activities, Dominical is also home to a variety of wildlife and nature attractions. The Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge, located just outside of town, offers visitors the opportunity to see a variety of animals, including monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are another popular attraction, with two stunning cascades that are perfect for swimming and picnicking.

For those looking to explore the area further, there are several hiking trails that lead through the surrounding rainforest and offer stunning views of the coastline and mountains. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see dolphins and whales in the nearby Marino Ballena National Park.

See also  Discover the most beautiful places in Portugal

With its beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and relaxed atmosphere, Dominical is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking to experience the country’s natural beauty and outdoor activities.

13. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Surfer Walking Along the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca Coast

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, commonly known as Puerto Viejo, is a small town located on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The town is known for its laid-back vibe, beautiful beaches, and rich Afro-Caribbean culture.

One of the main attractions of Puerto Viejo is its stunning beaches. The town’s main beach, Playa Cocles, is a popular spot for surfing and sunbathing, with clear blue waters and white sand. Other nearby beaches, such as Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, offer a more secluded and tranquil experience.

Another attraction of Puerto Viejo is its unique culture, which is a blend of Afro-Caribbean, Indigenous, and Spanish influences. Visitors can explore the town’s vibrant music and arts scene, as well as sample its delicious cuisine, which includes dishes such as rice and beans, plantains, and fresh seafood.

In addition to its beaches and culture, Puerto Viejo is also home to a variety of nature and wildlife attractions. The nearby Cahuita National Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the region’s coral reefs and see a variety of marine life, including sea turtles, tropical fish, and dolphins. The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is another popular destination, with a variety of habitats, including mangrove swamps, beaches, and rainforest, and a chance to see animals such as monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds.

Overall, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking to experience the country’s unique culture, stunning beaches, and abundant nature and wildlife.

14. San José

Mountain Range in San Jose, Costa Rica

San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, located in the Central Valley region of the country. The city is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and beautiful architecture.

One of the main attractions of San José is its historic downtown area, which is home to many beautiful buildings and landmarks. The National Theater, built in 1897, is one of the most iconic buildings in the city, with its beautiful neoclassical architecture and ornate interiors. Other notable landmarks in the downtown area include the Plaza de la Cultura, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.

San José is also a hub for art and culture in Costa Rica. The city is home to a variety of museums, including the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, which features a large collection of gold artifacts from ancient Costa Rica. The Jade Museum, which houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade in the world, is another popular attraction.

For those interested in outdoor activities, San José is located near several national parks and nature reserves. The nearby Braulio Carrillo National Park, located just outside the city, offers visitors the opportunity to hike through lush rainforest and see a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds.

Overall, San José is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking to experience the country’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty.

Some of the best places to stay in San José include:

  • The Costa Rican Times Hotel, which is located in the heart of the city and offers great amenities such as a restaurant, bar, and pool
  • The Alta Hotel, which is a boutique hotel located in a quiet neighborhood and features beautiful gardens
  • The Marriott Costa Rica Hotel, which is one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the city

15. Puntarenas

Trees and Beach in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puntarenas is a coastal city and province located in the central Pacific region of Costa Rica. The city is known for its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and abundance of outdoor activities.

One of the main attractions of Puntarenas is its stunning beaches. The city’s main beach, Playa Puntarenas, is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Other nearby beaches, such as Playa Doña Ana and Playa Blanca, offer a more secluded and tranquil experience.

Puntarenas is also a hub for fishing and seafood in Costa Rica. The city’s central market, Mercado de Mariscos, is a popular destination for visitors looking to sample fresh seafood and local cuisine.

For those interested in outdoor activities, Puntarenas is located near several national parks and nature reserves. The nearby Manuel Antonio National Park offers visitors the opportunity to hike through lush rainforest and see a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds. The Carara National Park, located just north of Puntarenas, is another popular destination, known for its beautiful river scenery and diverse bird population.

Overall, Puntarenas is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking to experience the country’s beautiful beaches, rich culture, and abundant outdoor activities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Costa Rica is a beautiful and diverse country with many amazing places to visit. From the stunning beaches of Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, to the lush rainforests of Monteverde and Tortuguero National Park, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica.

The Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit destination for those looking for adventure, while the Bay of Papagayo and Papagayo Peninsula are ideal for those seeking relaxation and luxury. The Montezuma and Dominical areas are perfect for travelers looking for a more laid-back and bohemian vibe.

Manuel Antonio National Park is known for its beaches and diverse wildlife, while the Irazu Volcan National Park offers stunning views of the country’s volcanic landscape. Puntarenas is a hub for fishing and seafood, and San Jose offers a rich cultural experience.

Overall, Costa Rica is a truly amazing country with endless opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and exploration. We hope this list of the best places to visit in Costa Rica has inspired you to plan your next unforgettable trip to this beautiful country.

Did you like this article? Do not hesitate to share it on social networks and subscribe to Discover the World on Google News to not miss any articles!
5/5 - (7 votes)
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

Leave a Comment