COVID-19: Stay up to date with our coverage on the coronavirus pandemic. Read more >







What to see in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Attractions

Although a small country, there are a wealth of attractions in Costa Rica and only the most jaded of travellers could fail to be excited by all the exciting things to see and do. A whopping 25 percent of Costa Rica is taken up by 75 different national parks, wildlife refuges, and biological reserves, making it a paradise for eco-tourism.

Adventurous visitors are spoiled for choice with activities like surfing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, white water rafting, canyoning, climbing, and zip-line tours available all over this diverse country. For those inclined to relax, Costa Rica boasts truly beautiful beaches and these alone could fill a holiday with sun-tanning, swimming, and snorkelling.

The northwest region of Costa Rica is famous for two particularly spectacular national parks: the Arenal Volcano National Park, with the seemingly perpetually active Volcan Arenal at its heart; and the world renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, a unique and awe-inspiring wilderness area that enchants visitors with its mystical atmosphere. Fortuna is a good base from which to explore the region and a visit to the Monteverde community, spread in the hills of the cloud forest, is a fascinating excursion.

The Pacific coast is well developed for tourism and is scattered with picturesque villages and great beaches. Jacó is a beach resort town perfect for surfing, sunning, and partying in the midst of this wonderful coastline.

Puntarenas, the largest town in the region, a popular stop for cruises, is also a good base for exploring the area. The Manuel Antonio National Park is the most celebrated reserve of the region and here you will find a captivating variety of wildlife, as well as the chance to enjoy numerous adventure activities.

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is becoming increasingly popular, with its more relaxed atmosphere and less-developed infrastructure for tourism. It exists as a beach haven, with local communities generally friendly towards tourists. Puerto Limon is a bit rundown, but receives regular cruise passengers and acts as a doorway into the stunning coastal areas and pristine rainforests of Caribbean Costa Rica.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a popular tourist destination nestled on the coast. The best parks in this area are the Cahuita National Park, which protects a wondrous coral reef and is a treat for divers and snorkellers, and the Tortuguero National Park, in the north, a famous breeding ground for sea turtles.

And in the middle of this natural wonderland of a country sits the capital, San Jose, which is a lively and modern city with good shopping, restaurants and nightlife. It has some architecturally beautiful colonial areas and a few great museums. From this urban centre you can find no end of things to see and do in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano National Park

The Arenal Volcano National Park is situated in what is known as the 'Energetic Heart of Costa Rica'. At its centre is the 5,356 foot (1,633m) Volcán Arenal, a typically cone-shaped…

read more

Cahuita National Park

The only coral reef on the Costa Rican Caribbean coastline is found within this national park, and with 500 species of fish it affords excellent opportunities for snorkelling. Apart from…

read more


Fortuna is the nearest village to the spectacular Volcán Arenal. It has uninterrupted views of the volcano and provides a comfortable base for visiting the national park and other…

read more

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is the smallest national park in Costa Rica but also one of the more popular because of its beautiful white beaches, rocky headlands, and tropical rainforest. Among this varied…

read more


Monteverde is a small community scattered along several kilometres of road that leads to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Originally bought for dairy farming, the reserve…

read more

Puerto Limon

Puerto Limon is known not so much for its sights but for its proximity to some of Costa Rica's top natural attractions. Many cruise liners lay over in the port to allow passengers the…

read more

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, known to locals as Puerto Viejo (not to be confused with Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí in the northern lowlands), is a dusty little village lying between the…

read more

Tortuguero National Park

Despite its isolation on the northern part of the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park is an extremely popular destination and one of the most important nesting sites of the green sea…

read more


Become our Costa Rica Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Costa Rica travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Costa Rica or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.