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19 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica in 2024 (Our Take)

19 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica in 2024 (Our Take)

What are the best places to visit in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, adventure meets tranquility, from San José’s vibrant culture to Puerto Viejo’s serene beaches and the awe-inspiring Poas Volcano. Zip-lining through lush forests or lounging on pristine shores, there’s something for everyone. Discover the highlights of Costa Rica with our guide to the must-visit places below.

19 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica in 2024

Costa Rica calls to mind visions of a jungled paradise, where enchanted waterfalls stand as tall as skyscrapers and active volcanoes rise out of the lush landscapes. It’s an adventure destination that leads you off the beaten path to enjoy the beauty with zip-lining, diving, hiking, exploration, and lazing on the beach. 

The best places to visit in Costa Rica will take you through the most beautiful parts of this sprawling country, into its historic, vibrant cities and towns, and to some of the best beaches in the world. 

We found the top places to go in Costa Rica for every type of traveler, whether you believe every trip should be an adventure or just want a spot to relax and unwind in paradise. Check out the 19 best places to visit in Costa Rica below! 

1. San José

Image of the historical district in San Jose, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Mihai-Bogdan Lazar/Shutterstock

A visit to Costa Rica’s lively capital, San José, is a great stop on your trip to get a feel for Costa Rican history and culture. It’s gritty, historic, and vibrant enough to warrant stopping here for a day or two of your trip.

Surrounded by coffee plantations with a bustling market at its center, San José contrasts with the beachy paradise that draws most people to the country. But it’s got some great museums, food, and places of cultural value that will be highlights of your trip!

Check out the National Museum of Costa Rica and its butterfly garden, visit the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and wander the Central Market to get your hands on fresh coffee beans and tasty Costa Rican food. 

If you’re up for an educational tour, walking tours around San José are a great option. Spend a nice day out at the Costa Rica National Zoo or the indoor/outdoor Museum of Costa Rican Art to really immerse yourself in the essence of the city. 

2. Puerto Viejo

Elevated platform over waves in one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo

Cris Young/Shutterstock

Puerto Viejo is a fantastic spot to get out into the natural beauty of Costa Rica, exploring black sand beaches, rainforest wildlife refuges, and snorkeling coral reefs after filling up on flavorful food at a range of cafes and restaurants located in the small town. 

Have breakfast at the locally-renowned Bread and Chocolate cafe, then head 1 mile north of town to Playa Negra, a secluded black sand beach. Playa Cocles sits south and offers white sand with reliable surf (great spot to take a lesson). Tacos at Tasty Wave cantina are the perfect way to end the day!

Explore the nearby Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge rainforest and swamps, where you can hike to spot crocodiles, sea turtles, toucans, and beautifully strange frigate birds. A coral reef sits off the coast and is a favorite spot for snorkeling and diving! The Jaguar Rescue Center makes a cool visit, too. 

The town itself is walkable and renting golf carts makes it easy to travel near and far. It’s not hard to find the party in Puerto Viejo! Afrobeat and trance music are popular in the clubs and bars here. Check out Johnny’s, Salsa Bravo, and Hotel Puerto Viejo for weekend nighttime fun. 

3. Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano, one of Costa Rica's best places to visit, seen from the top of the hill

Michal Sarauer/Shutterstock

Costa Rica’s volcanoes are one of the coolest sights to see while you’re in the country, and Poas Volcano National Park tops the list of the best. Poas Volcano is active (last erupted in 2019), making hikes to its rim even more exciting if you like living on the edge. 

The park is situated in the Central Mountain Range, providing awesome views and nestled in a Costa Rican cloud forest. Loop trails and rugged paths through the forest lead you to stunning views of the volcano and the landscapes around it. 

While hiking to the main crater and Von Frantzius Cone are the top activities, you’ll also see the Laguna Botas crater lake, an amazing array of wildlife and birds, and rugged trails to take in the scenery. 

Arrive early before the caldera is cloaked in a thick mist for the best views. You’ll need to book your tickets in advance and leave a little time afterward to visit a locally-famous cafe and souvenir shop and tour a massive coffee farm.

Cafe Pura Vida is the local hotspot for coffee and local bites near the national park. The owner displays local artwork and souvenirs for sale! Hacienda Doka is a nearby coffee plantation that sits on the volcanic slopes, transforming the fertile soil into delicious Costa Rican coffee.

4. Cahuita

Cahuita as seen from the jungle, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica


Just under half an hour from Puerto Viejo, you’ll find the small but intriguing village of Cahuita. This is where the expansive Cahuita National Park is located. The local white sand beach is a hotspot for snorkeling with a coral reef just offshore. 

A combination tour may be the best way to explore Cahuita and all it has to offer. Some tours include a visit to a cacao farm with hiking and chocolate-making demonstrations, a sloth sanctuary to see the slow-speed critters up close, and hikes to waterfalls for a well-rounded take on this part of Costa Rica.

The beauty of hiking in Cahuita National Park cannot be overstated — this rainforest is where sea turtles, monkeys, colorful toucans, and rare birds congregate in peace and refuge. Guides can help point out wildlife you might’ve missed, like eyelash vipers and bats. 

On Playa Blanca, guided snorkeling tours out to the reef will be one of the highlights of your trip. Rent a bike (spots all over the village) to explore Cahuita and the nearby villages. Set out early and make your way to Puerto Viejo, the national park, and check out eateries and shops inside the port city of Limon. 

5. Tortuguero

Tortuguero, one of Costa Rica's best places to visit, with the reader looking at light rays coming down from the top of the rainforest

iacomino FRiMGAGES/Shutterstock

The bustling little village of Tortuguero is within Tortuguero National Park. This lush rainforest park is packed with wildlife and sun-dappled trails that immerse you in the Costa Rican wilderness, feeling miles away from civilization. 

But civilization isn’t actually far at all, with the village center of Tortuguero just minutes away. The town’s main street is lined with local shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy a satisfying meal of Rondón (coconut milk and fish stew) or come away with painted gourd bowls and local produce.

Green turtles are one of the main draws to Tortuguero (which means “turtle”). They nest on the park’s sandbar. You’ll see an awesome turtle mosaic mural in town, the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and can witness turtles nesting and hatching on the beach from July through October. 

Within the park, trails lead you under trees heavy with macaws as they shriek and chomp on almonds. Opt for a kayak tour along the canals to see alligators and wildlife as you glide through the jungle. The observation tower is the best viewpoint over the park and you’ll see colorful birds, like green macaws, flying through the air around you. 

6. Arenal Volcano

Cool view of Volcano Arenal through the trees, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica


If you thought the Poas Volcano was exciting, wait until you get to the Arenal Volcano! This rugged, conical peak can be seen from miles around and is very active, sputtering red-hot stones down its sides that make any trip here scenic and truly fascinating. 

While Poas offers a stunning crater to look down into, you’ll see the cone of Arenal from far away when it’s not shrouded in mist. Arenal Volcano National Park is lush and teeming with wildlife, so it’s a popular spot for safari tours and hiking. 

The Arenal Volcano sits near La Fortuna and San Carlos, forming one of Costa Rica’s adventure capital. Horseback riding, rappelling, Rio Frio rafting, waterfall and rainforest hikes, hanging bridges, zip-lining — you name it, you can do it right here in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano. 

The area’s hot springs are the perfect place to relax your muscles after a long day of hiking and exploring around the Arenal Volcano. Los Perdidos Springs and Las Lagunas offer multiple pools to enjoy the varying water temperatures heated by the same geothermal forces that power the volcano! 

When it’s time to chow down, you won’t need to look hard for options. The entire area is packed with top-notch restaurants, from sodas (local open-air cafes) to upscale dining and fusion cuisine. Bars and reggae clubs offer a little nightlife if you’re not ready for the day to end. 

7. Tamarindo

Tamarindo beach, a top pick for the best places to visit in Costa Rica, as seen from the shoreline looking into the ocean on a sunny day

Chad Zuber/Shutterstock

Tamarindo is an iconic beach destination in Costa Rica’s Guancaste Province on the Pacific side. With strong swells year-round, it’s a surfing mecca that draws the adventurous to its shores in search of big waves, wildlife, great food, and a welcoming Pura Vida vibe. 

Tamarindo — “Tamagringo” for locals and those in the know — definitely caters to tourists with its stretch of beautiful, white-sand beaches and waterfront shops, bars, and restaurants that offer stunning views and delicious meals and drinks.

The nightlife is great in Tamarindo, especially at spots like Sharky’s and Crazy Monkey Bar. But getting off the beaten path and experiencing the authentic Tamarindo might be more your style. 

Pop into one of the family-owned sodas or food carts just off the beach for an amazing Costa Rican meal, visit local farmer’s markets, and see endangered leatherback turtles congregating at Playa Grande in Las Baulas National Marine Park.

Disappear deep into the mangroves of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge to get close to crocs, monkeys, and otters in the wild heart of Tamarindo. Surfing is world-renowned here, where the waves crash mightily on Playa Tamarindo. Beaches to the north and south have smaller waves better for surf lessons. 

8. Rincón de la Vieja

Rincón de la Vieja volcano seen from the countryside for a piece on the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Serge Goujon/Shutterstock

Rincón de la Vieja National Park is a spectacular look into the Costa Rican rainforest, taking you along scenic trails through rainforest and cloud forest, bubbling mud pools, hot springs, cascading falls, and — of course — the famous twin Rincón de la Vieja and Santa María volcanoes. 

While Rincón de la Vieja is still very much an active volcano, the twin cone, Santa María, sits dormant along with an even older volcano, Cerro Von Seebach. This is a phenomenal place to see Costa Rica’s unbridled natural beauty. 

The park is divided into two sectors: Las Pailas and Santa María. In Las Pailas, see the brilliant blue waters of the La Cangreja waterfall (the “blue lagoon”), hike the loop Las Pailas Trail to see boiling mud pots and fumaroles, and visit the towering Rincón de la Vieja volcano. 

In the less-visited Santa María sector, visit the Enchanted Forest Waterfall with a swimming hole on your way along scenic trails that lead to the hot springs — aqua pools of bubbly, warm water that are completely surrounded by natural beauty.

You won’t find signage, wooden pathways, or anything like that here. It feels truly secluded and pure. You’re no longer able to swim in the springs, but the visual is enough to make a lasting impact on you. 

9. Dominical

Beautiful Nauyaca Waterfall in one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, Dominical

Gianfranco Vivi/Shutterstock

Dominical is a small but popular surf town on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Coast, where dense rainforests and waterfalls meet rocky beaches known for big swells and powerful surf. You’ll meet enthusiastic surfers visiting Playa Dominical to catch the famous breaks! 

While the beaches are rocky and not ideal for sunbathing or swimming, you won’t find a better spot to surf. This is a tiny, laid-back town that’s frequented by adventurers, backpackers, and families looking to get lost in Costa Rica’s beauty. 

Dominical has two main streets, one running along the beach and the other through the heart of town. Try local restaurants and sodas, visit markets and souvenir shops, and meet travelers who may be hanging out in hammocks or chatting with locals in front of cafes. 

This is the gateway to rainforest adventures, from hikes through the rainforest past huge waterfalls to zip-lining through the canopy and horseback riding. Take a 20-minute bus ride to the gorgeous twin Nauyaca Waterfalls in a forested canyon — spend a little more for the horseback tour under the canopy that includes a traditional casado lunch!

Some of the most popular spots in town are the waterfront bars, Fuego Brewery (also a restaurant), and yoga studios near the water where you can unwind after a long, rewarding day of exploration and activity. 

10. Malpais

Unique of a surfer walking in one of Costa Rica's best places to visit, Malpais, on a misty day


Nestled on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula near Santa Teresa and Montezuma, Malpais (or Mal Pais) is a blissful, secluded part of the country that offers great conditions for surfing, fishing, and hiking in its coastal rainforest setting.

You’ll find shores from wide, sandy beaches to rocky, remote coves sheltered from waves in this gorgeous part of Costa Rica. If you’re coming to surf, join a surf camp to get your bearings with the hard-to-judge breaks on beaches like Playa Mar Azul or Playa Santa Theresa.

Waterfalls appear out of nowhere in the rainforest, surfers flock to the quiet beaches in search of big waves, snorkelers and divers come for the abundant marine life, and adventurers head out into the rainforest for ATV tours, hiking, and horseback riding through the lush greenery.

Snorkeling and scuba diving tours can turn a good day into a great one in Malpais. Great visibility and rich varieties of marine life make getting in the water so rewarding, even if you’re not interested in surfing. 

Head to the nearby Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, blanketing thousands of land and marine acres at the southern point of the peninsula. The quiet, secluded Cabo Blanco awaits you after a long, challenging hike through the rainforest. 

11. Jaco

Aerial view of Jaco beach, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

McKerrell Photography/Shutterstock

Jaco is known as a party town in Costa Rica, and while it’s certainly earned that reputation, it’s also a great place to experience the culture and cuisine of Costa Rica. A huge population of scarlet macaws hang out at the overlook on Highway 34! 

This is the perfect basecamp for a Costa Rican getaway. You’ll find a great, 2.5-mile pebbled beach lined with palms and beachfront restaurants and bars (Playa Jaco) along with tons of day trip options just an hour or two away.

The town has plenty of shops and a farmer’s market selling souvenirs, local fashion, and fresh produce, so head out in the morning to browse and pick up a few things. You’ll find tour operators running fishing charters, boat rides, hiking and waterfall tours, and surf schools here. 

This is a surfer’s paradise with reliable swells that draw surfers with a range of skill. The southern end of the beach is calmer if you’re up for a swim. Don’t miss the chance to head out to nearby places, like Playa Mantas and Manuel Antonio park, to experience the quieter side of Costa Rica. 

The nightlife in Jaco is renowned, but watch the area you visit. After dark, some areas (like around Hotel Cocal and Casino) can be a little sketchy, but the beachfront bars and clubs are popular and promise plenty of music, drinking, and dancing. 

12. Osa Peninsula

Beautiful morning on the Osa Peninsula for a post on the best places to visit in Costa Rica


The Osa Peninsula is a natural oasis in Costa Rica, sitting in the southwest on the Pacific Ocean and Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) fjord. Here, tropical rainforest is surrounded by warm, tropical waters and hidden beaches where wildlife is abundant. 

The Osa Peninsula boasts amazing biodiversity. From scarlet macaws to jaguars, life thrives on the peninsula and makes it the perfect destination for nature lovers who want to get away from the tourist scene. 

On the western side of the peninsula, stay in Drake Bay to explore the lowland rainforest trails and waterfalls of Corcovado National Park (guide required) and the mysterious Cano Island Biological Reserve with hiking, snorkeling, and diving. Chances are, your hotel will offer guided day tours to these parks! 

Puerto Jimenez on the the east side of the Osa Peninsula sits on the calmer Sweet Gulf, a tropical fjord with thriving dolphin and whale populations that make it a hotspot for cruises to spot these marine mammals, as well as snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking the clear waters.

Visit the vast Piedras Blancas National Park (ferries are available from Puerto Jimenez) with a guide to see all 4 of Costa Rica’s monkey species, anteaters, pumas, and jaguars in a serene and unspoiled setting. 

13. Irazu Volcano

Irazu Volcano with steam over the water and teal water, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica


Irazu Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s big 3 volcanoes (along with Poas and Arenal) and the tallest in the country at over 11,200 feet. It’s located about an hour and a half from San Jose in Irazu Volcano National Park with 5 easily-accessed craters you can hike down to straight from the parking lot. 

The name Irazu means “thunder” or “peak of thunder,” which isn’t a surprise considering the long, active history this volcano has. It hasn’t erupted since the mid-1960s, so you’ll feel safe exploring the park. There are two sectors of the park: Craters and Prussia sectors.

The Craters Sector is more popular and crowded during peak times, offering quick access to the volcano’s craters along a short path from the parking area. It boasts amenities like a cafe, information booth, and picnic spots. 

This is where you’ll find the reason people come to Irazu Volcano National Park — the main crater, which is filled with water in a brilliant blue color. Follow the signs to the overlook at the highest point in the park for even better views on clear days.  

The Prussia Sector offers more in the way of hiking trails and chances to catch different perspectives and views of the volcano and the surrounding forest. From the parking area, walk to the fork in the road and head right for short, easy trails or go straight for longer, more challenging hikes. 

Just under 30 minutes away is the haunted Carlos Duran Sanatorium, an abandoned tubercolosis hospital (once an orphanage and later, a prison). It’s considered the most haunted place in Costa Rica and you can tour all buildings except one. 

14. Braulio Carrillo

If you’re interested in beautiful hikes through the rainforest in Costa Rica, head to Braulio Carrillo National Park. It’s a short drive from San José with hanging bridges, a dormant volcano, and incredible scenery that you won’t believe is only 40 minutes away from the capital city. 

The park is designed for all types of travelers — those seeking an adrenaline rush, families hiking short trails with kids, and nature lovers intent on exploring the deeper recesses of the rainforest to see rare wildlife in their natural habitats. 

Look for sloths and monkeys hanging high up in the trees, keep your eyes open for sneaky pumas and jaguars slinking through the greenery, and marvel at the whirlwind of butterflies fluttering on the wind as you meander through Braulio Carrillo. 

You can ride the aerial tram or zip-line through the canopy for incredible views, hike out to waterfalls and the dormant Barva volcano and its crater lake, and explore rugged trails with big elevation changes.

The park is divided by a busy highway, but moving to either side of the highway will immerse you in a completely secluded haven of rainforest. That’s part of what makes this one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica — so close to the buzz and bustle of the capital, yet so completely removed from it all. 

15. Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park, a must-visit place in Costa Rica, with hikers pictured under the trees

Louis Michel Desert/Shutterstock

Situated on the western side of the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is a key spot to visit if you want to explore and experience the wild Costa Rican rainforest without hotels, tourist attractions, or any sign of the modern day. 

This park is dotted with powerful waterfalls, mangroves, tall trees draped with vines, endangered wildlife, and an impressive 13 ecosystems that are found within the park’s almost 200,000 acres. It’s an explorer’s dream and includes both land and marine sectors. 

See cloud forest, lowland rainforest, mangrove swamps, and pristine, palm-lined beaches that stretch for 20+ miles along the Pacific in this sheltered part of Costa Rica. Swim or snorkel to see the amazing biodiversity that extends into the waters around the rainforest. Hammerheads, bull sharks, crocodiles, and tropical fish can be found here. 

You must have a guide to explore the park, and you’ll be glad to have one with the wildlife and river crossings you’ll take on some of the best hiking trails! It’s one of the few places you can spot tapirs, jaguars, and scarlet macaws in the wild here.

Most people come for a day visit, but there are camping areas and lodges if you need more time to explore the park. Nearby Drake Bay is the best home base if you won’t be camping or staying at a lodge, around 1.5 hours away. 

16. Manuel Antonio

Birds in Manuel Antonio, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Paul Harrison/Shutterstock

Manuel Antonio National Park encompasses acres of wild, Costa Rican coastal rainforest and beaches that house innumerable animal and plant species, an awesome array of hiking trails, and plenty of activities and places to visit. 

Begin your trip in Quepos, the gateway village to the park, where you’ll find a bustling town filled with shops, tour operators, and places to eat and drink.  Once you enter the stunning park itself, you’ll be greeted with beautiful rainforest, beaches, and verdant mountains. 

The tropical flora and fauna is amazing in MA National Park. From macaws and sloths to monkeys and iguanas, the rainforest is teeming with rare and unusual animals that make your visit spectacular.

Coral reefs sit just offshore for snorkeling. People come to MA National Park to hike, hang out on the beaches, and set off on rugged Costa Rican excursions like waterfall and snorkeling tours, and mangrove kayak tours.

Visit the exciting Mountain Top Park with hanging bridges and zip-lines to zoom through the canopy. Catch some rays (or some fish) on the white sand shores of Playa Manuel Antonio and listen to the howling cries of macaws and monkeys in the trees.

While local sodas are always great, seafood from Oceano at sunset is top-tier and the beachfront En Todas can’t be beat for its convenient location and seafood, beer, and frosty cocktails. Guides can bring your order right to you on the beach, or you can walk down to the restaurant to save some money. 

17. Monteverde

Monteverde volcano and forest, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Kevin Wells Photography/Shutterstock

If you haven’t thought of visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, consider this your sign to do so. Highland rainforest covers rugged mountain peaks and creates a biodiverse home for wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in this dream-like ecosystem. 

Monteverde sits high up that clouds amid the Tilarán mountains and ever-present mist shrouds the tree canopy, giving the rainforest a feeling of being caught up in the clouds and away from the rest of the world.

It’s wonderfully secluded and you’ll find some of the most diverse wildlife lurking within its bounds. Taking a guided tour will ensure you see more wildlife — without knowing what to look for, you can miss some of the better-camouflauged or sneaky critters. 

Trails through the cloud forest feel closed in with greenery on all sides, transporting you into a tropical world of mist, leaves, and flowers. Go zip-lining to see it all at a fast pace, slow things down at the butterfly garden, or go horseback riding to really feel one with nature. 

You’ll find a variety of wildlife and hiking tours available, but we recommend looking into a night tour. Flashlights and knowledgeable guides can make this place especially interesting after dark, when more animals creep out of their hiding spaces and the forest feels a little eerie.

18. Tarcoles River

Tarcoles River next to the crocodile bridge, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Gianfranco Vivi/Shutterstock

The Tarcoles River is famed for its population of crocodiles (an estimated 2,000+) and the pedestrian Crocodile Bridge that crosses the river. Sitting on the boundary of Carara National Park, this is a fun stop if you’re headed to Manuel Antonio or Jaco. 

The Tarcoles River’s thriving croc population is what draws so many people to this unexpected location, around an hour and 20 minutes from San Jose. You can see them safely from the Crocodile Bridge

Stopping at the Crocodile Bridge and walking along the pedestrian barrier, you’ll see dozens of crocodiles up to 20 feet long sunning on the rocks and swimming in the waters below. 

Crocodiles flock to the river because it’s somewhat shallow and there are no natural predators for them to worry about in the river. As a result, their numbers have skyrocketed and you can see crocs anytime of day when you stop here. Iguanas, birds, and caiman can also be spotted along the banks. 

Restaurante Nambi, owned by Doka Estate Coffee, is a popular spot right by the bridge to grab something to eat and a fresh cup of Costa Rican coffee from beans grown just miles away. Look for ice cream shops, cafes, souvenir shops, and restrooms nearby.

Tarcoles boat tours are one of the best ways to experience the biodiversity and see crocs up close. You’ll find lots of options, but Crocodile Man Tours seem to be the most popular. Choose a knowledgeable, trustworthy guide if you’re heading to the river. Just don’t go for a swim — the waters are polluted and crocs are always hungry. 

19. La Paz

View of La Paz waterfalls in Costa Rica, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica

Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia/Shutterstock

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park boasts 5 stunning waterfalls, a rescue “zoo” with big cats and monkeys, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and scenic hiking trails that wind past rivers through the rainforest for a truly enchanting visit. 

This privately-owned attraction is one of the most-visited places in Costa Rica for good reason. Catarata La Paz, the largest waterfall in the park, towers over 120 feet tall and is one of the focal points in the stunning waterfall canyon. 

But you’ll also come here to see animals, immerse yourself in tropical beauty, and feel like you’ve discovered waterfalls that are hidden from view with only the sound of thundering water to guide you. 

The park has an aviary with macaws, sloths, and monkeys. You can meander through the butterfly and hummingbird garden while surrounded with flurries of these small creatures overhead. See pumas and jaguars at the Big Cat exhibit (all rescued illegal “pets”), and marvel at the orchid, reptile, and snake exhibits in the park. 

A historic Tico home stands on the grounds and is now a museum you can wander through to learn about early Costa Rican life.

Expect to spend 3-4 hours here and remember that you can add a delicious buffet lunch with traditional casados, salad, pizza, sides, and drinks. If you just don’t want to leave, stay at the onsite Peace Lodge for a romantic experience in this Costa Rican paradise. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Monteverde rainforest bridge, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, pictured on a foggy day

Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Making your way through the best places to visit in Costa Rica ensures a spectacular trip, but you’ll enjoy your time even more by reading through the answers to some of Costa Rican travelers’ most frequently asked questions. 

Which part of Costa Rica is the best to stay?

Manuel Antonio is the best part of Costa Rica to stay in with beaches, mountains, rainforest, and great dining and entertainment options. Manuel Antonio National Park, the most famous in Costa Rica, boasts a lush rainforest, miles of beach with coral reefs to snorkel and dive, and trails leading through leafy canopies where sloths, parrots, and monkeys hang out.

Where is the best place to go to Costa Rica for the first time?

La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano is the best place to go in Costa Rica for the first time. This safe area lets you hike around Arenal, one of Costa Rica’s most impressive (and active) volcanoes, with tons of tour and recreation options around, like hot springs, river trips, horseback riding, rainforest zip-lining, hiking, and paragliding.

Which part of Costa Rica is the most beautiful?

Monteverde is the most beautiful part of Costa Rica, considered the finest example of cloud forest by National Geographic and known as one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth. Clouds and mist hang in the canopies of the towering trees, colorful wildlife is abundant, and vines, waterfalls, and hanging bridges add to the enchantment of this rare ecosystem.

What is the #1 tourist attraction in Costa Rica?

Manuel Antonio National Park is the #1 tourist attraction in Costa Rica, seeing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. So many people want to visit this mountainous, rainforested, beach park that Costa Rica has imposed daily limits on visitors, capping it to 1,120 people per day. Arrive early to make sure you’re able to get into the park!

Where do most Americans go in Costa Rica?

Most Americans go to Puntarenas Province, where the popular Manuel Antonio National Park and Malpais are located, but Limon Province is nearly as popular for tourists from North America. This area features laid-back beach towns and great food, beautiful shores, and ample recreation in spots like Cahuita, Puerto Vieja, and Tortuguero National Park.

So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica?

If images of Costa Rica’s wild and lush beauty are drawing you in like a magnet, you won’t be disappointed when you plan to check out any of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. 

While the secret’s out at spots like Manuel Antonio National Park, you can still find secluded shores and rainforests on the Osa Peninsula, little-known surfing beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula, and massive volcanoes that add an element of excitement and wonder to your beach and rainforest adventure. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the best places to visit in Costa Rica — there are just so many amazing areas to explore. But use this guide to get started and you’ll be able to string together some day trips to nearby natural wonders and parks that will make your Costa Rica trip unforgettable!