#01 Trekking in Parque Nacional Corcovado

This biologically rich coastal rainforest is one of Costa Rica’s finest destinations for walking and wildlife-spotting.

Corcovado National Park, Costa RicaCorcovado National Park, Costa Rica © Malgorzata Drewniak/Shutterstock

#02 Turtle-watching

View some of the thousands of turtles – leatherbacks, hawksbill, olive ridleys and greens – that come ashore to lay their eggs each year, and, if you’re lucky, glimpse the babies hatch and return to the sea.

Turtle Costa Rica© Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock

#03 Volcán Arenal

One of the Western Hemisphere’s most active volcanoes, Arenal’s upper slopes are periodically doused in flows of red-hot lava.

Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica, Central America. Central America© NancyS/Shutterstock

#04 Reserva Rara Avis

Costa Rica’s premier eco-tourism destination flourishes with primitive ferns and has more kinds of plants, birds and butterflies than in all Europe.

Ghost Glass Frog (Centrolene ilex), Rara Avis Reserve, Costa Rica.Ghost Glass Frog (Centrolene ilex), Rara Avis Reserve © Salparadis/Shutterstock

#05 Museo de Oro Precolombino

One of the country’s best museums, with a dazzling display that features over two thousand pre-Columbian gold pieces.

pre-Columbian museum© James Wagstaff/Shutterstock

#06 Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro

Crammed with caiman and home to hundreds of species of birds, this isolated reserve near the Nicaraguan border is one of the most important wetlands in the world.

Caiman in Costa Rica© NaniP/Shutterstock

#07 Fishing

Anglers battle big fish in Costa Rica’s coastal waters, teeming with swordfish, marlin, tarpon and snook.

Fishing in Costa Rica© Corywheeler/Shutterstock

#08 Volunteering

Give something back by working on an organic farm, counting jaguar populations or helping to regenerate cloudforest.

Things not to miss in Costa Rica: Sea Turtle on the beach with a volunteer for protection organization.©  Susan M Jackson/Shutterstock

#09 Teatro Nacional, San José

Central America’s grandest theatre, built in imitation of the Paris Opéra with money raised by a tax on coffee.

Nationa Theatre in San Jose© Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia/Shutterstock

#10 Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

This perennially popular park boasts white-sand beaches, tropical forests full of sloths and monkeys, and stunning coastal scenery peppered with striking rock formations.

Lonely fisherman in the Nicoya Gulf after sunset.© Shutterstock

#11 Stay at an eco-lodge

From rustic simplicity to luxury in the jungle, Costa Rica has some of the best eco-lodges in the Americas, all offering a variety of ways to further immerse yourself in the natural world.

Eco lodge in the rainforest at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, luxury lodging, Costa Rica.© ronnybas frimages/Shutterstock

#12 Birdwatching

Costa Rica is the natural habitat of the most colourful birds in the Americas, including hummingbirds, scarlet macaws, toucans and the resplendent quetzal.

hummingbird in costa rica© Rosalie Kreulen/Shutterstock

#13 Playa Cocles

One of the most appealing beaches on the entire Caribbean coast, with pristine tropical scenery, a soothing atmosphere and excellent accommodation.

Cocles beach in Costa Rica© Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

#14 Cowboys

Guanacaste is home to Costa Rica’s cowboys, or sabaneros – iconic figures whose ranching skills and bullfighting prowess have become part of national legend.

Costa Rica cowboy© CREATISTA/Shutterstock

#15 White-water rafting

White-water rafting is one of Costa Rica’s most popular outdoor activities, with a range of rivers to suit all abilities.

Pacuare river rafting in Costa RicaPacuare river rafting in Costa Rica © Dartamonov/Shutterstock

#16 Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde

Experience the bird’s-eye view – and a touch of vertigo – from a suspended bridge in the lush Monteverde cloudforest.

Monteverde cloudforest Costa Rica© Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

#17 Volcán Poás

Poás is one of the world’s more easily accessible active volcanoes, with a history of eruptions that goes back eleven million years.

Volcano Poas, Costa Rica© Wollertz/Shutterstock

#18 Surfing

With nearly 1300km of palm-fringed coastline, and a variety of beach breaks, reef breaks, long lefts and river mouths, Costa Rica has a wave for just about every surfer out there.

Surfing Costa Rica© Jorge A. Russell/Shutterstock

#19 Coffee

Sample a cup of Costa Rica’s most famous export, and the foundation of the country’s prosperity.

© Bilal Kocabas/Shutterstock

#20 Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja

Clouds of sulphurous smoke and steaming mudpots dot the desiccated slopes of Rincón de la Vieja volcano, one of the country’s more thermally active areas.

Rincon de la Vieja National park Costa Rica.© Tanguy de Saint-Cyr/Shutterstock

#21 Exploring the Tortuguero Canal

Ride the boat north from Puerto Limón along the Tortuguero Canal, past luxuriant vegetation and colourful wooden houses on stilts.

Tortuguero iguana Costa Rica© The Perfect/Shutterstock

Top image © Salparadis/Shutterstock

Planning your trip to Costa Rica

Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Book Your Trip To Costa Rica

Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Costa Rica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best waterfalls in Costa Rica

The best waterfalls in Costa Rica

Ahh, Costa Rica - no doubt you've already heard about the cloud forests and national parks. People have raved about the wildlife, from sloths to ocelots. Chanc…

14 Dec 2018 • Kirsten Powley insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful national parks in Costa Rica

The most beautiful national parks in Costa Rica

Over a quarter of Costa Rica’s landmass is National Park, which means you’re more than likely to come across at least one on your visit. Covering rainforest…

30 Oct 2018 • Jenny Cahill-Jones insert_drive_file Article
Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Spanning two coastlines – the Pacific and Caribbean – and filled with tropical cloud forest, waterfalls, volcanoes and peculiar, cute critters in between…

19 Oct 2018 • Kirsten Powley insert_drive_file Article
More featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center


Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.



Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.



Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs