#01 Trekking in Parque Nacional Corcovado
This biologically rich coastal rainforest is one of Costa Rica’s finest destinations for walking and wildlife-spotting.
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.
#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.
Costa Rica’s premier eco-tourism destination flourishes with primitive ferns and has more kinds of plants, birds and butterflies than in all Europe.
One of the country’s best museums, with a dazzling display that features over two thousand pre-Columbian gold pieces.
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.
Anglers battle big fish in Costa Rica’s coastal waters, teeming with swordfish, marlin, tarpon and snook.
Give something back by working on an organic farm, counting jaguar populations or helping to regenerate cloudforest.
#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.
This perennially popular park boasts white-sand beaches, tropical forests full of sloths and monkeys, and stunning coastal scenery peppered with striking rock formations.
#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.
Costa Rica is the natural habitat of the most colourful birds in the Americas, including hummingbirds, scarlet macaws, toucans and the resplendent quetzal.
#13 Playa Cocles
One of the most appealing beaches on the entire Caribbean coast, with pristine tropical scenery, a soothing atmosphere and excellent accommodation.
Guanacaste is home to Costa Rica’s cowboys, or sabaneros – iconic figures whose ranching skills and bullfighting prowess have become part of national legend.
#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.
Experience the bird’s-eye view – and a touch of vertigo – from a suspended bridge in the lush Monteverde cloudforest.
#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.
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.
Sample a cup of Costa Rica’s most famous export, and the foundation of the country’s prosperity.
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.
#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.