Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: 11 Best Experiences For Your Family

Our selection of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica includes climbing peaks and volcanoes, do some extreme sports, and relax at the beach with a nice cocktail…

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica:

  • 1.Dominical Surfing
  • 2.Relax at Playa Conchal
  • 3.Puerto Viejo, Limon
  • 4.Pacuare Whitewater Rafting and Turtles
  • 5.Visiting Arenal Volcano Area
  • 6.A Visit To Rio Celeste
  • 7.Visit Monteverde Rainforest
  • 8.Take A Trip To San Jose, The Capital
  • 9.Visit Cartago, Climb The Chirripo!
  • 10.Search for Wildlife at Corcovado National Park
  • 11.Experience A Coffee Tour

The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica offers the most popular beaches for tourists. This is a beautiful destination for those seeking adventure, a relaxing time, or both.

Let’s start with the first Top 2 Things To Do in Costa Rica

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #1 – Dominical Surfing

Dominical is a beach you can visit for water activities like surfing. In fact, this Puntarenas beach town it’s world-famous for its amazing waves.

And surfers from all over the globe come year-round to experience them.

Just take a walk through the town, and you’ll see how everything here it’s about surfing.

From surf lessons to surf-themed eateries, the music, the people, and everything in between.

Now, conditions can get rough here, but if this happens, you can always head to Dominicalito, the neighbor beach, where things stay more mellow, more frequently.

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #2 – Relax at Playa Conchal

The second of our Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is a visit to Playa Conchal.

Sometimes you just want to hang out on a beach of perfect white sand, and Playa Conchal is definitely the finest of these in Costa Rica.

This is one of the most unique and exotic beaches in the country, and one that you must experience by yourself.

The beach is a mix of fine white sand and millions of tiny crushed shells. Conchal has near-perfect weather all year long, the water is warm, and there are almost no waves, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Here’s our list of the Best Beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast!!

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #3 – Puerto Viejo, Limon

The third and fourth Top Things To Do in Costa Rica are in Limon…

Start with a visit to the laid-back town of Puerto Viejo. Here you can stay at many of the local hostels and meet other travelers, soaking in the lazy beach vibes of the area.

White sand beaches are amazing, but the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica also include a visit to black sand tropical paradises, such as Puerto Viejo.

This is a stunning beach town, located in Limon, a province on the Caribbean side of the country.

When you visit, go for a fried fish, and check out the reggae bars; chances are that you’ll have an amazing time with the locals and other foreigners.

For an optimal experience, try to visit during a cooler day, or bring a pair of sandals, because the sand can reach very high temperatures.

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #4 Pacuare Whitewater Rafting and Turtles

Whitewater rafting is one of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica you can’t afford to miss.

If you want to go extreme, Pacuare River is definitely your ticket to an amazing adventure.

With that said, there are other rivers in the country that offer a variety of difficulty levels, so this is a sport to be experienced by everybody.

And this is a fantastic group activity, so those strangers in the raft will soon turn into comrades!

Stretching for more than four miles, Playa Pacuare is impressive. But more stunning than this are the hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles that visit this beautiful beach from March to October.

Depending on the time of the year, at Pacuare Reserve, you may be able to check out hundreds of mother turtles emerging from the sea, or tiny baby turtles heading into the waters. 

Tortuguero National Park

This area is once accessible by boat or airplane. It’s one of the top places to watch sea turtles in the country.

Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

Lots of wildlife to observe here, including turtles, dolphins, sloths, monkeys, and lots of exotic birds.

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #5 – Visit Arenal Volcano Area

The fifth of our Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is located at La Fortuna, Alajuela.

First, take a visit to the volcano, then go and do some waterfall rappelling, and finishing your adventure in this area by vising the local hanging bridges.

This is really an all in one family adventure.

Arenal Volcano

Among the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica, visiting Arenal Volcano is one of the most thrilling.

Out of the many active volcanoes in the country, this is probably the most famous around the world. And the reason for that it’s because it’s always active.

The only area you can actually climb here is a smaller volcano located on the south side of Arenal, called Chato.

It’s almost as tall as Arenal, and it leads you to a stunning green-tinted lake. You can access the trail from La Fortuna Waterfall, or Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Furthermore, there’s a large diversity of flora and fauna here, so definitely pack your camera.

La Fortuna Waterfall Rappelling

Your trip to Arenal Volcano can’t be complete without some rappelling at La Fortuna Waterfall.

This is a tour you definitely want to book during your trip. It’s a full adventure, that starts with a 20-minute trek to the falls, and then, you can rappel down the face of the waterfall.

Arenal Hanging Bridges

Located near Volcan Arenal National Park, Mistico Park, home to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, opened its doors during the early 2000s as a family venture. And it’s definitely one of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica.

The main attraction here is a 5-mile, beautiful, thrilling canopy pathway, made up of bridges that hang 600 meters above sea level.

This elevated trail goes through a private mountainside rainforest reserve, guaranteeing lots of breath-taking moments.

So, pack your camera and your sense of adventure, because even the simple seems amazing here.

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #6 – Visit Rio Celeste

The sixth of our Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is a visit to Rio Celeste.

Rio Celeste runs through Tenorio Volcano National Park, and its main feature is an outstanding, unique waterfall. You can also take the trail to Los Teñideros.

This is an incredible area, where two rivers meet, blending their waters into an unforgettable sky-blue mix; giving the river its actual name, which can be translated to ‘heavenly blue.’

top things to do in costa rica 7 zilpining monteverde

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #7 – Monteverde Rainforest

Time for the seventh of our Top Things To Do in Costa Rica, a visit Monteverde!

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve features a diverse, fertile ecosystem, and is about 4,662 feet above sea level.

Go Ziplining

You can reach up to 40 miles per hour in a zipline that stretches for more than a mile through rugged forests.

You can also take slower ziplines for a ride that gives you a more detailed view of local flora and fauna.

The best way to experience this amazing place is to fly through its foggy treetops on a very secure zipline.

You can choose between different adventure parks that offer a variety of zipline packages. And the longest of the offered canopy routes is 3,280 feet.

The Monteverde hanging bridges is another exciting way to check this amazing Cloud Forest.

You can explore a total of six stunning bridges, covering a total of a mile and a half, with the longest spanning 984 feet.

If you want to cover all 6 bridges, you’ll need to schedule at least two hours. So get your camera ready, because you’ll get the chance to take some once-in-a-lifetime shots back home.

Other cloud forests in Costa Rica worth visiting:

  • Los Angeles Cloud Forest
  • Bajas Del Toro Cloud Forest
  • Central Highlands Cloud Forest (home to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens)
Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #8 – Visit San Jose

Eighth in our Top Things To Do in Costa Rica list is a visit to San Jose the capital,

Juan Santamaria Airport is close to San Jose. So, if you arrive there, take the chance to visit the capital of the country. 

If you like museums, art, history, and good food, this is a great place to start your journey.

Visit A Museum

Once in San Jose, these are the museums you can visit:

  • National Theater
  • Museum of Contemporary Art & Design
  • Gold Museum
  • Jade Museum
  • National Museum

Visit the Farmer’s Market

A morning at a local ‘feria’, the Tico’s farmer’s market, it’s where you can really get in touch with the local culture.

Most people here are locals, getting their vegetables and cheese.

But you’ll also find many foreigners, some travelers, and some ex-pats, some getting a souvenir, and some getting their fresh produce for the week.

These ‘ferias’ are weekend events and are everywhere.

Vendors set up their shops as early as 5 am, and all the best stuff is gone by 1 pm, so avoid visiting during the afternoon if fresh veggies and fruits it’s what you want.

Eat at a Local Soda

One of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is also to skip the local restaurants that just cater to the common tourist and check out a local soda.

If you want to have a real local experience, just head over to a soda. Sodas are small, humble eateries run by Ticos, and everybody’s welcome at these friendly locations.

There are actually two types of sodas: ones that offer a buffet-style menu, and others that offer an actual menu.

You can get some nice appetizers, like the most traditional dish, which includes rice, pasta, meat, fried plantain, and salad, all combined in a single plate, called a Casado.

Liking the content so far? Check our article with the best Costa Rica Travel Vacation Tips for more…

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #9 – Visit Cartago, Climb the Chirripo!

Next in our list of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is a visit to Cartago, and then to Chirripo National Park.

Cartago is close to San Jose, and it offers its own attractions.

You can visit this beautiful city on your way to climbing the Chirripo, and from there to Corcovado National Park!


The city also has some great offerings, including a trip to the Cartago Ruins.

Cartago is located 15 miles from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, but during the Spanish colonial period, the former was the capital itself.

That’s the reason why there are many historical sites located here.

This includes the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and also ruins of structures that show the toll taken by past natural disasters.

These include:

Climb The Chirripo!

At 10,761, the Chirripo is the highest place in the country, and its name means ‘land of eternal waters’.

You can easily get a permit to climb it from the Chirripo National Park office, located in San Gerardo de Rivas.

And, if you take on this amazing adventure, it’s a 12.1-mile hike to the summit.

During your trip to the top, you’ll find yourself surrounded by different ecosystems, and you’ll also find different rest stops.

The view from the top? Absolutely stunning, and definitely one of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica.

Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #10 – Search for Wildlife at Corcovado National Park

Tenth in our list of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica is a visit to Corcovado National Park.

The whole country is actually teeming with wildlife, but during your vacation in Costa Rica, you really want to head to Corcovado National Park.

And the simple reason is this: the Osa Peninsula is one of the most bio-diverse places in the entire blue marble. This incredibly amazing National Park was established in 1975.

It covers an area of 164 square miles, where you’ll find 140 different mammals, 450 species of birds, and hundreds of different types of plants.

Here are some of the most attractive animals you may catch a glimpse of during your trip to the Osa Peninsula:

  • Ocelots
  • White-faced Capuchin monkeys
  • Pumas
  • Tapirs
  • Jaguars
  • Scarlet macaws

From this list, the felines are the most elusive, but you may catch the tracks they leave behind…

top things to do in costa rica coffee tour 2

Top Things To Do in Costa Rica: #11 – Experience a Coffee Tour

We had to create a full section for Coffee Tours! This is really one of the most rewarding experiences in the country.

So, even though not included in our top 10, these tours stand on their own as part of the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica.

Everybody who appreciates the good things in life definitely loves a delicious cup of java.

And how about enjoying the full experience of this golden bean at one of the Best Costa Rica Coffee Tours…

When it comes to the Best Costa Rica Coffee Tours, these are the top 5 options…

Doka Estate

Doke Estate is the first in our list of the Best Costa Rica Coffee Tours. Get a great rundown of the different processes that are involved in the growing, harvesting, curing, packing, and of course, brewing of premium local java.

This is a very similar tour to the one offered by Cafe Britt Farm. But, you can also experience other wonders, such as a bonsai tree garden, a butterfly garden, and an orchid exhibit. The tour takes around two and a half hours!

  • Sabanilla de Alajuela.
  • 888/946-3652 in the U.S. and Canada or 2449-5152 in Costa Rica.
  • Admission $20 adults, $16 students, $10 children 6–12, free for children 5 and under.
  • Packages include transportation, and meals are available.
  • Tours daily at 9, 10, and 11 am; 1:30 and 2:30 pm.

Read more: Costa Rica Recipe for Gallo Pinto

Café Britt Farm

The most recognized Costa Rica coffee brand outside the country offers a professional tour at its farm, located just twenty minutes away from San Jose.

At the second of our list on the Best Costa Rica Coffee Tours, you can see how the plants of coffee are grown, and you can also visit the roasting and processing plant.

This will allow you to have a deeper understanding of how a coffee cherry turns into a delicious roasted bean.

You can also enjoy toasting sessions to experience the different varieties and qualities of Cafe Britt.

Additionally, you can visit the restaurant and the store, where you can acquire coffee bags, and other related souvenirs.

The full tour takes around three to four hours, but you can some extra time to visit the nearby working plantation and mill.

And, during harvest time, they will even give you the chance of picking up a basket and collect coffee yourself.

  • North of Heredia on the road to Barva
  • Phone: 2277-1600
  • Admission: $25 adults, $20 children 6–11
  • $43 adults and $38 children, including transportation from downtown San José.
  • $14 extra for a delicious buffet lunch

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Tour

This beautiful boutique hotel located in Heredia counts with its own organic coffee plantation.

The hotel offers great tours that take two and a half hours, and there are two available every day, one at 9 am, and one at 1 pm.

You can consider the wonderful option of combining the coffee tour with a nice meal at the open-air restaurant.

And, you can also opt for a visit to the hotel’s spa, which offers amazing treatments with coffee-based products.

  • Santa Bárbara de Heredia
  • Phone: 2269-9392
  • Admission $35 adults,
  • Free for children 10 and under. Reservations required.

Golden Bean Coffee Tour

Another fabulous option is the Golden Bean Coffee Tour, which offers you a great, comprehensive tour of actual coffee production.

The processing plant and mill have been in constant operation for almost one hundred years.

This tour takes about two hours, and there are two available daily, one at 9 am, and one at 2 pm.


Don Juan Coffee Tour

Apart from business-run coffee tours, there are also great family-run options…

If you’re visiting Monteverde, and want a glimpse of daily life for coffee farmers in this region, the Don Juan Coffee Tour is definitely for you.

This tour takes two hours, and although the focus of the tour is the coffee plant and its processes, there are also other areas worth of your time, such as the trapiche (sugarcane mill).

We hope you enjoyed our page on the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica, check our articles section for more!