Adventures / Blog

11 of the Best Day Trips From San Jose, Costa Rica

Last updated on July 13, 2023
Manual Antonio Costa Rica national park

Hey there! I’m Kourtney, an expat living in Costa Rica, and today I want to give you 11 of the best day trips you can take from San Jose. Trust me when I tell you, the day trips you can take from here are straight-up epic! 

If you’ve rented a car, you’re golden, you can tackle any of these adventures solo. If not, no worries! You can always book a tour where they take care of all transportation. Most tour companies will pick up up from your hotel so very easy to book.

All right, let’s get started!

1. Poas Volcano National Park

Just a short drive away lies Poas Volcano National Park. You’ll be blown away by the sight of one of the world’s largest geyser volcano craters. The park’s trails take you through some picturesque cloud forests and right up to the geyser. Just remember, you gotta book your tickets in advance from the SINAC website; they won’t sell ’em to you at the gate. Pack for cloud forest weather and don’t forget your camera!

2. Irazu Volcano National Park

When I tell you Costa Rica’s volcanoes are incredible, I mean it. Over in Cartago, the Irazu Volcano National Park is home to the country’s tallest volcano. Layer up, ’cause it gets a bit chilly up there, but the views? Totally worth it.

3. Pacuare River White Water Rafting

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Get yourself to the Pacuare River and experience some of the best white water rafting in the world. Not to mention, you’ll be surrounded by lush rainforests and wildlife, like toucans and monkeys. It’s so much better than a long, boring bus ride, right?

4. Tour a Coffee Plantation 

Costa Rica’s coffee is world-class, so you’ve gotta check out a coffee plantation tour. If you’re like me and can’t get enough coffee, this tour is a dream come true. Doka Estate Coffee tour is my personal fave, but there are plenty of options around, like Britt and Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks. Also, don’t miss out on Hacienda La Chimba, a hidden gem just half an hour from the city.

 5. Rainforest Adventures

This eco-adventure park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Think hiking, bird watching, ziplining, and an aerial tram. Only 45 minutes away from San José, it’s perfect for a day of nature immersion.

6. Tortuga Island Day Cruise

Ever dream of cruising to a beautiful island for a day? Then, set sail to Tortuga Island. You get to relax on white sand beaches, scuba dive, and maybe even spot sea turtles and dolphins!

 7. La Paz Waterfall Gardens

About an hour and a half from San José, La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a nature lover’s haven with an animal sanctuary and five stunning waterfalls. Our partners offer a combo tour of La Paz, a coffee tour, and Poas Volcano which I highly recommend.

8. Arenal Volcano and Hot Springs

A trip to the Arenal Volcano and hot springs is a must-do. It’s a full day of exploring the volcano, chilling in the hot springs, and indulging in local art and cuisine. A word of advice: Baldi Hot Springs is great for families, while Ecotermales is perfect for a more adult crowd.

9. Manuel Antonio National Park

If beaches and wildlife are more your thing, a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park is a must. Be prepared to see all kinds of wildlife there where you’ll spot monkeys, sloths, deer, iguanas, and even raccoons on the trails!

10. La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall, in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano, is a sight to behold. It’s a bit of a trek down to the pool at the base, but the sight of the towering waterfall makes it all worth it. You can swim in the pool and relax amidst the natural beauty.

11. Corcovado National Park

A bit of a longer trip, but trust me, Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is worth it. It’s one of the most biodiverse places on earth! From exotic birds to tapirs and even jaguars, you never know what you’ll come across. You can explore the park on foot or take a boat tour along the coast.

Well, that wraps it up for now, and remember, you don’t have to go solo; most of these trips can be booked as tours with transportation. Happy exploring, friends!