Costa Rica is an oasis for nature lovers, with spectacular national parks that rank among some of the most beautiful and diverse in the world, volcanos due to its position on the Ring of Fire, and Caribbean beaches. Costa Rica vacations are ideal for lovers of the outdoors, while those who prefer city escapes will appreciate the thriving capital of San José and bohemian towns like Santa Elena.
The small country is jam-packed with activities and scenic attractions, and our tour comparison Costa Rica will help you choose exactly the right itinerary to help you maximise your time in this diverse gem of Central America.
Make the most of Costa Rica tourism
Tours in Costa Rica start and end in San José, where travellers enjoy guided tours of the city in the company of knowledgeable local guides, who also take care of you on visits to the spectacular national parks. There are tours for everyone, including options tailored for families, and combinations with other countries in the region such as Panama, Guatemala and Mexico.
Costa Rica vacations are great for the adventurous, with Arenal Volcano hikes in the company of licensed guides, and optional excursions like surf lessons, snorkelling, white water rafting, horseback riding, scuba-diving, mountain bike rentals, zip-lining, canyoning and abseiling.
There are plenty of activities on tour itineraries visiting Cost Rica, with wildlife-watching boat cruises, coffee cooperative visits where you will learn the entire process of growing and processing the drink that makes the world go round, and community-based homestays.
A bonus of opting for a tour in Costa Rica is the fact that all transport, accommodation and entrance fees are taken care of, including transfer by boat to the spectacular Tortuguero National Park, permits for national parks, and exclusive eco-lodge and jungle lodge accommodation.
Itching to plan your trip? Take a look at our tour comparison Costa Rica [link to page] and find the right itinerary for you.
Want a taste of that insider Costa Rica tourism knowledge we mentioned before? We have collected the best facts from real life tour guides. Impress them on tour with how much you already know.
- Costa Rica occupies a narrow strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
- The Central American country is part of the Ring of Fire, within which there are a total of 452 volcanoes.
- Costa Rica was the first carbon neutral country, has no army and has developed as a medical tourism destination due to the low cost of services.
- Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest of its kind in Costa Rica, but has been listed by Forbes as one of the top 12 most beautiful national parks in the world because of its stunning sandy beaches, hiking trails and endearingly slow sloths.
- The capital of San José lies within a central basin set in the highlands, which extend to Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific.
- The beach-front town of Dominical is a popular surfing spot with a reputation for waves year-round.
- Remote Tortuguero National Park is only accessible by plane or boat, and the tropical park is known in particular for its canals and turtles.
- The sleepy town of La Fortuna is situated less than 10 kilometres from Arenal Volcano, and is therefore a prime location from which to access the National Park. Other attractions include La Fortuna Waterfall, resorts with hot springs and adventure activities like rafting and bungee jumping.
- Jacó is a resort city offering an ideal spot for Costa Rica vacations with great nightlife, 2.5 miles of pristine beaches and some of the best surfing in the country.
- Costa Rica has produced some well-known athletes including football player Paolo Wanchope and Olympic swimmer Claudia Poll.
- The biggest national park in Costa Rica is Corcovado, described by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity”. Here you will find Baird’s tapirs, harpy eagles, jaguars, monkeys, sloths, anteaters, dart frogs and much more.
- For more laid-back beachside Costa Rica vacations, the small city of Cahuita on the Caribbean coast is an ideal spot. As a bonus, you can also experience Costa Rica’s unique Creole culture here.
- Monteverde Cloud Forest consists of more than 10,500 hectares of cloud forest, with the name alone piquing curiosity. The extreme biodiversity in the forest makes it a great place to experience Costa Rica’s wondrous nature, and you can even zip-line through for a completely different view.
- Not far from Monteverde Cloud Forest is the bohemian town of Santa Elena, which often serves as a stopover for tours visiting the natural reserve, and is known for producing delicious varieties of cheese.
- The country is well known for its coffee, as well as the Salsa Lizano, which you will find in many dishes and on restaurant tables across Costa Rica.
- Famous Costa Ricans include the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Oscar Arias Sánchez and the first Hispanic astronaut Franklin Chang-Díaz.
- The zip-line was invented in Costa Rica, and is a frequently used method for offering tourists a unique view of the flora and fauna in national parks and reserves across the nation.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC