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Hola Costa Rica: The Best 7 San Jose Day Trips

Verena
Updated May 12, 2017

As one of the most popular tourist destinations within Central America, Costa Rica is especially known for its surreal landscapes. Home to diverse flora and fauna, it is estimated to have at least 5% of the world’s biodiversity, despite its proportionately small land size. Even though San Jose is the largest city and hence a common spot for visitors, you will not get to experience the natural beauty of the country if you remain solely in the city.

If you find yourself with some extra time in San Jose, be sure to check out one of the following destinations for a day trip. Inexpensive and convenient, you will not regret making the journey out of the capital!

Top 3 activities to book in Yoses

1. Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs (From 137 USD)

As one of the most active volcanoes in the Western Hemisphere, Arenal Volcano is a must-visit for any tourist in Costa Rica. It has earned the reputation as one of the country’s most renowned adventures, and it is a popular day trip from San Jose. With smoke rising as high as 5,436 feet (1,657 meters) above sea level, nothing quite beats the thrill of exploring an active volcano.

Apart from visiting Arenal Volcano, another popular activity to do here is to lounge around in natural hot springs. Surrounded by tropical scenery and waterfalls, this relaxing adventure is something you cannot miss. The most famous one is Baldi Hot Springs, which also claims to be the best and biggest hot spring in the country.

Viator offers a tour that can take you to both Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs in one day. Not only does this spare you the effort of finding your way there, it also saves you the time needed to plan an itinerary like this.

On this tour, you get to explore Arenal Volcano as it emits smoke, ash, and lava into the sky. You are also given time to take a dip in Baldi Hot Springs, a natural volcanic hot spring with multiple pools at varying temperatures.

To taste another side of Costa Rica, be sure to walk around Sarchi when the tour gets there. A town known for its local colorful arts, specifically wooden oxcarts, Sarchi will let you discover the country’s artistic element. The tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as lunch and dinner.

Viator: Arenal Volcano and Hot Springs Day Trip from San Jose

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 11 hours

Price: From 137 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

2. Rainforests of Sarapiqui Region (From 100 USD)

1280px jungle stream %28la selva biological station%29
Source: Wikimedia

Located around a 2-hour drive north of San Jose, the Sarapiqui Region is known for its surrounding lush greenery and rich wildlife. It is the perfect area that wraps up all of Costa Rica’s natural beauty into one package.

Highly ranked as one of the most environmentally-conscious countries in the world, Costa Rica is a popular ecotourism destination. With no shortage of untouched natural landscapes, the rainforests of Sarapiqui are ones you wouldn’t want to miss.

With multiple attractions within the area, the Sarapiqui Region makes for a great day trip adventure from San Jose. Stops are made along the way, including La Virgen del Socorro, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiqui River, La Selva Biological Reserve, and all the way to Tirimbina Rainforest Center, that will let you experience an abundance of things.

Fun activities on the tour include crossing a suspension bridge over the river, bird-watching, walking through a tropical rainforest, chocolate tasting, and visiting an ant farm. Along the way, you will also learn more about cacao and may spot a couple of rare tropical birds.

Viator: San Jose Tropical Rainforest Adventure

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 10 hours

Price: From 100 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

3. Manuel Antonio National Park (From 118 USD)

Puerto escondido p n manuel antonio
Source: Wikimedia

Manuel Antonio National Park is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Situated along the Pacific coastline, there is nothing but prime unspoiled nature here. Surrounded by nothing more than verdant rainforests, white sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters, you will never want to leave this breathtaking oasis.

As a part of the Viator tour to Manuel Antonio National Park, you get to relax by the water and participate in a guided nature hike. Look out for native birds, sloths, monkeys, and other wildlife amidst the trees. You also have the option to hike all the way up to Cathedral Point for a great view of the surrounding landscapes.

Only accessible by foot, Manuel Antonio National Park does an excellent job in protecting the ecosystem and preserving the natural landscapes. Be prepared to take a short, easy hike through the rainforest to arrive at the beach.

To top it all off, you also get enjoy the sunset on the drive back to San Jose at the end of the tour. Nothing is as dazzling as the sky lit up by vibrant colors of red, orange, and pink from the sun. And, watching the sun dissolve beneath the horizon is a sight you will never forget.

Viator: Manuel Antonio National Park Day Trip from San Jose

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 12 hours

Price: From 118 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

4. Tortuguero National Park (From 105 USD)

Tortuguero boat trip
Source: Wikimedia

Buried within an archipelago of volcanic islands not far from San Jose is Tortuguero National Park. Known for its biodiversity, this park is one of the best spots to discover native Costa Rican wildlife. Be it on land or in water, you will get a chance to encounter all different kinds of animals here.

Because Tortuguero National Park is a protected area, it is especially famous for its nesting grounds for endangered green turtles. Surrounded by creeks, lagoons, and rainforests, you will find yourself completely immersed in nature here.

Even though you are free to find your way there and explore on your own, joining a tour is highly recommended. Not only do you get to appreciate the beautiful sights, but you can also learn more about the park’s distinct flora and fauna on a guided tour.

Sit back and relax on boat cruise along the freshwater river, which is the only way to reach the inner quiet parts of Tortuguero. You will also get a chance to visit to a sea turtle nesting site on black sand beaches. Complimentary breakfast and lunch that can be enjoyed with great views of the jungle are a bonus.

Viator: Tortuguero National Park

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 12 hours

Price: From 105 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

5. Pacuare River (From 100 USD)

1280px pacuareriverrafting
Source: Wikimedia

Known for its thrilling rapids, Pacuare River is a perfect destination for whitewater rafting. In fact, it has been voted among the top 5 in the world. Flowing alongside the Talamanca Mountains, you will find beautiful lush rainforests and wildlife all around as you face the rushing water.

Unless you have a lot of experience with rafting, it is highly recommended that you join a tour. Even though no experience is required, the tour provides a safety briefing and all equipment needed for a fun but safe adventure. With an experienced guide leading the way, you are guaranteed to feel a rush of adrenaline as you make your way down the rapids.

Enjoy a picnic lunch along the riverbank halfway through the journey. With a total of 3 to 4 hours of rafting, you will need all the energy you can get to survive this challenging and exhausting but fun adventure.

After a day out on the water, you will be given time to change before heading back to San Jose. On the drive back, don’t forget to look out the window to appreciate the magnificent sights of Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Viator: Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River in Costa Rica

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 11 hours

Price: From 100 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

6. Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and Sarchi (From 88 USD)

Want to enjoy 3 various types of Costa Rican adventures? If your answer is yes, this day trip to Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and the artistic town of Sarchi is just what you need.

Known for its volcanic landscapes, coffee production, and handicrafts work, there is no better way to discover Costa Rica than to do it all in one day. Starting with a drive to the active Poas Volcano, the tour takes you up to the top of the volcano, allowing you to look down into the spluttering crater.

You will also visit Botos Lakes in a nearby dormant crater before making your way to Doka Coffee Estate. As one of the biggest crop exports in Costa Rica, coffee has become an important part of its economy and culture. Here at Doka, you will get to learn about the process of making coffee and why volcanic soil is ideal for coffee plantations.

Finally, you will stop at Sarchi, the town where the traditional colorful carretas (wooden oxcarts) originated from. Famous for its artisan community, Sarchi has over 200 small shops and factories that produce a variety of handmade wooden crafts. Don’t forget to pick something up as a souvenir before you head back!

Viator: Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and Sarchi Arts and Craft

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 8 hours

Price: From 88 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

7. Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, and Lankester Botanical Gardens (From 100 USD)

Spend a day amidst nature on a day trip to Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, and Lankester Botanical Gardens. There is no better way to discover the natural, cultural, and historical wonders of Costa Rica than with this day trip.

Standing at 11,260 feet (3,432 meters) tall, Irazu Volcano is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica. The city of Cartago is located at its base, from where you can get great views of the volcano. While the volcano is a sight you cannot miss, you will also get to visit the Basilica of Los Angeles, a significant spiritual destination for pilgrims in the past.

From there, the tour will take you to the colonial town of Orosi. Walk along the historical streets and enjoy an authentic local lunch in town. An attraction you must visit here is Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, the oldest Catholic church in the country that dates back to 1743.

Ending at the nearby Lankester Botanical Gardens, you can spend some time among the vibrant tropical landscapes before driving back to San Jose. Especially known for its beautiful orchids, Lankester is actually home to over 3,000 species of plant life. You will no doubt discover new plants and flowers you have never seen before.

Viator: Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley, and Lankester

Address: Pick up from hotel in San Jose

Duration: Around 8 hours

Price: From 100 USD

Contact: +1-702-648-5873

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Yoses and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Yoses

Into the depths of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of those places where you have to get out the city in order to appreciate the true wonder of the country. From volcanoes to rainforests, this country has a distinct landscape that you do not want to miss. Make the most out of your stay with one of the day trips above. With everything planned out, these tours will ensure you have a blast without having to do any of the work. All you are expected to do in sit back, relax, and enjoy the adventure. You will not find a more well-preserved environment than in the renowned ecotourism center of Costa Rica.

This article was originally published on Jul 25, 2016
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Verena is currently a journalism student in New York City. Having to move around a lot throughout her childhood triggered her passion for traveling at a young age. She believes that exploring new...Read more

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