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Things to do in

San José Province

Our most recommended things to do in San José Province

San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

1. San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

Start with pickup from your hotel and travel by minibus along the Panamerican Highway until you reach the base of the Irazú Volcano. Travel up the winding road through fertile farmlands where many types of fruit and vegetables are cultivated. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. At the summit of the volcano, on a clear day, marvel at the spectacular view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Next, descend to the city of Cartago and stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica. Discover this local pilgrimage site which has large vaulted ceilings and exquisite examples of stained glass windows.  Continue the tour through the Orosi Valley, an area of magnificent natural beauty. Visit one of the few remaining colonial churches in the region and stop for a tasty typical lunch at one of the local restaurants. Finally, be returned to your hotel to complete the tour.

San José: Food and Culture Night Tour with Dinner

2. San José: Food and Culture Night Tour with Dinner

Follow an expert local guide and explore San José at night on a small-group, food-themed walking tour. See important cultural sites and feast on a traditional dinner with wine or beer pairings. Get up close and personal with the nightlife in San José, starting with Morazán Park where we will learn post-colonial Costa Rican history. From there, the appreciation for San José’s historical architecture continues, with a walk by the Metallic Building, then on to Spain Park for a fantastic view of the Yellow House (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Continue to the harming Barrio Escalante, one of the oldest residential areas neighborhoods in San José. Nowadays, Barrio Escalante has reinvented itself and is now home to many up-and-coming restaurants and at night is a favorite meeting spot for locals and visitors alike. The evening will end with a contemporary traditional meal with wine or beer tastings at a hip local restaurant that is very popular with locals and offers a sampler of traditional Costa Rican pub fare.

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

3. Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour from San José. Your first destination is the Doka Estate coffee plantation, where you'll learn all about the ancient techniques of producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. Experience the careful process involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and roasting of the Golden Bean before tasting the delectable product. After your coffee tour, continue to Poás Volcano National Park, where there is a noticeable change in temperature and beautiful scenery in a cloud forest. Climb up Poás Volcano, an active stratovolcano that most recently erupted in 2017. The crater of the volcano is over a mile across and 1,050 feet deep, making for breathtaking views. Hike on a trail to the beautiful Botos Lagoon as you learn about the different ecosystems in the park. Then, continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional Costa Rican dishes. After lunch, explore the lush tropical rainforest. See the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds before returning to San José.

San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

4. San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

Tour the best locations in Costa Rica and learn about local life and culture from those who live there. Visit a coffee plantation, zip line, and soak in the hot springs at the base of the Adrenal Volcano. Take the scenic route to the Arenal Volcano and visit a coffee plantation along the way. Gain an insight into the world of Costa Rican coffee and taste one of the best coffees in the world. Arrive at the "La Paz" and "San Fernando" waterfalls and admire the exotic tropical birds of Costa Rica, including many species of hummingbirds and rare emerald toucanets. Take in the views at the San Fernando Waterfall observation point before heading to the "Iguana Bridge", where you will have the chance to spot iguanas, sloths, monkeys, and toucans. Stop for an authentic Costa Rican lunch in a restaurant located in "La Fortuna." Then, prepare for a zip-lining adventure in the local rainforest jungles with 9 canopy cables and a 50 meter (150 feet) rappel on the Arenal River. Learn about the culture while listening to a "Maleku" Indigenous tribe presentation from locals. Relax for a couple of hours in the Paradise Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano, surrounded by tropical gardens followed by dinner.

San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

5. San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

After getting picked up at your hotel, head to the Irazú Volcano National Park where you can admire and even enter the crater of the highest volcano in the country. You will also be able to experience the unique miniature fauna and flora of Paramo, a tropical dwarf forest nestled in the highlands. Afterward, take the back road to Turrialba Volcano. Here, visit the "Central Town" located at the foot of the volcano. Enjoy time to explore and take some photos of the eerily abandoned town, still filled with farmhouses and buildings. Next, stop for dinner at a family-run grill house for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Finally, before beginning the drive back to San José visit the Archaeological Site of Guayabo, declared a Civil Engineering World Heritage landmark and the most important milestone of pre-Hispanic culture in the country.

San José: Guided City Bus Tour With Lunch & Welcome Drink

6. San José: Guided City Bus Tour With Lunch & Welcome Drink

Get to know Costa Rica’s bustling capital San José on a bus tour with a local guide. Make stops at La Sabana Metropolitan Park, the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Theater, and more. Round off your fun-packed day with lunch at a local restaurant, then get taken back to your hotel. Begin your tour by getting picked up directly from your hotel. Hop on board the double decker bus to the sound of live folk music and enjoy a refreshing welcome cocktail. Sit back and let yourself be entertained by your charming guides, who will begin with a short history of the city. Make your first stop La Sabana Metropolitan Park, where you will be able to take a quick stroll as well as have a look inside the Museum of Costa Rican Art. Hop back on the bus and head to the outdoor Central Market. Take in the atmosphere and buy local goods and food (not included in the price). Next, visit the city’s Central Park to witness the National Monument, a bronze statue of five women. Listen to your guide tell you about the meaning behind the statue and the history of Central American resistance to colonization. Continue on to the National Theater. Follow your guide around the lavish lobby in European design, which was constructed with money from taxes on coffee exports. After another short bus ride, stop at the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and marvel at the impressive gold collection. At the end of the tour, stop off at a nearby eatery for lunch, and chow down on some traditional Costa Rican dishes. Use the opportunity to ask your guide any questions you may have about the city’s history and culture. Finally, allow the bus to drop you off at your hotel.

San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

7. San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

Departing from the nearby meeting point, visit the University of Costa Rica campus, home to some of the largest patches of forest in San Jose. Guided by young biologists, discover the nature hiding in the middle of Costa Rica's largest city. Experience wildlife you wouldn't have imagined existed minutes away from downtown.   On the first stop, you’ll look for resident and migratory birds, lots of incredible insects and amazing flowers. Then, see the largest indigenous stone sphere in San Jose, thought to derive from the extinct Diquis culture. Lastly, visit the main campus to seek out the friendly sloths climbing freely. The goal of this tour is to change the way tourism is done in Costa Rica, while supporting young scientists, researchers, and local entrepreneurs.

San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

8. San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

Discover the lush Cloud Forests of Monteverde on this Sky Tram and Hanging Bridges trip from San Jose. Travel to the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica on a very scenic ride where you will get great views of mountains, farms, local towns and the Coast of the Puntarenas Province. See the largest fruit stand of the country, where you will see a large variety of tropical fruits. Visit the “Monkey Lady House” and several white-faced monkeys at very close range. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to ride on the Sky Tram, with great views of the whole Monteverde-Santa Elena area. Spend about 15-20 minutes at the highest look-out point, and then ride the Tram down for about 15 minutes.  Then, walk on the amazing Sky Walk Hanging Bridges in the Cloud Forest, where you will hike with your expert naturalist guide for about 2-3 hours, learning interesting aspects of the flora and fauna of this rare and endangered ecosystem.

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

9. From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

Begin your journey by being picked up from your hotel, and going on a scenic 1.5-hour drive along Route 27, making your way to your first stop at Carara National Park. Head straight out onto some flat walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and wheelchair users, and admire the biological reserve's abundant jungle life in person. Look up to the 40-meter high canopy, and keep an eye out for bright scarlet macaws, agouti rodents, stunning poison dart frogs, spider monkeys, dozens of birds, fantastic fungi, and huge wild cashew trees. Next, enjoy lunch like a local and eat at a traditional soda diner, where you have the option of eating fresh fish or seafood. Re-energized, lower your gears and enjoy a relaxing optional boat ride for some birdwatching on the Tárcoles River. Admire the river's mangroves, which are some of the most unique and scarce ecosystems of the world, and considered to be biodiversity hotspots. Keep a lookout for the 6-meter-long American crocodiles — the largest of the continent. Finally, dig your toes into the white sand of a peaceful beach at your last stop, where you will relax with the sound of the waves before heading back to your accommodation.

From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

10. From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

Explore the protected Tortuguero National Park in the Limón Province, reachable only by airplane or boat. Take in the wealth of biodiversity in its eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Trip itinerary: Day 1: After an early morning hotel pickup, admire the biodiversity of a primary forest through the window as you drive past Braulio Carrillo National Park. Sample a delicious Costa Rican breakfast during the drive. Mid-morning, board a comfortable boat and travel along the Tortuguero Canals. Be enchanted by the surrounding paradise and its varied flora and fauna. Then, enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a delicious lunch at the hotel. After lunch, tour the canals and take incredible photos for the rest of the afternoon. Arrive at Pachira Lodge (or similar) for a delightful dinner and a restful night's sleep. Day 2: Discover the flavors of Costa Rica with breakfast at the Lodge. Then, hike along the Lodge's private trail and work up an appetite for lunch. After lunch at the Lodge, visit the Sea Turtle Museum, the beach, and the picturesque village of Tortuguero. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the Lodge again. Day 3: After breakfast at the Lodge, head back to San José, stopping for lunch at El Ceibo in Guápiles on the way. Arrive back in San José in the afternoon.

Other Sightseeing Options in San José Province

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What people are saying about San José Province

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 704 reviews

I went on the Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour, from San José. The experience exceeded expectations by miles, Oropopo were streaks ahead of any other tour operator that I used here. I was picked up by Rigo, from my hotel, in a Land Cruiser rather than cramped minibus. The group was very small, making us more nimble. Rigo is a fantastic guide. It was a privilege to be experiencing nature and being advised by such a qualified biologist. His English is perfect, and he was good fun. The Carara National Park was lovely and quiet, in contrast to the absolutely packed Manuel Antonio National Park. There may be less of the big mammals here, but there's fascinating stuff to see. We were lucky to see a pair of fantastic scarlet macaws. The river tour was an incredible experience. It is an extensive tour, going up and down the river and then into mangroves. You'll see lots of huge crocodiles, very close up. The bird life is also spectacular. The guide on the boat was entertaining

Our guide was outstanding. It was Sunday in San Jose, therefore our tour options were somewhat limited but he found great things for us to do and he was an absolute pleasure to be with for four hours.

La playa es hermosísima. Definitivamente una experiencia que vale mucho la pena si quieres estar en contacto con la naturaleza y disfrutar de una deliciosa comida con la mejor vista de todas.

Fernando was a very good guide. He explained things all along the road about Costa Rica. We saw multiple of animals in their natural environment. The food was great also.

Fue una experiencia maravillosa! El paisaje es increíble y los lugares que se visitan en este tour valen muchísimo la pena.