Day Trips out of San Jose, Costa Rica: What is there to see?

Modern Languages at Finger Lakes Community College – Costa Rica 2013” by LeafLanguages is marked with CC0 1.0.

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and has an international airport. This made San Jose a popular entry and exit point in Costa Rica. Located in the central part of Costa Rica, San Jose offers many amazing day trips. Here are the 11 best day trips for you.

1. Poas Volcano

File:Panorama 2 Botos Lake (Crater), Poas Volcano Ntl Park CRI 08 2009.jpg” by Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

It happens to be one of the active volcanoes and one can reach there in about 90 minutes from San Jose. The Volcano is famous for its mesmerizing blue lake crater. Better visit on a sunny morning, and do not forget to buy tickets online.

2. Irazu Volcano National Park

File:Crater Irazu volcano CRI 01 2020 1512.jpg” by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Located in Cartago, it is the highest volcano in Costa Rica. It takes about an hour and a half to reach there from San Josh. Going there, one can visit incredible natural beauty and wildlife. There is a trail to the top. One can enjoy the beauty of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from the top.

3. Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano” by JustinJensen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This majestic volcano offers one of the most popular day trips from San Jose. You can reach there in about 3 hours. The national park has guided hikes to discover love streams and watch wildlife.  Visitors can also soak in the hot springs. One can go fishing, boating, or kayaking in Arenal Lake.

4. La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall – 11 November 2014 – La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Heredia, Costa Rica

It is one of the best day trips that visitors can take from San Jose. The garden is about an hour’s drive from the city and is a paradise for eco-tourism with nature, waterfalls, and cloud forests.  One can watch rescued animals in the rescue center and can explore the aviary and the butterfly house.

5. Take a coffee tour

Costa Rica Coffee Tour” by baristahoon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Costa Rica produces award-winning high-quality coffee. Some of the most famous coffee farms are located a short distance from the capital. You can visit Doka Estate.  You can reach there in an hour from San Jose. September to January is the best time to see the entire process.

6. Visit Tortuga Island

Isla Tortuga – Costa Rica” by Wha’ppen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tortuga Island boasts mind-blowing white sand beaches with crystal clear water to allure tourists. You can spend the day on the beach scuba diving, snorkeling, or hiking through the forest trails on the island. It takes around one-and-half hours driving and then about 2 hours of boat journey to reach there. One can also take an organized tour from San Josh. It is an ideal day trip for beach lovers.

7. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio , Costa Rica” by Nouhailler is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

It is home to diverse Costa Rican wildlife. It is full of tropical rainforests, a vast expanse of unspoiled beaches, and plenty of marine life in the coral reefs. Once watch amazing birds, monkeys, and sloths in the forest. You can explore the forest on your own, but it is better to take a guided tour. One can reach there by bus, or taxi or can take a tour. It is one of the most enjoyable day tours for nature lovers.

8. Take a Crocodile River tour

Crocodile – Tarcoles River, Costa Rica” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

It is a great day trip from San Jose to watch crocodiles from the crocodile bridge on the Tarcoles River.  The place is about a 90 minutes drive from San Jose. While you can find crocodiles at many places in the river, the crocodile bridge is a sure-shot place. A boat cruise is also there to watch crocodiles from near.

9. Visit Jaco Beach

Tucan, near Jaco, Costa Rica” by Magnus Bråth is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

It is one of the closest beaches to the capital and takes about an hour and a half to reach there. One can get there by bus, taxi, or by taking an organized tour. It is a perfect place to spend the day relaxing on the beach. It also boasts some excellent breaks for surfing.

10. Make a trip to Cartago

Cartago is a nice destination when you want to slow down a bit. It is the earlier capital of Costa Rica and has a rich historical background. Visiting there, you can see the stunning Roman Catholic Church La Bascílica de Nuestra Seńora de Los Ángeles. It also has a botanical garden that is home to more than 800 orchid species. It is a 30-minute drive from San Jose and easily accessible by bus or taxi.

11. Go to the Toucan Rescue ranch

toucan” by Mathias Appel is marked with CC0 1.0.

The ranch initially started as a rescue center for Toucans.  Now it works as a rescue center for a wide variety of Costa Rican wildlife. It takes sick and injured animals as inmates and returns them to the wild after treatment. You will find macaws, owls, parrots, sloths, spider monkeys, etc. there. It takes about 25 minutes to reach and is perfect for a family trip.

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