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Top-15 Most Impressive Places to Visit in Costa Rica

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I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages

costa ricaCosta Rica, as the name suggests, is rich in everything: the two oceans – the Pacific and Atlantic, exotic black-sand beaches, nature reserves, volcanoes and mountains. In Costa Rica, all the highways, trails and primers are delivered directly to the realm of wildlife, relic forests, rumbling waterfalls, misty lakes that lurk at the bottom of extinct volcano craters or, at the very least, into the impenetrable jungles. This direction is “number one” in Central America for ecotourism and adventure tours.



Place to visit number 1: Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National ParkIn Arenal Volcano National Park you can see various interesting places, including:

  • the active Arenal Volcano,
  • several waterfalls,
  • a variety of animals and birds inhabiting the park.

The park covers an area of 80 square kilometers and includes 8 ecological zones of Costa Rica, including the largest lake in the country. The main attraction is one of the most active volcanoes in the world – Arenal. Despite the fact that the last eruption was in 1968, one can still see smoke emerging from the volcano and at night – lava flows.

In addition to the volcano in the park, there are many beautiful and interesting places. For example, the waterfalls of La Fortuna and Pinot Blanco, near which there are observation platforms and below you can swim. Also, during the stay in the park you can see different animals, birds and fish.

Interesting: While visiting the village of the Indians of Malec, you can get acquainted with their culture and buy handmade souvenirs.

Place to visit number 2: Doka Estate

Doka EstateThe Doka coffee plantations are located on the slopes of the Poas Volcano. This place is considered the coffee capital of Costa Rica. Coffee has been produced here for more than 70 years.

The main goal pursued by plantation visitors is to see the whole process of making coffee.

The Doka coffee tour is divided into several stages:

  • At first visitors learn everything about the soil and the growth of grain.
  • Then it will be possible to see the process of grain classification and grinding.
  • Then visitors can see how the grain is cut in fermentation vats.
  • And only after that you can visit the factory for roasting different kinds of coffee.

And of course after the tour you can visit the local cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee and look into the store, where you can buy souvenirs and coffee itself.

Interesting: Doka plantations have been twice awarded as the best coffee plantations in Costa Rica.

Place to visit number 3: Lake Arenal

Lake ArenalLake Arenal is the largest artificial reservoir of Costa Rica. The lake is located 90 km to the west of the country’s capital, the city of San Jose. It is located on the high plateau, about six hundred meters above sea level. The depth of the lake varies from 30 to 60 meters, depending on the season.

Artificial Lake Arenal originated in 1979, after the implementation of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric project. A dam was built, and since then the lake has provided cheap electricity for most of the country.

Why is this place one of the most interesting destinations for tourists?

  • Lake Arenal is a very picturesque place.
  • The reservoir is surrounded by a beautiful tropical forest, and on the east coast there is a volcano bearing the same name – Arenal.
  • In the period from April to November, strong, steady winds blow over the lake, which turns a pond into a real mecca for windsurfing lovers from around the world.

Interesting: In addition to windsurfing, every year more and more popularity in Costa Rica wakes up wakeboarding, and Lake Arenal is the main platform for this sport. Rowing and fishing are also thriving.

Place to visit number 4: Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National ParkManuel Antonio National Park is a small national park located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In 2011, it entered the list of 12 most beautiful national parks, compiled by Forbes magazine.

The park was founded in 1972 for the future generations. Despite its small size of 16.2 square kilometers is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse places in the world. A charming combination of rainforest, exotic beaches and coral reefs attracts 150,000 visitors annually. The park is inhabited by various fauna. There are 109 species of mammals, including:

  • monkeys,
  • squirrels,
  • iguanas,
  • sloths.

Interesting: There are also 184 species of birds and many reptiles, including millions of crabs that inhabit the coast.

Place to visit number 5: The Monteverde Natural Park

monteverde-cloud-forest-reserve-waterfall[1]The Monteverde Natural Park is a unique mountain reserve in the north of Costa Rica, attracting a considerable number of eco-tourists. It is located in the north-west of the country’s capital, the city of San Jose.

Reserve Monteverde is an extraordinarily beautiful and exotic place, a real paradise for all fans of wild, untouched nature.

The area of the reserve is huge – more than twelve thousand hectares, which are home to more than a hundred species of animals and about four hundred species of birds.

Three reasons to visit Monteverde Natural Park are the following:

  • Biological diversity in Monteverde is one of the most extensive on Earth.
  • Many species are listed in the Red Book and live only here.
  • Also, the reserve is famous for its orchids – there are more than five hundred species, 34 of which are not found anywhere else.

Due to the uniqueness of the local ecosystem, a visit to Monteverde is strictly limited – only one and a half hundred tourists are allowed to enter the reserve every day, and it is not easy to get to their number.

Interesting: The entire territory of Monteverde is occupied by the so-called “foggy forests” – high-mountain jungle, growing in the condensation zone of fogs.

Place to visit number 6: Park Selvatura

Park SelvaturaPark Selvatura is a natural and entertainment complex located in the north of Costa Rica, in the province of Puntarenas.

The park covers an area of 486 hectares, and its entire territory is covered with foggy mountain forests. In addition to the magnificent tropical nature, so characteristic of Costa Rica, the Selvatura Park is famous for its canopy tours. Canopy is an extreme activity, high-speed descent along the ropes stretched between trees. In total there are fifteen ropeways and eighteen survey platforms in Selvatura.

For fans of the more relaxing holiday, the park can also offer a lot of things to enjoy:

  • walks on suspension bridges,
  • a visit to the Butterfly Garden,
  • an exhibition of insects and reptiles,
  • excursions to the magnificent misty jungle,
  • as well as observation of the birdies of Kolibri, which are grown here.

Interesting: This is the largest entertainment venue of its kind in the whole of Costa Rica, and naturally, the Selvatura Park attracts many tourists.

Place to visit number 7: Stone spheres of Costa Rica

Stone spheres of Costa RicaSince the discovery of spheres in the 30 years of the 20th century, and to this day, there is no clarity as to what they represent, where they came from and what they served. There are several theories:

  • Geologists explain the appearance of spheres by volcanic activity, archeologists tend to believe that stone spheres were produced not by nature, but by humans. Perhaps the spheres were established near the dwelling of the nobility as a sign of power, or they played a role in the cults unknown to us.
  • Some researchers believe that this proves the acquaintance of the creators of the spheres with astronomy, and the spheres themselves had a sacred connection with the cosmos and even represent a map of the starry sky, serving as “beacons” for spacecraft.
  • According to more moderate versions, the spheres played the role of landmarks for travelers and denoted the boundaries of certain territories or were used as money.

Almost all the spheres were moved from their original places, and when someone started rumors that gold is inside the balls, the spheres began to saw, splinter and even blow up in a thirst for profit. Of course, no gold was found in the balls, but a huge part of the unique objects was irretrievably lost. Age of spheres cannot be exactly established. It is not known whether the secrets of the amazing spheres will ever be solved. The researchers themselves doubt this.

Interesting: Archaeologists determine the date of origin of artifacts from 200 BC up to 1500 AD, but there is a theory according to which their age is more than 12 thousand years.

Place to visit number 8: Butterfly Farm in Alajuela

Butterfly Farm in AlajuelaThe Butterfly Farm in Alajuela is an amazing place where butterflies of almost all species live. Visitors are told about butterflies and shown them to leave more memories of the excursion. Thanks to guides you will be able to find out a lot of many interesting things about butterflies. You will be told about:

  • the process of birth and hatching of butterflies from the cocoon,
  • the appropriate temperature and care butterflies need at all stages of their life.

The farm is located in the Monteverde National Park, where various exotic plants also grow.

Interesting: The farm grows butterflies not only because of natural necessity, but also because of commercial demand, because in many countries such gifts as butterflies in a box are very popular.

Place to visit number 9: Maleku Village

Maleku VillageThe village of the Maleku tribe is located in the Arenal Park. Visitors have the opportunity to get acquainted with:

  • the culture,
  • customs
  • and way of life of the tribe.

The Maleku tribe is the smallest in Costa Rica: its population is less than 500 people. But despite the number, the tribe is richly cultured. Visiting the village allows members of the tribe not only to share their rich heritage, tourists are an important way to expand the financial and tourist prospects of the village.

You will have the opportunity to become a member of the tribe and see dances, customs, sacred places and art of the tribe.

Interesting: At the end of the tour visitors have the opportunity to communicate with the villagers and buy their art crafts.

Place to visit number 10: The National Theater of Costa Rica

The National Theater of Costa RicaSince its inception, the National Theater of Costa Rica has become a source of pride for every citizen of this wonderful country, because the building was built on taxes that the local population paid regularly.

The idea to build its opera house and join the world cultural arena emerged in the nineteenth century in the coffee magnates of Costa Rica. The dream was realized in life in 1897.

What makes this theater one of the most favorite tourists’ destinations?

  • The construction of the theater both inside and outside amazes with its pomposity and chic. So, the floor in the lobby is made in Baroque style from Carrara marble with bronze finish. As a decoration a gold coating of 22.5 carats was used.
  • In the same place, all guests are met by a statue of the master Pietro Bulgarelia, depicting the muses. The chandeliers colorfully depict noon, night and sunrise.

The theater’s premises are decorated with paintings and frescoes telling the history of the state. So it is possible to walk along its corridors and as on a museum. The auditorium of the theater accommodates more than a thousand people. Its form is curious – the creators saw the hall in the form of a horseshoe.

Interesting: As for the repertoire, it is diverse: its troupe often pleases its audience with interesting premieres. The theater has a cozy coffee shop.

Place to visit number 11: Ujarass

Ujarass costa ricaMost often, the Ujarass viewing platform becomes part of the tourist route. Guides like to show travelers the ancient capital of Costa Rica Cartago, and at the end of the tour to visit the valley of Orosi and give the opportunity to see all the splendor of local nature from the observation platform Ujarass. As in the palm of the hand there are majestic mountains, the foothills of which are buried in the variegated flames of flowering trees merging with the rushing streams of the river of the following colors:

  • red,
  • bright orange,
  • yellow.

In the distance one can see the ruins of an ancient church built in the sixteenth century. This church has its own legend. Allegedly an Indian from the tribe Huetar found there a box on which was engraved the image of the Virgin Mary. He wanted to take her with him, but he could not. No one could take away from this place a divine sign. Then there was built the church of Nuestra Senora de la Limpia Conception. It is said that the face of the Virgin Mary protected the inhabitants of the nearby village of Ujarass. For example, the settlement survived during a pirate attack led by the legendary Henry Morgan in 1666. True, after nearly two hundred years, Ujarass suffered severely from the flood of 1833.

Interesting: The consequences of the disaster were very serious, and the village had to be “moved” to a high place in order to avoid such tragedies from now on. The abandoned remnants of the old buildings still stand at the same place.

Place to visit number 12: The Cahuita National Park

The Cahuita National ParkThe Cauita National Park is known for its white sand beaches and coral reefs. The park is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea and is surrounded on the one side by a beach with white sand and emerald water, on the other – thickets of tropical forest.

There is a number of interesting things to do in the park. Among the most favorite activities of the park’s visitors there are such as:

  • Sunbathe under a palm tree;
  • play volleyball;
  • go camping through the rain forest, where it is possible to meet monkeys, iguanas, porcupines and many other inhabitants of the park;
  • dive and see the full beauty of the park under the water having an opportunity to observe sea urchins, sea angels, parrotfish and other inhabitants of the seas.

Interesting: In 1970 it was declared a National Monument and occupies 22,500 hectares, including 600 hectares of coral reefs

Place to visit number 13: The Museum of Numismatics and pre-Columbian Gold

The Museum of Numismatics and pre-Columbian GoldMuseums of numismatics and pre-Columbian gold united under one roof at once two thematic museums, which in one way or another are connected with money. The number of exhibits of both constantly increased, as a result of which it was decided to update the expositions and open them to a wide audience. In 2002, the new unified modern museum literally stunned the guests with exhibited riches.

First of all, the Museum of Numismatics and Pre-Columbian Gold presents samples of gold objects from the pre-Columbian era:

  • decorations,
  • ritual accessories
  • and whole ingots.

Exhibits clearly illustrate the era that preceded the arrival of conquistadors. In the halls you can find not just the gold reserves of the country, but also the historical heritage, preserved in the objects of noble metal. Most of the artworks of the ancient tribes were melted into plain coins at the time of the Conquest. But in the museum you can see miraculously surviving statues of the gods, made of gold. The numismatic collection is presented to the public in the main hall and is designed as a gallery.

Interesting: Here you can see the whole history of the Costa Rican currency, reflected in coins and banknotes.

Place to visit number 14: Orosi Valley

Orosi ValleyOrosi Valley is a paradise of Costa Rica. It stretches for many kilometers and is covered with a green carpet of silky grass, flowers and shrubs. Affectionate cool climate makes it possible to grow delicious coffee, which varieties are highly valued among lovers of this noble drink.

Why is it a good idea to visit this place?

  • Costa Ricans like to call this place a piece of land where spring always reigns. It’s always quiet and peaceful.
  • Enjoying the nature and aromas of plants, you can literally spend hours meditating and gaining strength.
  • The valley overlooks the river of Reventazon, and if you go far, you can go to the shore of the mirror Lake Kachi, carefully surrounded by mountain slopes covered with Spanish moss and coniferous shrubs.
  • For history lovers, the Museum of the History of Religion and Antiquities works in the town with the same name.
  • This area is famous for its fertile soils and ideal climate, due to which the valley does not leave anyone indifferent for many years.

Interesting: The name Orosi Valley and town received in honor of the leader of the Indian tribe.

Place to visit number 15: Isla del Cano

Isla del CanoExplore the underwater life, consider near coral reefs, meet a huge sea turtle or dolphin – all this can be done on Isla del Cano.

Here there are good conditions for diving and snorkeling. The island invites you to bask in its beautiful beaches and will intrigue anyone with its mysterious stone spheres. The island occupies almost 300 hectares of land and the location is about 20 kilometers from the Osa peninsula. The place is unique in that there are practically no species of animals that live on the mainland. Isla del Cano is reigned by insects:

  • great butterflies,
  • bizarre beetles,
  • bees and mosquitoes settled here.

Here you will see opossums, and from the birds there are white herons. It is known that at the time of the Indians on the island there were ceremonies of burial of the deceased. In addition, there was organized a kind of exchange point between different tribes. Someone brought food here and exchanged for it different decorations and figures. Now Isla del Cano is recognized as a National Park and is protected by the Rangers. They patrol its territory and stop any violations.

Interesting: In particular, from the territory of the island it is forbidden to export marine flora and fauna.



Written By:

I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages

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