Top 21 Best Sights in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a fabulous country where you will surely want to return again. There are many national parks, volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, cloud forests, and underground caves. There are over three hundred beaches, hot springs, and nature reserves with exotic animals, as well as dive sites and adventure parks.
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Who Should Come to Costa Rica and Why?
For many tourists, Costa Rica’s charm lies in its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife. Local parks are home to hundreds of animal and bird species, from toucans to monkeys to jaguars. Here you can walk through active volcanoes, cloud rainforests, and swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
This tropical paradise often offers exciting outdoor activities that will appeal to romantic couples and families with children alike.
An abundance of active volcanoes, swift mountain rivers and waterfalls attract lovers of active and extreme recreation to Costa Rica.
Gourmets can taste the national dishes of local products, fruits and vegetables, as well as cheese and coffee, which Costa Rica exports around the world.
These limestone caves are about 20 million years old and were originally hidden under water. Tectonic activity brought this natural monument to the surface.
Until now there is an underwater river, the level of which rises during the rainy season. Stalactites and stalagmites, petrified corals and remains of sea animals frame the cave passages and labyrinths. In addition to spiders and other insects, the dungeon is home to an entire colony of bats.
Two small tropical islands in the Caribbean, Tolinga and Alcatraz, form one “Turtle” island known as Tortuga. During the Middle Ages, this mountainous area was home to pirates and flibusters, as evidenced by the coastal cannons. The reefs surrounding the island are home to moray eels and stingrays, dolphins and octopuses, sea urchins and turtles.
Dozens of sunken pirate ships attract fans of diving and adventure, and excursions on a boat with a glass bottom will conquer those who for some reason can not or do not want to dive themselves. You can also kayak, hike in the mountains and relax in the shade of coconut palms.
Giant stone spheres were first discovered in the southern region of Costa Rica in the 1930s.
Some of the stones weigh over 15 tons and are hundreds of years old. The biggest mystery of these boulders is how they got here. The quarries from which the stones could have been extracted are about 80 kilometers from their present location. And there are about three hundred such stones across the country.
The Rio Tarkoles is a river in the province of Puntarenas inhabited by large American crocodiles. It is crossed by a bridge, through which tourists observe dozens of massive reptiles lying on the embankment or just floating on the surface.
For a fee, you can get on a boat with a professional guide, see dangerous animals up close and even take part in feeding them. The river banks are also populated by tropical birds singing in the dense mangroves.
Tabacon Hot Springs
This is the largest accessible network of natural hot springs in Costa Rica. The pools are on a private tropical reserve, so there is a fee to enter. Highly mineralized and naturally heated water fills many pools of different sizes (it is additionally heated if necessary).
Some of the pools are equipped with whirlpools. The pools are surrounded by wild jungle, with the scent of beautiful orchids in the air and birds of paradise singing on the vines.
Nature Reserves and Parks
Manuel Antonio National Park.
One of the country’s finest resorts on the Pacific Coast was founded in 1972. The park attracts four well-maintained beaches with white sand and clear water. Pedestrian paths and access trails keep vacationers comfortable and safe, and the park’s many bars and cafes brighten up the experience.
The tide pools offer snorkeling opportunities. And the local monkeys, flattering tourists, are sure not to let anyone get bored.
One of the most visited volcano parks, home to the largest active volcano in Costa Rica. At an altitude of 2,708 meters is its main crater with the stunning beauty of the blue-green lake Laguna Botas.
Different ecosystems have formed around the volcanic zone: cloud forests, tropical forests and lowland forests, which are home to 79 species of birds and many small mammals. The park also has groomed and marked hiking trails.
Arenal Volcano National Park.
The picturesque volcano from afar resembles a child’s drawing-so perfect is its symmetrical cone. Lush forests with tropical flowers, colorful birds and wildlife are all around it.
There are beautiful waterfalls, hanging bridges, hiking and horse trails, as well as hot springs and lots of butterflies.
Kano Island Reserve
The nature park is located 16 kilometers from the Osa Peninsula. The water here is warm, crystal clear and densely populated with marine life. Coral reefs are home to tropical fish, rays, and turtles.
Nearby you can see dolphins and humpback whales. Swim and sunbathe on the beaches of Violin Island, which is part of the reserve. It is a beautiful place with white sandy beaches and palm trees where you can rest and relax after swimming.
Corcovado National Park
Located on the Osa Peninsula, the rainforest national park covers an area of 42500 hectares. Officially, there are 500 species of trees in the area, including a 70-foot-tall cottonwood. A geological landmark of Corcovado is the Salcipuedes Cave, where legend has it that seafarer Francis Drake hid his treasure.
San Lucas Island
San Lucas Island, located off the coast of Puntarenas, can be reached by boat. It was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 2008, but it used to be home to the worst prison in Costa Rica. Its old building still stands there.
Today the reserve is home to white-tailed deer, armadillos, boa constrictors, pythons, raccoons and wild boar, as well as 40 species of birds. There are five pristine beaches on the shores of the island.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The private nature reserve is located near the city of San Jose. There are five waterfalls, cloud forests and rain forests, a wildlife area with snakes and frogs, growing orchids and heliconias.
Waterfall Gardens also has a contact zoo, hummingbird garden and a huge wildlife sanctuary with over 100 different species of animals including jaguars, ocelots, monkeys and cougars. It’s great fun for the whole family and the perfect way to see several of Costa Rica’s natural wonders in one beautiful place.
Cultural Attractions in Costa Rica
Basilica of Our Lady of Angels in Cartago
Located in Costa Rica’s ancient capital, the temple possesses a sacred relic, a statue of Madonna Negrita, who has patronized the state for 400 years.
According to legend, in 1635 a girl named Juana Pereira saw a 20-centimeter figurine of the Mother of God made of black stone near the spring. When she took it home, the next morning she found it in the same place where she had found it. The decision was eventually made to build a church there.
The basilica building is an example of a mix of colonial and Byzantine styles, and its blue walls are framed by white bas-reliefs. There is a spring of holy water in the backyard, for which thousands of pilgrims come from all over the world.
The National Archaeological Monument is located in the canton of Turrialba amidst thickets of elm, cedar and mannik. It once served as an important cultural and political center for the Guayabo Indian tribe.
These people, who lived there from 700 to 1400 A.D., suddenly left the settled area, leaving behind building foundations, elements of roads, and ritual structures.
Tourists can see statues of the jaguar god and the alligator god as well as a powerful system of aqueducts, which are still in working order. The pottery and gold pieces found in Guayabo are on display at the Museo Nacional de San José.
Museum of Gold
The Museum of Gold is located in San Jose and gives visitors a glimpse of the pre-Columbian era through its exhibition. All three floors of the pyramidal building are underground. This museum has a unique collection of the rarest pieces of gold from different eras and tribes.
The exposition of the museum is divided into 9 thematic halls, where you can find jewelry, ceramic objects, ritual figures, sculptures, weapons. Most notable is the full-length statue of a golden warrior.
National Theater of Costa Rica
In the center of San Jose is a theater building whose construction began in 1891. The construction surpassed all expectations: the facades are decorated with columns, patterned bars cover the windows, and the roof of the theater is crowned with symbolic statues of Dance, Music and Glory.
In the courtyard are statues of Beethoven and Calderon, and inside the theater is a figure of Pietro Bulgarelli. The interior is finished with swagger: pink marble walls, a crystal chandelier, mirrors and portraits of the classics speak of luxury. There’s a café at the back of the building that offers a picturesque view of San Jose.
Places of interest
Simón Bolívar Zoo
This zoo is now considered one of the largest and oldest in Central America. Animals are kept there in conditions that mimic their natural habitat. Here you can see jaguars, raccoons, tapirs, sloths and monkeys.
Interesting is the local serpentarium with different species of snakes, including poisonous ones, as well as a collection of parrots. The zoo has a children’s area and a gift store.
The 245-meter-long aerial walk passes over six aerial bridges 25 stories above the rainforest in Quepos. The view from here is unparalleled. It feels like walking through the treetops where most rainforest inhabitants live.
Birds, amphibians, reptiles, and monkeys abound in this area. Near the first bridge is a beautiful waterfall with a natural lake in which you can swim.
Village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
The village on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is filled with reggae music, bamboo bars and wild nightlife. Surfers come to Cocles Coconut Beach, nature lovers head inland to explore the rainforest, and foodies rush downtown to sample delicious cuisine in one of the restaurants.
Off the main streets are biking and hiking paths through tropical farms and gardens. Along the coast, remote bungalows and deserted beaches are scattered.
Costa Rica’s capital is known for its soaring office buildings juxtaposed with old houses and museums. The Barrio Amón neighborhood is notable for its centuries-old mansions and quirky architecture – it can rightly be called a historic center. Barrio Escalante is popular for its restaurants, bars, cafes and bakeries.
In the center of town, there is the Jade Museum and the Gold Museum. Both show guests rare artifacts from the pre-Columbian era. Five kilometers west of San Jose is Escazú, an entertainment town with stores, nightclubs, and restaurants.
Turrialba in the Central Valley
The neighborhood of the tiny town of Turrialba is home to one of the most intense mountain river rafting in all of Central America. An earthquake here in 1990 threatened to ruin the small town’s economy, but the development of rafting on the Pacuare and Reventason rivers has given it a new lease on life.
In addition to rafting, a local tour desk organizes climbing trips to an active volcano in Turrialba National Park, mountain biking and horseback riding. The town grows fine coffee and produces delicious cheese.
Picturesque Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a vast tropical ecosystem with a multi-million dollar history of flora and fauna. Many birds and insects unknown in Europe breed and live there. It is hard to believe, but in such a small country scientists count more than 100 volcanoes, and their main feature is that they are covered with all kinds of vegetation.
Picturesque Costa Rica.
Costa Rica earned its very name in a funny situation. When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the land of Costa Rica, he saw the local population walking around in gold jewelry, he thought the land had large deposits of gold. Later it turned out that there was no gold, but the Spanish colonists decided to cultivate banana and coffee plants here. The scam succeeded, and Costa Rica later lived up to its name, “The Rich Island.
Picturesque Costa Rica.
Tourists come here for the clean sand on the beach, many visit the tropical jungle, a lot of places for water fun and extreme sports, and since this country has a lot of volcanoes, then there are excursions to them, too.
In terms of landscape, the country is dominated by mountainous terrain and is located in the central part of Central America. Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Two oceans surround the country to the West and East.
List of tourist destinations.
- Volcanoes : Irazu, Poas. Arenal Volcano throws out hot lava and rocks, it’s the most popular volcano with tourists.
- Islands: Caño, Negritos. No humans live on them, these islands are under the protection of the state, they can see the stunning nature that has not been touched by man.
- Mountain caves . They are full of stalagmites and stalactites.
The traditional cuisine is a mixture of both Spanish and indigenous products . The usual diet consists of rice, meat, vegetable, and legume dishes. In coastal cities and resorts there are a lot of dishes from fish and other ocean inhabitants.
As in any tourist country, Costa Rica has many places to stay. Hotels with the best facilities, as well as small houses on the beaches. The most expensive hotels are in the capital city of San Jose . Such hotels cost from $240 per night. There are hostels with prices starting at $13. The hotels are companies offering tours to volcanoes or caves, and on the beaches you can find those who offer tours to islands.
Souvenirs and Shopping
There are few big foreign brand stores in Costa Rica. There are more handmade goods and products. Souvenirs are not very expensive. Sale unique postage stamps with images of exotic animals that live here. In Costa Rica, the best coffee, and so the food souvenirs will do it. If you take souvenirs of animal origin, such as fur jaguars and panthers, then you can not take away with them, it is strictly prohibited.
Souvenirs and Shopping
The country has about 10 airports. Direct flights from Russia to Costa Rica do not fly, you must change planes in the United States or European countries. Railroad tracks in the country no, for travel use buses and ships. There are road connections with neighboring countries, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Planes are also present, flying from city to city, despite the small size of the state.