Best Day Tours from San Jose Costa Rica: Nature, Adventure and Culture
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Day Tours from San Jose, Costa Rica

There are many fun day tours from San Jose, Costa Rica. This city is located right in the middle of the country, which allows the travelers to take tours in all different directions. From San Jose you will be able to visit the 3 main destinations: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest and Manuel Antonio National Park; as well as other important destinations. The best day tours from San Jose, Costa Rica include visiting rainforest, cloud forests, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, good places to observe wildlife, historic towns and plantations; and do adventure activities like zip lining, white water rafting, horseback riding and others.

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Best Day Tours from San Jose, Costa Rica

Below you will find a map of all these great destinations, so you can have a better idea of how long it takes to get there from San Jose, Costa Rica 

Arenal Volcano Mega Combo 

This Arenal Volcano tour combines a lot of the activities that tourists seek to do during a trip to Costa Rica, like zip lining, hot springs, waterfalls, volcano, coffee plantation, wildlife viewing, local culture, etc. It’s highly recommended especially if you have limited vacation time in the country.

Arenal Volcano - most popular tour from san jose

Some of the activities are done along the way and others are done in the surroundings of Arenal Volcano National Park area, the main touristic destination of Costa Rica. On the way to Arenal Volcano you will do several stops to see waterfalls, plantations, wildlife and other interesting things of Costa Rica, this also helps to break the 2.5 hours driving time that it takes to get to this part of the country.

For those visitors with a different plan in mind, drop off is available in the Arenal Volcano Hotels, so this tour is a great opportunity to see everything that is worth to see in between San Jose City and La Fortuna de San Carlos, there are many beautiful sights to enjoy when going along the scenic route through La Paz Waterfall and Vara Blanca.    

If you prefer to visit Arenal Volcano’s most popular destinations, we also have an option that includes a hike in the rainforest at the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, and a visit to La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can swim in its refreshing waters surrounded by lush rainforest vegetation, this fall is by far the most popular in all Costa Rica.

On the Arenal Volcano Mega Combo tour you will enjoy:

Zip lining in the rainforest jungles of the Arenal River Canyon.

Waterfalls, wildlife and volcanoes observation.

Relaxing time at the thermal mineral hot springs of the area.

Local food, coffee and traditional snacks.

Monteverde Sky Tram and Hanging Bridges 

This trip to Monteverde is the perfect fit to explore the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. You will get great views of the jungles while you are up on the bridges, and even better views of the whole Monteverde and Santa Elena areas while going on the Aerial Tram. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a rare eco-system in Costa Rica that is highly recommended to be observed during a trip to the country, it is actually considered as one of the top destinations not to be missed by travelers.

Monteverde hanging bridges

On this tour many interesting stops are done on the way to Monteverde, there are many amazing things to be discovered all around the country. The most fun stop is done at the ‘Monkey Lady”, which is the house of a Costa Rican woman who has the ability to haul in the jungle while lots of white face capuchin monkeys come to her backyard; the monkeys are wild but are very playful and they put up quite a funny show for the visitors to see. Other stops are done at the largest fruit stand of the country where you can try some of the many tropical fruits of Costa Rica and a couple more stops are done in look-out points to take pictures of beautiful mountain landscapes.

On the Monteverde Sky Tram and Hanging Bridges tour you will enjoy:

Hiking in the Monteverde Cloud Forest on the hanging bridges trail.

A gondola ride on the Sky Tram.

Wildlife and beautiful landscapes observation. 

Isla Tortuga 

If you are looking for a sunny day at the beach, drinks and fun activities under the sun, this will be the perfect tour for you. Isla Tortuga is one of the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, and it is located on the Pacific Ocean. At the beginning of the tour you will take a bus ride to the coastal town of Puntarenas, this takes about 1.5 hours and breakfast is served on the bus. Once at the dock you will board the large boat to Isla Tortuga, this also takes about 1.5 hours with great views of the islands of the Nicoya Gulf.

Isla Tortuga - one of the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica

Once at the island you will enjoy a few hours for you to either relax or do some fun beach stuff, like playing volleyball, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, banana boat, etc. (some of these activities involve an extra cost). Lunch will be nicely served with wine on the beach and the return back to San Jose is done around 4 p.m.

On the Isla Tortuga tour you will enjoy:

A beautiful and scenic boat ride on the Nicoya Gulf, overlooking the many island formations of this part of the country.

Free time to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. 

Adventure Combo 

Looking for a fun day with lots of adventures? Perfect, then this tour for you. The Adventure Combo tour includes the most fun adventure activities that tourist normally seek to do during a trip to Costa Rica: zip lining in the rainforest, horseback riding, rappelling, white water tubing (very similar to white water rafting) and relaxing time in the Arenal hot springs. This tour is also good for exploring beautiful landscapes of Costa Rica, the activities are done in the Arenal Volcano area and the ride there is very scenic.

Adventure Combo

On the San Jose Adventure combo tour you will enjoy:

A 9-cables zip lining course in the rainforest that also includes a 50 meters high rappel line.

White water tubing on the Arenal River, this is a very fun adventure with many rapids.

Horseback riding at the base of Arenal Volcano, with great views of the conic shaped volcano on clear days.

Relaxing time at the thermal mineral hot springs of the area to relax your muscles after all the adventure stuff. 

Sloth Encounter and Cultural Towns 

This half day Sloth Encounter tour is a nice combination of nature and culture of Costa Rica, ideal for those who want to see sloths without travelling too far outside of the city. The sloths are observed in an animal rescue center, where they have sloths and other injured rainforest species of Costa Rica that they help. At this sanctuary they normally have monkeys, toucans, coatimundis, ant eaters, scarlet macaws and of course, lots of sloths.

Sloth Encounter half day trip from San Jose

After the sloth encounter at the rescue center you will change the mode to discover 2 iconic cultural towns of the San Jose area: Grecia and Sarchi. In Grecia you will do a brief stop to see their famous metal church, this is the most representative building if this city. At Sarchi you will visit its Central Park to observe the biggest oxcart in the world and you will visit the typical oxcarts’ factory where you will learn the process of making typical oxcars of Costa Rica; here you will also have the chance to do souvenir shopping at their shop, which is the biggest of the country.

On the Sloth Encounter and Cultural Towns tour you will enjoy:

Observation of sloths and other native animal species of Costa Rica.

Visit the folkloric towns of Sarchi and Grecia, to learn about Costa Rican traditional culture. 

Manuel Antonio National Park 

The Manuel Antonio National Park tour combines 2 of the main reasons people travel to Costa Rica: its beautiful beaches and rainforests full of wildlife. This is a day tour from San Jose where you can swim in the most beautiful beaches of the country, and you can also admire the greenery of our tropical rainforest. Manuel Antonio National Park has being rated as one of the most beautiful in the world and it features some of the nicest trails for hiking.

Manuel Antonio - one of the most beautiful national parks of Costa Rica

On this Manuel Antonio tour you will enjoy:

Hiking at the Park trails.

Observation of Wildlife of Costa Rica.

Free time at the most beautiful beach of the country where swimming is available. 

Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens Park and Coffee Tour

This tour to the Poas Volcano area is another great combination of nature and culture. The Poas Volcano National Park features nice trails for hiking near San Jose, where visitors can observe its steamy active crater from the distance, as well as the abundant flora of the Cloud Forest. This tour also includes a visit to the Doka Estate Coffee farm, where some of the best coffee of the country can be tasted. The La Paz Waterfall Gardens Park is located in the boundaries of Poas Volcano, acting like an extension of the national park for the protection of the local flora and fauna species.

Poas Volcano

On this Poas Volcano tour you will enjoy:

Hiking at Poas Volcano National Park.

Coffee tour with degustation at Doka Estate, one of the oldest coffee farms of the country.

Hiking in the Rainforests of Costa Rica and observation of native animal species at the animal sanctuary. 

Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley and Lankester Gardens

The Irazu Volcano National Park is located in the Province of Cartago, towards the East part of San Jose. On this tour you would go by vehicle all the way to the summit of Irazu Volcano, where you can take a short walk to the main crater.

Irazu Volcano

After visiting Irazu Volcano you will visit the country’s largest cathedral at the City of Cartago; and then to the large Lankester Gardens, which belong to the University of Costa Rica. This tour also includes a visit to beautiful Orosi Valley, which is located on the Southern flank of Irazu Volcano.

On this Irazu Volcano tour you will enjoy:

Hiking at the National Park, where you will be able to visit its amazing main crater.

Learn about local plants at the Lankester Gardens.

Visit to Orosi Valley and the oldest church of Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica Rainforest

The Costa Rica Rainforest Tour is a purely natural trip, where you will be admire Costa Rica’s abundant flora and fauna. The Costa Rica Rainforest tour starts with a drive through the impressive Braulio Carrillo National Park, where you will board the Rainforest Aerial Tram at a park nearby. This tour also includes a short walk in the forest at the Sarapiqui Region; and a boat ride on the Sarapiqui River to look for wild animals of the area.

Costa Rica Rainforest day trip

On this Costa Rica Rainforest tour you will be in real close contact with nature, where many tropical animals are normally observed, like monkeys, sloths, toucans, tapirs, crocodiles, agoutis, coatimundis, lots of butterflies and bird species.

On this Costa Rica Rainforest tour you will enjoy:

A 1 hour ride on the Rainforest Aerial Tram Atlantic.

Hiking in the Rainforest.

A safari boat ride on the Sarapiqui River to search for wild animals. 

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero is one of the most remote wilderness areas of Costa Rica; the access to can only be done by boat through its many beautiful canals, or by air with one of the local airlines. The Tortuguero National Park is known by locals as the Amazon Jungle of Costa Rica, this is one of the most dense and lush rainforest jungles in Central America.

Tortuguero - the Amazon jungle of Costa Rica

The town of Tortuguero is also visited on this tour, where you will have the chance to observe the Caribbean Culture of the country, which is very different than the rest of the territory.

On this Tortuguero tour you will enjoy:

Boat ride on the Tortuguero Canals to observe the lush jungles and diverse wildlife of the area.

Visit to the typical Tortuguero town. 

Pacuare River White Water Rafting

The Pacuare River White Water Rafting trip is the absolutely best rafting tour in Costa Rica and it has being rated as the 5th best in the world for commercial rafting. The views on this white water rafting adventure are incredible; the river is surrounded by large mountains covered by rainforest jungles that are breathtaking, with cascading waterfalls on the side of the river.

Pacuare River rafting tour

The white water rafting tour at the Pacuare River is also the longest of the country, you would spend around 4 hours on the river, which is a lot longer than all of the rafting tours in Costa Rica that last about 2 hours.

 On this Pacuare River Rafting tour you will enjoy:

The longest white water rafting tour in Costa Rica with the best nature views of any trip in the country.  

Class III-IV rapids that will take your adrenaline to the limit. 

Zip lining in the rainforest tour

If you are looking for adventure, this zip lining in the rainforest tour is the best option near San Jose. The drive to the park is very scenic, passing through jungles, plantations and local typical towns. This adventure is done in the beautiful mountains of the San Ramon Region, it includes 10 adventure cables, a Tarzan swing and a superman cable.

Zip Lining - most popular adventure activity

On this zip lining tour you will leave your hotel around 8 a.m. and should be back around 2 p.m.; a typical Costa Rican lunch will be included as part of your experience.

On this Zip lining tour you will enjoy:

Zip lining in the Rainforest Mountains of Costa Rica.

A thrilling Tarzan swing.

Along Superman type cable over the jungle’s canopy.

We hope the information above will be helpful for the planning of your next Trip to Costa Rica. If you would like to see more details about the Best Day Tours from San Jose, Costa Rica, please click the following link to see pictures, rates and additional information: Tours from San Jose

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21 Jun 2019
Andrey S