Taking Tours from San Jose, the Capital City of Costa Rica, is a great option for those who seek to explore the main destinations of the country. San Jose has a privileged location right in the middle of the territory, which allows the travelers to explore Costa Rica’s Best Attractions in all different directions. There are many Tours from San Jose to explore volcanoes, national parks, rainforests, beautiful beaches; do adventure activities or to explore the local culture. There are also combo Tours that combine a little bit of everything.
Below you will find a list of the Best Day Tours from San Jose, Costa Rica:
The options we offer for Tours from San Jose have many different themes and they include everything a traveler would search during a Trip to Costa Rica. Here is a brief review of each one of our tours departing from San Jose, separated by themes and with some additional information that will help you determine which one of them better suits your needs and interests:
Costa Rica is known worldwide for its amazing nature, there are several National Parks and Natural Reserves everywhere you go, with jungles, rivers, volcanoes and other natural attractions. The country’s varied climate and geography are very favorable for the formation of Rainforest, Cloud Forests, and Dry Tropical Forests, which are full of wildlife, the ideal environments for the most amazing Nature Tours.
These are the best Nature Tours that can be reached from San Jose:
Like the name of the tour says, on this excursion you will visit the 3 main things that people request the most when visiting the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna area: the Arenal hot springs, the Arenal Hanging Bridges and the La Fortuna Waterfall. On the La Fortuna Waterfall hike you will be able to appreciate nature at its best because this waterfall is immersed in a rainforest jungle where wild animals of Costa Rica are normally observed; swimming at this waterfall is permitted during the tour. Then you will visit the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park (commonly known as the Arenal Hanging Bridges), where you will hike in the Rain Forest for about 2.5 hours; seeing wildlife on this hike is also very common. This hanging bridges hike is in our opinion, the best nature walk you can take in the whole region. At the end of the day you will go to relax to Paradise Hot Springs, this is one of the many local parks where you can relax in mineral thermal waters that come naturally heated by the volcano. This tour is recommended for people who are in a fairly-decent physical shape.
This is one of the Nature Tours we have available to appreciate the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. The hanging bridges in the Monteverde Cloud Forests are the most famous of the country and the ones with better infrastructure for tourism. On this tour you will hike on the trails and hanging bridges of Sky Adventures Park, where you will also be able to ride its tram and get the best aerial views of the Monteverde and Santa Elena areas. This tour also includes visiting a monkeys’ observation place, where we normally observe lots of white faced capuchin monkeys in their natural environment. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape, the hanging bridges hike is 2.5 to 3 hours long but it is done mostly on flat terrain at a slow pace.
This is another of the Nature Tours where you can visit the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica. The hike on this tour is done at Selvatura Park, another great option for hiking in the Monteverde area. The hanging bridges and nature trails at Selvatura are mainly to observe the rare cloud forest eco system, your expert guide will walk you through this amazing gallery explaining many interesting aspects of our endangered Cloud forests. The Monteverde Hanging Bridges tour also includes a visit to the ‘Monkey Lady’ house, the house of a native Costa Rican woman who has the ability to call lots of white faced monkeys with a distinctive call, sort of like the Tarzan Woman of Costa Rica. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape, the hike takes about 2.5 – 3 hours approx. and it is done mostly on flat terrain at a slow pace.
On this nature tour you will be able to visit the crater and summit of the highest volcano of Costa Rica, Irazu Volcano. The walk to the crater is very short, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and it’s done on flat terrain. Next to the crater there are other areas for hiking, like a plain called “Playa Hermosa”, as well as trails that go to the mountains around the crater. The tour also goes to the beautiful Orosi Valley in the Province of Cartago, one of the favorite touristic spots to go on the weekends for local Costa Rican people. A walk at the University of Costa Rica’s Lankester Gardens will also be done, where the visitors will admire a very large variety of local plants native to Costa Rica, including many beautiful orchids. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape, the amount of walking required is minimal.
The name of this tour speaks for itself, this tour is all done in 3 different places where the rainforest and wildlife of Costa Rica can be admired. The first stop is done at about 2 hours after leaving San Jose, where you will visit the Rainforest Aerial Tram Atlantic; here you will take an hour long tram ride to admire the lush rainforest located next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park. The tour continues to the Sarapiqui area where you will do a short rainforest walk in one of the local reserves, here you will learn a little more about the flora of Costa Rica. In the afternoon you will board a boat that will take you on the Sarapiqui River to try to spot some of the local wildlife, this is a 1.5-2 hours ride where is very common to see monkeys, sloths, toucans, coatimundis, crocodiles, and several species of native and migratory birds. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape because the amount of walking required is minimal, just about an hour at a slow pace during the rainforest walk.
Tortuguero National Park is probably the most unique wilderness place of Costa Rica, where the only way of transportation is by boat through its beautiful canals, and due to this, the place is known as the “Amazon Jungle of Costa Rica”. On this full Nature Tour from San Jose you will ride on the Tortuguero Canals searching for the abundant rainforest wildlife, and you will also learn about the lush flora of the area. A visit to the town of Tortuguero is included as part of the Caribbean Cultural experience of this tour. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape, the amount of walking required is minimal.
Costa Rica is also famous for its Adventure Tours, as a matter of fact, the country is very well positioned as an adventure travel destination. The landscape is very favorable for the practice of adventure activities, there many mountains for the practice of zip lining and horseback riding; rivers for white water rafting; waterfalls and cliffs to do rappelling, etc.
These are the best options for Adventure Tours from the Capital City of San Jose:
This tour is done in the Rainforest Mountains of San Ramon, it includes 10 adventure cables, 1 thrilling Tarzan Swing and an amazing Superman line. This is the closest zip lining tour to the city of San Jose, located about an hour and 15 minutes outside of the city. The tour starts with a few of the regular zip lining cables, then about halfway through, you will do the Tarzan Swing, which is a large rope secured to the top of a big tree that will make swing in all directions, quiet an amazing experience. The tour continues with some hiking in the rainforest where nature can be appreciated and the last line, which is also the longest, is the one called the Superman line. The Superman line gets its name because is different than the regular zip lines, you will basically lay on your stomach on a special type of hardness that will make feel that you are flying like Superman. This zip lining tour lasts for about 2 hours, lunch would be served after the adventure, and then you will return to San Jose.
This one is probably the most complete adventure tour offered from San Jose, which combines zip lining in the rainforest, rappelling, horseback riding and white water tubing, as well as relaxation in mineral hot springs. All of these activities are done near the Arenal Volcano National Park area, the best place for adventure activities in Costa Rica. This day of adventure starts with the zip lining tour in the rainforest, which includes a total of 9 adventure cables that are normally done in approximately 1.5 hours. An adventurous 50 meter high rappel line over the Arenal River is also done at the end of this tour. Lunch will be served right afterwards and in the afternoon you will enjoy of a 30 minutes horseback riding at the base of the volcano. The white water tubbing activity in the Arenal River is done later on, which lasts for about 1.5 hours too. At the end of your day you will relax at the mineral hot springs of the area for about 2 hours before returning to your hotel in San Jose. *The order of the activities can vary depending on the day’s logistics.
This adventure combination tour takes place in the Sarapiqui Rainforest area. First you will go white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River, which is the best river of Costa Rica for class II-III rafting. This adventure is ideal for beginners, but you would still get a lot of action on the class III rapids. The whole rafting trip lasts for about 2 hours, and a fruit snack is served around the middle of the tour. Lunch will be served afterwards by the side of the river and then you will go zip lining, this is an easy course for people of all ages. The zip lining tour lasts for about 1.5 – 2 hours, and it is done in the beautiful rainforest jungles of Sarapiqui. At the end of this Zip lining and Rafting tour you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.
This is the absolutely best rafting trip in all Costa Rica and has being ranked as the 5th best in the world. The views around the Pacuare River are spectacular, featuring lush and dense rainforest jungles that can take your breath away. On this tour you will spend about 4 hours on the river, making it the longest rafting tour in all Costa Rica too. We recommend this tour for those people who have done rafting at least once before, because the rapids can be a little intense. The tour is rated as class III-IV, that’s why we recommend experience, or it could be considered as an “intense” first-time rafting trip, basically for those people who have never done rafting but enjoy high adrenaline stuff (especially in the rainy season-months between May and December, when the river is higher). This tour is recommended for people in a fairly good physical shape, because a lot of paddling has to be done during the 4 hours that you will be on the river.
This is by far the best class II-III white water rafting trip in Costa Rica. The Sarapiqui River White Water Rafting Tour can be considered as a beginners level rafting trip, however, you will get a good bit of action during the class III rapids. The views on the sides of the river are very scenic, with dense rainforest jungles on most of the trip because you will be crossing the Tirimbina Biological Reserve during a good part of the tour; when passing this reserve is very common to observe rainforest animals like sloths, monkeys, toucans and others. On this tour you will be on the river 2 hours approximately, which is normally what the rafting tours last in all Costa Rica; and a fruit snack will be served around the middle of the excursion. At the end of the tour you will enjoy a delicious lunch in a restaurant by the side of the river, and then you will head back to San Jose. This tour is recommended for people in a fairly good physical condition, since paddling is involved during the 2 hours that you will be on the river.
We offer a couple of options for those visitors who seek to experience Cultural Tours from San Jose, these are the 2 options available:
This is a combination tour where you will explore some of the main landmarks of the city of San Jose, as well as enjoying of a guided coffee tour, which represents the heart of the Culture of Costa Rica. This San Jose Cultural tour starts in the morning at one of the local coffee plantations, where you will learn about the history of Costa Rica’s most important agricultural product. You will walk through the plantation and the coffee processing plant, where you will learn everything about Costa Rican coffee, the way is planted, the way is harvested and the way is brewed in a traditional way; this interesting experience takes about 1.5 to 2 hours all together. Following you will visit the Capital City of San Jose, where you will walk on its streets with your guide to some of the most remarkable places, such as the National Theater, the Central Avenue and the San Jose Central Market, the most iconic cultural place of the city. Other important landmarks will be visited by vehicle, such as the Sabana Park, the National Stadium, the Congress, the National Cathedral and other places of interests; the time exploring San Jose will be about 2-3 hours. This tour is recommended for people in any physical shape, walking is only involved in the Central Avenue and the Central Market for about an hour.
Learn about the history of coffee and chocolate on this half day tour. The tour starts in the morning in one of the local coffee plantations located on the foothills of Poas Volcano National Park. At this plantation you will learn the process of growing coffee, the way it is harvested in Costa Rica and the way it is brewed in a traditional way; degustation of local coffee is included as part of the tour and this activity lasts for about 1.5 – 2 hours. Following you will participate of a traditional chocolate tour. On this activity you will learn the whole history of cocoa in Latin America, the uses our ancestors gave to it and the history on how it turned out to be chocolate. On this walk through the history of cocoa you will do different degustation of chocolate, the way our ancestors drank it, the raw products and the final product of chocolate when it’s processed in a traditional way. This chocolate tour also lasts for about 1.5 to 2 hours. This tour is recommended for people of all ages and in any physical condition.
Costa Rica has more than 300 beaches in the whole territory, with 1,200 kilometers of coast line (about 800 miles). Although, there is just a handful of beautiful Beach Tours that can be done as a One Day Trip from San Jose. We offer a total of 3 tours to the Beautiful Beaches of Costa Rica, although 2 of them will be presented on the Combination Tours section because they are both combined with other intense nature activities: The Manuel Antonio National Park Tour and the Sloth Sanctuary and Caribbean Beaches Tour. The following are the best of the Beach Tours that can be done from San Jose, where you can relax for a long time on the beach:
On this tour you will visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica at Tortuga Island. The Tortuga Island tour stars in the morning with pickup from your hotel in San Jose, you will go to the Port of Puntarenas on an approx. 1.5 hours’ drive, and breakfast will be served on the bus. Upon arrival to the dock, there will be coffee and other breakfast items in case that you wish to have a more complete meal. After boarding the boat, you will travel along the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya, where you will be able to admire its multiple islands; this boat ride lasts for about 1.5 hours as well. Once at the island you will be able to relax on the beach for a few hours, or do some of the activities available, like beach volleyball, banana boat ride, snorkeling, etc. (some of these activities require an extra charge). A delicious lunch will be served on the island and towards the late afternoon hours you will board the boat to go back to Puntarenas and then the bus to San Jose, you should be back at your hotel around 7-8 p.m. (times can vary depending on logistics). This tour is recommended for people of all ages, since physical efforts are not involved.
Most of the options for tours from San Jose involve nature or adventure type of activities, however, there are a couple of Relaxation Tours where you would have the chance to relax in mineral hot springs for a long time in the afternoon. These are the 2 options available from San Jose:
This tour is meant for those travelers who are not looking to do a lot of exploring-adventure, but rather relax for a long time in the hot springs. The Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs Tour departs from the City of San Jose in the morning, and goes to Arenal on the direct route. A stop is done along the way at the folkloric town of Sarchi, where you will have the chance to visit the typical oxcarts’ factory and its big souvenir shop, where shopping can be done for a while. The tour continues directly to the Arenal area, where you will have lunch upon arrival. After lunch you will do a very short walk to the volcano’s look-out point located at the base of the mountain, where you can take pictures of this beautiful volcano on clear days. Following you will visit Tabacon Resort and Thermal Spa, which is the most upscale and unique hot spring’s location in all Costa Rica. You will spend most of the afternoon relaxing in the multiple pools that can be found at Tabacon Hot Springs; where its pools are fed by a natural hot water river that flows directly from the volcano and they are surrounded by beautiful rainforest jungles and gardens. Towards the evening hours you will enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the Tabacon’s fine restaurants before returning to your hotel in San Jose.
This is also an excursion for those travelers who are looking for a relaxing time during their stay in San Jose. This Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs tour starts in the morning when you get picked up from your San Jose hotel, and just like the Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs tour, it goes to the folkloric town of Sarchi to admire its oxcarts factory, where shopping can also be done at their souvenir shop, which is the largest of the country. On route to Arenal you will travel along jungles, farms and local towns, until reaching the town of La Fortuna where you will enjoy a delicious typical lunch. After lunch you will visit the volcano’s main look-out point, which is located at the base of the mountain, you will spend a few minutes taking pictures of the volcano (weather permitting), before going to Baldi Hot Springs. The walk to the look-out point is very short, just about 300-400 yards, which makes this tour appropriate for people of all ages and in any physical condition. After visiting the Arenal Volcano look-out point at the Arenal 1968 Trail, you will spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at Baldi Hot Springs, which is the largest hot springs park in Costa Rica. At Baldi there are multiple pools with water that was naturally heated by the volcano, where you can relax surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. At Baldi there are also water slides for the visitors’ enjoyment, as well as many swim up bars for drinks and food while enjoying there. Towards the end of the afternoon you will have dinner at one of Baldi’s restaurants, before returning to your San Jose hotel.
For those people with limited traveling time in the City of San Jose, we offer a few Combination Tours where the tourists are able to enjoy more than one activity or attraction in a single day, and in some of the cases, would be able to do several activities or attractions, these type of excursions are ideal for those who have just one or two days to see the most of Costa Rica.
These are the Combination Tours available from San Jose:
This tour is our best seller, considered the most complete combination tour offered from San Jose, which is a great blend of Nature, Culture, Adventure and Relaxation activities, all done in a single day. The tour starts in the morning by traveling towards the foothills of the Poas Volcano and Barva Volcano, on the most scenic route to Arenal (there are a few ways to get there), and you will do several stops to enjoy many interesting attractions. The first stop will be done in a coffee plantation, where you will receive a briefing about the Coffee of Costa Rica for a few minutes and will be able to take a close look at the coffee plants; we just don’t go into the coffee processing plant because we have many other things to see later on. Following you will stop at the famous La Paz Waterfall, here you will spend a few minutes to take great pictures of this natural wonder. The following stop is made at the San Fernando Waterfall look-out point, here you will spend more time to take pictures of the beautiful waterfall, do degustation of authentic Costa Rican coffee with local snacks that Costa Ricans normally eat with coffee, and you will also have the chance to observe many bird species of Costa Rica at their bird observation station. At this station they have a few bird feeders, where many colorful species of these animals are attracted to eat local tropical fruits, including beautiful toucans and lots of hummingbird species. The tour continues with great views of the Caribbean Rainforests until reaching the Iguanas Center, here you will spend a few minutes to take pictures of the many iguanas in their natural habitat, and we sometimes observe sloths and monkeys as well. After all of these interesting stops you will reach the town of La Fortuna, where you will enjoy a delicious local lunch at the base of Arenal Volcano. Following will be zip lining, the adventurous part of this trip. The zip lining is done at the lush rainforest near the Arenal River, where you will zip along 9 adventure lines for about 1.5 hours; and at the end you will have the chance to do a 50 meter-high rappel line over the Arenal River (this is optional). Right after the rappelling you will participate of a brief native tribe presentation for about 15-20 minutes, where local indigenous people will talk about their traditions, music, dialect, etc. It is important to know that this zip lining-rappelling-native tribe presentation is all done in the same property, but for those who don’t want to do these activities we have the option of doing a short rainforest walk that includes the largest frog exhibit of Costa Rica with more than 30 species; a large butterfly garden; a turtle’s exhibit; a snake’s exhibit; and a crocodile-caiman exhibit (this request must be done at the time of reservation). Afterwards you will go to the hot springs at the base of Arenal Volcano to relax for a couple of hours before going back to San Jose and dinner will be served along the way. This tour is recommended for people who are in a fairly good physical condition, since some effort is required to do the zip lining. People of all ages can also participate of this tour, however, the minimum age to do zip lining is 5, so if you are traveling with children 5 years of age or younger, they must participate of the short rainforest walk with animal exhibits, accompanied by at least one adult. Participants of this tour must also understand that this will be a very long day, but the benefit is that you will see on this tour more of Costa Rica than in any tour offered from San Jose.
This tour is the absolutely best combination for those who seek to experience the amazing Nature of Costa Rica and its beautiful beaches. The Manuel Antonio National Park tour departs early in the morning from San Jose, and goes directly to the park with just one stop for breakfast along the way. Once in Manuel Antonio you will hike on the main trail with your guide, where you will have the chance to admire the intense rainforest nature and look for the abundant local wildlife, we normally observe a lot of wild animals on this tour. This hike is appropriate for people of all ages, the trail is about 1.7 kilometers long (a little over a mile long) and it’s mostly on flat terrain, so people in all physical conditions can do this tour as long as can walk ok. Once you finish with the hike you will spend some time at the beautiful Manuel Antonio Beach, a truly jewel of nature because of the scenic beauty, a white sand beach surrounded by an intense green rainforest; altogether, you will spend about 4 hours in the park. At the end of your time in the Manuel Antonio National Park you will go to have a delicious local lunch on the 6th floor of Hotel San Bada, the ocean and jungle views from this restaurant are spectacular. After lunch you will return to San Jose, but you will do a few stops to admire some interesting things of Costa Rica that can be explored. On this journey back to your hotel you will stop at the Jaco Beach look-out point to take pictures for a few minutes of this beautiful landscape; at Tarcoles Beach to search for scarlet macaws, the most beautiful birds of Costa Rica; and the famous crocodile bridge where we normally observe lots of these big reptiles. After all of these stops you will be taken to your hotel in San Jose.
The Arenal Volcano Experience tour is a great combination of nature-sightseeing and relaxation. This is a full day tour that starts in the morning with pickups in the different hotels of the San Jose area. The idea of this tour is to travel to the Arenal Volcano area in a very different way than other tours offered by tour companies in San Jose, by doing multiple stops in attractions that are along the way. On this tour you would stop in a coffee plantation where a briefing of Costa Rican coffee will be done, including degustation of coffee accompanied by local snacks (this degustation will be done in a typical restaurant further ahead). The tour also includes stopping in a couple of waterfalls to take pictures, in a birds’ observation station and in a place where we normally observe lots of iguanas and other forms of rainforest wildlife. This ride takes about 5 hours altogether, but that’s including the time spent at the interesting attractions where the tour goes. Once in Arenal a delicious local lunch will be served in a restaurant at the base of Arenal Volcano, this is actually one of the closest restaurants to this mountain. After lunch, a visit to the town of “La Fortuna” will be done, this is the main town of this entire region, another interesting attraction visited on this tour. Afterwards you will be taken to relax for the rest of the afternoon to the thermal mineral waters of Arenal Volcano, this tour is meant for people who are seeking to relax for a few hours, rather than doing other activities (we also have available the Costa Rica Full-Dall Combo tour, which is the same tour as this one but with the inclusion of zip lining or a rainforest hike with animal exhibits and less time at the hot springs). At the end of the hot springs you will go back to your hotel in San Jose and dinner will be served in a restaurant along the way.
The Sloth Encounter and Cultural Towns is a half day trip from San Jose that combines culture with animals viewing. The tour departs from San Jose in the morning and goes to an animal rescue center located in a rural town not too far from the city. At this rescue center you will be able to observe many wild animal species of Costa Rica that are treated there, including several sloths. At this place they have several “sloth gardens”, which are natural enclosed areas where the sloths spend their rehabilitation, they have a few bushes where the sloths spend their time and a box type of place where they sleep. It is important to understand that it is very likely to see sloths at a close range in this place, at the sloth gardens, at the nursery or when they are eating, but sometimes they are all up on the trees or sleeping in their boxes and cannot be disturbed; the tour is intended to arrive there at feeding time to have better chances to see them active and up-close. It is also important to understand that the sloths cannot be held or touched, it is prohibited to handle wild animals in Costa Rica, unless is done by the workers of these places with their respective permits. After the visit to the rescue center, the tour takes a turn to explore the culture of Costa Rica at the town of Grecia, where you will observe its iconic metal church; as well as going to the town of Sarchi which is Costa Rica’s artisans birth place. At Sarchi you will visit the Central Park to observe the World Guiness Record biggest oxcart in the world and you will also visit the typical oxcarts’ factory. At the factory you will learn how the typical oxcarts are made, and you will also have time to do souvenir shopping at their store. After this visit you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.
This tour goes to the beautiful Caribbean Beaches of Costa Rica, as well as to the world famous Sloth Sanctuary, located in the Limon province. This excursion to the Eastern part of the country it’s a great combination of nature and beach. The ride is very scenic passing through the dense Rainforest Jungles of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, until reaching the Sloth Sanctuary. At the sanctuary you will do the 2 hour tour where you will learn everything about sloths, the most representative animals of Costa Rica. After the Sloth Sanctuary Tour you will go to the town of Cahuita to have an authentic Caribbean style lunch, and then you will visit Cahuita National Park. At this National Park you will do a 1-2 hours hike searching for the local wildlife and you will also spend some time at its pristine and beautiful beaches. The hike at the national park is easy, it’s all done on flat terrain. This tour is recommended for people of all ages and in any physical condition, since the walking at the park is easy.