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The 10 Must Sees From Costa Rica

Wandering what to see in Costa Rica? In this article we will cover the 10 Main attractions in Costa Rica, Including Beaches, Natural Parks, Volcanos, Rivers,and other Nature Wonders.

Before reading note that all prices were last updated in Early 2023, and they might have changed since then. Read the comments or go to the official pages for the most recent prices. If an activity doesn’t show prices it means that it is free.

If you use Google Maps to navigate Tralei has a Pinned map list with all the attractions listed in this article that you can access by Clicking Here.

Costa Rica is a country full of wildlife and vegetation, you can see sloths, monkeys, toucans, cocrodiles, turtles mockingbirds and many other spieces anywhere in the country, but most of them are found in national parcks wich are paid attractions. On this article we are including tips and prices for the attractions that we visited and that we believe no one should miss. Note that we might be missing some highlights of Costa Rica.

We will also be covering some options to save some money, but nothe that most touristy places will charge either an entrance or a parking fee. (Usually Both). For most National parks you will need to book tickets in advance. You can get online tickets in advance for National Parks in Costa Rica after creating an account on the government’s official page. Click here to create an account.

1. Manuel Antonio National Park

Very easy, well-marked trails to be on and you’ll see a ton of wildlife. Tours are available, which will help you spot the wildlife and learn about what you are seeing, but you can walk freely. There are a couple of gorgeous beaches so make sure to bring a swimsuit if you like swimming. Monkeys are known for stealing food and other belongings so be careful.

As it is a touristy place there are several parking lots which you will have to pay for. (Around $5 for each car). Depending on the season the park entrance will be limited. You can get online tickets in advance for Manuel Antonio and other national parks in Costa Rica after creating an account on the government’s official page. Click here.

 The entry price is:

2. Nauyaca Waterfalls

Nauyaca Waterfalls, (Cataratas Nauyaca in Spanish) are 2 beautiful waterfalls where swimming it’s allowed. It takes about 1h – 1.5 hr to hike there depending on the speed as there is some inclination, (4 Miles/ 6.5 km). The hike it’s arroun the jungle so you can spot pleanty of animals on the way.

They also have other options to get there, such as Horseback Riding and 4×4 tours. The waterfall area has restrooms and changing stations.

 The entry price is $10 for the 1 hour hike, but there are different options:

3. Río Tárcoles crocodile bridge

If you are driving from the capital (San Jose) to the Southwestern part of the country, to visit Manuel Antonio National Park or the Nauyaca Waterfalls you will go over this bridge where most of the time you are able to see crocodiles sunbathing.

There is a wide parking spot on the right before crossing the bridge and you can find a couple of stores too.

This is the perfect way to stretch your legs and serves as a mid-trip resting stop.

4. Celeste River

Rio Celeste, is a beautiful hike in Tenorio Volcano National Park of Costa Rica taking you to see the 30-meter beautiful waterfall, bubbling pools, blue lagoons, and hot springs (no Swimming allowed) at the end of the trail you’ll see where Buenavista River and Sour Creek rivers meet and where the physical phenomenon known as Mie scattering happens, which is responsible for the water turning turquoise.

No guides are needed unless you want them to explain the physical phenomena or help you spot some wildlife. The hike is 6.5 km to where two rivers come together and back. (3.25 km each way)

You can enter the park daily from 8:00 A.M to 2:00 P.M and you are allowed inside the national park until 4:00 P.M

 The entry price is:

5. Arenal Volcano

Arenal volcano is an active volcano in the province of la Fortuna. Note that you can’t climb the volcano as it is currently active and you will only be able to get to a viewpoint, if you enter the National Park. The hike to the viewpoint is 1,5 Km, but there is a loop trail that is about 6 Km with lots of vegetation and wildlife. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go to this park to see the volcano. It’s visible from many points around the city. And that the main attraction is to see the volcano smoking which is not the usual as it is often cloudy at the top of the volcano.

 The entry price is:

6. Poás Volcano

Volcan Poas is a volcanic crater that has erupted 40 times since 1828, including April 2017 when visitors and residents were evacuated. Therefore they have implemented a safety video watch that lasts 10 minutes and everyone must be wearing helmets. Between the safety video, the preparation, the 10 min walk to the crater, and the walk back plan for 45 min to 1-hour visit.

If you are with time, La Paz waterfall (Free) and the Gardens (Paid for) are nearby and also beautiful.

You must book tickets in advance as there are limited spots on each time frame.

 The entry price is:

7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest is a Biological preserve that contains a handful of trails surrounded by wildlife and plants. Its main attraction is a red bridge that was closed when we went. You can call in advance and ask if it’s open. You can find all the info and the trail map if you click here  (You can get a physical map on the ticket reception)

When exiting make sure to check the Colibri Coffee to see all the hummingbirds.

The park is open Sunday to Saturday from: 7:00am to 4:00pm all year round. And the entry prices are.

8. Manzanillo National Refuge

Manzanillo National Refuge has great hiking trails, amazing landscapes, incredible Flora and Fauna, and crystal-clear water.


We recommend staying in Puerto Viejo, which has great surfing, Snorkelling & Swimming caribbean beaches, such as Playa Cocles & Playa Negra you can see (monkeys, sloths and birds).


9. Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero it’s a national park which main attraction is to see turtle hatching and turtles coming back to the beach where they were born to nest. (Nesting season is from July to October). In order to access Tortuguero you will need to drive to La Pavona (Embarcadero a Tortuguero), park your car (Parking Costs $10/night), and take a small boat which costs 4000 CRC per person if you take the public boat or you can negotiate a cheaper price with private boats which are right next to the public dock (Depending on suitcase size you might be charged for lauggage too). No cars are allowed in Tortuguero, but it’s a small place and everything is within walking distance.

Be bare that Tortuguero is very touristy and you will be asked constantly if you have your tours booked as the main attraction, turtle nesting can only be watched at night and with a tour. (Which won’t return your money if no turtles arrive to the beach).

During the day, the beach is also restricted as there is a part that you can only access by buying tickets to the National park which are $16,95 pp.

Other activities in Tortuguero include a Canoe tourKayak Tour, and a Night Wildlife Spotting Tour, all done with Tours (You can click on each activity to book now on Viator which includes free cancellation or Get tours once you get there). Here you can also prebook the nesting Tour. Note that there aren’t many things to do other than guided tours and walking trough the free part of the beach or the paid part of the National Park.

10. Tabacon Hot Springs

Note that this attraction on the map is labeled as “El Choyin” which is the place you should park your car if you want to access the free hot sprigs. Note that they won’t be completely free as someone will “help” you park your car.

If you don’t want to find your window broken it is best to give them some money to look after your car.

Once you’ve parked you can just go right and enter the free part of the Hot Springs. Note that there is a SPA hotel right next to them what is what is labeled as the Tabacon Hot Springs and the entrance is around $70 per person.

If you think we forgot to mention anything, don’t hesitate to write in the comment section if you think we missed any important attraction in Costa Rica!

Thank you for reading!

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