Things to do in Central Valley, Costa Rica

Our most recommended things to do in Central Valley, Costa Rica

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

1. Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour from San José. Your first destination is the Doka Estate coffee plantation, where you'll learn all about the ancient techniques of producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. Experience the careful process involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and roasting of the Golden Bean before tasting the delectable product. After your coffee tour, continue to Poás Volcano National Park, where there is a noticeable change in temperature and beautiful scenery in a cloud forest. Climb up Poás Volcano, an active stratovolcano that most recently erupted in 2017. The crater of the volcano is over a mile across and 1,050 feet deep, making for breathtaking views. Hike on a trail to the beautiful Botos Lagoon as you learn about the different ecosystems in the park. Then, continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional Costa Rican dishes. After lunch, explore the lush tropical rainforest. See the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds before returning to San José.

From San Jose: Tabacon Hot Springs & Arenal Volcano Day Trip

2. From San Jose: Tabacon Hot Springs & Arenal Volcano Day Trip

See the best of both worlds - the raw, untamed beauty of the imposing Arenal Volcano juxtaposed against the soothing thermal waters of Tabacon hot springs - on a day tour from San Jose. Enjoy the backdrop of lush vegetation and breathtaking views of the nearly perfectly conical volcano. After hotel pickup, head to your first stop, the famous town of Sarchi, known as Costa Rica's craftwork center. Appreciate many of the arts and crafts that Costa Rica has to offer, and perhaps pick up some brightly colored or wooden handicrafts to take back home with you as a souvenir. Next, head to La Fortuna, home to the magnificent natural wonder of the Arenal Volcano, where you will have a Costa Rican lunch. After eating, head to the impressive Arenal Volcano and take a short hike around the base to take photos. Marvel at the conical volcano and its plumes of white smoke. Then, relax at one of the best hot springs in the area, Tabacon hot springs, where you will revel in the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of the thermal waters. Enjoy the combination of the heat of the volcano, the flowing waters of the hot springs, and the pure air of the rainforest. Finally, be dropped back at your hotel in San Jose.

San Jose: Arenal Hanging Bridges & Baldi Hot Springs Tour

3. San Jose: Arenal Hanging Bridges & Baldi Hot Springs Tour

The day begins with pickup from San Jose, Alajuela, or Heredia and travels to the artistic town of Sarchi. Spend some time exploring and begin to appreciate the many arts and crafts that Costa Rica has to offer. You’ll also see the world’s largest ox cart, according the Guinness Book of World Records. Continue the tour towards La Fortuna, passing through colorful pineapple and plantain plantations, mango groves, and cattle ranches along the way. Arrive in La Fortuna and enjoy a lunch break at a cozy restaurant with magnificent views of Arenal Volcano. Learn about how the volcano was assumed to be dormant until 1968 when it experienced a major eruption. Visit the stunning Mistico Park next which boasts a dense biodiversity with luscious forests and an abundance of wildlife. Take a stroll amongst the treetops on the hanging bridges that line the jungle canopy, and admire the array of plants that surround you. Finally, it’s time to relax in the gorgeous waters of Baldi. Slide into the bubbling hot springs and unwind as the thermal waters cleanse and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. At the end of a magical day, chill out on the return journey to San Jose where a delicious dinner will be served against the backdrop of the volcano.

From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

4. From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

Travel from San Jose to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and enjoy a walking tour on rainforest trails. See flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, bird, butterflies, and other species and enjoy educational animal exhibits for all ages. Be picked up from your hotel or accommodation in San Jose, and depart for the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Enjoy wandering walking trails in the local rainforest and admire the natural beauty of the area. Watch as white rivers flow and see spectacular waterfalls. Spot local wildlife while wandering through the rainforest, like birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds, and see them in their natural habitats. Stop at different exhibits for local wildlife like the Aviary, Butterfly Observatory, Hummingbird Garden, Serpoentarium, Jungle Cats Exhibit, and Frog Exhibit. Enjoy a buffet lunch after the tour, rated 4 Forks by the Costa Rican Tourism Council, that includes multiple selections of Traditional Costa Rican dishes and much more. Finish the tour after lunch and be returned to your accommodations in San Jose.

San Jose: Arenal Volcano NP & Baldi Hot Springs Day Trip

5. San Jose: Arenal Volcano NP & Baldi Hot Springs Day Trip

Depart from San Jose to reach the Arenal Volcano National Park and admire the magical landscape. Discover Costa Rican arts and crafts in Sarchi and pass mango groves on the way to La Fortuna. Soothe your body at the hot springs before having dinner with volcanic views back in San Jose. Get picked up from your accommodations in San Jose and meet your friendly guide and group for the day. Set off from the city and drive into the Central Valley. Make a short stop in Sarchi known as the birthplace of Costa Rica's artisinal crafts. Pick up some souvenirs and see the world's largest ox cart before continuing your journey into the Alajuela Province. Gaze out of the window at pineapple and plantain farms, mango groves, and cattle ranches until you arrive in La Fortuna. Refresh yourself with lunch at a cozy restuarant with spectacular views of Arenal Volcano. Enter the Arenal Volcano National Park and be blown away by the breathtaking scenery. Witness volcanic activity if you're lucky with white plumes of smoke rising from the crater and look out for local wildlife like jaguars and tree frogs. Travel a short distance to the hot springs in this area to relax your body, mind, and soul with the cleansing and rejuvinating effects of the thermal waters. Choose to have a massage or other therapeutic rituals. Experience the picturesque landscape of the Alajuela Province one more time as you drive back to San Jose. Finish your trip with a wonderful dinner and views of the volcano.

San Jose: San Luis Rainforest and Zipline Tour with Lunch

6. San Jose: San Luis Rainforest and Zipline Tour with Lunch

Travel from the bustling streets of San Jose to the rugged countryside of San Luis on this full-day rainforest and zipline tour. Feel the adrenaline rush as you cruise above the treetops, hike narrow trails, learn about a variety of rainforest ecosystems, and hear scientific facts from your guide. Begin your tour with transportation to San Luise in an air-conditioned van, watching as the city skyline of San Jose transforms into a dense jungle. Upon arrival, listen as your guide details zipline safety instructions and the day's itinerary. Then it's time to harness up and fly through the trees. Follow your guide through the cable system, watching closely for wildlife like toucans, parrots, ocelots, hawks, iguanas, and howler monkeys. During lunch, learn about the rainforest canopy, its role in the protection of forest biodiversity, and current conservation and rehabilitation efforts.

San Jose: Doka, Grecia & Sarchi Oxcart Factories and Stores

7. San Jose: Doka, Grecia & Sarchi Oxcart Factories and Stores

Dive into the art, architecture, history, and flavors of Costa Rica's countryside on this fun-filled day tour. Check out a coffee and sugar cane plantation with plenty of time for samples, make a stop at a butterfly museum, and get up-close looks at the creations of artisans in the town of Sarchi. Start your day at the Doka Estate, where you can follow the process of creating the perfect cup of coffee. See how beans are harvested and roasted, get tips on your tasting technique, and then wake up with a rich cup followed by a tasty lunch. In the afternoon, head to the charming town of Grecia to learn how its brick-red metal church was built using materials from Belgium in the late 19th-century. Nearby, pop into a butterfly museum for up-close looks at exotic species. Then, hop back in your shuttle to head to Sarchi. When you arrive, get an insider's look at artisan workshops that produce the colorful ox carts the town is famous for, and then return to San Jose with convenient drop-off back at your hotel.

Other Sightseeing Options in Central Valley, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about Central Valley, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 31 reviews

We loved everything about this activity! Our guide, Freddy, was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. He picked us up right at our hotel in San Jose and dropped us back off at the same place. We learned all about the process of making coffee as well as the history of coffee in Costa Rica. At Poas volcano we were able to see the full crater without any clouds in the way, which is rare. Lastly we went to Peace Lodge And walked around some of the nature exhibits (butterfly garden, frog garden, etc.) before hiking down to the waterfall. Along the way we also stopped for breakfast and lunch, both with amazing and authentic food!! Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a day trip!

Ronnie our travel guide was absolutely amazing!! If you could chose based on tour guides then I would recommend him! He was so knowledgeable and honestly we want to move to Costa Rica because of him! Our day was absolutely perfect for rainy season. We had a beautiful drive and we enjoyed every minute! We had a very very small group just us! Seeing the volcano, doing the hanging bridges and relaxing in the hot springs was an adventure!!

This was such a good way to kick off my travels in Costa Rica! I felt super comfortable doing this as a solo female traveller, and I met some really lovely people over the course of the day. The tour guide was so friendly and knowledgeable, and the overall day wa as great balance between exploring at an easy pace and learning lots! Definitely worth the price, I really recommend!

We had a great time on this tour with Edgar as our guide. He was very knowledgeable and was well prepared. We saw many things with options to buy souvenirs and ate a nice meal. Would definitely recommend as we were in town for a short period of time and wanted to see as much as possible.

A magnificent experience, from seing the Poas volcano to watching the La Paz waterfall, the gardens and beautiful animals at the La Paz Loudge, to finally touch and see up close the coffee plantations, and in all the process with the best guide ever, Arleen.