A dramatic land of unparalleled natural beauty: Our Costa Rica travel guide

Published

16 November, 2022

Edited

18 November, 2022

Renowned for its long stretches of pristine coastline and dense rainforests, Costa Rica is a haven for adventurers who are forever in search of new, awe-inspiring lands to uncover. Sun-seekers can rejoice, too; the country enjoys balmy temperatures year-round, rarely dropping below 25 degrees even in the cooler winter months.

Where rugged rainforests meet sublime seascapes

The country’s landscape is as diverse and dramatic as you might expect from a destination that hugs the shores of both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. So much so that you’ll never be left wondering what to do in Costa Rica - from exhilarating rainforest tours to buzzing beach parties, there’s something for everyone in your group to enjoy.

Soak up the sunshine beside Costa Rica’s brilliantly blue shores

It’s beaches galore in Costa Rica - whether you’re a family that loves to be right in the centre of all the action or prefer your beach days to be distraction-free and without another soul in sight, you’re bound to find the perfect bay to soak up the sunshine and glorious views of the Caribbean coast.

Playa Manuel Antonio

A crescent-shaped stretch of fine, white sand nestled in the Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Manuel Antonio is a popular spot for both bathing and swimming. Backed by lush greenery and facing out to the sparkling shores of the Pacific Coast, this pretty bay is particularly serene - although it’s not unusual to see the resident monkeys and sloths passing by.

Playa Ventanas

If seclusion is the goal, then Playa Ventanas is your ideal beach. You won’t find any public bathrooms or beachside cafes nearby - instead, you’ll get to enjoy a day of uninterrupted bathing to the soothing soundtrack of gently rolling waves and the occasional call of a toucan soaring across the cloudless sky above you.

Playa Santa Teresa

Sat right on the edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Santa Teresa’s white sands and rolling shores are quite a long way from San José - but don’t let its remote position fool you. This up-and-coming destination is becoming a popular spot for beach parties and trendy restaurants, offering the best of both worlds.

From wild rainforests to bustling cities: the best things to do in Costa Rica

With a combination of verdant forests and dramatic coastlines, Costa Rica certainly ups the ante when it comes to spectacular scenery. Whether it’s soaking in the soothing waters of a natural hot spring, spending an afternoon of sightseeing in the city, or lending a hand in the preservation of the country’s protected wildlife; there’s just so much you can fit into your itinerary.

Take a dip in the natural hot springs of Arenal Volcano National Park

Of all the top Costa Rican attractions to tick off your list, a visit to the Arenal Volcano National Park should be right at the top. This protected area is home to the region’s most active volcano, towering above the treetops at 2270 feet. While it might be the star of the show, there’s plenty more to discover in the surrounding forestland - steamy hot springs and cascading waterfalls can be discovered along winding, picturesque trails.

Spend an afternoon in the intriguing museums and galleries of San José

Your very first, fleeting, impression of San José will likely be the airport on the first day of your holiday, but there’s lots more to see if you decide to head back into the capital later on in the week. At the heart of the city is where all the action takes place - some of the top things to visit include the National Museum of Costa Rica, the Plaza de la Cultura, and the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum which is home to a spectacular collection of ancient gold artefacts.

Look out for the local wildlife in the Tortuguero National Park

Set on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the spectacular Tortuguero National Park covers over 19,000 hectares of protected forest and coastline. The freshwater lagoons are home to hundreds of sea turtles and are best explored with a canoe tour. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see newly-hatched turtles making their way to the shore, which typically happens between the months of April and December.

Step off the tourist trail and discover Costa Rica's lesser-known beauty spots

Once you’ve ticked off all the major attractions and activities in Costa Rica, it’s worth heading off the beaten track and exploring some of the quieter corners of the country. From secluded yoga retreats to wild rainforests with a seemingly endless choice of scenic trails, there’s so much to be discovered outside the country’s towns and cities.

Unleash your inner yogi on the idyllic shores of Nosara

The idyllic district of Nosara has a strict view on commercial developments; in fact, you won’t find a single one along its stunning white sands beaches. The result? A quiet, secluded destination attracting those who seek solace and a brief escape from the everyday bustle. There are a few yoga studios dotted around offering a host of relaxing sessions and classes; stretch out at sunrise with the sand beneath your toes, or enjoy a guided meditation with Costa Rica’s lush jungle as your backdrop.

Discover the tropical wonders of the Braulio Carrillo National Park

More than a hundred thousand acres of tropical rainforest lie undisturbed in the Braulio Carrillo National Park, less than half an hour’s drive away from the capital city of San José. Howler monkeys, ocelots, and tapirs are just a few of the animals that roam this wild landscape, as well as over 500 species of birds. Unbelievably, one of the country’s major highways bisects through the park - although once you’re among its lush trails, you’ll feel as though your world’s away from any form of civilization.

Where to eat in Costa Rica

The capital city of San José is the culinary hub of Costa Rica; lining its streets are a diverse array of cafes and restaurants, ranging from local haunts to exclusive, fine dining establishments. Whether you’re keen to try a classic Central American dish or in the mood for some flavoursome fusion food, there are plenty of choices here.

Restaurante Silvestre

With over 15 years of experience in luxury hotels and restaurants, Restaurante Silvestre’s Head Chef, Santiago Fernández Benedetto, knows a thing or two about fine cuisine. Each beautifully-presented dish has been crafted with the local environment in mind, with a big focus on artisanal fishing and organic agriculture. This classy eatery is just a short stroll from the main stretch of San José, on the corner of a quiet backstreet.

DOMA

If you’re looking for fine dining in San José, then DOMA is an excellent choice. Nestled within the trendy neighbourhood of Barrio Escalante, the restaurant is situated in a traditional Costa Rican house enveloped by tropical flowers and plants. Using local ingredients sourced from the mountains and countryside that surround the city, each dish is a celebration of classic Latin American cuisine.

El Taller de Billy Sazon

Serving up classic Costa Rican cuisine with a modern twist, El Taller de Billy Sazon offers a unique dining experience. Unlike a typical restaurant, there’s a limit of one dining group per night - so it’s recommended that you book well in advance in order to secure your spot. Those lucky enough to get a table will be presented with an eight to 14-course tasting menu which includes an expertly-selected wine pairing from the restaurant’s dedicated sommelier.

L'Ile de France

San José's most celebrated French restaurant L’lle de France has been astounding visitors' taste buds for more than 40 years. This gourmet eatery takes the best French and Costa Rican ingredients to create innovative culinary delights. Some of the noteworthy dishes on the menu include sea bream niçoise, seafood crêpes and boeuf bourguignon.

The onefinestay experience

Our exclusive range of concierge services lets you experience the very best of Costa Rica. After an action-packed day of adventures, your family can enjoy a three-course meal beautifully prepared by a private chef in the comfort of your villa. Or, how about unwinding with a sumptuous spa treatment beside the pool? Whatever you have in mind, we’re on hand to turn your dream getaway into a reality. From arranging all your exciting activities to securing restaurant reservations in San José’s best dining spots, contact our team of expert Travel Advisors to find out more.

Captivated by Costa Rica?

SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR TRAVEL ADVISORS TO BEGIN PLANNING YOUR COSTA RICA GETAWAY TODAY. WE’LL FIND THE PERFECT VILLA FOR YOU AND CRAFT THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME.