Short Travel Guide to Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica is one of the most popular things to do in Central America. It is because of all the beautiful and varied landscapes, and the fact that over 25% of its surface is protected in national parks and private reserves that travelers can visit. Here you will find tropical forests, beaches, cloud forests, big cities, active volcanoes and more animals than you can imagine. However the place is so varied that you need a travel guide to Costa Rica to make the process of deciding where you want to go a lot easier.

Travel Guide Costa Rica – 3 Main Destinations to Visit:

Costa Rica is one of the best adventure places to visit, but it is also one of the Latin America’s most luxurious destinations as well.

San Jose

This is the metropolitan capital of Costa Rica, it is filled with fun things to do surrounded by tons of natural beauties.

Things to do in San Jose

1. Poas Volcano – Poas is an active volcano in the central region of Costa Rica; however there are no explosions or lava coming out of it. Instead if you arrive really early in the morning, before the clouds cover it, you get to see a beautiful turquoise pool in the crater, after a walk along the forest.

2. La Paz Waterfall Gardens – This is a place where you can take a walk or a horseback ride along the forest, in the middle of the forest, as you look at the local wildlife, towards the beautiful La Fortuna waterfall. Once you get here you get to swim in the pool that is formed underneath it.

travel guide to costa rica

3. Children’s Museum – This museum is located in a building that used to be a prison. Now you can visit if with your kids for a fun day in their many exhibits.

Where to Stay in San Jose

1. Casa Bella Rita B&B Casa Bella Rita is a beautiful small Bed and Breakfast run by its owners. It only has a few beautifully decorated rooms and offers a personalized service. It also sits on a neighborhood that overlooks a gorgeous canyon.

traveling to costa rica

2. La Paz Waterfall Gardens Peace Lodge Aside from being a beautiful hotel with lush gardens, it also offers an animal center. The best part is that it has a string of waterfalls that you can hike to and swim in. Every room has a Jacuzzi and a fireplace. The hotel and rooms all have great views of La Paz Valley.

activities in costa rica

3. Grano de Oro Hotel Grano de Oro is a luxurious hotel in the heart of San Jose. It is located in an old mansion. Even with all the luxury it is kid friendly, so you can bring the whole family. It also has a beautiful and elegant restaurant that you can visit if you are in the area.


The Arenal area of Costa Rica is a beautiful place with a huge lake, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and forests filled with wildlife. With all of its beauty it is a place you can’t ignore when planning your Costa Rican vacation.

Things to do in Arenal

1. Canopy Tour – You can find tour being offered in the forests of Arenal, where you get to go up to platforms as you seat in a gondola. Once you get to the platform, you get the equipment and zip down a cable over the forest.

2. Horseback Ride to Waterfalls – One of the natural attractions of the area is the La Fortuna waterfall. There are hiking tours to go to it but, the best way to do this is to hop on a horse and enjoy a tour through the forest. First you go through local farms, a creek and a road that offer great views.

3. Canyoneering – This is a tour for adventurers, being offered in the area where you are taken for a walk in the middle of the forest to 4 waterfalls of different heights. Then all you have to do is gear up and climb down them.

Where to Stay in Arenal

1. Silencio del Campo Hotel This hotel in Arenal, Costa Rica is plain adorable! The best part, are the beautiful cabins located at the back of the hotel. It looks almost as a small town located in the middle of a beautiful garden. There is even a naturally heated hot springs pool and a playground.

2. Arenal Observatory Lodge This hotel has an almost perfect location in relation to the Arenal Volcano. It offers amazing views of the volcano and lake. Aside from rooms with a beautiful decoration, they offer hiking trails and bird watching tours, within the property.

3. Mountain Paradise Hotel This is yet another luxurious hotel with great views. Since the property is quite large they take you around in golf carts. The special part of this hotel is that on top of the pool, rooms have a Jacuzzi and gorgeous waterfall showers.


This is a region commonly referred to as natural history museums. That is because of the amount of animal species that live in the area. It is formed by valleys that are home to the mysterious cloud forest. This place is heaven for nature and adventure lovers.

Things to do in Monteverde

1. Ziplining, Hanging Bridges – With all of the area’s natural beauty it only makes sense to explore it from the air to get a full view of the place. In this case you get to choose between guided walks along huge hanging bridges that take you over the trees, from where you get a bird’s eye view. If you want something more exiting, allow them to take you to the platforms from where you can start zipping down the lines, over the forest canopy.

2. Night Tour – The tour takes you through private property, in the middle of the cloud forest for 1.5 hours. The guide makes sure you see all the animals that you wouldn’t see on a day tour, and will share tons of interesting facts with you.

Where to Stay in Monteverde

1. Hotel Fonda Vela In Monteverde there are just a tiny amount of hotels that offer pools and this is one of them. I don’t know about your kids, but for mine this is a big deal. The hotel has a small resort style, so you get the private feel but all the amenities of a big resort.

2. El Establo Hotel This is one of the few, truly luxurious hotels of the area. It has pools, tennis courts, two restaurants, canopy tours, trails and views to die for! Plus the property is so big that they have vans to transport you to wherever you want to go in the hotel.

3. Valle Campanas Hotel – These are a compound of cabins located in a large property that used to be a sugar mill, actually it is still working, but only produces enough sugar for the hotel. The cabins are more like small houses with their own front yard. It is run by a family that has lived for generations in the area, and the service is personalized.

This article only talks about 3 of the best regions in Costa Rica to visit. Can you imagine the amount of fun things to do and great places to stay in along the country?

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Short Travel Guide to Costa Rica

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

7 Responses to Short Travel Guide to Costa Rica

  1. Jennifer says:

    I did a study abroad for a semester in high school in Costa. I can hardly believe it was 16 years ago! I imagine a lot has changed since I was last in Costa Rica.
    Jennifer recently posted..The Many Superstitions of Russia #gAdvRussiaMy Profile

  2. This is a fabulous resource and you have offered truly wonderful suggestions across the board! I am inspired by the fantastic options available in Costa Rica and would love to trek to waterfalls and glide through the trees on their canopy tours!
    mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Tasmanian DevilsMy Profile

  3. Costa Rica is still on our list. Seems like there are great accommodation options. Although I’m not any too adventurous, I think I’d like to try canyoneering.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..The Poetry of Santarcangelo di RomagnaMy Profile

  4. Those are nice views, they are really inviting. Well, except for that spider, looks creepy.
    Travel Buddy recently posted..Fast US passport renewals guide- Fast passport renewalMy Profile

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