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The Best 7 Day Trips From San Jose, Costa Rica


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Elana Parisi



Costa Rica, the jewel of Central America, boasts dazzling landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a vibrant culture that captivates visitors from around the world. While the bustling capital city of San Jose offers plenty of attractions and activities, the true beauty of this tropical paradise lies in its surrounding areas.


If you’re looking to escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in nature, there are plenty of incredible day trips you can take from San Jose. From stunning beaches to lush rainforests and active volcanoes, Costa Rica offers something for every type of adventurer.


In this article, we’ll explore the best 7 day trips from San Jose, each offering a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking thrilling outdoor activities or tranquil relaxation, these destinations are sure to satisfy your wanderlust.


So grab your camera, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the natural wonders of Costa Rica.


Manuel Antonio National Park

Located on the stunning Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts. Just a short drive from San Jose, this park offers a perfect blend of pristine beaches, dense rainforests, and diverse wildlife.


As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by a network of well-maintained trails that meander through the lush greenery, providing incredible opportunities for wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for the park’s inhabitants, including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and a variety of bird species.


One of the highlights of Manuel Antonio National Park is its picture-perfect beaches. With crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sand, these beaches provide a tranquil setting for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. The park also boasts several secluded coves, perfect for those seeking privacy and solitude.


For a more adventurous experience, you can take a guided hike up to the park’s scenic viewpoints, such as the breathtaking Cathedral Point. From these vantage points, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the coastline and the lush surrounding jungle.


If you’re interested in learning about the region’s biodiversity, be sure to visit the park’s information center, where friendly and knowledgeable staff will provide insight into the various flora and fauna that call this area home.


Whether you’re exploring the park’s trails, lounging on the beaches, or simply basking in the natural beauty of Manuel Antonio National Park, this day trip from San Jose is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes.


Arenal Volcano National Park

Nestled in the heart of Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Just a few hours’ drive from San Jose, this park showcases the impressive Arenal Volcano, one of the country’s most iconic natural landmarks.


The star attraction of the park, Arenal Volcano, stands majestically at 1,657 meters (5,436 feet) and offers a stunning backdrop for exploration. As you hike through the park’s trails, you’ll be surrounded by lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, including colorful birds, monkeys, and sloths.


For the thrill-seekers, Arenal Volcano National Park offers some exciting activities. The park features a variety of adrenaline-pumping adventures, such as ziplining through the treetops, rappelling down cascading waterfalls, and embarking on a white-water rafting trip on the nearby rivers.


After a day of adventure, visitors can relax and rejuvenate in the park’s famous hot springs. Arenal is renowned for its natural hot springs, which are heated by the geothermal activity of the volcano. Soaking in the warm, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by the stunning rainforest is the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the park.


For those interested in learning about the region’s volcanic history, a visit to the Arenal Observatory Lodge is a must. Situated on the foothills of the volcano, the lodge offers panoramic views of Arenal and the surrounding landscapes. It also provides educational exhibits and guided tours that delve into the volcano’s geological significance.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or natural beauty, Arenal Volcano National Park has it all. From hiking to hot springs, this day trip from San Jose promises a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of Costa Rica’s awe-inspiring landscapes.


Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Escape into a world of enchantment at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, a biodiverse paradise located in the misty highlands of Costa Rica. This mystical forest is just a few hours’ drive from San Jose and offers a truly unique and captivating day trip experience.


The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is famous for its ethereal mist and lush green canopy, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that immerses you in nature’s wonders. As you venture through the reserve, you’ll encounter a rich diversity of plant and animal species, many of which can only be found in this unique cloud forest ecosystem.


One of the highlights of the reserve is the opportunity to walk along the network of suspended bridges, known as the Sky Walk. These bridges offer a bird’s-eye view of the forest, allowing you to fully appreciate the breathtaking beauty and intricate ecosystem that thrives within.


For the adventurous souls, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve offers thrilling zip-line tours that allow you to soar through the forest canopy, getting a unique perspective on the flora and fauna below. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience that will leave you with incredible memories and a newfound appreciation for the natural world.


In addition to its natural beauty, Monteverde is also known for its conservation efforts and commitment to sustainable tourism. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the important work being done to protect the cloud forest and its fragile ecosystem.


If you’re a bird lover, don’t miss the chance to go on a guided birdwatching tour. Monteverde is home to over 400 species of birds, including the resplendent quetzal, making it a haven for bird enthusiasts and photographers.


Visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is like stepping into a fairytale. The misty trails, diverse wildlife, and awe-inspiring beauty of this unique ecosystem will leave you with a sense of wonder and a deep appreciation for the magic of nature.


Tortuguero National Park

Immerse yourself in a true natural wonderland with a visit to Tortuguero National Park, a remote and pristine paradise located on Costa Rica’s northeastern coast. Known as the “Land of Turtles,” Tortuguero National Park is a haven for wildlife, featuring lush rainforests, meandering waterways, and sprawling beaches.


Getting to Tortuguero is an adventure in itself, as it is accessible only by boat or small plane. But the journey is well worth it. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking landscape teeming with biodiversity. The park is renowned for its turtle nesting sites, where you may have the incredible opportunity to witness the mesmerizing sight of sea turtles laying their eggs or baby turtles making their way to the ocean.


The park’s vast network of canals and waterways provide the perfect setting for exploration. Embark on a guided boat tour, where you can navigate through the winding rivers and discover the rich variety of wildlife that call this region home. Keep an eye out for caimans, river otters, monkeys, and an array of colorful bird species.


For nature enthusiasts, Tortuguero National Park offers a wealth of hiking trails that wind through the dense rainforest. As you wander along these paths, keep your senses alert for sightings of jaguars, tapirs, and countless species of reptiles and amphibians.


Aside from its wildlife, Tortuguero National Park is also blessed with miles of pristine, untouched beaches. Take a stroll along the sandy shores, listen to the crashing waves, and relax in the tranquility of this remote paradise.


Visiting Tortuguero National Park is an immersive experience that takes you far off the beaten path and into the heart of Costa Rica’s wild side. It’s a place where nature reigns supreme, and you can witness the magic of the natural world in its purest form.


Poas Volcano National Park

Experience the raw power of nature at Poas Volcano National Park, home to one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Located just a short drive from San Jose, this park offers a unique opportunity to witness the geological forces that shape the stunning landscapes of the country.


As you arrive at the park, you’ll be greeted by a sprawling crater that spans almost a mile in diameter. From the viewing platform, you can peer into the depths of the volcano and witness its mesmerizing sulfuric fumaroles billowing smoke and steam.


The park boasts a network of well-maintained trails that lead visitors through lush cloud forests and offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. Along the way, keep an eye out for the park’s diverse flora and fauna, including hummingbirds, toucans, and orchids.


If you’re feeling adventurous, embark on a hike to one of the park’s nearby lagoons, such as Laguna Botos. These serene bodies of water, nestled within the volcanic landscapes, provide a tranquil setting for relaxation and contemplation.


One of the unique features of Poas Volcano National Park is the accessibility to the main crater. Unlike many other volcanic sites, visitors can get up close to witness the volcanic activity firsthand. The experience of standing on the edge of an active volcano is truly awe-inspiring and offers a glimpse into the powerful forces that shape our planet.


It’s important to note that due to the volcano’s activity, the park may sometimes close temporarily for safety reasons. Therefore, it’s recommended to check the park’s status before planning your visit.


A trip to Poas Volcano National Park is an unforgettable adventure that allows you to witness the raw power of nature in all its glory. The combination of breathtaking vistas, unique volcanic landscapes, and the chance to witness an active volcano make this day trip from San Jose an absolute must for nature and adventure enthusiasts.


La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and serenity of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a nature lover’s paradise located just outside of San Jose. Nestled in the heart of the Central Valley, this privately-owned ecological reserve showcases the incredible natural wonders of Costa Rica in a compact and easily explorable setting.


As you explore the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, you’ll be greeted by a series of magnificent waterfalls that cascade down through the lush cloud forest. Take a leisurely stroll along the paved trails that wind through the reserve, allowing you to enjoy up-close views of these breathtaking waterfalls.


In addition to the stunning waterfalls, the gardens are home to an impressive array of wildlife. Get up close and personal with native species such as monkeys, jaguars, butterflies, and colorful tropical birds in the sanctuary’s well-maintained habitats and enclosed aviaries.


One of the highlights of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is the vast butterfly observatory, where you can witness the delicate beauty of a myriad of fluttering butterflies. Walk through the enclosed habitat, surrounded by colorful flowers and lush greenery, as you learn about the life cycle and behaviors of these incredible insects.


For those seeking a bit of adventure, the reserve features a hummingbird garden where you can observe these tiny, vibrant birds buzzing around and feeding on nectar. You can even hold out a small cup of sugar water to attract them and get an up-close encounter.


To complete your visit, be sure to indulge in a traditional Costa Rican meal at the on-site restaurant, which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes. Sample local delicacies, such as gallo pinto (rice and beans) and casado (a plate with rice, beans, meat, and vegetables), and savor the flavors of Costa Rican cuisine.


Visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a truly immersive experience that allows you to appreciate the natural beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica in a tranquil and easily accessible setting. Whether you’re mesmerized by the waterfalls, captivated by the wildlife, or simply enjoying the serenity of the gardens, this day trip is sure to leave you with lasting memories of this remarkable country.


Cahuita National Park

Escape to the Caribbean paradise of Cahuita National Park, a hidden gem along Costa Rica’s stunning coastline. Located on the country’s eastern shores, just a few hours from San Jose, this national park offers a unique blend of vibrant coral reefs, pristine beaches, and lush rainforests.


As you step foot into Cahuita National Park, you’ll be greeted by white sandy beaches fringed with swaying palm trees. These tranquil shores beckon you to take a dip in the warm turquoise waters or simply relax under the shade of a palm tree, soaking in the tranquil ambiance.


Beneath the surface, a whole new world awaits. Cahuita National Park protects one of the largest coral reef systems in Costa Rica. Snorkel or scuba dive among the colorful coral formations, encountering a stunning array of marine life, including tropical fish, stingrays, and even sea turtles.


For nature lovers, the park’s hiking trails provide the perfect opportunity to explore the lush rainforest and encounter the rich biodiversity of the area. Keep an eye out for monkeys swinging through the treetops, sloths lazily hanging from branches, and a myriad of bird species darting through the foliage.


Cahuita National Park is also home to the indigenous Bribri people, who have inhabited the region for centuries. Take the opportunity to learn about their culture and traditions through visits to local communities and cultural centers.


After a day of exploration, be sure to visit the charming town of Cahuita, located just outside the park. Here, you can savor the flavors of Afro-Caribbean cuisine, listen to reggae beats, and immerse yourself in the laid-back vibes of this coastal village.


A visit to Cahuita National Park offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural immersion, and Caribbean charm. Whether you’re snorkeling through vibrant reefs, hiking through lush rainforests, or simply basking on the pristine beaches, this day trip from San Jose promises a truly unforgettable experience on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.



Costa Rica is a country that truly embodies the wonders of nature, and the day trips from San Jose offer a glimpse into the incredible beauty and diversity of the country’s landscapes. Whether you’re exploring the captivating Manuel Antonio National Park, witnessing the power of Arenal Volcano, or immersing yourself in the mystical cloud forest of Monteverde, each day trip promises an unforgettable adventure.


From the remote and pristine Tortuguero National Park to the captivating La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Caribbean charm of Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica’s natural treasures are just a short distance away from San Jose. These day trips allow you to connect with nature, encounter diverse wildlife, and revel in the tranquility of the country’s stunning surroundings.


Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation is evident in these protected areas, ensuring that future generations can also enjoy the beauty and splendor of these natural wonders. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities, peaceful relaxation, or a deeper understanding of the country’s culture and biodiversity, these day trips offer something for everyone.


So, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or simply looking to unwind in paradise, take advantage of the incredible day trips from San Jose and delve into the heart of Costa Rica’s natural wonders. Embrace the breathtaking landscapes, encounter fascinating wildlife, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


As you step out of the city and into the embrace of nature, you’ll discover a side of Costa Rica that will leave you in awe of its beauty and inspired by its commitment to preserving its natural heritage. So, pack your bags, follow the call of the wild, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the stunning landscapes of Costa Rica.