Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica is a great day trip option from San Jose. I mean how often do you get the chance to explore the top of a volcano while in a foriegn country? This complete guide to Irazu volcano covers all we’ve learned from our multiple visits to this special place.
Guide to Irazu Volcano – Helpful Tips
-Try to get there early: If you want a good view, your best bet is to be there early in the morning when the park opens (8:00 am). At this time the clouds usually haven’t rolled in yet. If the volcano is clouded in there is no point of visiting. You won’t be able to see almost anything. You can ask when you pay if the volcano is clear. If it is not you can opt to do one of our nearby suggested activities at the end of this post.
– Take it slow: I always get a bit lightheaded and short of breath while visiting Irazu. It’s important to remember that you are at a really high elevation. In fact, at it’s highest point Irazu is 11,260 feet above sea level.
I always bring a drink, like Gatorade, with a lot of electrolytes to help me out. It may be all in my head, but I swear electrolytes make me feel better.
– Irazu is not an active volcano: You don’t have to worry that Irazu is going to start spewing, but please pay attention to all instructions by park employees regarding safety.
– There are picnic tables so you can bring a picnic lunch.
– Watch out for your food: These little guys (coatis) are quite the food stealers. If you opt to bring a picnic watch out for them.
– There is a gift shop: The gift shop is kind of pricey, but if you are feeling lightheaded and need some food or drinks there is a spot for you to buy stuff.
– Wear sunscreen: Even though it can be a bit cool at the top you have to remember that you are not that far from the equator and at a high elevation. You’ll be surprised how fast you can get burned here if you don’t have strong sunscreen on.
– Take a walk or a drive to the top: After visiting the volcano crater you can head up the hill to the top for a really great view. You can walk up to the top but is a bit of a hill and with the high altitude, it can be pretty draining. You can also drive up to the top.
– Look out for the Turrialba erupting: From the top, you should look out and see if you can see the Turrialba erupting. It’s not an always kind of thing, but sometimes you’ll get lucky.
Guide to Irazu Volcano – Important Info
Hours: Irazu Volcano is open daily from 8:00 am until 3:30 pm. This includes holidays.
Cost: $15 for adults. $5 for children (12 years old and younger). 1,000 colones for adult residents. 500 colones for child residents.
Parking: There is a huge parking lot which you can use. Just make sure you don’t leave anything of value out. I’ve never heard of anything bad happening, but I’ve also never seen anyone actively keeping an eye on the cars either.
Getting There: Irazu Volcano is located in the Cartago Province. It will take you about 1. hours to drive here from downtown San Jose. Just be warned, the start of this drive requires some city driving which can be a bit terrifying in San Jose and Cartago. Once you get out of the cities you will be rewarded with beautiful back roads which are well maintained and have beautiful views. Just note that although the roads are well maintained it can be really steep and curvy in some spots.
In your GPS or on Waze just type “Volcano Irazu” to find accurate directions from your location.
If you plan on renting a car while in Costa Rica, check out our rental car page for some helpful tips and to get a 10% discount on your car rental.
What to Bring: Definitely bring water, a drink with electrolytes, sunscreen (even though it may be cool up there the sun is really strong), your camera, and several layers of clothes
What to Wear: It can be cool up at the top of Irazu. I always wear pants or some kind of workout pants. I also usually wear a few layers (t-shirt and sweater). A hat is also a must because of the strong sun.
I find that I tend to start off cold but after doing a bit of walking I tend to warm up.
You also need to wear some type of shoes you can walk OK in. It’s not a crazy hike or anything, but you will be walking on unpaved paths at some points.
Guide to Irazu Volcano – What to Do After
There are three things we suggest for you to do after visiting Irazu Volcano.
1. Check out this restaurant which allows customers to stick things on the walls. This restaurant is called Restaurante Linda Vista. It is about 10 minutes from Irazu and you will pass it on your way up and down. We like to just stop here for a drink. Their food is pricey and not really that good, but it is a cute place for the experience. Just grab a beer and look around at all the fun things people have stuck on the walls.
2. Do some more hiking: There is a nice pine forest (how strange for Costa Rica) located close to Irazu Volcano called Prusia forest. It is really nice, but just be warned that the start of the hike is intense!
3. Fish Your Lunch: One of our absolute favorite things to do in Costa Rica is to go fishing at a trucha. A trucha is a small farm which has a pond stocked with fish (usually trout) and a restaurant. When you arrive you will get a line with a little piece of bate on the end.Once you catch a fish they will take it and cook it up for you with some tasty side dishes. Usually, the sides are rice, beans, and a salad. You can expect to pay about $10 for your meal and a really unique experience. The closest trucha to Irazu is called Granja Crujim.
We also have a guide to the Cartago area if you want more info about things to do nearby!
If you have any questions about our guide to Irazu Volcano please leave them in the comment section below and we will help you out.
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