Things to Do in Costa Rica: Activities for Everyone
Beach & Water Activities
Food and Drink Activities
For more great ideas check out our waterfall guide.
Poas Volcano in Alajuela – One of the few active volcanoes that you can visit up close. This is easy to visit if you are flying in or out of the San Jose International Airport.
Arenal Volcano – Located in La Fortuna this volcano is best enjoyed from afar so you can admire its impressive appearance.
Irazu Volcano– Located in Cartago, this is a good day trip from the San Jose area. Just be aware that the elevation is high (as in you will literally be above the clouds).
Rincon de la Vieja – Located near the Nicaragua border on the Pacific coast, this is a great place to get a true volcanic experience. You can see bubbling mud and steaming lakes.
For more info check out our volcano guide.
Costa Rica National Parks
Manuel Antonio National Park in Manuel Antonio – The most popular national park in the country. This is a good place to see tons of wildlife in a condensed and easily walkable area.
Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula – This park needs to be accessed with a guide. Expect pure raw beauty here.
Tenorio National Park – Most people visit this park to see the bright blue Rio Celeste waterfall.
Tortuguero National Park in Tortuguero – The best way to see this park is by taking an early morning wildlife canoe ride.
Cahuita National Park in Cahuita – A great place to see a lot of wildlife on flat trails with a nice beach.
For more amazing national parks check out our National Park guide.
Free Things to Do in Costa Rica
Our absolute favorite free thing to do in Costa Rica is to visit one of the many beautiful beaches on either the Pacific or Caribbean coast.
On the beach, you can watch the sunset, do some yoga, go swimming, etc.
Check out 20 Free Things to Do in Costa Rica That You’ll Love for more ideas.
Round-Up of Activities by Location
Booking Things to Do in Costa Rica
How you plan and reserve your Costa Rica activities really depends on your travel style.
For things such as visiting beaches and going to national parks, you (usually) do not need to reserve anything ahead of time. Just show up and enjoy.
For Costa Rica day tour excursions, it is usually possible to book things somewhat last minute. However, during the high season (late December through late April) we suggest reserving activities before your trip.
Things can book up fast!
If you are staying at a hotel it is often possible to book things to do through your hotel.
Lately, we have been booking more through Viator.
We like to book directly through tour companies when possible, but Viator has been helpful because most tours have really good cancellation policies.
If you would like your entire vacation planned, check out:
The Top Things to Do in Costa Rica on Viator
FAQ: Things to Do in Costa Rica
What is the number one thing to do in Costa Rica?
It is hard to say that there is a number one thing to do. Some of the most popular activities include; zip lining, wildlife tours, surfing, hiking in national parks, and visiting volcanoes.
Does Costa Rica have nightlife?
Yes, Costa Rica has a good nightlife scene depending on where you go. San Jose, Jaco, and Tamarindo are known for their good scene.
What are some fun things to do in Costa Rica?
Some fun things to do are; go snorkeling, rent an ATV, go whitewater rafting, relax on the beach, visit a beach bar, hike up a volcano, and slide down a waterfall.