Travel to Costa Rica for an adventure of a lifetime!
This small Central American country has everything a luxury traveler could want – stunning beaches, enchanting rainforests, rich history, and delicious cuisine.
But beyond its natural beauty and warm hospitality, Costa Rica offers unique and immersive experiences that will make your trip unforgettable.
From savoring the best coffee in the world to hiking in a cloud forest this country has it all.
Join us on a journey through Costa Rica's 15 must-do experiences for the ultimate adventure and cultural immersion.
1. Visit the Gold Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
The Gold Museum in San Jose is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about Costa Rica's fascinating pre-Columbian era.
The museum is home to an impressive collection of gold artifacts that were used by indigenous tribes for centuries before the arrival of European settlers.
The collection is considered to be one of the most important in all of Latin America.
Be sure to take a guided tour of the museum to fully appreciate the history and significance of the exhibits-- we can book one for you!
2. Take a Coffee Tour
Costa Rica's coffee production is world-renowned for its high quality and sustainability practices.
With over 100,000 coffee farmers and many different roasts to try, a coffee tour is an absolute must-do experience in Costa Rica.
Not only will you learn about the history of coffee in Costa Rica, but you'll also get to taste some of the best brews in the world.
Be sure to bring some coffee beans home with you to enjoy after your vacation is over. With so many tours to choose from, let us help find the right one for you.
3. Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Nestled in the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a true gem among Costa Rican destinations.
Established in 1972, this protected area encompasses more than 26,000 acres of lush rainforest, misty cloud forests, and diverse wildlife.
With over 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, and 2,500 species of plants, a visit to Monteverde is a must for anyone looking to experience Costa Rica's rich biodiversity.
Make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking through the forest, as well as binoculars and a camera to capture the incredible flora and fauna you'll encounter. Be sure to book a guided tour with a local expert (we can help you with that!), who can help you spot elusive creatures like the resplendent quetzal and the three-wattled bellbird. Additionally, make sure to support the conservation efforts of the reserve by following their eco-friendly practices, like using reusable water bottles and avoiding single-use plastics on your vacation.
4. Take a Traditional Cooking Class
Costa Rican cuisine is as vibrant as its culture, with influences from African, European, and indigenous traditions.
A cooking class is an ideal way to learn about the history and techniques behind some of the country’s signature dishes, such as gallo pinto, casado, and ceviche.
Not only will you have the chance to sample these delicious creations, but you’ll also get to participate in the preparation process alongside knowledgeable chefs.
Many cooking classes take place in open-air kitchens surrounded by lush tropical gardens, providing a truly immersive and relaxing experience. We have our list of favorites ready to book for you.
5. Visit the Guayabo National Monument
Guayabo National Monument is an archeological site located in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
The area is known for being home to an ancient civilization that thrived from around 1000 BCE to 1400 CE.
Today, visitors can explore the ruins of this civilization and learn about their way of life through the many artifacts that have been discovered.
It's a must-visit for history buffs and anyone looking to delve deeper into the rich cultural heritage of Costa Rica.
The site is a bit off the beaten path and having a knowledgeable guide (we can help find one) can greatly enhance your experience. Additionally, be sure to bring comfortable shoes as the terrain can be uneven and rocky.
6. Take a Cultural Tour of the City of Cartago
Located just a short distance from San Jose, Cartago is a must-visit destination for those interested in learning about Costa Rica’s rich colonial history.
Founded in 1563, Cartago was once the country’s capital and is home to numerous historic landmarks and monuments.
On a cultural tour, visitors can explore the ruins of the Santiago Apostol Parish Ruins, the beautiful La Negrita Basilica, and the fascinating Orosi Valley Museum.
Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen as the sun can be intense. Also, be sure to sample some of the local cuisine, such as empanadas or tamales, at one of the many restaurants in the area.
7. Experience a Traditional Tico Bullfighting Event
Bullfighting is an important part of Costa Rican culture, with roots dating back to the Spanish colonial era.
However, the bullfighting events in Costa Rica are very different from the traditional bullfighting events in Spain.
Here, the bulls are not killed and the bullfighters are not armed.
Instead, the goal is for the bullfighter to grab a ribbon from the bull's horn as it charges past.
It's a thrilling and intense event that is sure to give you a unique perspective on Costa Rican culture.
Bullfighting events are held throughout the year, but the most popular time to attend is during the Christmas holidays. If you're planning to attend a bullfighting event, be sure to arrive early to get a good spot and be prepared for a lively and passionate crowd.
8. Visit the Pristine Pacuare River
The Pacuare River is one of the most beautiful and thrilling places to visit in Costa Rica.
With rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV, it offers an exciting adventure for rafters of all skill levels.
However, the river's true value lies in the important role it plays in sustainable tourism in Costa Rica.
The Pacuare River is one of the few places in the world where tourists can experience a pristine environment that is completely untouched by human activity.
Visitors can learn about the river's ecology, as well as the efforts that are being made to preserve it for future generations.
Make sure to book a tour (we can help!) with a reputable company that practices sustainable tourism. They will minimize their impact on the environment and ensure that local communities benefit from the tourism industry. Bring a waterproof camera to capture the breathtaking scenery along the way.
9. Visit a Local School
Costa Rica is known for its high literacy rate and emphasis on education, visiting a local school is an excellent way to understand this aspect of their culture.
With free education offered up to university level, Costa Ricans value education highly, and visitors can learn about the unique approach to teaching and the challenges the country faces in ensuring all children have access to quality education.
Make sure to ask for permission before visiting, and consider bringing a small gift as a token of appreciation for the students and teachers
Remember to dress appropriately, as many schools require modest clothing. If possible, bring some school supplies to donate to the students, as many schools in Costa Rica struggle with a lack of resources.
10. Take a Dance Class
Costa Rican culture is deeply rooted in music and dance, with traditional rhythms like salsa, cumbia, and merengue holding a special place in the hearts of its people.
Taking a traditional dance class is an incredible way to immerse yourself in this rich cultural heritage, learn some new moves, and connect with locals who share your passion for music and dance.
You can take classes in salsa, bachata, merengue, and cha-cha, all while enjoying a fun and energetic atmosphere that's sure to get your feet moving.
Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes that won't impede your movement. You should also consider bringing a towel and a change of clothes, as things can get pretty sweaty in the dance studio!
11. Visit the Chirripo National Park
Located in the Talamanca Mountain Range, the Chirripo National Park is home to the indigenous communities of Cabécar and Bribri.
This park is not only a place to learn about the unique culture of these populations but also to enjoy its stunning natural beauty.
With lush forests, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, Chirripo National Park is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica.
When visiting Chirripo National Park, make sure to bring appropriate clothing and gear for hiking. The park has some challenging trails, including the summit of Cerro Chirripo, the highest mountain in Costa Rica. Additionally, it's important to respect the customs and traditions of the indigenous communities by booking a guided tour (we'll book it for you) with a reputable company, ensuring you have an authentic and respectful experience.
12. Visit the National Monument of Costa Rica
The National Monument of Costa Rica is a must for anyone interested in learning about the country’s political history and Costa Rica's struggle for independence and democracy.
The monument is dedicated to the heroes of the 1856 Battle of Santa Rosa, which marked the beginning of the end of William Walker's attempt to take over Central America.
The battle was a turning point as it paved the way for the abolition of slavery and the establishment of democracy throughout the region.
Today, visitors can see the bullet holes that remain in the walls of the monument, a sobering reminder of the country's tumultuous past.
Be sure to take a guided tour (we can help book it) to get a deeper understanding of the significance of this historic site.
13. Experience a Local Music Venue
No visit is complete without surrendering to the rhythm and indulging in a memorable night out at a local music venue.
From salsa to reggae, rock to electronic music, there's something for everyone.
Let the rhythm and melodies transport you to a world of pure joy, as you immerse yourself in the pulsating beats and create unforgettable memories in Costa Rica's vibrant music scene.
Check out venues like Jazz Café, El Observatorio, or Vertigo for a fun night out with live music. Don't be afraid to ask locals for recommendations or to try something new – you never know what amazing music you might discover in Costa Rica.
14. Take a Wildlife Tour
Costa Rica is one of the world's top destinations for ecotourism and conservation efforts.
With over 25% of the country's land dedicated to protected areas, visitors can witness an abundance of wildlife, including sloths, monkeys, and colorful birds.
Taking a wildlife tour not only offers a chance to see these amazing animals but also provides insight into the conservation efforts being made to preserve them.
When choosing a wildlife tour, we'll make sure to select a company that prioritizes sustainable and ethical practices, such as avoiding touching or feeding the animals and using eco-friendly transportation methods.
Always remember to respect the animals' natural habitats and behavior by keeping a safe distance and not disrupting their environment.
15. Visit the Indigenous Boruca Tribe
The Boruca tribe is an indigenous community located in the southern region of Costa Rica.
The tribe has a rich history and is known for its skilled craft-making, intricate masks, and colorful costumes.
Visiting the Boruca tribe is a unique opportunity to learn about their customs and traditions while experiencing a truly authentic cultural immersion.
If you time your visit right, you might witness their traditional “Juego de los Diablitos” (Game of the Little Devils) which is a reenactment of a battle between the Boruca people and the Spanish colonizers involving dancers wearing intricately designed masks.
This important ritual is performed every year to celebrate the tribe’s history and honor their ancestors.
It is important to respect the Boruca tribe’s customs and traditions by dressing appropriately and asking permission before taking photos. It is also recommended to visit the tribe with a guide (we'll help find one) who can help translate and navigate any cultural differences.
With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural history, and commitment to sustainable tourism, it's easy to see why this small country in Central America is a popular vacation spot.
So why wait? Let's start planning your trip to Costa Rica today so you can experience all the beauty and wonder this amazing country has to offer.