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San Jose isn’t just the capital of Costa Rica, it’s also the nation’s largest city. With an estimated population of 1.6 Million people, San Jose is a genuine metropolitan area offering a little something for everybody.

#1 San Jose
Fans of the fine arts will have no shortage of places to go, Costa Rica’s high education level means museums abound. If you’re traveling with the little ones, El Museo de los Niños (The Children’s Museum) offer exhibits about children’s culture, science, music, and geography. Recommended for children up to 12. If anthropology is your thing, be sure to check out El Museo de Oro Pre-Colombiano (The Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold) where you can see how Mayan artisan crafted fine gold before the arrival of the Spanish.

#2 The Central Valley Volcanos
Costa Rica’s Central Valley is home to two of the most spectacular Volcanoes in Central America. Volcan Irazu is only about 20 miles from Cartago, the country’s former capital and is part of Irazu Volcano National Park. Volcan Poas is an hour and half drive from from downtown San Jose and features a main crater 2 kilometers in diameter! The crater creates a beautiful blue-green lake and numerous waterfalls can be found nearby.

#3 Arenal & The Hot Springs
No, it isn’t the name of a boy band, Arenal is Costa Rica’s most visited volcano. Dormant for 400 years it’s been erupting since 1968. This immense natural wonder heats several nearby hot springs for weary travelers to sit, soak, and relax. Nearby Tabacon features hotels, restaurants, bars, and of course, access to the hot springs. Prices for the springs range from $20 to $60 depending on the time of day and duration, most include free lunch and dinner. This hot spot is very popular and making reservations is recommended.

#4 Papagayo
A newly expanding area on the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica, Papagayo features many all-inclusive resorts but much of it remains untamed wilderness. Nature lovers will be in their element here as lush forest meets gorgeous beaches. Playa Grande and Playa Coco are just two of the many sand and surf getaways you can find in the north pacific coast region of Costa Rica.

#5 Jaco
Less than two hours from San Jose you’ll find Jaco, a laidback town just north of Puntarenas. The area’s main attraction is its awesome surfing, with consistently huge waves Jaco can be heaven when you want to Hang Ten. Whether you’re riding a rip curl or just lounging on the sand with some cold Margaritas and hot mamacitas, Playa Hermosa is the place to do it. With tons of local restaurants, specialty sodas places, unique stores and lodging for every budget, you’ll find no shortage of things to do here.

#6 Monteverde
A lush tropical rain forest that is home to more than 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 2,500 species of plants including 420 kinds of orchids, Monteverde is a paradise. Take coffee tours to watch how genuine Costa Rican coffee is grown and harvested, enjoy the Sky Walk suspension bridge, or get your thrills on the zip line in the Cloud Forest.

#7 Manuel Antonio National Park
Not to be out-done by the hundreds of other natural wonders in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park lies on the pacific coast about 7 kilometers south of the town of Quepos. Things to do here include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fishing, and sea kayaking.

#8 Corcovado National Park
If you’re the hardcore adventure type, be sure to check out Corcovado National

Park. Dubbed as the most raw, challenging and rewarding parks in Costa Rica, it is truly the mother of all parks. Hiking to Sirena from here will take 6-8 hours of solid hiking, and with little shade and lots of sand expect blisters. The interior route along Los Patos is more mountainous, shaded, and beautiful. Buses depart daily from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, a popular starting spot.

#9 Tortuguero
Although Costa Rica only represents 0.03% of earth’s surface, nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity lives here, it’s no surprise that Tortuguero makes our list as well. Ecotourists will no doubt love the rainforest in this tiny town named for the most important green turtle nesting site in the entire western caribbean. Tortuguero is accessible by boat and plane only.

#10 Puerto Viejo
Last but not least is Puerto Viejo, located in the Limon province. A lazy little beach town with crystal clear waters, great surfing, and exotic flora, this quaint fishing village a great place to relax. Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is for those travelers that like their vacations relatively basic. Mountain biking, kayaking, and snorkeling are available here, but don’t expect many paved roads or other amenities.

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