Planning your first trip to Costa Rica? Where do you start? Where should you go? What should you do? Well, today we want to answer these and some other questions that are normal for first-timers and also tell you which are the 5 best things to do in Costa Rica.


First things first, let’s talk about some basics about Costa Rica.


Costa Rica 101

Map Best Things to do in Costa Rica

Map courtesy of Nations Online Project

Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordering with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.  Its coasts are swathed by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.


Its small size does not diminish the value of its lands. With just 19,690 sq. miles., a little less the area of Lake Michigan, it is home to 5% of all the planet’s biodiversity. This is why the country has decided to make nature its stronghold, boasting a solid system of protected areas. More than 20% of its territory is part of a National Park or refuge area.


The country is famous for its Pura Vida motto, and also for being ranked several times as the happiest country in the world.  Costa Rica is also a proud member of the exclusive list of Blue Zones.


The official language is Spanish however, English is widely spoken.  The main economic activity of the country is tourism, and the dollar is widely accepted.


After understanding the fundamental aspects of Tiquicia, you will understand our recommendations for the 5 best things to do in Costa Rica.


Where, what and when


You will have to choose between landing in SJO-Juan Santamaria International Airport or LIR-Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport.  The right choice will depend on what you would like to experience, and which of the best things to do in Costa Rica you decide to experience.


SJO is located within the urban area of Costa Rica that comprises the provinces of San José (capital), Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago.  It is your best option if you will start close to any of these areas or if you want to go first to popular destinations as the Arenal Volcano or Manuel Antonio National Park.  It also would be best if you are heading to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Airports Costa Rica

LIR Airport. Image courtesy of Tico Times

LIR is located in one of the most visited areas, in the rural province of Guanacaste.  If you have decided to spend your days relaxing at the beach and your base would be a hotel in Tamarindo, Nicoya, Papagayo or within the North Pacific Coast, LIR is definitely the airport to choose.


Costa Rica is a great destination to visit no matter the season, because of its constant warm weather.  However, it is important to notice that we have a rainy season and a dry season.  Some people prefer no rain at all but, consider that during the rainy season you would generally still get half day of sun or dry conditions and then some showers during the afternoon. Lower rates are definitely also an important aspect of visiting from May to November.


Without further ado, here our best things to do in Costa Rica bucket list.


The best things to do in Costa Rica

1. Go zip lining

Zip line in Costa Rica - No Limit Adventure


No matter which area of the country you will be visiting you will find for sure a Zip Line center located within a few miles from you.


Zip lining was invented here in Costa Rica (learn more) as a better way to understand and study the rainforest.  From that moment, the activity has become one of the most popular touristic activities in the country.  You will find options for every level of adventure you are willing to experience.  From the family-oriented to the extreme and adrenaline-addict ones. It is also one of the safest activities you can enjoy.


The variety of options, the safety and the experience itself are the reasons why zip lining is our No. 1 best things to do in Costa Rica.


2. Visit a volcano

Visit a volcano best things to do in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano

Costa Rica is crossed by three impressive mountain ranges, featuring 20 major volcanoes.  However, our tiny country has more than 250 volcanic structures, being more discovered by scientists every now and then.


Among the major volcanoes, 3 are now considered active ones and 2 more have had some activity in the last two decades.


Within the Guanacaste Mountain range, the Arenal Volcano and the Rincón de la Vieja are two of our all-time favorites.


The Arenal volcano, now inactive, is an amazing conic structure that offers the most picture-perfect scenic views.  It is also surrounded by the tropical rainforest and lots of activities can be enjoyed in its surroundings like hot springs and zip lining.


The Rincon de la Vieja, is an active volcano that offers an unforgettable show of volcanic features such as fumaroles and emanations of boiling mud that will make you feel part of a Jurassic Park movie. This national park is also part of a UNESCO Heritage Site.


3. Go Rafting

White-water rafting Costa Rica - No Limit Adventures

One amazing experience you will have during the rainy season is rafting, even though is also available all year long is during the green months that nature really shows its power.


Costa Rica is a world-known destination to practice this adventurous discipline.  This is one of the reasons why is part of our top 5 best things to do in Costa Rica.  Also, you will be able to enjoy it no matter where you go.


The white-water rafting discipline offers 5 different levels of adventure, so it can be enjoyed by everyone, even children and the elder people.


If you will be staying within Guanacaste, be sure to experience our Tenorio River Rafting Tour.


4. Go Surfing

Surfing best things to do in Costa Rica

Surfing runs in the veins of Ticos. Did you know that even some schools located in Guanacaste include on its curriculum surfing lessons? Well, now you have an idea why this activity has made part of our top 5 best things to do in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica has been blessed with hundreds of beaches and miles and miles of coastline. Towns like Tamarindo has bloomed thanks to the practice of this sport.  And even though becoming a professional surfer could mean hours and hours of practice, having the experience of a surf lesson can also be fun and open up a whole new world for you.


So, no matter if you have never ridden a wave or are a professional surfer, Costa Rica has a beach (or many) right for you.


5. Visit a waterfall

La Fortuna waterfall best things to do in Costa Rica

The last of our 5 best things to do in Costa Rica, but not least is visiting a waterfall.  Even though this activity could seem like a more relaxing option, it can be as thrilling as the above ones.


Waterfalls are stunning. Encountering a waterfall could replicate the feeling of finding a treasure.  There are many waterfalls in Costa Rica you can visit, and all of them will make you feel alive and speechless at the same time.


If staying in Guanacaste, be sure to check our blog post of the 3 best waterfalls to visit.


One good news is that within our tour options you will be able to cross out the 5 points of our list.  Our personalized service and tailor-made experiences will allow you to enjoy our 5 best things to do in Costa Rica and many more great options.


Contact us now to book the best private tour options in Costa Rica.