Costa Rica is a country filled with stunning natural landscapes and great coffee. A perfect destination for those looking to take a break from their daily routines to hang out on a beach swim beneath a waterfall or hike around a volcano. Costa Rica is all about natural beauty and there are many small towns to visit. Here are five you might want to check out.
If you are looking for a little adventure, Arenal, located in the northwest of the country, may be the place for you. Driving will make it easy to pack in lots of fun outings. For great views of the Arenal Volcano, you can take a walking tour of the hanging bridges. For a closer look, head to the Arenal Volcano National Park and do some hiking. Go on a white-water rafting trip or try ziplining. Explore a waterfall up close with a tour of Gravity Falls. When you’re done with all this activity, check out one of the local hot springs for some relaxation time.
For the chilled out beach experience, Montezuma is a good bet. Nestled in the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, this charming town offers everything from waterfalls to yoga. With beaches to the north and south, you can choose your favorite spot to surf or just enjoy the sun. Popular with eco-tourists, Montezuma is close to the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve. Located in the Tempisque Conservation Area, the reserve includes both land and water and is home to many species of flora and fauna. A visit to the Mariposario Butterfly Gardens can be a delight for kids and adults alike.
3. San Isidro de Heredia
San Isidro de Heredia is a rural town with 17,000 inhabitants in the northeast of Costa Rica. The town has a pre-Columbian history and a stone idol and pottery were left behind by the indigenous Huetar people. The dazzling white church, Iglesia de San Isidro de Heredia, which juts into the blue sky also has its share of archaeological artifacts including a ceremonial table. It’s an easy drive from San Isidro to Braulio Carrillo National Park. The park has 117,000 acres of protected land, 500 types of birds and 150 kinds of mammals, as well as varied flora and fauna. You can hike or even take a gondola ride along the rainforest canopy!
Sarchí sits in the eastern part of the Central Valley and has a population of 4,700. About 50 miles from San José, the town is known for its vibrant arts and crafts. Snap a picture with the world’s largest oxcart, which is painted bright red and blue or visit the Mercado de Artesanias, run by a cooperative of local artisans. Sarchí ‘s church is known for its beauty and the interior contains hardwood carvings by local artisans. The lush Else Kientzler Botanical Garden features more than 2,000 species of tropical plants from around the world in its 17 acres, about 40 percent of which are wheelchair accessible.
A short drive from San José or Naranjo, Zarcero is one of Costa Rica’s most picturesque towns. Located in the Alajuela province in the San José Highlands, it has just over 4,000 residents. With an elevation of 1,736 meters above sea level, it offers views of the surrounding coffee plantations and a break from the hot weather in much of the country. The Parque Francisco Alvarado is home to a charming topiary garden created in the 1960s. Across from the topiary sits the Iglesia de San Rafael, constructed in 1895, which features trompe l’oeil “marble” columns and pastel stencil paintings by local artist Misael Solis Alvarado.