Things to do in San Jose

Take the toll road to the Pacific coast

Believe it or not, it’s only an hour from the Central Highlands to the Pacific, thanks to the toll road connecting San José and Jacó. If a charmingly grungy surf town isn’t to your tastes, then head north for your pick of palm-fringed paradise around the breathtaking Nicoya Peninsula.

Roar through the rainforest on a zip line

Sliding through the forest canopy, suspended above the jungle on a strong, steel “zip-line,” is the classic Costa Rica experience. There are some 100 zip-line canopy tours in the country but with sky trams, guided hikes and a butterfly garden, Rainforest Adventures (tel: +506 225 759 61; www.rainforestadventure.com) eco attraction is the stand out.

Make for Central Valley for a moonlit horseback tour

Costa Rica remains an agricultural nation and the rural mountain towns that pepper the Central Valley are perfect for equestrian adventures. Horseback tour operators vary widely, so buyer beware. The likes of Finca Caballo (+506 7010 1771; www.fincacaballoloco.com) provide experienced, English-speaking guides who understand that foreigners may lack grace in the saddle. 

Ride the wild waters in a raft

Adventurous travellers will be well aware of Costa Rica’s rain forested central highlands. Marbled with wild rivers, Río Reventazón has a reputation as one of the country’s toughest to tackle in a white-water raft, whilst Río Pacuare is considered Central America’s most beautiful river. Exploradores Outdoors (tel: +506 2222 6262; www.exploradoresoutdoors.com) offers day and overnight trips.

Climb a bubbling volcano crater

San José is cradled in the skirts of several major volcanoes, two of them extremely active and preserved as popular national parks. Poás Volcano has paved trails and is wholly impressive. Early morning hikers will be rewarded with the fantastic cloud-forest walks and epic viewpoints over the huge, bubbling crater.