As one of the countries geographically bridging North and South America, Costa Rica offers a unique Latino vibe. Costa Rica enjoys the best of the Caribbean Sea on its east side and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Aside from its coasts, there isa lot to more to explore here, thus the 10 best cities in Costa Rica to visit we listed here.
1. Puerto Limón
Puerto Limón is the second biggest city of Costa Rica in terms of population. It’s considered as the multicultural hub of the country as a melting pot of races. People here are a mix of Limonese Creole, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean.
So what’s great in Puerto Limón? The beaches. It’s located on the Caribbean side of the country, where cruises are a big thing from October to May.
Although Limón isn’t the wealthiest city in Costa Rica, it has its natural beauty to boast. For those who want some fun, the Playa Bonita is the place to be. It has sandy beaches with several bars where you can get a drink.
For those who want some action, whitewater rafting in the rapids of Reventazon River is a must-try. But if you want to go sightseeing, you can go around the city and visit the Catedral Sagrado Corazón de Jesús.
For surfers out there, Boca Barranca is the right destination. It’s located on the Pacific coast of the country, where large waves never fail to disappoint tourists. You should also check the narrow river inlet located in El Roble for longboarding.
Boca Barranca was also the venue of one of the annual Rabbit Kekai Longboard contests. On most days, Boca Barranca isn’t crowded, but it can get pretty packed during the peak season. If you want to get the best waves without the crowd, start early at around 9 am. Rainy days are also a good option, and you can get a whole wave on your own.
However, you have to be careful as crocodile sightings can be a bit of a problem.
For those who want to go sightseeing, Heredia is a great start. It’s located north of the capital San Jose and is home to several museums and old churches.
One of the must-sees here is the Barva Basilica built back in 1767, as well as the Church of the Immaculate Conception erected in 1797.
The city’s most iconic landmark is El Fortin. It was built in 1876 and known for its artillery holes. However, many comment about its design flaws, which can you check out personally during your visit.
To see more of Costa Rica’s history, you can visit the Casa De La Cultura and the Museum of Popular Culture.
If you’re traveling with kids, Heredia also has a lot to offer. The Braulio Carrillo National Park is home to many bird species and other superb wildlife.
For those who are looking for a more laidback spot in Costa Rica, Alajuela is an excellent choice. It has direct access to San Jose, so going in and out of this city is easy. And although the area is reasonably developed, it managed to retain its old town atmosphere and quiet vibe.
If you are to visit Alajuela, try to time your trip during April to coincide with the massive Juan Santamaria Day. This festivity includes a carnival and a huge parade.
There is also a lot of sophisticated restaurants around Alajuela. If you’re going on a date, Xandari will surely impress. But for those on a budget and craving for seafood, Pesqueria da Limonta is an excellent choice.
Lastly, for those who want to pass the time for free, the Parque Central will be your host.
5. Cinco Esquinas
Cinco Esquinas is the 5th largest city in Costa Rica. It’s actually a part of the San Jose province and is a district in Tibás Canton.
One of the must-sees here is the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden. It’s a relaxing place where you can see a variety of butterfly species. Just prepare some cash since the place has an entrance fee.
We don’t recommend staying for too long in Cinco Esquinas. After you’ve toured the place, feel free to go around, and see other cities.
Desamparados is located near San Jose and offers rural relaxation. It’s not a very touristy place, so that you can stroll around without the large crowds. Desamparados is also a great access point to the capital and other attractions of the country.
You can visit at least one of the three protected natural zones in the city. These are the La Carpitera, Cerro de Escara, and Rio Tribi Refuges. Just take note that access to these areas is controlled, so make sure that you coordinate with the locals ahead.
Aside from the greenery and hiking trails, there are also mineral hot springs in the La Carpitera Refuge.
If you want to go sightseeing, you can visit the Casa de la Cultura Joaquin Garcia Monge. There’s also the Museo de la Carreta as well as the Teatro Municipal La Villa.
For those who want to stay near the coasts, Golfito is an excellent place for a stay. It’s located on the south Pacific side of the country near the Panama border. For nature observers, the Piedras Blancas National Park is a great start. It boasts a wide range of flora and fauna that came from many countries in North America.
If you want to stay fancy on your beach vacation, you should head to the Golfito Marina Village and Resort. This is a luxurious marina surrounded by yachts, boardwalks, shops, and upscale restaurants.
Moreover, those who seek adrenaline rush should try the Golfito Canopy Zip Line. The whole ride will give you the perfect view of the Golfo Dulce Bay, as well as the lush forest.
For a fun night, you can head to Bar La Bomba in Pueblo Civil. It’s a simple pub where you can have nice drinks and get to meet locals.
Another surfing mecca of Costa Rica is Jacó. This is not a surprise since it’s the gateway to the South Pacific coast of the country and just an hour and a half drive from San Jose.
For newbies, there are surfing lessons here which cost around $50 per person. Simply find a surf shop and inquire about their surfing lessons. You can also rent a paddleboard to explore all the way to Playa Blanca and Playa Mantas.
If you find the large waves intimidating, you can go for a waterfall tour instead. There are many waterfalls hidden in Jacó. One of the nearest is Bijagual, which is around 20 minutes away from downtown Jacó.
This place is also a haven for birdwatchers. As the home of the Miro Mountain, this place welcomes a range of bird species. You can spot the Scarlet Macaw, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Black Mandibuled Toucan on your apartment window!
Since Jacó is a top tourist destination, you can go around on an ATV tour.
For the ultimate beach experience, you should go to Tamarindo, a beach town in the province of Guanacaste. Since it’s on the Pacific side, this is also a favorite place of surfers. Surfboards are up for rent for as low as $20 a day.
If you don’t want the ravaging waves, you can hop on a boat ride in an estuary. You can rent a kayak or canoe here or just pay for a tour. This estuary is reachable from the beach on foot.
Aside from water activities, you can also soar in the air on a canopy zipline. If you wish, you can pay for a canopy tour where you’ll get to ride a Black Stallion around.
10. San Jose
Last but not the least, consider spending a day in San Jose. The capital is a fast-growing spot with evident influences of history and culture.
There’s no better way to end your trip than knowing more about the country’s history. You can take a museum tour in the capital by visiting the Museo Del Oro Precolombino, Museo de Los Niño, and Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.
The capital is also dotted with old churches and parks that you can visit for free.
These 10 best cities and towns in Costa Rica to visit are just some of the beautiful places you can visit in the country. Feel free to explore because this place has more gems waiting to be discovered by tourists.