Costa Rica is a country rife with beautiful, natural sights and cultural wonders thousands of years old. Seeing all the most famous Costa Rica landmarks would take a lifetime, so we’ve gathered 12 of our favorites.
If you want to get the most out of a Costa Rica vacation, speak with a Fora Advisor for pro travel recommendations and free hotel perks. Advisors can help you see the top Costa Rica landmarks while also scoring you upgraded rooms and other benefits, all for the same price as booking by yourself.
Part I: Natural Costa Rica landmarks
1. Arenal Volcano & the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano was the country’s most active volcano from 1968 until the early 2010s. It’s now dormant, but still an amazing sight. The imposing conical volcano is surrounded by a verdant forest teeming with some of the richest biodiversity in the world.
Here, you’ll find many upscale Costa Rica jungle resorts — including one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica for couples — and many attractions built within the volcano’s shadow. The hanging bridges are especially worth visiting. From the safety of canopy-level bridges, travelers can observe a wow-inducing variety of species in their natural habitat.
Chat with a Fora travel advisor to learn about the best places to visit near Arenal like the top Costa Rica adventure resorts (and if you’re looking for things to do, check out our family-friendly Costa Rica itinerary).
2. Poas Crater and Irazú Volcano
For more adventure in northern Costa Rica, consider visiting the twin volcanoes Poas and Irazú.
At Poas, the devastating aftermath of a 1960s eruption is still visible in the surrounding treeline, a feature that’s only accentuated by the lake-filled crater found at the epicenter. Irazú Volcano National Park is just as lush as Arenal, but the park’s high elevation is accompanied by a frigid climate. And,on clear days, both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are visible from Irazú’s summit.
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Between the Papagayo Gulf and San José, you’ll find one of the stranger landmarks in Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Here, high elevations and other geographical factors contribute to perpetual cloud cover for a result that’s as eerie as it is breathtaking.
Even in a country known for its diverse flora and fauna, the reserve at Monteverde especially stands out as a habitat to a particularly impressive number of species.
Monteverde, the town, is also one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica if you enjoy nature. Plus, its proximity to Papagayo makes it an excellent pitstop for a Costa Rica girls’ trip (or maybe a Costa Rica bachelorette party). Connect with a Fora Advisor for the inside scoop on top hotels and attractions (like the best of Nosara) in both areas.
4. Costa Rica national parks like Corcovado and Manuel Antonio
Beyond Monteverde and the volcano parks, Costa Rica is filled with picturesque national parks dedicated to protecting the country’s abundant wildlife. Simply put, there are too many to list here, but a couple stand out:
For an off-the-grid escape to the Osa Peninsula, check out Corcovado National Park. When visiting the Osa Peninsula you’ll be greeted with mangrove swamps, vibrant jungles and scenic beaches.
About an hour south of Jacó, on the Pacific coast, you’ll find Manuel Antonio National Park. Here, hiking through the jungle is matched only by exploring the coral reefs located just offshore — Costa Rican landmarks in their own right.
5. The waterfalls at La Fortuna & La Paz
Costa Rica’s most scenic landmarks may be its waterfalls. Like the country’s national parks, there are too many waterfalls for any one list, but two areas stand out: La Fortuna and La Paz.
Both areas provide tours, but self-guided hikes are allowed as well. A Costa Rica travel advisor can give you the lowdown on which waterfalls to visit based on your preferences and abilities.
Part II: cultural Costa Rica landmarks
6. The National Theater of Costa Rica
Ever since the National Theater of Costa Rica in San José opened its doors in 1897, it’s maintained a strict standard for quality performances. There’s no better place to visit if you want a taste of refined nightlife in Costa Rica.
Comparable to The Palace of Fine Arts (one of the top landmarks in Mexico City), Costa Rica’s National Theater hosts both local and foreign acts ranging from operatic performances to ballets and more.
7. The Diquís Spheres
Arguably some of the strangest Costa Rica landmarks, the Diquís Spheres are a series of near-perfect stone spheres found throughout the Diquís Delta region near the border with Panama. Little is known about the spheres, but they likely originated from the Indigenous Diquís culture that existed between 700 and 1530 CE.
A Fora Advisor can help you plan your trip to the archeological sites that allow guests. And don’t forget, booking with an advisor can score awesome hotel perks and upgrades for you, too!
8. The National Museum of Costa Rica
A unique architectural style makes the former Bellavista Fortress one of the more striking and famous landmarks in Costa Rica — along with the fact that it’s riddled with bullet holes from the 1948 Civil War.
Today, the San José fortress is home to the National Museum of Costa Rica, which showcases the country’s natural and cultural progression from Pre-Columbian times to the present.
Visit all the top Costa Rica landmarks with the help of a Fora Advisor
The best way to see Costa Rica’s most famous landmarks is to plan your trip with a Fora Advisor. Not only can they deliver the inside scoop on the best spots to visit, advisors can also hook you up with perks at the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica for families, couples — you name it.