Whether volunteering, interning, or studying Spanish in San Jose, you can´t miss out on the beauty of Costa Rica. You put so much effort into helping develop the community and yourselves, so you deserve a break! Here are the top 5 weekend getaways from the bustling city of San Jose.
Remember to check our adventure & culture programs with all the must-see and do in Costa Rica.
Volcan Arenal & Tabacon Hot Springs
Volcan Arenal is located in La Fortuna. It is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano, towering over 5,000 feet in the sky. It was an active volcano up until 2011, but you can still experience its heated power at any of the surrounding, natural hot springs. Green jungles surround this spectacular site and the canopy ziplines give you a perfect view of the picture perfect landscape as you glide over the tallest trees. Other adventures include waterfall rappelling, hiking, hanging bridges, horseback riding, and so much more.
Distance from San Jose: 4 hours
On the Cheap: Head to the 7-10 Terminal in downtown San Jose. Buses leave daily at 6:15am, 8:40am, and 11:50am. Get there 30 minutes before desired departure. A one-way ticket costs approximately $8. From La Fortuna, you will likely need to take a taxi to your hotel. Expect to pay about $18, for a total cost of $26.
Comfort: You can book a shared shuttle from SJO airport to La Fortuna for $54, or from your location in San Jose City for $110, one-way. Pricey, but you get the privacy, comfort, and direct service you desire.
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is one of the most unique parks in all of Costa Rica. Unlike other parks which trail through the jungle, Tortuguero is best seen from the water. Fresh water meets the sea via canals, lagoons, and wetlands, and makes for exceptional biodiversity. Turtle nesting along the beach takes place at different times depending on the turtle; Hawksbill Turtles nest between May and November, Leatherback Turtles between March and July, and Green Turtles from July to October.
Distance from San Jose: 6 hours
On the Cheap: Head to the El Caribe Bus Terminal in downtown San Jose, destination: Cariari. Buses depart at 6:30am, 9:00am, 9:30am, or 10:00am. At Cariari, head to La Pavona on the 9:00am or 11:00am bus. From La Pavona you will have to take a boat to Tortuguero; boats depart at 11:00am and 1:00pm. Total cost for all three transports should not exceed $20/$25.
Comfort: During high season, December-April, flights depart daily from SJO at 6:50am and 2:10pm. Flights range from $100-$185 one-way depending on the season.
Sarapiqui river rafting offers Class II, III, and IV rafting trips. You’ll be surrounded by rainforests and a variety of plants and animals as you navigate the rapids. You’ll also enjoy views of the mountains and beautiful waterfalls. An extended stay will allow you to enjoy canopy ziplining, reforestation, and sustainable agricultural practices.
Distance from San Jose: 2 hours
On the Cheap: Head to El Caribe in downtown San Jose; destination Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui; $5
Comfort: $169 for a shuttle up to 8 people
Manuel Antonio National Park
One of the most famous national parks in Costa Rica happens to also be the smallest. However, the selling point lies in the secluded white sand beaches, warm clear Pacific waters, and activities for all personalities. From surf lessons to ziplining, hanging with white faced capuchin monkeys and enjoying a boozy catamaran tour, there´s nothing you can´t do. Aside from the typical Costa Rican meals, you can find a variety of dining options which include BBQ, Italian fare, sushi, kebabs, and more.
Distance from San Jose: 3 hours
On the Cheap: Frequent buses leave the Tracopa bus station in downtown San Jose, catch a direct bus to Manuel Antonio for $9/$10
Comfort: Shared shuttles from San Jose are $50 per person and depart at 5:00am, 9:30am, and 3:00pm. Private shuttles cost $169 for up to 2 people, and depart at your preferred hour.
Coffee Tour & Chocolate Tasting
If you want to learn about the rich coffee and cocoa grown in Costa Rica, take a trip to Heredia for Cafe Britt. Learn about the coffee farming process, while on a luxury vacation where you can enjoy being surrounded by nature, relax in lavish comfort, and indulge in a variety of freshly brewed coffees and delectable chocolates.
Distance from San Jose: 1 hour
On the Cheap: From the San Jose Terminal, take the 400 BS Heredia bus to Auto Respuestos; buses have individual tariffs. Approx: $2/$3 total.
Comfort: Private taxi; prices range between $20 and $30.