While known more as a metropolis jungle adorned with Spanish architecture, historic monuments, charming museums, and eye-catching plazas, San José offers a robust selection for outdoor travel. Take advantage of Costa Rica’s tropical climate and go beyond the capital city’s bustling cobblestone streets for a unique outdoor travel excursion. Excite your senses discovering trails, mountains, and lush green canopies throughout the Central Valley and enjoy some of San José’s best-kept secrets.
Photograph stunning butterflies
Visit a butterfly haven right within the city at the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden. Conveniently located for visitors staying downtown, this green sanctuary offers a garden-park setting that transports you beyond San José’s metropolis. Be prepared to see brightly-colored wings quickly fluttering past you, including the vibrant blue morpho, and be on the lookout for all the other hidden creatures that reside in the garden.
Take a bike tour
Surrounded by nature, the Central Valley is one of the best places to explore in Costa Rica. If you love biking, the Central Valley’s biking options range from mountain biking to cross-country rides around the outskirts of San José. Stay safe on the road and book a day tour with an expert guide to make the most out of this adventure.
Venture through the rainforest
Head near Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo and hop on an aerial tram tour through the Costa Rican rainforest. These gondolas ride smoothly across 2.6 kilometers of private reserve at the border of the national park, and include a naturalist guide. At a more relaxed speed than canopying, this activity offers the opportunity to spot wildlife and learn about the local flora. If the tram ride leaves you yearning for more nature, take advantage of one of the many hikes available in the park.
Play in Costa Rica’s largest urban park
Join the fun at Parque Metropolitano La Sabana and pick up a game of soccer, rent a boat on the lake, or go for a run along one of the many jogging trails. The park is known to be San José locals’ favorite action-filled gem. Whether you want to play hockey, football, or basketball; have a picnic or exercise on the meadow; or test how much of the park you can explore in a day, La Sabana is sure to be a memorable part of your San José getaway.
Explore a massive waterfall garden
Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens for a family friendly outdoor travel excursion. Rent a car or arrange a pick up from your hotel and discover over 3.5 kilometers of nature trails weaving through the cloud forest. With five waterfalls, a trout lake, bird watching, and other fauna exhibits, a self-guided tour through this eco-park is a must.
Take a thrilling volcano expedition
For an adrenaline boost, take day trips to Costa Rica’s active volcanoes: Poas and Irazú. Both gems are reasonably close to the city (albeit in opposite directions) and offer easy crater access. The tallest of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, Irazú’s thrilling height and vast depth is a favorite amongst visitors and locals alike.
For families and mobile-impaired travelers seeking a less strenuous adventure, Poas is an ideal choice. Featuring a light hike along a flat, paved path and a one-hour commute from the city, Poas is an easy yet rewarding outdoor travel expedition.
Between its parks, gardens, and bikeable terrain, San José is a mecca for outdoor travel enthusiasts. So after soaking up all the cultural amenities around this capital city, be sure to get outside and enjoy the unrivaled beauty of San José.
Get out and get going—and most of all, get excited. Plan your trip to San Jose today, or find more trip ideas and outdoor travel destinations.