Top things to do

Top Choice Notable Building in San José

Teatro Nacional

On the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura resides the Teatro Nacional, San José’s most revered building. Constructed in 1897, it features a columned neoclassical facade that is flanked by statues of Beethoven …
Top Choice European in San José

Park Café

At this felicitous fusion of antique shop and French restaurant, Michelin-starred chef Richard Neat offers an exquisite degustation menu featuring smaller sampling plates (Spanish tapas–style) and a carefully curate…
Top Choice Wildlife Reserve in Reserva Santa Elena

Reserva Santa Elena

The exquisitely misty 310-hectare Reserva Santa Elena offers a completely different cloud forest experience to Monteverde. Cutting through the veiled forest, the 10km of dewy trails see much less traffic, retaining …
Top Choice Steak in La Fortuna

Benedictus Steakhouse

Turn off the highway and drive about 1km up a steep, rough dirt road to arrive at this spectacularly situated steak house (tricky to find in the dark, so arrive before the sun goes down). You’ll be rewarded with a g…
Top Choice Waterfall in Tilarán

Viento Fresco

Driving between Monteverde and Arenal, there is no good excuse for skipping this stop. Viento Fresco is a series of five cascades, including the spectacular Arco Iris (Rainbow Falls), which drops 75m into a refreshi…
Top Choice Museum in San José

Museo de Jade

Reopened in its brand-new home in mid-2014, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of American jade (pronounced ‘ha-day’ in Spanish). The ample new exhibition space (five floors offer six exhibits) allows…
Top Choice National Park in Parque Nacional Isla del Coco

Parque Nacional Isla del Coco

Remember the opening shot of Jurassic Park, where the helicopter sweeps over the sea to a jungle-clad, mountainous island? That was here. Around 500km southwest of the Costa Rica mainland, Isla del Coco is a pristin…
Top Choice International in Nuevo Arenal

Gingerbread Hotel & Restaurant

Don’t miss the chance to eat at one of the best restaurants in northwestern Costa Rica. Chef Eyal is the larger-than-life, New York–trained Israeli chef who turns out transcendent meals from the freshest local fare.…
Top Choice Italian in Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva

La Pecora Nera

If you splurge for a single fancy meal during your trip, do it at this romantic eatery run by Ilario Giannoni. On a lovely, candlelit patio, deftly prepared Italian seafood and pasta dishes are served alongside unus…
Top Choice Gardens in Parque Nacional Volcán Poás

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This storybook garden complex just east of Volcán Poás offers the most enchanting day trip in the Central Valley. Guests walk 3.5km of trails to five scenic waterfalls, and can also wander around a butterfly conserv…