Zipline, Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica

Central Valley

Outside the capital of San Jose the bustling city gives way to plantations, fincas, primary rainforest and ravines of a truly beautiful wilderness area.

The surrounding wild rivers, towering volcanoes and rugged highlands are an amazing outdoor adventure playground where you can pit your wits against Mother Nature by hiking, zip-lining, mountain-biking, rafting, canyoning and kayaking.

The area is also about how the land is managed. Coffee growing is a very important activity in the Central Valley and you can visit plantations to learn about production.

San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica

Explore San Jose

Most visits to Costa Rica start and finish in San Jose, located in the middle of the Central Valley, surrounded by high mountains. With a reputation of being a chaotic and lively place, often congested by heavy traffic, most visitors overlook San Jose as a destination. However, many sites of interest are conveniently located in the compact centre and are easily visited on foot and there are a huge number of excellent eateries to discover. San Jose has also seen somewhat of a renaissance of the last few years and a culinary revolution. Eclectic and fine dining options have sprung up in barrios across the city centre, Promising young cooks to Michelin-starred chefs have opened restaurants, serving everything from traditional Costa Rican dishes to Argentine Steak and mouth-watering tapas.

Teatro Nacional de Noche. San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica

Explore the Museums

There are a handful of interesting museums and cultural centres providing a satisfying insight into the country’s culture and history. The Jade Museum contains the largest collection of jade artefacts in the Americas, the National Museum is interestingly housed in the converted barracks of Bellavista Fortress that still bears the scars of the 1948 civil war. The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design specialises in Central American Art with some international exhibitors. And the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum hosts a fascinating collection of exhibits that chart a move away from a Maya influence.

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica
Poas Volcano, Costa Rica

Our Specialists' "Must Do"

Three great highlights can be visited in just one day within the Central Valley. Walk up to the crater of mighty Poas volcano, to see the bubbling green sulphuric “soup” of the world’s largest active crater-lake. Follow this with a visit to Doka Coffee Plantation for a “Seed to Cup” tour and end at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you will be introduced to the amazing bio-diversity of this country, including many of the animal, bird, insect and plant species that you will hope to see during your onward journey around Costa Rica.

Experiences

What do you really love doing? We curate your itinerary especially for you.

Turrialba Volcano

Turrialba Volcano

Hike up active Turrialba Volcano or its lively neighbour, Irazu, known locally as “The Colossus”.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Teatro Nacional de Noche. San Jose, Costa Rica

Visit the National Theatre

Spend an evening at the National Theatre of Costa Rica.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rafting rapids, Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica

White-Water Rafting

Experience exhilarating white water rafting along the Pacuare River.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Costa Rica holiday ideas.

Our Costa Rica experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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  • 01285 880 980

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

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  • 01285 880 980

John Faithfull

Costa Rica is simply the best spot in Central America for nature lovers, and is always John’s top recommendation for those wishing to hike, swim, zip, raft, ride or float through outstanding scenery and rich biodiversity.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 880 980

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