Things to do in Cartago Province, Costa Rica

Our most recommended things to do in Cartago Province, Costa Rica

San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

1. San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

Start with a pickup from your hotel and travel by minibus along the Panamerican Highway until you reach the base of the Irazú Volcano. Travel up the winding road through fertile farmlands where many types of fruit and vegetables are cultivated.  Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. At the summit of the volcano, on a clear day, marvel at the spectacular view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Next, descend to the city of Cartago and stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica. Discover this local pilgrimage site which has large vaulted ceilings and exquisite examples of stained glass windows.  Continue the tour through the Orosi Valley, an area of magnificent natural beauty. Visit one of the few remaining colonial churches in the region and stop for a tasty typical lunch at one of the local restaurants. Finally, be returned to your hotel to complete the tour.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

2. From San Jose: Irazu Volcano Crater Hike and Cartago Trip

Depart from San Jose to discover the highest volcano in Costa Rica. Enjoy a trek through breathtaking scenery to reach the summit of Irazu Volcano and gaze into the emerald lagoon in its crater. Descend from the peak to explore the city of Cartago and enter the Basilica. Get picked up from your accommodations in San Jose and meet your friendly guide and group for the day. Leave the city behind as you travel to the Cartago Province. Arrive at Irazu Volcano and begin the easy hike up to the summit. Pass by all types of vegetation including coffee plantations and ferns as you ascend. Take a deep breath as you make it to the summit and be blown away by spectacular views of the massive crater. Wonder at the green lagoon beneath you and on a clear day enjoy views across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Climb down the rocky trail to the historic city of Cartago, a former capital of Costa Rica. Enter the famous pilgrim site of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and wander under the large vaulted ceilings before returning to San Jose.

San Jose: City Tour by Night

3. San Jose: City Tour by Night

Learn about the rich culture and history of Costa Rica on a guided tour of the city of San Jose by night. Start the tour with pickup from your hotel and travel to La Sabana Park where you will meet your guide. Here, get an overview of the history of Costa Rica's capital city. Learn about the history and current political climate of Costa Rica as you wander through the city with your guide. Stop outside sites of historical interest such as the National Theater, a monument built in 1897 known as "the Jewel of San Jose." See the Costa Rican Gold Museum, several national embassies, the National Stadium, and the University of Costa Rica. At the end of the tour, enjoy a delicious traditional dinner in one of the most fashionable areas of the city.

San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

4. San José: Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes with Guayabo Tour

After getting picked up at your hotel, head to the Irazú Volcano National Park where you can admire and even enter the crater of the highest volcano in the country. You will also be able to experience the unique miniature fauna and flora of Paramo, a tropical dwarf forest nestled in the highlands. Afterward, take the back road to Turrialba Volcano. Here, visit the "Central Town" located at the foot of the volcano. Enjoy time to explore and take some photos of the eerily abandoned town, still filled with farmhouses and buildings. Next, stop for dinner at a family-run grill house for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Finally, before beginning the drive back to San José visit the Archaeological Site of Guayabo, declared a Civil Engineering World Heritage landmark and the most important milestone of pre-Hispanic culture in the country.

San Jose: Sloth and Wildlife Rescue Center Tour

5. San Jose: Sloth and Wildlife Rescue Center Tour

This private tour is rich with the individual stories of rescued wildlife, including those of a large variety of parrots, macaws, owls, sloths, spider monkeys, and more. The experience offers guests insight into the significance of conservation, as well as facts about rainforest wildlife and what it means to run a wildlife rescue center. Departing from San Jose or nearby provinces, visit an animal rescue center that specializes in rehabilitating injured sloths and learn everything about these amazing animals. The Toucan Rescue Ranch’s (TRR) mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and then release Costa Rican wildlife. TRR works with a model that focuses on conservation, education, and research to ensure a brighter tomorrow for native wildlife.

From San Jose: Irazu Volcano & Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs

6. From San Jose: Irazu Volcano & Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs

Visit a variety of Costa Rican highlights on a single tour leaving from San Jose. Travel to Irazu Volcano National Park, Orosi Basilica, Orosi Valley, and Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs. Make the most of a single day by visiting multiple stops and seeing several iconic Costa Rican sites. Embark from San Jose along the South Panamerican Highway, to start ascending the large Irazu Volcano. Zip along the winding road as it travels through fertile lands cultivated with all kinds of vegetables and observe lovely panoramic views of the farmland. Travel to the top of the volcano, where a number of its volcanic craters can be seen if the weather is clear, and see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Descend the volcano and move on to the city of Cartago, and enjoy a stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica, a peregrination site for many believers. Move on to La Hacienda Orosi, surrounded by beautiful rainforest and lush vegetation, and visit the hot springs, where the land has been gifted with hypothermal mineral water, filtered between layers of the earth, and warmed to nearly 65 degrees Celsius, with properties to stimulate the senses and enrich the skin.

From San Jose: Orosi Valley & Lankester Garden Day Tour

7. From San Jose: Orosi Valley & Lankester Garden Day Tour

Take a day trip out of San Jose and into the charms of the Orosi Valley with an experienced guide. Admire over 800 species of orchids and other flowers at the Lankester Gardens, check out a colonial-era church, and enjoy a tasty lunch at a countryside restaurant. Be picked up at your San Jose hotel and enjoy the winding ride into Costa Rica's hills. Cruise past coffee plantations and fields of waving sugar cane, and take in views of distant mountains. Reach the grounds of the Lankester Botanical Gardens, where botanists have cultivated some of the country's finest plants and flowers since 1973. Stroll gravel paths flanked by cacti and other succulents, look for sloths in treetop hideouts, and save plenty of time to examine the delicate petals of over 800 species of orchids spread out over the garden's 26-acre grounds. Head into the town of Orosi after your floral foray, and get up-close looks at the 18th-century Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, whose white facade traces its origins back to Spanish colonialists. Chat about the area's history over lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then hop back on your shuttle for the scenic ride back to San Jose.

San José: VIP City Tour

8. San José: VIP City Tour

Get to know the culture and character of San José on an immersive bus tour of the city’s highlights. Taking you from your hotel and past the National Theater, Democracy Plaza and Central Market, you’ll witness an on-board folk music performance and learn about Costa Rica’s history and evolution. Starting at your hotel, the tour will take you into downtown San José, which you’ll be able to admire from the top deck as you ride. As an introduction to the city’s key sights, you’ll take a guided walk past the cherished National Theater, Central Market and Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Back on board, you’ll be treated to a traditional folk music performance before stopping to enjoy local Costa Rican cuisine for lunch.  As you pass the National Monument, which commemorates Central America’s victory over the US Filibusters, your guide will teach you about the history of Costa Rica and its evolving national identity. Your final stop will be at Plaza de la Democracia, built in 1989 to commemorate a century of Costa Rican democracy, before the tour takes you back through San José’s bustling streets to your hotel.

San José: Guided City Tour

9. San José: Guided City Tour

Explore San José on a guided full-day tour. Travel around the capital city in an air-conditioned bus and learn about its culture and history from your guide. Along the way, see popular attractions like La Sabana Park, the National Theater, and much more. Start your tour with a convenient pickup from your hotel and set out to discover the cosmopolitan urban center in the heart of Costa Rica. Begin with a drive through La Sabana Metropolitan Park. Considered the lungs of the city, this park is the largest and most significant urban park in Costa Rica. From here, you'll travel to the National Theater of Costa Rica. Embark on a walking tour of this sight, one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. Completed in 1897, the theater is a masterpiece in art and architecture and boasts exquisite interiors with lavish furnishings. Next, visit the Gold Museum before heading to the San José Central Market. Spend some time exploring the bustling market and wandering up and down its narrow lanes before heading to your next stop, the Metropolitan Cathedral of San José. Other highlights of this city tour include the University of Costa Rica, the Supreme Court of Justice, and other popular attractions. Enjoy a complimentary snack as you travel and feel free to purchase something to eat at one of the stops along the tour. Before your tour comes to an end, make one last stop at a wonderful store filled with Costa Rican art and crafts, the ideal spot to purchase a souvenir of your visit to San José. 

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What people are saying about Cartago Province, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 63 reviews

Great tour!! Really interesting and fantastic sights. Frazier our kind was amazing. He made the trip interesting and so much fun. Our group insisted we go with him on the next trip. Dont miss it!!

This excursion was amazing. The lunch they provided was the best lunch I had all trip. The guide was informative and polite.

Tour guides were very friendly and knowledgeable. We enjoyed the tour and definitely recommend them.

Irazu Volcano was really windy and cold, but we were able to see the crater perfectly.

Our tour guide was beyond amazing. She was stellar.