Top 10 Most Famous Costa Rica Landmarks Travelers Talk About

Costa Rica was named for its rich beaches, but there is so much more to the country than miles upon miles of stunning, pristine coastline that bring millions of visitors to the connector country each and every year. The Central American gem is also home to an incredibly lush landscape that is chock full of some of the most enchanting creatures on the planet. All of this natural wonder coupled with famous Costa Rica landmarks like historic buildings and marks of civilizations past make it a perfect travel destination for both nature and history lovers alike. The country is small enough to ensure that with enough exploration and a fair amount of time, no important stop such as any of the ten we’ve put together below, should be missed.

1. Arenal Volcano National Park: The Central American country might not be the first place that people think of when it comes to lava producing mountains, however Costa Rica volcanoes are actually one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area. One National park, located just a bit northwest of San Jose, is the best place to view these awe inspiring Costa Rica landmarks. A pair of volcanic cones can be found here, with smaller Chato boasting a lagoon filled crater and larger Arenal – a previously thought dormant monster that surprised everyone with a massive eruption in 1968.

2. Monteverde Cloud Forest: Located along a mountain range and named for the nearby town of Monteverde, the 26,000 acre preserve is a wild and wonderful blend of mountain rainforest chock full of fascinating and abundant wildlife. It’s unusual sky like name might be unique amongst Costa Rica landmarks, however cloud forests are not necessarily uncommon. The name refers to a canopy dwelling low level cloud cover that is rather persistent, making the area a literal forest filled with clouds.

3. Guanacaste National Park: This northwest National Park and World Heritage site encompasses over 80,000 acres and features a rather unique history and purpose. While many natural Costa Rica landmarks include rainforests, the purpose of this part was actually to protect both a dry forest and a rain forest in order to protect the migration of animals between the two areas. There are also volcanoes found in Guanacaste, named Orosi and Cacao that are a big draw for tourists. However, it is the natural scenery and activities like hiking and animal watching that tend to bring the most travelers to the park.

4. Museo Nacional de Costa Rica: Found in capital city San Jose, the 1917 building found between Central and Second did not actually start out as a museum dedicated to Pre-Columbian and Colonial history. Prior to becoming one of the premier Costa Rica landmarks for history and art lovers alike, the structure first served as a military barracks. Artifacts found here include stone tables, a gold room, statues and cannons amongst others. A courtyard and gardens add extra delight for visitors to the museum.

5. Teatro Nacional: Although just over a century old, this theater, found in San Jose, is considered the most beautiful of all buildings in Costa Rica’s capital city. Although the outside is impressive, the inside is by far more alluring. Not only is the foyer decked out in gold trim, the elegant furnishings found throughout give the building an opulent and lavish feel. Considered historic amongst Costa Rica landmarks, the building might be etched into the city’s history, but it still in use today. Not only is it a popular tourist attraction, it still hosts performances weekly, with the symphony being amongst the more common acts.

6. Cartago City: Southeast of the capital lies Cartago, a large locale that is separated into seven different districts. There are over 150,000 people living in the ancient city, and it serves as sort of a living breathing museum. There are many Costa RIca landmarks to discover and explore here, with some of the most notable being The Basilica of Los Angeles and The Ruins of Santiago Apostle Church. Another big draw to the area is the Central Market and many cultural activities that are held at various times throughout the year.

7. Tamarindo Costa Rica: Western peninsula coast The northern Nicoya peninsula on Costa Rica’s west coast is home to this beach town that is known for it’s coastlines and surfing. In fact, there are two main breaks that draw wave riders to this coastline from all over the world. But, for those who wish to explore Costa Rica landmarks without donning an ankle strap and wetsuit, there is another reason to visit Tamarindo. Nesting turtles regularly draw eco tourists who are looking for a chance to witness this majestic process that is only possible to see in some parts of the world, including places like this Costa Rica beach.

8. Manuel Antonio National Park: western coast between peninsulas Typically, a list of the best tourist hot spots doesn’t include the smallest of anything, but this Costa Rican National Park is the exception to the rule. It might be the littlest in terms of size, however that didn’t keep it from being ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful parks in the world. It’s known for rock formations, coves and white sands amongst other things and boasts an impressive array of plants and animals, which draw nature lovers and snorkelers alike. While not the biggest of Costa Rica landmarks, Manuel Antonio continues to be a favorite delight from past travelers.

9. Corcovado National Park: lower peninsula west coast From the smallest to the largest, the biggest park in Costa Rica is situated on the country’s lower peninsula, Osa. It encompasses nearly a third of this coastal jut and includes over one hundred and sixty square miles. The park is not just well known locally, scientists from all over the world consider it to be one of the most important of all Costa RIca landmarks, thanks to the incredible biodiversity found within its borders. An immense array of plant life and hundreds upon hundreds of varied creatures await adventurous eco tourists whether they’re looking to learn more about them or just witness them in their natural environment.

10. Puerto Limon: (Costa Rica Vacations) central eastern coast For many travelers, getting to Costa Rica starts with a cruise ship. For guests aboard cruises to the Caribbean, their Costa RIca vacations begin in this east coast city, commonly referred to simply as Limon. While the landscape is simply stunning here, boasting beautiful beaches and charming towns, what might be the most unique thing about the port city is the culture. Historically, the population here was comprised of Jamaican, Chinese and Italian laborers, meaning that the area is chock full of diversity and varied traditions. What makes Limon perhaps even more important amongst Costa Rica landmarks however might be its even earlier history, when famed explorer Christopher Columbus landed here, followed by infamous pirates known the seven seas over.