Just landed in Costa Rica and still no clue what you can do in the area around San José? We’ll show you how adventurous your first two days can be, where to spend the night and where to get the best food in Part 1/3.
Where to Stay
Arriving at the airport in San José, we went directly to the north of San José, because San José itself has not much to offer. The Fraijanes are half hour away from the airport by car, in the middle of the mountains.
Arriving at night, we were warmly welcomed by the little Mini, one of five dogs on the premises. We found the Studio Loft online on Airbnb and can only warmly recommend it. The hosts showed us the beautiful terrain and even helped us to set up the SIM card. For us it was the perfect place, a place of peace and quiet, ideally located for what we had planned. Click here for more information about Studio Loft Airbnb.
What to Do
From the Fraijanes you can reach everything within an adequate time. And so we planned our excursions as follows:
Day 1) La Paz Waterfalls & Catarata Del Toro
Day 2) La Fortuna – Vulcano El Arenal & Starbucks Coffee Farm
The waterfall La Paz is located on the way to the Catarata Del Toro, about half an hour away from the Airbnb, so it makes sense to do both waterfalls in one day. La Paz is indeed very touristic and located directly next to a highway. Coaches stop there, dozens of people get out to take pictures. We recommend to go down the way to the waterfall and take a picture there. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see coatis there.
Shortly before La Paz there is also a platform from which you have a breathtaking view over the whole jungle.
There are different ways to the Catarata Del Toro. So choose your route carefully. We chose the stony off-road route, because it is much shorter. The main road takes about 1.5 hours, of course it also depends on where you stay. The Catarata Del Toro costs about 14,00 $ entrance fee per person, which is absolutely justified. Now you have a 90-minute hiking trail ahead of you. At the entrance you will be greeted by numerous hummingbirds that flash around like wild animals. At the bottom of the waterfall you realize how gigantic the waterfall is. If you think the waterfall is touristic, we can calm you down. Maybe 15 people have crossed our path. It was just breathtaking!
On the second day we really indulged ourselves. We took the liberty to make a helicopter flight above the Vulcano El Arenal in La Fortuna. So we drove about 3 hours further north to fly over the volcano El Arenal for 20 minutes. Before we did some research on prices and finally decided for Volartours, as they had the best price-performance ratio. In the lower paragraph we have linked you further providers. It was super interesting to see the volcano from a bird’s eye view and to have flown a helicopter. If you bring more time with you, you can also sign up for the 8-hour hiking tour. On the volcano area there are also some beautiful waterfalls to admire.
El Arenal is by the way one of the most active volcanoes in the world and was only exploited last year. Amazing, isn’t it?
Other helicopter providers:
If you still have some time on that day, why don’t you stop by the original first Starbucks Hacienda Coffee Farm in the world? Here you can see how coffee is roasted and enjoy a wonderful view of the plantation.
Where to eat
Just to get a little ahead of you: In Costa Rica people usually eats very early, i.e. most restaurants close already at 9 pm and are opened only in the morning or afternoon. Therefore, check the times online so that you don’t stand in front of closed doors.
Chubascos is one of the most popular brunch spots in the area. From tortillas to pancakes and delicious coffee you get everything your heart desires. The service is top and the furnishing is lovely!
In the Casona de Dona Julia you get absolutely typical food and especially breakfast from Costa Rica. The “Gallo Pinto”, consisting of rice and beans, homemade sheep cheese, egg and plantains is very hearty, but super tasty.
We hope you enjoyed and got inspired by our first days in Costa Rica. If you plan on visiting the country, you’ll also be interested in these posts: