Costa Rica's unique culture shifts depending on where you are in the country. Bustling San José, for example, is filled with vibrant energy, beloved neighborhoods, and endless museums and heritage sites. In contrast, Costa Rica's countryside abounds with humble hamlets, sugar cane plantations, organic coffee farms, and haciendas, family-owned ranches.
If you're looking for unique experiences in Costa Rica, adding cultural excursions is a good way to diversify a trip filled with typical outdoor expeditions or nature-focused activities. Meet with locals, learn their daily patterns of life, discover traditional cooking techniques, and go beyond rainforests and white-sand beaches to dive deep into Costa Rican culture.
Towns & Cities
All eyes are usually on Costa Rica's wildlife, rainforests, and active adventures. But while experiencing the thrills of the country, why not stop in a city or village? You can visit museums, peruse heritage sites, chat with locals in their communities, and learn a bit more about what makes the country so unique.
San José City Tour
Although many travelers skip San José, the country's capital is worth a day of exploration. From east to west, you'll traverse the city in search of vibrant neighborhoods, historic landmarks, impressive monuments, and cultural experiences. Some highlights include the beloved communities of Pavas and Los Yoses, plus the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, La Sabana Metropolitan Park, and the National Theater. Read More
Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour & Guaitil Artisanal Village
To reach Guaitil, a beloved artisanal village, you'll take a boat down the Tempisque River, where white-faced capuchin monkeys swing from the tree branches, and caimans and the occasional crocodile patrol the waters. Enjoy spotting wildlife, including an abundance of exotic bird species. Then, in Guaitil, learn about handcrafted pottery, an artisan skill that has been passed down for generations. Read More
Food & Drink
One of the best ways to discover a country's culture is through your tastebuds. Traditional gastronomy offers a unique look into the history and culture of a place—plus, you get to taste delicious concoctions!
Traditional Cooking Class & Dinner
Dive into Costa Rican culture by experiencing its gastronomy, which—contrary to popular belief—is much more than rice, beans, and chicken. Start with a lesson about how Costa Ricans achieve farm-to-table nourishment, a staple of the country's gastronomy. Then, after learning how to whip up a tasty cocktail, sip your beverage, and enjoy a hands-on experience preparing traditional recipes, including picadillos, tortillas, and guisados, all with a local chef. Read More
Coffee, Chocolate & Sugar Cane Tour in Monteverde
Enjoy an interactive experience learning how to craft three of Costa Rica's most beloved culinary treasures and important exports: coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane. During this tour in Monteverde, you'll interact with the entire coffee-making process, from bean to brew. Then, visit the chocolate processing facilities for a delicious experience, followed by learning how to extract sugar cane juice using a traditional press. Read More
Chocolate Tour in Arenal
This hands-on experience teaches you all about the process behind organic Costa Rican chocolate. During this interactive tour, you’ll learn about the origins of chocolate in Costa Rica. You'll see how cacao is harvested, learn about traditional Costa Rican chocolate drinks, and, of course, sample freshly made chocolate. Read More
Wetlands Boat Ride & Rum Tasting at Hacienda El Viejo
Enjoy a visit to a family-owned hacienda (or ranch) just northeast of Tamarindo Bay, where you'll explore private wetlands teeming with wildlife and learn about the Guanacaste region's culture and traditions. Then, head to the ranch's distillery and learn about the fermentation and distillation processes, followed by a tour of the Rickhouse, where the rum is aged in beautiful oak barrels to improve the taste. End the experience with a delicious cocktail! Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Cultural Itinerary in Costa Rica
You can easily combine the typical Costa Rican adventures—like wildlife spotting, surfing, and hiking through national parks—with cultural experiences. For example, many travelers fly in and out of San José, so you may want to reserve a day or two at the beginning or end of your trip to explore the capital city.
Some of the most popular regions in Costa Rica offer cultural experiences, too. So although you may want to ride zip lines or hike through the cloud forests in Monteverde, you can also tour coffee farms and interact with the locals. But how many days you spend in Costa Rica depends a bit on how you want to combine these experiences and regions.
Give yourself at least one week to enjoy both outdoor adventures and cultural highlights. However, two weeks in Costa Rica may be a better bet, as more time will allow you to visit additional regions, which means more cultural opportunities.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include cultural experiences in Costa Rica: