Costa Rica is a beautiful place for those who enjoy action and adventure. Nature hikes and national parks are available in addition to sunbathing, hiking, and bird-watching. It’s also a great place for nature lovers especially when they are residing in the Northern Plains or along the Caribbean coast.
However, nothing comes without a price. Therefore, a self-guided walking tour is a low-cost way to experience Costa Rica’s breathtakingly diverse landscape.
It’s nearly as simple as avoiding the hotel tour desk touts and going off the beaten path to find free things to do in Costa Rica. In this article, we will be sharing some of the free and cheapest things you can do during your trip to Costa Rica.
1. Take a self-guided tour (Walk Around)
If you want a free tour, what better way you can have it than a self-guided tour? It’s free!! All you have to do is take your phone, open Google Maps, look at the locations and simply walk around at your favorite places. A 4WD radio tower service road leads to the summit of Cerro de Los Amigos. When the weather is clear, the views over the lake and to Arenal Volcano are spectacular. Visit hammock shops and souvenir stands in tourist towns for a fun way to spend an afternoon. You can also find wildlife on side roads.
2. Take self-guided treks
Self-guided treks are completely possible in Costa Rica if you rent a car. Having a guide is also the ideal option if you want to see wildlife. It’s worthwhile to go for a walk wherever you are. Like for example, you’ll be charged $60 for a guided tour of “Manuel Antonio National Park” which includes transportation, a guide, and a park. What you can do is, go on your own and only pay for the ticket. Certain paths do not charge an admission fee in the national park. For more information on hiring guides, visit Costa Rica hiking Facebook page.
3. Visit National Parks
Visiting national parks is one of the greatest affordable things to do in Costa Rica, with over 20 parks to choose from. The cost of admission varies for every park, ranging from free to slightly under USD 20 per person. As per our research, we have studied and listed down the prices of some of the parks for you to have a cheap or free visit to the park.
- Cahuita National Park (it’s free)
- Tenorio Volcano National Park (Rio Celeste costs $12).
- The “Rincon de la Vieja” National Park (price $15).
- Marino Ballena National Park (price $6).
- Arenal Volcano National Park (price $15).
- Irazu Volcano National Park (price $15).
4. Take a visit to the Museums
The Jade Museum is, in our opinion, Costa Rica’s best museum and it costs $15 as an entrance. The National Theater is also an excellent spot to go. There are numerous excellent museums to visit in San Jose. You could even make a day of it by visiting all of them. If you are visiting, this is also a terrific rainy day activity. The Gold Museum is a great place to start. The Gold Museum entrance costs $11, and The National Museum entrance is $9 respectively. They are all worth visiting.
5. Dip into the hot springs
There are various hot springs in La Fortuna that are quite pricey. We prefer the ones frequented by locals because they are less expensive, but if you want the ultimate local bargain, go to the free natural hot spring. Simply park your car near Tabacon Spa on the side of the road. If you park your car at the side of the road, someone will most likely offer to watch your car for a fee. It’s only a short stroll down a hill to the river’s edge. Because there are some wet areas, we recommend wearing water shoes like Keens in the natural hot spring.
6. Check out some Waterfalls
Many of Costa Rica’s waterfalls are on private property, so landlords demand a minimal entrance fee. A trip to “Nauyaca waterfalls” in Dominical costs $9, “Catarata Del Toro” costs $14, and “Montezuma Waterfall” costs $2 to park. Another suggestion is to look into the hotel you’re staying at because some feature a waterfall on the premises. The “Arenal Observatory Lodge” and “Oxygen Jungle Villas” in Uvita are some examples. Along the road, numerous little markets are selling fresh fruits and cheeses. It feels as if you’re in Switzerland. It’s stunning.