Northern Zone

Home to the World Famous Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Cloud forest & More!

Free Travel Guide
CostaRica.Org

Northern Costa Rica

In Northern Costa Rica you’ll find vast countryside, miles of rice and sugarcane plantations, cattle pastures and authentic cowboys. The Northern Zone is the agricultural center of Costa Rica where the fields and plantations outnumber the people. Although the population density is lower in the Northern Zone than other regions in Costa Rica, you’ll still find a lot of people and activity in La Fortuna, The Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde and Sarapiquí. 

Northern Costa Rica is best for nature lovers looking for incredible hiking, birding, wildlife spotting and adventure tours in the rainforest. Although you won’t find any beaches, you’ll find incredible spas around the Arenal Volcano and thousands of tropical plants and animals in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. You’ll forget about the beach and become fully immersed in nature while you vacation in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica.

Top Destinations

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano SunsetThe Arenal Volcano is, by far, one of the most beautiful locations in Costa Rica. It hasn’t been active since 2010, but smoke can still be seen on a clear day. The magnificent volcano towers over the 30,000 acre Arenal Volcano National Park and Lake Arenal. Hiking, white water rafting, canyoning, zip lining and soaking in geothermal hot springs are just a few of the activities you can enjoy in Arenal. 

Monteverde Cloud Forest 

Monteverde Sky WalkThe Monteverde Cloud Forest is THE eco-tourism destination in Costa Rica. With three separate nature reserves protecting the beautiful forests, there is an unlimited amount of hiking available in addition to birding and wildlife observing. You also have the opportunity to see the gorgeous canopy from above on hanging bridges or from a zip line. Other popular tours include ecological night walks, coffee and chocolate tours and scenic ATV tours. 

Sarapiquí 

Sarapiqui RaftingSarapiquí is famous for its incredible biodiversity and amazing nature reserves. Here you’ll find the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the endangered Green Macaw. It is also produces bananas thanks to the large rivers that flow through it. While you hike, white water raft or visit a nature reserve you’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica. Maybe you will even spot the Green Macaw! 

Facts

Northern Zone Tours

Kayaking on Lake ArenalNature lovers and adrenaline junkies will love the wide variety of tours offered throughout Northern Costa Rica. With endless tropical forest available you’ll find nature walks and hikes, birding tours and wildlife reserves. Travelers seeking adventure will be pleased with all the zip lines, canyoning, kayaking and white water rafting throughout the area. You’ll also find coffee tours and geothermal hot springs to relax in after a long day of nature and adventure tours. 

Northern Zone Weather

Monteverde ForestCosta Rica is home to 12 different climate zones, many of them in the Northern Zone.The weather tends to vary a lot, especially between Arenal and Monteverde. Monteverde is cooler and wetter than other parts of Costa Rica, which also makes the vegetation pop with color. Arenal on the other hand, is a bit warmer all year round. Temperatures are usually in the 70s. The dry season in Arenal is January-March and January-April in Monteverde. 

Northern Zone Nature

Spider monkeyThere is so much biodiversity in the Northern Zone that eco-tourists are likely to be overwhelmed. Northern Costa Rica is home to volcanos, tropical rain forests, cloud forests, rivers, nature reserves and thousands of animal and plant species. For example, in Monteverde there are 755 species of trees and over 400 species of birds. Go on a guided tour through any of the forests and you’ll see snakes, spiders, sloths monkeys and more! 

Northern Zone Culture

Santa Elena Reserve Tour AnimalThe culture across the Northern Zone varies almost as much as the climate. While the majority of the land is based on agriculture, you’ll also find a strong culture of conservation. As tourism in the region grows, Costa Rica works hard to develop new and modern ways to conserve and maintain the flora and fauna of the Northern region. It is one of the most biodiverse areas in the entire world and Costa Ricans are determined to keep it that way while still welcoming tourists with open arms. 

Getting There

International Airports: Daniel Oduber (LIR) and Juan Santamaria (SJO)

Costa Rica ShuttlesThere are many different ways to get to the Northern Zone of Costa Rica. Depending on your destination, either of the International Airports could serve you well. From there you can rent a car or take a shuttle or private transfer. The roads to Monteverde aren’t as developed as the roads to Arenal so be aware of that if you plan to rent a car. Talk to one of our expert Travel Agents today to talk Northern zone transportation on your next Costa Rica vacation! 

Map of Costa Rica’s Northern Zone

Costa Rica's Northern Zone Map

Northern Zone - Get Info

Northern Zone Map

CostaRica.org
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Northern Zone

Northern Zone

The cloud forests of Monteverde attract nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive quetzal. This is cowboy country and a great place fo...

Northern Zone Vacation Packages

Extended Costa Rica Highlights

Extended Costa Rica Highlights

20
SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Best of Costa Rica – All Inclusive

Best of Costa Rica – All Inclusive

LIR
$1000-$1500 p.p.
Birding in Costa Rica’s Top Three Destinations

Birding in Costa Rica’s Top Three Destinations

SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Best of Birding

Best of Birding

8
SJO
$1500-$2000 p.p.
Active Family Adventure – Family Vacation to Costa Rica

Active Family Adventure – Family Vacation to Costa Rica

7
SJO
Less than $1000 p.p.
Costa Rica’s Top Three Destinations

Costa Rica’s Top Three Destinations

SJO
$1500-$2000 p.p.
Costa Rica Classic

Costa Rica Classic

7
LIR
$1000-$1500 p.p.
Pacific & Caribbean Combo

Pacific & Caribbean Combo

10
SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Perfect Combination with Corcovado

Perfect Combination with Corcovado

SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Wellness, Yoga & Surf Vacation in Paradise!

Wellness, Yoga & Surf Vacation in Paradise!

SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Complete Costa Rica Extended

Complete Costa Rica Extended

SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Dancing with Quetzals

Dancing with Quetzals

11
SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
Tarpon Fishing on Costa Rica’s Caribbean

Tarpon Fishing on Costa Rica’s Caribbean

6
SJO
More than $2000 p.p.
All Inclusive Fishing Adventure Package

All Inclusive Fishing Adventure Package

5
LIR
More than $2000 p.p.
Costa Rica’s Top Birding Spots

Costa Rica’s Top Birding Spots

11
SJO
Birding in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone

Birding in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone

11
SJO
More than $2000 p.p.

Cities

La Fortuna

La Fortuna

It's very rewarding and nothing complicated to visit Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna natural hang outs, you know, those spec...

Sarapiqui

Sarapiqui

Needless to say, if you dare to take on the rugged white water's of Costa Rica this area of the country is for you. Sarapi...

Sarchi

Sarchi

 A great day trip from San José this typical Costa Rican town is the best place to come if you want to buy beautiful handc...

Rivers

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal is possibly the coolest lake in all Costa Rica. It has great views and so many activities to occupy you on vac...

Caño Negro

Caño Negro

Caño Negro is a natural wildlife refuge full of biodiversity in Costa Rica and is considered the third most important wetl...

Volcanoes

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Arenal is one of the most beautiful volcanoes on Earth. Known for its imposing height, lush flora, great weather, myriad a...

Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano

The Poas National Park has an amazing bird population and many fascinating animals to view while visiting.

Miravalles Volcano

Miravalles Volcano

The Miravalles Volcano is an andesitic stratovolcano in Costa Rica. The caldera was formed during several major explosive ...

Tenorio Volcano

Tenorio Volcano

The whole area of Tenorio Volcano is composed of magnificent waterfalls and lagoons, small geysers and hot springs. Over t...

Waterfalls

The La Fortuna Waterfall

The La Fortuna Waterfall

The falls crash down 200 feet or 65 meters giving great views the whole way down. At the bottom of the 480 step trail, the...

Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste

Renowned for its piercing blue waters, the Celeste River and its mesmerizing waterfall are one of the highlights of this p...

National Parks

Monteverde

Monteverde

Lush green mountains and magical trees make out this magical forest, that is pretty much the way it was hundreds of years ...

Braulio Carrillo

Braulio Carrillo

Established in 1978 as part of an environmental compromise, the national park at Braulio Carrillo was created to help pres...

Northern Zone Hotels

Hotel Kokoro Arenal

Hotel Kokoro Arenal

3
From: $125 - $200
Arenal Manoa

Arenal Manoa

4
From: $200 - $300
Arenal Nayara Spa & Gardens

Arenal Nayara Spa & Gardens

5
4
From: Over $300
Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge

3
4
From: Under $125
Arenal Paraiso Resort

Arenal Paraiso Resort

3
3
From: $125 - $200
Arenal Springs Resort

Arenal Springs Resort

4
5
From: $200 - $300
Baldi Resort

Baldi Resort

3
From: $200 - $300
Casa Luna

Casa Luna

3
3
From: $125 - $200
Claro de Luna

Claro de Luna

3
2
From: Under $125
Hotel Arenal Kioro

Hotel Arenal Kioro

5
4
From: Over $300
Hotel El Silencio del Campo

Hotel El Silencio del Campo

4
From: $125 - $200
Hotel Magic Mountain

Hotel Magic Mountain

3
From: Under $125
La Mansion Inn

La Mansion Inn

4
2
From: $125 - $200
Los Lagos Resort

Los Lagos Resort

3
5
From: $125 - $200
Lost Iguana Resort

Lost Iguana Resort

4
3
From: $200 - $300
Montaña De Fuego Resort

Montaña De Fuego Resort

3
2
From: Under $125
Rancho Margot

Rancho Margot

4
5
From: $125 - $200
Tabacon Resort & Spa

Tabacon Resort & Spa

5
4
From: Over $300
The Royal Corin

The Royal Corin

4
1
From: $200 - $300
The Springs Resort & Spa

The Springs Resort & Spa

5
5
From: Over $300
Volcano Lodge

Volcano Lodge

4
3
From: $200 - $300
La Selva Biological Station

La Selva Biological Station

3
From: Under $125
Selva Verde Lodge

Selva Verde Lodge

3
From: Under $125
Sueño Azul Hotel & Spa

Sueño Azul Hotel & Spa

3
From: Under $125
Tirimbina Lodge

Tirimbina Lodge

4
From: Under $125
Celeste Mountain Lodge

Celeste Mountain Lodge

3
From: Under $125
Rio Celeste Hideaway

Rio Celeste Hideaway

3
From: Under $125
Tenorio Lodge

Tenorio Lodge

3
From: $125 - $200
Poas Volcano Lodge

Poas Volcano Lodge

4
3
From: Under $125
Cabanas Los Pinos

Cabanas Los Pinos

3
From: Under $125
Hotel Belmar

Hotel Belmar

4
5
From: $200 - $300
Hotel El Establo

Hotel El Establo

4
1
From: $200 - $300
Hotel Ficus

Hotel Ficus

3
From: $125 - $200
Hotel Fonda Vela

Hotel Fonda Vela

4
2
From: Under $125
Hotel Heliconia

Hotel Heliconia

3
2
From: Under $125
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Hotel Montaña Monteverde

3
From: Under $125
Monteverde Country Lodge

Monteverde Country Lodge

3
3
From: Under $125
Poco a Poco Hotel

Poco a Poco Hotel

3
4
From: $125 - $200
Trapp Family Lodge

Trapp Family Lodge

3
2
From: $125 - $200
El Silencio Lodge & Spa

El Silencio Lodge & Spa

4
5
From: Over $300
Maquenque Eco Lodge

Maquenque Eco Lodge

3
2
From: Under $125
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest hotel

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest hotel

3
5
From: $125 - $200
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn

4
5
From: $200 - $300
Hotel Arenal Lodge

Hotel Arenal Lodge

3
From: $125 - $200
Tapirus Lodge

Tapirus Lodge

4
From: $125 - $200
Lomas del Volcan

Lomas del Volcan

3
From: Under $125
Hacienda Pozo Azul

Hacienda Pozo Azul

3
From: Under $125
Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

3
From: Over $300
Arenal Oasis Ecolodge & Wildlife Refuge

Arenal Oasis Ecolodge & Wildlife Refuge

3
From: Under $125
Hotel El Bosque

Hotel El Bosque

3
From: Under $125
Senda Monteverde Hotel

Senda Monteverde Hotel

3
From: Over $300
Nayara Springs

Nayara Springs

4
From: Over $300

Northern Zone Tours

Arenal Mundo Aventura Canopy Adventure Combo Adrenaline

Arenal Mundo Aventura Canopy Adventure Combo Adrenaline

3
Mistico Hanging Bridges Natural History Walk

Mistico Hanging Bridges Natural History Walk

From: Under $50
Baldi Hot Springs with Meal

Baldi Hot Springs with Meal

3
From: $75 - $100
Arenal Sky Tram Up & Down

Arenal Sky Tram Up & Down

From: $50 - $75
Arenal Sky Trek & Tram Ultimate Zip Lines

Arenal Sky Trek & Tram Ultimate Zip Lines

From: $75 - $100
Arenal Volcano Observation Hike and Hot Springs

Arenal Volcano Observation Hike and Hot Springs

From: $50 - $75
ATV La Pradera Adventure at Arenal

ATV La Pradera Adventure at Arenal

From: $75 - $100
Lost Canyon Canyoning Adventure

Lost Canyon Canyoning Adventure

From: $75 - $100
Club Rio Adventure

Club Rio Adventure

From: $75 - $100
White Water Rafting Rio Balsa Arenal

White Water Rafting Rio Balsa Arenal

From: $50 - $75
Round Trip Kalambu Hot Springs Water Park

Round Trip Kalambu Hot Springs Water Park

3
From: Under $50
Gravity Falls – The Best of Arenal

Gravity Falls – The Best of Arenal

From: Over $100
Canopy Combination AMA and Adventure Tour

Canopy Combination AMA and Adventure Tour

From: $50 - $75
Jeep Boat Jeep Arenal To Monteverde

Jeep Boat Jeep Arenal To Monteverde

Fishing Tour at Lake Arenal

Fishing Tour at Lake Arenal

From: Over $100
Mountain Biking Arenal

Mountain Biking Arenal

From: Under $50
Tabacon Hot Springs

Tabacon Hot Springs

From: $75 - $100
Venado Caves Costa Rica

Venado Caves Costa Rica

From: $50 - $75
Cano Negro Wildlife Tour

Cano Negro Wildlife Tour

From: $50 - $75
El Trapiche Coffee Tour

El Trapiche Coffee Tour

From: Under $50
Guided Hike Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Guided Hike Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

From: $50 - $75
Night Walk at the Wildlife Refuge Monteverde

Night Walk at the Wildlife Refuge Monteverde

From: $50 - $75
Canopy Tour at Selvatura Park

Canopy Tour at Selvatura Park

From: Under $50
Sky Trek & Sky Tram Monteverde

Sky Trek & Sky Tram Monteverde

From: $50 - $75
Monteverde Sky Walk with Guide

Monteverde Sky Walk with Guide

From: Under $50
Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike

From: $50 - $75
Arenal Sky Walk

Arenal Sky Walk

From: Under $50
Rain Forest River Float and Safari Peñas Blancas Arenal

Rain Forest River Float and Safari Peñas Blancas Arenal

From: $50 - $75
Day Pass to The Springs Resort

Day Pass to The Springs Resort

Gravity Falls – Waterfall Jumping with Desafio

Gravity Falls – Waterfall Jumping with Desafio

La Fortuna Waterfall Guided Hike with Desafio

La Fortuna Waterfall Guided Hike with Desafio

Lost Canyon Canyoning Adventure with Desafio

Lost Canyon Canyoning Adventure with Desafio

Sunset Cruise on Lake Arenal with Desafio

Sunset Cruise on Lake Arenal with Desafio

Whitewater Rafting on Sarapiqui River with Desafio

Whitewater Rafting on Sarapiqui River with Desafio

Hanging Bridges – Natural History Walk with Mistico

Hanging Bridges – Natural History Walk with Mistico

Horseback Ride and Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall and Visit to Indigenous Village with Arenal Mundo Aventura

Horseback Ride and Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall and Visit to Indigenous Village with Arenal Mundo Aventura

Rainforest River Float and Safari with Aventuras Arenal

Rainforest River Float and Safari with Aventuras Arenal

Pure Trek Canyoning

Pure Trek Canyoning

Adrenaline Combo with Jacamar

Adrenaline Combo with Jacamar

Sportfishing at Lake Arenal with Jacamar

Sportfishing at Lake Arenal with Jacamar

Balsa River

Balsa River

Guided Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Guided Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk & Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk & Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram & Trek with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram & Trek with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk, Sky Tram & Sky Trek with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk, Sky Tram & Sky Trek with Sky Adventures

Horseback Riding Tour with Don Tobias

Horseback Riding Tour with Don Tobias

Arenal Volcano National Park with Desafio

Arenal Volcano National Park with Desafio

Arenal Combo Safari Float & La Fortuna Waterfall with Desafio

Arenal Combo Safari Float & La Fortuna Waterfall with Desafio

Arenal Combo Chocolate Tour & La Fortuna Waterfall with Desafio

Arenal Combo Chocolate Tour & La Fortuna Waterfall with Desafio

Arenal Mambo Combo Adventure with Desafio

Arenal Mambo Combo Adventure with Desafio

Costa Rican Cooking Class with Desafio

Costa Rican Cooking Class with Desafio

Rainforest Chocolate Tour with Rainforest Chocolate Tour

Rainforest Chocolate Tour with Rainforest Chocolate Tour

Proyecto Asis Tour & Volunteering

Proyecto Asis Tour & Volunteering

Hanging Bridges, Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens Tour with Selvatura Park

Hanging Bridges, Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens Tour with Selvatura Park

Canopy & Hanging Bridges Tour with Selvatura Park

Canopy & Hanging Bridges Tour with Selvatura Park

Canopy, Hanging Bridges, Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens Tour with Selvatura Park

Canopy, Hanging Bridges, Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens Tour with Selvatura Park

El Trapiche Coffee Tour

El Trapiche Coffee Tour

Birdwatching Tour at Curi-Cancha Refuge with Desafio

Birdwatching Tour at Curi-Cancha Refuge with Desafio

Guided Hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with Desafio

Guided Hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with Desafio

Birding Tour in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with Desafio

Birding Tour in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with Desafio

Night Hike at the Wildlife Refuge in Monteverde with Desafio

Night Hike at the Wildlife Refuge in Monteverde with Desafio

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike with Ocotea Tours

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike with Ocotea Tours

Guided Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Guided Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram & Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Sky Tram & Sky Walk with Sky Adventures

Sky Trek & Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Trek & Sky Tram with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk, Sky Tram & Sky Trek with Sky Adventures

Sky Walk, Sky Tram & Sky Trek with Sky Adventures

Costa Rica Regions and Destinations Map

Southern Zone

Quetzal in the southern ZoneWhy Visit?

Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is where you’ll find the tallest mountains, pristine cloud forest areas, and a virtually unexplored paradise. Find a large variety of birds and just an endless array of biodiversity.  


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Central Valley

Why Visit?

Cartago Costa RicaCosta Rica’s Central Valley is home to the capital of San José and the Juan Santamaría International Airport. Steeped in History & Culture, many people use the capital as the jumping off point for their vacations.


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Northern Zone

National Parks of Costa RicaWhy Visit? 

Costa Rica’s Northern Zone is home to the country’s most famous Volcano and Cloud Forest Areas.

You will be amazed at the wildlife and all the biodiversity.


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Osa Peninsula

Jaguar of Costa RicaWhy Visit?

The Osa Peninsula is truly an unexplored paradise and a must see for nature lovers. If you are looking to get off the beaten path and explore – this is the spot for you.


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Guanacaste

Costa Rica BeachesWhy Visit? 

Guanacaste is home to Costa Rica’s most popular beach destinations and all-inclusive resorts. If you are looking for a beach vacation, this is your destination for sun, sand, and surf.


Things to Do

Top Destinations

Nicoya Peninsula

Beachfront HotelsWhy Visit?

The Nicoya Peninsula is still largely undeveloped and home to some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches. Known for it’s laid back surfer vibe and boutique beach resorts.


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Central Pacific

Manuel Antonio National ParkWhy Visit?

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast is home to some of the closest beaches from the capital of San José, which are easily accessible from the highway.


Things to Do

Top Destinations

Caribbean

Costa Rica's CaribbeanWhy Visit?

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is a rich cultural area offering a laid back tropical atmosphere. Experience what Tico Time truly is on this Afro-Caribbean influenced area. 


Things to Do 

Top Destinations

Nicaragua

Granada Nicaragua Why Visit?

Nicaragua is a unique country full of culture and historical parts. You can see a lot of the old part of the colonial age including the cobblestone streets and old forts. 


Top Destinations

Panama

Panama CanalWhy Visit?

Panama is a totally different level of destination. It has so much to offer. You can experience history and modern architecture all in one in Panama City with skyscrapers and the old part of the city. 


Top Destinations

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