Free Things to Do in Costa Rica: Craft Beer Tasting and Caribbean Beach Hopping

Finding free things-to-do in Costa Rica is almost as easy as bypassing the hotel tour desk touts and traveling just a little bit off the beaten track. Save your precious colones for spending on cervezas and souvenirs, there are plenty of things-to-do in Costa Rica that are free. Beyond sunbathing, hiking, and bird-watching there are nature walks and national parks. Visit the historic ruins and the Basílica de Nuestra Senora de los Ángeles in Cartago, and seek out the Costa Rica Craft Brewing Company to enjoy free beer tastings. Discover the natural charms of the  Caribbean coast, feel sand dollars wriggling in the black sand beneath your feet in the waters of Playa Negra.

A self-guided walking tour of the capital city of San Jose yields plenty of free things to do: check out the exceptional street art that adorns nearly every Avenida, and if it's a Monday, entrance to the Costa Rican Art Museum is free. Browse the vintage stalls and get lost in the aisles at Mercado Central. If it's holiday time, you can partake in the fun of Festejos Populares, and ask around for a Tope, a Costa Rican horse parade that's free to see.

White sand beaches and clear waters flanked by lush vegetation are hallmarks of Manzanillo, a quintessential Caribbean fishing village where not too much has changed in the past fifty years or so. Small houses are built on stilts and colorful...  Read More

Playa Chiquita
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Playa Chiquita is a small stretch of coast with a narrow white sand beach and calm water that is often ideal for snorkeling in between the coral reef. This is the most hidden beach in the area, due to the dense rainforest that separates the...  Read More

Cocles Beach
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Cocles Beach, called "Beach Break" by locals, is the most popular beach in the area among locals and tourists, for its long golden sand beach and for its consistently good surf. A majestic craggy rock sits a few meters off-shore, and legend has...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Let there be no mistake, Costa Ricans take their horses very seriously. As much as they like to have fun, showing off their steeds is both a theatrical and dramatic show that leaves a lasting impression. Held the day after Christmas, downtown...  Read More

An otherwise quiet place the rest of the year, Zapote is transformed into the hottest place in the country for the last week of December. To ensure that the New Year is ushered in with appropriate applause and the old year is sent packing with...  Read More

Las Ruinas de la Parroquia, or Las Ruinas as they are commonly called, are one of Cartago's greatest calling cards; only the skeleton of a Romanesque church including some walls and staircases remain, but ever since its inception Las Ruinas has...  Read More

The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles is a Roman Catholic church in classic Byzantine style, located in the heart of Cartago, Costa Rica. Built in 1639, this basilica is officially sanctified to the Virgin of Nuestra Senora de los...  Read More

Once upon a time, El Museo de Arte Costarricense (MAC) was Costa Rica's main airport terminal. Now it is home to a diverse collection of works by some of the country's most revered artists and serves as a celebration of national talent....  Read More

In an newly refurbished factory in Ciudad Colon, a neighborhood of San Jose, a couple of beer afficionados are going against the grain, crafting artisanal beer using only whole grains, hops, yeast, and water. The concept is novel in a country...  Read More

Mercado Central
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Since 1880, the Central Market has been a staple shopping hub in San Jose, providing for a unique shopping experience in the country's capital city. Prices are relatively reasonable, and the goods are varied, with everything from fresh flowers...  Read More


Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia