The Poás and the Irazú volcanoes are by far the most accessible to visit in Costa Rica. They’re both only about one or one and a half hours away from San José, depending on where you’re staying, and you can drive pretty much straight up to the crater at both of them. For a higher chance of seeing the craters, make sure you arrive before 9:00 am, before the clouds start building up and cover them. The Poás has a nice little museum, souvenir and coffee shop next to the parking lot, and the walk from there to the crater takes only about five minutes. Additionally, there is a beautiful trail through the forest next to the crater that leads to a volcanic lake.
In the Irazú you only need a two-minute walk from the parking lot to the crater. Take a sweater, because it’s windy up there! If you like hiking and searching for wildlife, the Arenal Volcano is a great option. For safety reasons it is forbidden to go near the crater, but the outskirts of the Arenal, as well as of its brother volcano Cerro Chato are wonderful for enjoying lush forests and spotting colorful birds and other creatures.
Rincón de La Vieja is a magical volcano, well worth the strenuous hike up to the top. It takes roughly three and a half hours to reach the summit, and the hike takes you through several layers of vegetation up to a narrow rim that leads to the crater.
Tenorio is only 50 km away from the international airport of Liberia, and is most famous for its gorgeous Río Celeste (Light Blue River), which is a striking summer-sky-blue color due to the sulfur and calcium carbonate that emanate from the volcano. The summit can be reached through the trail called Lago las Dantas (Tapir Lake).
Miravalle is Tenorio’s sister volcano, and can be seen from the peak of Tenorio. Although it’s dormant, its base is dotted with geysers, thermal springs and bubbling mud pools.
Turrialba is only one and a half hours drive from San José and is a beautiful crater volcano surrounded by cattle pastures where Costa Rica’s popular Turrialba cheese is produced, however since October 2014 it has shown strong activity, spewing ashes that have traveled up to 1,000 km2. Nonetheless, it is an exciting sight; so if during your visit you would like to take a closer look, consult with us for information on the volcano’s status. There is still plenty to do in that area besides the volcano!