Turrialba Travel Guide

A bird's eye view of a resort in the mountains of Costa Rica.

Turrialba is a quaint country town tucked in the mountains of the central valley of the Cartago province. This off the beaten path gem has a rich history of agriculture, transportation, and education. This small town flourished in the early 20th century when the country created the railway system that would connect the port of Limon to the capital city of San Jose but later diminished and was somewhat forgotten about after the railroad was closed. Today, Turrialba is most visited for its active national volcano park, indigenous ruins, and world-class rafting.


Turrialba Travel Guide
Average Temp:19-27
Airport:53 km east of San Jose

What to do in Turrialba

White Water Rafting

Due to the prime location near the Pacuare, Reventazón River, and the Rio Pejibaye Turrialba, has some of the best and most challenging river rafting in the entire country. There are numerous experienced tour operators that will guide you down these invigorating category 4-5 class rapids. For those wanting a bit more tranquil water experience, you may want to check out river kayaking. You can take a lesson at the Costa Rica Kayak School on the Rio Pejibaye and enjoy the beautiful blue-green waters and lush foliage of the surrounding river banks as you paddle by.

Guayabo de Turrialba

Located on the forested southern slope of the Turrialba volcano sits the site of both great archeological and cultural importance. Between 1000BC and 1400AD this settlement was inhabited by what was believed to about 10,000 settlers who mysteriously abandoned it by 1400AD. In the late 1800s an excavation was performed where over 100 relics were recovered and taken to be displayed in Spanish museums, and in 2009 it was declared an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Today you can go explore the remaining stone-paved streets, round platforms that were used as bases for wooden structures, ponds, carved stone designs and drawings of animals.

Waterfall and Canopy Tours

Turrialba is surrounded by the Cordillera Central mountain range making it the home to 15 plus waterfalls. Although there are many, only 3 are easily accessible to enjoy. One of the best waterfalls is La Muralla. This magnificent waterfall stretches 86 meters (282 feet) tall and is very cold water. This is not to miss but is a little bit more difficult to access. The second set of waterfalls close by to La Muralla is las Trillizas . This trifecta of waterfalls is an extraordinary hidden sight. The third and easiest to access is Aquiares waterfall. Located just 8km northwest of downtown Turrialba this 36m high waterfall is a great place to take a quick dip or just sit and relax and enjoy natures magnificent beauty.

For those looking to tap into their wild and adventurous side, the canopy zip lining tour is for you! Although there aren’t many tours in the area, Explornatura has their own canyoning and canopy tour on their property. Rappel down 4 waterfalls, zip line 5 cables through the rain forest and walk across a 130 foot hanging bridge. This is a fun-filled excursion that immerses you in the jungle and if you are lucky, you may even spot a toucan!

Coffee Plantation Tour

Are you a coffee lover? Or just interested in learning more about coffee? Well the Golden Bean coffee tour is where to go! Learn the entire process of making one of the world’s most consumed beverages at this local coffee plantation. Follow your bilingual coffee expert guide through a 2 hour plantation tour as they describe the entire coffee production process from the picking of the “cherry” on the tree to the processing of the bean, to the delicious hot beverage that is in your cup. Don’t miss the free tastings at the end! Yum, Enjoy!!

Are you a dog and a coffee lover? If so, then do we have the tour for you. On this coffee plantation, you will have the unique experience of not only learning about the coffee harvesting and production process but you will do it with over 40 dogs as your tour companions. This coffee plantations owner has a passion for rescuing and housing these local “zaguates ” ,street dogs, and providing them with this beautiful land to roam and enjoy. This is an animal lovers dream come true.

Cheese and Farm Tour

The Turrialba cheese is a generational delight that has been made in the region for decades. Travel to the dairy region of Santa Cruz, located on the slopes of the  Turrialba volcano which is known for their farming of numerous types of agriculture and dairy cows. Here you can have the unique, interactive experience of milking the cows, feeding the goats, and learning the in’s and out’s of how this delicious cheese is made. And of course, don’t forget to tastings at the end! Que Rico!

Horseback Riding

A unique way to explore the mountainous and jungle terrain of Turrialba is on horseback. This is a great way to explore places that are inaccessible by car. You can weave your way through sugar cane and coffee plants all the way up to spectacular 360 degree vantage points. The horses are tranquil and docile so even children can enjoy! Tours last around 3 hours and are available through different vendors.

Turrialba Volcano National Park

The Turrialba volcano national park is home to the infamous Turrialba volcano. The park is currently closed due to the ongoing eruptions of the volcano.

La Marta Wildlife Refuge

La Marta is the first private wildlife refuge in Costa Rica with 60% primary forest and 40% secondary forest. Here on their 1518 hectares of protected land, you can enjoy miles of hiking trails, two beautiful rivers, and what will feel like, endless flora and fauna. If you enjoy camping, this is a great place to pitch your tent and immerse yourself into this unscathed wonderland of Costa Rica’s rich nature. Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time if you plan to camp. You can also find a piece of Turrialba history inside the refuge. Follow the hanging bridge to the remains of an old gold mine and railroad where donkeys were once used to move the mined gold. This was abandoned when conservation of the land was ruled as more valuable.

Learn Spanish With The Locals

Come learn Spanish and immerse yourself in Tico’s culture and everyday life at the Turrialba Adventure property. This family has converted their land into a Spanish school and interactive learning environment.  Stay in a charming guest house and enjoy the property which includes a pool, shared kitchen space, gardens, and even some adorable chickens. The host family welcomes you to join into their traditions and to give you firsthand experience how they live, eat, and enjoy their beautiful town.


What better ways to experience Costa Rica than to stay with a local. Book a room in this family house that offers couples or individual beds. This is a happy, clean and relaxed environment. The family here is teamed up with local tour operators so you can enjoy our recommended tours at discounted prices. Learn more on the Hostel Turrialba Adventure website.

Guayabo Lodge

This quaint lodge is located up in the mountains overlooking 3 different volcanoes. They offer a free complimentary breakfast and also have a bar/restaurant that serves throughout the day and night. The rooms are colorfully painted and adorned with lovely wood details and nice bedding. Some rooms have balconies for you to sit out and enjoy the surrounding nature on. The price ranges from $100-140/per night.

Casa Turire

This beautiful antique hacienda style hotel that offers all the comforts one needs. It is located overlooking the Angostura lagoon and surrounded by lush gardens and palms.  They have a full service restaurant, beautiful pool and spa area, and stunning colonial architectural details. They have 12 standard rooms, 3 suites & 1 master suite. All rooms are equipped with direct dial telephones, safes, full bath, hairdryer, satellite television, ceiling fan, coffee maker & private balcony. The suites are specially equipped with whirlpool bathtubs & hydro showers, plasma television with DVD & air conditioning. The price range from $175-$250

Hostel Casa de Lis

This cute, rustic hostel located in the heart of downtown Turrialba. There are several communal hangouts, a living room with TV, porches with hammocks to relax, on as well as, a new fully equipped communal kitchen for all guests to use. They offer both private and shared rooms available as well as a family suite. This is a great option for the budget traveler or someone who is looking to mingle with other world-wide travelers and share your adventure stories. Price range $45-60

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