Volcano Roadtrip Costa Rican Style

Spending a day in the capital of Costa Rica and wondering what to do?

Look no further here is a tiny roadtrip for one day. This way you are not stuck in the city center all day. Best to do this on a sunny day! Cloudy days are cool too though just colder.

First stop

Start your morning early and make a visit to the Mercado Central. Build in 1880 it covers a whole block of little stands, butchers,herbal remedies,leather, awesome presents (do bargain with stand owner) and restaurants known as ”sodas”.

Have an early breakfast here or a coffee there are so many traditional meals. In the midst off all the viewing & shopping; stop for a second for a early snack.

That snack should be only one thing: Empanadas. These are by far the best you will ever have. Look for Soda Punta Arenas a small cafeteria in one corner run by only woman.

When you done strolling and shopping start moving out around 11 am for there will be a bit of a drive.

There are buses that take you almost everywhere in this country. However for this little daytrip you definitely are going to need a car.


The first part is taking you on a great sightseeing view all the way up the mountains for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Made old fashioned style on wooden stoves.

This place is not in the books but as I have grown up here I know this is the best one on the route. Your heading to “la casona de chavela”. This place is down to earth and simple so don’t expect any luxuries other than good food.

They are famous for their “olla de carne”. Their casado and chicarron are as fabulous too. Oh and definitely get some tortillas with natilla too. Be careful with the chileros on the table because they are spicy!

Next stop: Volcán Irazu

In case you didn’t know the whole country is filled with volcanoes. When you look at the “ring of fire” you will see Costa Rica just being one big red dot.

Many of the volcanoes are still active. From the top it is possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on a clear day.

However, such clear days are rare, and the volcano’s summit is usually cloud-covered.

The best part is your so high you will be standing above the clouds!

Tip: make sure you have some warm gear with you and a scarf. This as the temperature can drop and ashes can fly around. You will be at 3,432 m (11,260 ft).

Bring cash as there is a entry fee for foreigners off $15.

Time to get warm!! From the volcán your route will lead you to the last part of the roadtrip of the day.

Mirador Sanatorium Carlos Durán

Many people who visit the volcán drive right past it thinking it’s another abandoned farm when in reality, it was an important hospital back in the 1910’s – 1920’s for tuberculosis patients.

After its closure it fell into decay and ruin. However its been turned into a attraction and it is the most haunted place in Costa Rica with some amazing views and great locations for some cool pics.

It has been a long day so take it easy driving home. If you see stands along the road. These are local farmers selling their produce directly from the land.

Make a stop and get some fresh made cheese for later. “Queso Turrialba” is a traditional young fresh cheese and you need to try the real deal instead of the supermarket version.


The best way to drive in Costa Rica is not with your satnav or Google Maps. Download Waze and just insert the locations I have given you.


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