Costa RicaCosta Rica

guayabo monument
 - Costa Rica



    Turrialba Snapshot

  • Summary: World-famous whitewater rafting; coffee country also known for its namesake cheese.
  • Landscape: City, Mountains, Volcano
  • Attractions: Guayabo National Monument, Pacuare River, Turrialba Volcano National Park
  • Activities: Adventure Tours, Bird & Wildlife Watching, Hiking, Whitewater Rafting
  • Caters to: Culture Aficionados, Day Trippers, Independent Travelers, Nature Lovers
  • Quick Facts: 40 miles east of San Jose ; 2,135 feet above sea level ; Moderate to warm days, cool at night ; 65-85 F

Nestled among the lush green hills of the Central Valley, Turrialba is known for its beautiful mountains, rich shade-grown coffee and its whitewater rafting opportunities, said to be the best in Central America.

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Turrialba was once a flourishing town and a direct stop on the train that ran between San Jose and the southern Caribbean hamlet of Puerto Viejo. In 1991, a terrible earthquake destroyed Costa Rica’s rail system, and Turrialba residents lost much of their trading income. Instead of mourning its fate, the town went back to its coffee roots, and today produces some of the best beans in the world.

Thrill-seekers will love whitewater rafting and kayaking down the Pacuare River’s Class II-IV rapids or the high-volume Reventazon River, which has both Class II-IV rapids, depending on the season and site. For a more mellow experience, river-runners can choose to meander down the Corobici River (Class I-II) or Pejibaye River (Class II) on a leisurely wildlife watching expedition. 

Flanking the rushing rivers, the town sits in the shadow of the active Turrialba Volcano, a solemn reminder of nature’s power. After the 2008 and 2010 eruptions, Turrialba Volcano National Park was closed to visitors. Volcanologists study the volcano daily, and when the park is safe for reopening, visitors will once again be able to hike or ride horseback to the crater.


Guayabo National Monument

Costa Rica’s largest archaeological site was once home to more than 20,000 people. Remains of their intricate and sophisticated architecture and infrastructure are slowly being unearthed.


One of the world's foremost tropical agricultural research centers. The facility measures almost 2,500 acres, and houses beautiful botanical gardens, an extensive library and some of the best agricultural research centers in the region.

Places to Stay:

There are many luxury hotels and rustic lodges in the area. Several of them offer visitors guided treks and horseback rides through the mountains. Due to high elevation, temperatures can fall into the 40’s at night, so bring warm clothing.

Getting There:

Buses depart from San Jose (Calle 13, between Avenidas 6 and 8) every hour on the hour, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The two-hour ride costs 1,175 CRC (approximately $2.15).

Turrialba in Pictures

Turrialba Travel Guide