Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica is the highest volcano in the country and one of the most famous volcanoes in the whole world.
The name Irazú means “thunder and earthquake mountain” and it is still an active volcano, although the last major eruption was recorded in 1963, the same year when President John F Kennedy visited the country.
Actually, the first documented volcanic activity of this beautiful volcano dates from 1723 and was written by Diego de la Haya and as a tribute one of the craters was named after him.
Volcano Irazú is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica with a total height of 3.433 metres (11,260 feet above sea level) and has 5 craters, one of them containing a beautiful green crater lake.
The volcano is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica close to the beautiful Cartago province and the capital city of San Jose, located just 55 kilometres (35 miles) away.
On a clear day with no clouds around, from the top of the volcano, you can see both the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts of Costa Rica.
Irazu Volcano National Park includes not just the Principal and Diego de la Haya craters, but also Playa Hermosa and the Sapper formation which is the highest point from the area.
The national park was established in 1955 with the main purpose of protecting the fauna and the diverse ecosystems from the area like cloud forest, rainforest and volcanic landforms.
Although home to an active volcano, the national park is considered a safe place for visitors from all over the world as the last noticeable activity was recorded at the beginning of the 90s.
Getting to Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica
From the capital city of San Jose, you can rent a car, take public transport or get a guided tour to get to this magnificent national park.
The Volcano is located in the Cartago Province. It will take you about 1.5 hrs to drive below from midtown San Jose.
Just be careful as the start of this drive needs some good driving skills as it can be a bit scary in San Jose and also Cartago.
Once you leave the cities you will certainly be awarded with beautiful back roads which are well maintained and also have attractive sights. Just note that although the roadways are well kept it can be truly high as well as curved in some spots.
Getting to Irazu Volcano Costa Rica by public transport
There is a daily bus that leaves from the city of San Jose to the national park at 8 in the morning and arrives at the national park at 10:20 a.m. and leaves back to San Jose at 12:30 p.m.
The bus stop in San Jose is located in the southern part of Gran Hotel Costa Rica, in front of the National Theatre.
Taking into consideration the pandemia, some of the buses might be cancelled so we strongly advise you to check the bus scheduler before planning your trip to Irazú volcano national park.
Getting to the volcano by car
You can choose to rent a car directly from the airport of downtown San José and take at least a day trip to this beautiful park.
In order to get to the park, you first need to reach the town of Cartago but set your Google Maps or Waze for the national park and you will easily reach the place.
The distance between the park and the city of San Jose can be covered in about one hour and a half, depending on traffic conditions.
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Guided tour to Volcano Irazu in Costa Rica
There are many daily tours from San Jose to this national park and most of the tours combine the visit to the park with one more activity, like a visit to Orosi or to Lankester Gardens.
These guided tours are a little bit pricey but you don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of the day.
Entrance fee and visiting hours
The park is open every day from 8 in the morning till 3.30 in the afternoon and the price of a ticket is 15 USD for adults and 5 USD for children between 2 to 12 years old.
The tickets for visiting this protected area can be bought online from SINAC official site or at the entrance of the park.
Following the last safety measurements and recommendations, guests are encouraged to pay the fee by credit card.
Keep in mind that this is one of the most visited parks from Costa Rica, because of its proximity to San Jose, so make sure you arrive at the opening time to avoid the crowds and enjoy the park.
Stay safe while you travel
- medical safety abroad
- medical assistance including COVID-19
- emergency medical evacuation
- trip interruption -up to $5.000
- travel delay - up to $100/day
Weather for Volcán Irazú
Because of the high elevation from the sea level, the weather is colder than in the beach areas or in the city of San Jose.
Like the rest of the volcanoes from Costa Rica, the Volcano Irazu in Costa Rica has its own microclimate.
Take with you not just a raincoat but also some warm clothes like long pants and a jacket to protect you from the cooler breeze.
We strongly recommend you to get to the park early in the morning, not just because of the crowds but also because you have higher chances to see the summit.
Usually, the clouds gather around the peaks starting at 9 or 10 in the morning, so make sure to be there at 8 a.m for a wonderful view.
If there are clouds around the summit there is no point to visit the volcano as you will not be able to see anything, so ask at the ticket office if the volcano summit is clear before buying the tickets.
Useful tips before you visit the park
- Don’t go inside the park; wait a little bit as the sky might get clear and you can admire the view
- Watch for your belongings and don’t food the animals
- You can have a coffee and a snack at the cafeteria at the entrance of the park
- There are no hiking trails inside the park
- Be there early in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the view
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Visiting the craters of Irazú volcano in Costa Rica
From all the 5 craters from the national park you can see only three:
- Diego de la Haya Crater
- Main Crater
- Playa Hermosa
Once you get inside the park there is a 300 feet paved road which goes to a point from where you can see the whole area.
Because there are no hiking trails in the area, the duration estimated for visiting the park is about one hour, depending on how many photos you want to take.
Diego de la Haya Crater
The first crater you will see on the right side is Diego de la Haya Crater famous for its stunning crater lake.
The crater is just 303 feet (90 meters) and is famous for the colour of the crater lake that turns from green to red, depending on the light.
The Main Crater of the Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica used to be dry but starting with 2016 the water came back to the crater.
So today it has a beautiful green-blue lake on the bottom of the crater surrounded by sand and ash.
The flat plain between Diego de la Haya crater and Main Crater is known as Playa Hermosa, a place with almost no vegetation, quite muddy from where you can spot the cloud forest from the park.
Inside the park, there is also a stunning viewpoint from where you can see both oceans on a clear day with no clouds in the sky.
The observation point is located at 3.550 metres ( 11.500 feet) elevation and worth a visit if the sky is clear.
Accommodation near Irazú volcano
- Grandpas Hotel Restaurante Costa Rica from Cartago offers rustic cabins with private bathrooms, as well as free parking and the most important- a fabulous breakfast
- Hotel Boutique La Casona Del Cafetal Costa Rica is located on a coffee plantation in Cachi as besides the unique experience of sleeping on a coffee farm, the hotel features amazing rooms with seating area and mountain or garden views as well as a nice wellness centre.
Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica is the best place to visit during your Costa Rican trip as it is located close to the capital city of San Jose and is the tallest volcano in the country.
The park might not have hiking trails, nor modern facilities, but for sure is a great starting point for your Costa Rican experience.
Besides the national park, in the area, there are many coffee plantations and tourist attractions that can be combined for a great day trip from San Jose.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.