Things to do in Orosi Valley Costa Rica: Complete Guide
Things to do in Orosi Valley Costa Rica: Complete Guide

Things to do in Orosi Valley Costa Rica: Complete Guide

The Orosi Valley Costa Rica is one of the country’s lesser-known eco-tourism destinations.

Despite being so close to San Jose, most outdoor enthusiasts choose to visit other parts of the country, such as Arenal and Chirripó national parks.

The nature in Orosi isn’t quite on the level of Arenal or Chirripó –where you’ll find volcanoes and tall mountains to explore–which probably explains why it’s an overlooked destination.

However, Orosi does have its fair share of outdoor and cultural activities to enjoy. This makes the valley a worthwhile visit for anyone who loves nature/quieter destinations.

Read on for a complete guide to the Orosi Valley Costa Rica. You’ll discover the best things to do in the area, how to get there, where to stay and my top tips to make the most of your trip.

Where is Orosi?

Orosi is a district of Cartago Province, Costa Rica. The province of Cartago borders San Jose Province, where you’ll find the capital city, also called San Jose.

Orosi is a valley and nestled within it is a small town named after the valley. The town of Orosi is the main town in the area and is historically significant.

Along with the village of Ujarrás, it became one the first settlements established by the Spanish, chosen thanks to its fertile lands and abundance of water.

The distance to the town of Orosi from San Jose is just over 40 km.

San Jose to Orosi Valley Costa Rica

It’s pretty easy to get to Orosi from San Jose cheaply with public transport. The journey is two bus rides and costs no more than a few dollars US.

The first bus is from San Jose to Cartago. Lumaca is the bus line and buses run frequently. You can find the timetable here. Get the bus at Lumaca terminal in San Jose and get off at Iglesia los Capuchinos. This journey costs 675 CRC and takes around 1 h.

From Iglesia los Capuchinos you need to walk 1 minute to the next bus stop called Parada Cachí – Tucurrique. Here you’ll get the second bus. It should be a green and white bus, but I recommend asking a local which has several buses stop here.

The journey from Parada Cachí – Tucurrique to Orosi takes about 45 minutes and costs 800 CRC. The bus stops at several points along the main road in Orosi. These are not clearly marked, so keep an eye on Google Maps or whatever app you use to know when you’re near your accommodation.

The return journey from Orosi to San Jose is almost the same. The first bus is from Orosi to Parada Cachí – Tucurrique. The second bus leaves from the Terminal Lumaca in Cartago. It’s roughly a 5-minute walk from Parada Cachí – Tucurrique to Terminal Lumaca.

Things to do in Orosi Costa Rica

Colonial Orosi church

In the centre of Orosi town you’ll find the colonial church. La Iglesia Colonial De Orosi is the oldest church in Costa Rica still in use. The church started out as a convent, built in 1743. 10 years later the construction of the parish was started and by 1766 it was finished.

The church itself is free to enter and it’s worth taking a second to admire the quaint building before going inside.

A white church. The sunset has turned the clouds purple.

There’s also a museum where you can learn about the church’s history. The entrance fee is 500 CRC for adults. Having some Spanish skills will be helpful if visiting the museum.

Orosi mirador

A hike up to the Orosi mirador (viewpoint) is a must-do activity. The views from the lookout are beautiful and help you understand the geography of the area.

In one direction you can see the entire town of Orosi, and in the other you can see as far as Lake Cachi at the foot of a beautiful hill range.

There are plenty of picnic tables at the mirador so I recommend bringing a snack to enjoy whilst taking in the scenery. 

The trek up to the viewpoint is via the main road between Orosi and Paraiso and takes about 2 h. It’s the same road the bus brings you into Orosi via.

Be careful with Google Maps for this hike. It will show you various routes which actually lead to private property with no access. Stick to the main road and you’ll be fine.

I highly recommend doing this one early before the sun is high in the sky. There is little shade along the main road and it gets hot in Orosi during the day.

High Mountain Cross hike

The High Mountain Cross hike is a fairly challenging route that scales the hills on the western side of Orosi. It’s a circular route starting and ending in Orosi town that takes around 6-8 h to complete.

The hike takes in the Orosi natural pools, several miradors and a descent through a coffee plantation. The terrain is mostly paved roads with some steep climbs and descents.

A green valley. There are exotic plants in the foreground and mountains in the background.

I recommend bringing plenty of water and snacks for this one. The combination of steep climbs and the distance takes it out of you.

Nano’s waterfall

Nano is a local guy living up in the hills on the western side of Orosi. You can visit him at his property and get a tour to see what he’s working on, and, of course, his waterfall.

He’s an interesting character with loads of stories to tell and lots of information to share about his ongoing projects.

As for the waterfall, well, you see it but you can’t go down to the base due to the risk of falling rocks. Because of this I wouldn’t recommend visiting Nano to explore nature. This experience is more about connecting with a local and practising your Spanish.

Nano doesn’t do this for free. While you can just turn up to his property and he’ll happily welcome you, there is a 3,500 CRC ($8 US) fee.

Ask in your accommodation for directions to Nano’s place, they should know. If not, then head to Montana Linda Hostel to ask—the owners here know Nano well.

Monte Sky

This is another hiking activity in the Orosi Valley Costa Rica. Monte Sky Mirador Ecológico (Mount Sky Ecological Viewpoint) sits high up in the hills 30 minutes south of Orosi by car.

From the viewpoint you have incredible sights over the valley, Cartago and as far as Volcan Irazu.

Mountains shrouded in cloud.

While the views are good, it’s the waterfall hiking trails that people come for. There are several trails at Monte Sky, each leading to either a viewpoint of a waterfall or to the base of one.

The waterfalls range from just a couple of metres to over 90 m tall and the trails leading to them cut through thick forest full of birds. The trails are all short but moderately hard thanks to tricky underfoot and the humidity.

Monte Sky is one of the most expensive things to do in Orosi. You need a car to get there or a taxi. A taxi from Orosi costs around 10,000 CRC ($20 US) each way. Monte Sky is private property and the entrance fee for adult foreigners is 5,000 CRC ($6 US).

Tapanti national park

If you drive beyond the turn-off for Monte Sky for about 10 minutes more you come to Tapanti National Park. This is one of Costa Rica’s lesser-known nature reserves.

The park is a wet, humid environment that sees over 7 m of rain a year. Tapanti’s thick rainforest is home to around 45 species of mammals and the best way to see these is with a guided tour. It’s possible to go solo, but the experience won’t be the same.

Foreign adults need to pay a 5,000 CRC ($10 US) entrance fee to visit the park. Guided birdwatching tours start from around $50 US.

Hacienda Orosi hot springs

This won’t be within everyone’s budget, but if you fancy a relaxing self-care day in Orosi, then Hacienda Orosi hot springs might just be the right activity.           

The 30,000 CRC ($60 US) entrance fee gives you access to mineral water thermal pools, hikes and birdwatching.

Natural pools

If you want to swim without paying an entry fee, then head to Orosi’s natural pools. These are just behind the electricity plant and you reach them by taking the main road past the church as I explained previously for the High Mountain Cross hike.

The pools are formed by rocks in the Rio Macho, creating relaxing spots to take a dip. You can hear the water flowing alongside the main road and people have made gaps in the fence to access the pools.

A rock pool in a river.

Ruins of Ujarras

Want to see the first church ever built in Costa Rica? Then visit the ruins of Ujarras (Ruinas de Ujarras). The church was built between 1686 and 1693 in the small town of Ujarras.

A couple of centuries later the population fell victim to several diseases and fled to nearby Paraiso. The church subsequently fell into ruins leaving what stands today.

Getting to Ruinas de Ujarras takes 2 buses. The first is from Orosi to Paraiso and you get the bus from Orosi’s main street. The second is from Paraiso to Ujarras. You need to get off outside of Corporación Productora de Chayotes Brenes y Quiros S.A. The stop is right by the junction between Ruta Nacional 224 and 416.

Visit a coffee plantation

Orosi is well-known for its coffee production and you can see fincas sprawling the hills along the valley. A coffee tour will give you insights into the coffee-making process. It’s a great experience for those who love a brew or who are simply interested in how coffee comes to be! I recommend asking in your accommodation about coffee tours.

Orosi town

Orosi town has everything you need for a comfortable stay. Along the main street you’ll find:

  • A supermarket – Mini Super Orosi
  • A bank – Banco Nacional Costa Rica
  • Several bakeries
  • Bus stops
  • Several restaurants ranging from budget sodas to more expensive options
  • Convenience shops
A street in a town located among mountains.

Where to stay in Orosi Costa Rica

Budget

Hostel Montaña Linda

From $13 US/night

Montana Linda is a backpacker yet family-friendly hostel. This is where I stayed and I highly recommend it. The hostel has a quiet vibe perfect for relaxing after a day of hiking. There are shared dorms and private rooms, a communal kitchen and free WIFI.

Mid-range

Montaña Linda Guest House

From $30 US/night

This guest house is run by the same people as Hostel Montaña Linda. The property features a garden, a shared lounge and a shared kitchen. Guests have free WIFI and parking. Rooms have a private bathroom fitted with a shower.

Higher-end

Orosi Lodge

From $66 US/night

Orosi Lodge offers private rooms, cottages and lodges. Rooms and cottages feature a refrigerator. There is a garden, terrace, shared lounge and snack bar. The accommodation has a tour desk and an array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surrounding area, including cycling, horse riding and hiking. The property offers free parking and WIFI.

Where to eat in Orosi

There are a few good spots to eat in Orosi that are reasonably priced. I recommend:

  • Soda Guayabo (my favourite)
  • La Terraza De Doña Meche
  • Onde su Agüela Parrilla

When to go to the Orosi Valley

The dry season is the best time of year to visit Orosi if you want to make the most of all the hiking.

While the valley won’t look as lush and green as it does during the rain season, you won’t have to worry about getting soaked.

Temperatures can climb above 30°C during the dry season, which is something to keep in mind.

How long to stay in Orosi Valley Costa Rica

This depends on how many activities you want to do in the area. To enjoy a couple of hikes  with a day to chill out and recover, then I recommend staying at least 3 days. However, to make the most of the valley, I would stay at least 5 days.

Top Tips for Orosi

Download DiDi

There are no Uber drivers in the Orosi Valley, but there is DiDi. This is an Uber equivalent for cheap taxi rides. You can download DiDi here.

Get a phone number for a taxi driver

Internet signal is weak in Orosi, sometimes making it impossible to order a DiDi. For this reason, I recommend getting a taxi driver’s number asap. If for any reason you can’t use the internet on your phone and you need to get a taxi, you’ll at least be able to call one. I asked a taxi driver for their number and it saved me big time.  

Bus stops

Bus stops along the main road in Orosi are marked by a short, thin yellow line of paint. It’s not clear and any unsuspecting tourist would walk straight past. When looking for a bus stop, keep an eye on the ground. If in doubt, ask a local.

Take a rain jacket

A freak shower can catch you out in Orosi even during the dry season. Make sure to pack a rain jacket for your trip to the valley. Speaking of gear, I also highly recommend that you take a pair of decent hiking boots with you.

Things close early

Lots of businesses in the Orosi Valley start and end the day early. For example, some restaurants close at 3pm. If you want to eat out or do a food shop, it’s best not to leave it too late.

More Costa Rica travel advice on A World Over

Thanks for reading my Orosi Valley Costa Rica guide. I hope it helps you to plan your trip and enjoy the beautiful nature there. For more Costa Rica travel tips, check out the following guides. 

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