Orosi: A Valley of Green

As you turn the corner into the Orosi Valley, you will immediately see its appeal. From the hilltop, steep green mountains surround a village of small rooftops. A swift river winds through town. Descending into the center of Orosi, you’ll see its quaint central square. It sits beside a historic church with shops, restaurants, and modest homes nearby. Here, you’ll find authentic Costa Rica, where tourism comes mostly from San Jose’s weekend locals. But for any visitor, there is a lot to see. In this post, we will share everything you need to plan your stay in Orosi. 

Orosi Destination Guide

Orientation

Orosi is located about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose. Though close in distance, plan on at least 1.5 hours of driving, with traffic. From San Jose Airport (SJO), plan on around two hours. The closest large city is Cartago, just 17 km (10 miles) away. 

Because this area was one of the first to be settled after the Spanish arrived, it has a lot of history. Orosi is even home to Costa Rica’s oldest operational church, dating back to the 1700s (see below).  

Church courtyard Orosi
The church courtyard with main street in the background

Activities

While Orosi is a small town, it has a lot to explore. We would recommend staying at least a few nights so you are not rushed.  

Orosi’s Historic Church

Costa Rica has a strong Catholic heritage, and you can visit many historic churches around the country. The oldest church still in use today can be found right in Orosi’s town square. 

Iglesia Colonial de Orosi (Colonial Church of Orosi) was constructed back in 1767 and is a National Heritage site. It has walls made from adobe, terracotta roof tiles, and a small bell tower.

The small, but beautiful, Catholic church still holds mass. It is open to the public. 

Next door is the old monastery. This building has been converted into a museum. In the few rooms, you can see artifacts from the church like old confession booths and alters. There are also several display cases with religious statues, candelabras, and ornate silver and bronze crowns. 

Admission to the museum is 500 colones (less than a dollar). 

Iglesia Colonial de Orosi
The simple, but beautifully adorned, nave of Iglesia Colonial de Orosi

Coffee Tours

Coffee has been an important crop in Costa Rica since it was introduced back in the 1700s. To experience some of Costa Rica’s culture and history, we highly recommend a local coffee tour. 

Several smaller coffee farms dot the steep slopes around the valley. On a tour, you’ll get to see how the beans are grown, harvested, and processed. Of course, you’ll also get to enjoy a freshly brewed cup! 

One tour that we really enjoyed was just minutes from town. For more information, read our post, Orosi Valley Coffee Tour: Cafe Artesanal Los Sauces. We share our experience and tell you how to visit for yourself.

Natural Hot Springs

With temperatures in the 70s°F during the day and 60s°F at night (15° to mid-20s°C), taking a dip in the local hot springs offers the perfect contrast. While many of Costa Rica’s hot springs are heated by volcanic activity, in Orosi, it is underground tectonic plates that warm the water.

There are two places in Orosi with hot springs. One is Balneario de Aguas Minerales de Orosi, right in town. This is more of a recreational-type facility, with picnic areas, sport courts, and pools (some with slides). Many locals pack in during weekends and holidays. 

For a spa or hot spring resort feel, there is Hacienda Orosi. This upscale property just outside town has seven elegant hot spring pools, along with a restaurant and spa. There is also a farm with barns filled with friendly animals. This makes it a good attraction for families. Coffee fields also have been planted for future activities.

For more information, read our post, Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs and Farm.

Hot Springs Orosi
Nicely landscaped thermal hot springs at Hacienda Orosi

Tapanti National Park 

For those looking to explore pristine rainforest without the crowds, Tapanti National Park is a great choice. This park has a wet environment that makes it very lush and wild. Over 20 feet (6.1 meters) of rain falls annually. This feeds the park’s many rivers, streams, and waterfalls. 

The park has three hiking trails plus a lookout where you can see a distant waterfall. Two trails lead through the rainforest to the banks of the Rio Grande de Orosi. One is easy and has covered picnic tables along the river to relax the day away. Conditions can sometimes be wet and muddy but enjoyable if you are prepared. 

Read our post, Tapanti National Park: Wild Rivers and Wet Forest, for more information. 

River Tapanti National Park
Rushing rivers and lush greenery in Tapanti National Park

Irazu Volcano

Also reachable from Orosi is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano. Irazu Volcano is about an hour’s drive through scenic farm country. Once you arrive at the top of the volcano, there is flat path from the parking area that leads to the edge of Irazu’s main crater.  

Conditions at the top can be cold and windy so be sure to dress in layers. Tour vans and buses from San Jose begin arriving late morning, so head there early to beat the crowds. 

Read our post, Irazu Volcano: Easy Access, Crater Views, and Extreme Climate, for more information on visiting. 

 

Restaurants

Orosi may be small but it has plenty of local eats. On weekends, when many locals arrive from San Jose, vendors set up along the road into town selling homemade tortillas, baked goods, grilled corn on the cob, and other traditional favorites. 

In and around town are several small sodas (typical Costa Rican-food restaurants), cafes, and some more upscale dining options as well. Here are a few spots we have enjoyed. 

Pizzeria a la Lena Il Giardino 

The Italian cuisine at Pizzeria a la Lena Il Giardino is authentic and delicious. We’ve tried the focaccia prosciutto and pizza margarita, which were both very good. Our kids devoured the spaghetti carbonara as well, which was big enough for a family on its own. 

The atmosphere is cozy and warm feeling with a wood-fired pizza oven in the background. They have a wine list and nice craft beer selection. Located one block north of the Orosi Lodge in downtown. 

Pizzeria a la Lena Il Giardino
Ambiance at Pizzeria a la Lena Il Giardino in downtown Orosi

Restaurante Tradiciones Don Jose

For a more upscale meal, there’s Restaurante Tradiciones Don Jose (also called Orosi al Natural Restaurante). This is a refined traditional food restaurant on the eastern side of the Orosi Grande River. From the spacious outdoor dining area, you can take in the view, while enjoying some grilled delicacies. They specialize in steak prepared on the parrilla (grill), but also have chicken and fish dishes.

Just below the seating area is a small playground and sandbox for the kids. During our visit, they were also finishing construction of a patio bar in the garden, where they will offer more casual food.

Grilled Steak at Restaurante Tradiciones Don Jose
The filet mignon at Restaurante Tradiciones Don Jose

The Garage 

On the southern end of town, tucked next to the main road, is the Garage. This hip bakery and coffee shop, about the size of a one-car garage, is the perfect place to get an afternoon pick-me-up. We enjoyed several of the small baked goods, but they also have ice cream and coffee.

The Garage coffee dessert shop
Inside the trendy Garage cafe

Monster’s Shake

For a treat, head to Monster’s Shake. On a side street, a short walk from the soccer field and church, this heladeria (ice-cream shop) has fun flavors, crazy combinations, and succulent desserts. The walls are wildly painted to add to its charm.

Hotels and Accommodations

Orosi has a handful of traditional hotels in and around the downtown. Vacation rental homes in the surrounding hills are also available. 

Orosi Lodge

The Orosi Lodge is a favorite among travelers. This colonial-style lodge is located right in the downtown but at the end of a quieter street. It has simple, comfortable rooms and also a few larger houses with more amenities. Some have balconies overlooking town and volcanoes in the distance. Around $58-99/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Orosi Lodge
The Orosi Lodge on the outskirts of the downtown

Villas Orosi Valley

A popular spot for locals visiting the area is Villas Orosi Valley. They have simple townhouse-style units right in the center of Orosi. They’re only a block from the church so you’re close to everything. $40-70/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Chalet Orosi

Another great option for those seeking more seclusion is Chalet Orosi. This small bed and breakfast has only three cabins. The bungalows are very homey feeling and set in lush gardens. Each has its own wooden terrace with an outdoor hot tub for relaxing. $88-135. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Hot Tub Chalet Orosi
Outdoor terrace with hot tub at Chalet Orosi

Conclusion

For those wanting to step off the tourist trail, Orosi and the surrounding Orosi Valley makes the perfect stop. The locals have that warmness and welcoming manner that we fell in love with when first visiting Costa Rica. The climate is near perfect, with cool evenings and warm days. History, culture, and nature check all the boxes. And a dip in some hot springs doesn’t hurt either.   

Have a question about visiting the Orosi Valley? Ask us below.

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Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds – Another lesser-known destination in Costa Rica is Miravalles Volcano in Guanacaste. This area also has nice thermal pools and a peaceful, country setting.

San Isidro de El General: A wonderful locals’ town is San Isidro de El General in the mountains of the Southern Zone. Read our guide for what to expect when visiting.

Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – Orosi has a fresh climate where you’ll need both light clothes and some warmer things for layering too. Get tips on what to pack with this post.

Rental Car Discount: Since Orosi is more spread out, it’s best visited with a rental car. Check out our discount to save 10% through a reputable local company and get free extras like a second driver and car seats for kids.

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