1 Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica). As the legend goes, the Basilica was built on the exact site where a figurine of the Virgin Mary appeared to local native girl Juana Pereira in 1635, the girl brought the figurine to her house but it disappeared, without her noticing she found another figurine and brought it back again to find that the first one was missing, this happened many time and she told the local priest, who locked the figurine in a copher and the same thing happened again, therefore they built this site. Holy Water is available on the premises and is customary to fill a bottle by the visitors to bring back home. Also, the stone where the figurine kept appearing is located to the left and behind the altar of the Basilica.
2 Ruinas de la Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol (Saint James the Apostle Parish Ruins). In the middle of the Main Square of downtown Cartago, these carefully preserved ruins include a small garden, but this garden is barred by steel gates most of the time and not commonly open to the public. As the legend goes, two brothers were in love with the same woman, one was single and was chosen by the woman, and the other a priest. In the first day of the year 1577 he saw his brother celebrate Mass, and he killed him in the night. For penance he built the church, which was obliterated by an earthquake the same day it was finished. This happened each time it was rebuilt, and it was never attempted again after the 1910 earthquake.
Irazú Volcano area
3 Volcán Irazú (Irazu Volcano). Around 30 km from downtown Cartago, this is one of the most famous volcanoes in Costa Rica. This now-dormant volcano erupted in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was visiting Costa Rica.
4 Sanatorio Durán (Durán Sanatorium). A sanatorium built in 1918 by ex-president and physician Dr. Carlos Durán for tuberculosis patients. The place has been abandoned for years and the local farmers have taken care of it. It is a popular place to spend the night as there are many scary stories regarding the place and the people that lived there. Beautiful views and fresh air year round.
5 Lankester Botanical Gardens, East of downtown Cartago, this garden hosts the largest collection of orchids and epiphytes in Central America, they also have collections in open air of bromeliads, cacti, succulents, heliconians, bamboos, palms, ferns, a secondary growth forest and a Japanese garden donated by the Japanese Embassy.
A beautiful valley town 12 km east of Cartago, with amazing views from the hills. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and coffee plantations. It is easy to find hostels, hotels and restaurants in the area.
6 Ujarrás Ruins. Ruins of an ancient church built by the Spanish conquistadors, very peaceful surroundings with a hot spring nearby.
7 Iglesia de San José de Orosi. (Saint Joseph Church of Orosi). A church built by the Spanish colonists in 1743, still in use and carefully preserved. National monument.
8 Tapantí National Park. A national park with four hiking trails for all levels of difficulty, with beautiful views of El Salto waterfall, and it is possible to swim in the Grande de Orosi River.
The next two scenic overlook points are on the road to and from Orosi valley. It is possible to visit one, then go to the valley and visit the other. The usual way to visit the area is to do a loop using National Route 224, which starts and ends in Paraíso.
9 Ujarrás Overlook (Mirador de Ujarrás), Beautiful view of Orosi valley.
10 Orosi Overlook (Mirador de Orosi), Beautiful view of Orosi valley.
11 Cachí Dam. A dam was built in the 1970s for hydroelectricity production, and the artificial lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains. Trout is cultivated in many places around the lake. The producers offer the whole experience of fishing the trout and then frying it for you. Plenty of restaurants nearby.
12 La Casa del Soñador (Dreamer’s House). This is a place to buy wood crafts made from coffee roots.