Costa rica itineraries

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Check out all the one week, two week, and three week itineraries!

Each Costa Rica itinerary includes detailed plans, the best activities, great places to eat, money-saving tips, and more.

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Pura Vida!

costa rica One week itineraries

Discover the best way to see Costa Rica in a short amount of time. We like to stick to only a few places for one week to really embrace the vibe.

Jaco (day 1) → Manuel Antonio (day 2, 3) → Uvita (day 4, 5, 6) → Airport Area (day 7) → Leave paradise (day 8)

  • Hike in a national park
  • Relax on a beautiful beach
  • Try surfing or SUP
  • Watch the beautiful sunset

Airport Area (day 1) → Manuel Antonio (day 2, 3) → Jaco (day 4) → La Fortuna (day 5, 6) → Airport Area (day 7) → Leave paradise (day 8)

  • Visit the top of a volcano
  • Explore a national park
  • See a waterfall up close
  • Try surfing or SUP

Airport Area (day 1) → La Fortuna (day 2, 3, 4) → Monteverde (day 5, 6) → Airport Area (day 7) → Leave paradise (day 8)

  • Take a wildlife night hike
  • Swim under a waterfall
  • Eat in a treehouse
  • Relax in a hot spring

costa rica Two week itineraries

See all the best of the paradise that is Costa Rica. These itineraries are great for really getting a feel for Costa Rica.

Airport Area (day 1, 2) → La Fortuna (day 3, 4, 5) → Monteverde (day 6, 7) → Playas del Coco (day 8, 9, 10) → Tamarindo (day 11, 12, 13) → Airport Area (day 14) → Leave paradise (day 14)

  • Go on a wildlife night tour
  • Go on a snorkel & boat trip
  • Hike in a cloud forest
  • Relax at a beach bar

Airport Area (day 1) → La Fortuna (day 2, 3, 4) → Monteverde (day 5,6) → Samara (day 7, 8, 9) → Nosara (day 10) → Tamarindo (day 11, 12, 13) → Airport area (day 14) → Leave paradise (day 15)

  • Learn how to surf
  • Relax at a beach bar
  • Climb to the top of a ficus tree
  • Go white water rafting

Airport Area (day 1) → Tortuguero (day 2, 3) → Cahuita (day 4, 5, 6) → Puerto Viejo (day 7, 8) → Bocas del Toro (day 9, 10, 11, 12) → Airport Area (day 13) → Leave paradise (day 14)

  • Hike in a national park
  • Watch sea turtles lay their eggs
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Visit secret beaches

costa rica Three week itineraries

Explore Costa Rica’s best in great detail. These itineraries involve a lot of driving, but are very manageable.

Airport Area (day 1) → Uvita (day 2, 3, 5) → Manuel Antonio (day 5,6) → Jaco (day 7) → Montezuma (day 8, 9, 10) → Samara (day 11, 12, 13) → Nosara (day 14)→ Tamarindo (day 15, 16, 17)→ Playas del Coco → (day 18, 19) → Airport Area (day 20) → Leave paradise (day 21)

  • Go hiking and see wildlife
  • Try surfing
  • Enjoy a beach bar cocktail
  • Watch the beautiful sunset

Airport Area (day 1, 2) → Cahuita (day 3, 4, 5) → Tortuguero (day 6, 7) → La Fortuna (day 8, 9, 10) →  Monteverde (day 11, 12) → Manuel Antonio (day 13, 14) → Uvita (day 15, 16, 17)→ San Gerardo de Dota (day 18, 19)→ Airport Area (day 20) → Leave paradise (day 21)

  • Watch sea turtles lay their eggs
  • Eat tasty authentic food
  • Take a wildlife night tour
  • Go hiking in a national park

25 COMMENTS

  1. Hi!
    I am hoping you can help me with my itinerary! We are flying into San Jose. I’m ok with another flight to Liberia or another airport if it makes sense. My 15yo daughter and I will be traveling together. We would like to do the following activities:
    1. Whitewater rafting
    2. ziplining
    3. beach time! (beautiful beach for swimming, nice sand, etc.)
    4. see animals
    My biggest thing is I don’t like crowds, and we are going February 2020, high season. So…. not sure the best option(s)?
    I’d appreciate your advice.

    • Hi Allie! Of course we can help you! How long are you planning to stay for? You can definitely do everything with driving from San Jose (are you planning to rent a car?). Let me know how long you’ll be here for and I’ll give you some suggestions. ?

  2. Hello, I am really learning a lot from your blog and LOVE all the info. I have made a mock itinerary of places I’d like to visit and the order. Having never been to Costa Rica, can you tell me if this makes sense and is feasible? Also. Any suggestions on how many days would I need to take to see all of these places and enjoy them? Fly into Liberia, stop at Playas Del Cocoa as I head towards Tamarindo. Next stop Montezuma. Next Monteverde followed by La Fortuna. Then head back to Liberia Airport. Does this make sense? I welcome any input or suggestions. Thank you!

    • Hi Christian! That sounds pretty good! Two questions though, how long will you be in Costa Rica? And when are you visiting? I ask so that I can give you a better idea of how long I would suggest spending in each area and because there have been a few road closures near Montezuma recently. We were there two weeks ago and had to wait for 2 hours for a road to open due to construction. That way I can check for you if everything will be open when you are here. ?

      • We are planning on visiting in February for 9 days or so. I really liked all your suggestions about Montezuma and thought about spending at least a couple days there. I really love all the detail and suggestions in your blog! Thank you for putting it all together!

      • Ah ok! The road work should definitely be done by then. Ok, so I would suggest 1 night in Tamarindo, 3 nights in Montezuma, 2 nights in Monteverde, and 2 or 3 nights in La Fortuna (depending on when your flight is out of Liberia). If you do need to spend your last night near the airport I suggest staying in Playa Hermosa. It is very close to the airport and much nicer than staying in downtown Liberia. Also, on your way back from La Fortuna you can stop at Llanos de Cortez. It is a nice waterfall near Liberia and it is on your drive. Just note, with this itinerary that you have it will be a lot of driving. As long as you don’t mind that, then go for it! Montezuma is the best, but it is a bit out of the way. If you need to skip something I would skip Monteverde. It is really cool, but the main activity there is ziplining and you can do that in La Fortuna as well.
        Let me know what other questions you have!

      • Thank you Sarah! I was reading another blog and they said, in not so many words, that the Arenal volcano was a bit overrated and it may be too cloudy in February to see much and they suggested Miravalles Volcano instead and also mentioned some hot springs there. But do you still recommend La Fortuna for zip-lining? I also really want to walk on a hanging/suspension bridge. If we skip Monteverde, are there suspension bridges in La Fortuna? Thanks again! This is so helpful!

      • Hmm I don’t agree. You should actually have amazing volcano views in February. It is the dry season so there tend to be very few clouds. We were there last year in late January and had completely clear views. La Fortuna is a touristy town. Its not exactly charming BUT what it lacks in charm it makes up for in things to do. There is just so much to do in La Fortuna for jungle adventures! Also, yes, there are hanging bridges at Mistico. Here is their site. https://www.misticopark.com/ It is a nice walk with great views. There are plenty of zip lining companies in La Fortuna as well. We are in the process of partnering with a few of them. If you would like, check back in with me in about a month and I can probably get you a zip-lining discount. 🙂

      • Sarah thank you so much for your input! I will definitely keep La Fortuna on the list! and I will check back with you in a month or so!

  3. What great pre-made itineraries!!!!!
    You are so helpful, that I thought I’d ask your opinion and suggestions 🙂
    We will be in Costa for the last 9 nights of November. Last year we travelled the Uvita area, and monteverde, with one night at Hermosa (north) and wanted to do more of a Nicoya peninsula trip this time. We love hiking, and one big goal of this trip will be the turtles nesting. We were hoping to only stay in two (or perhaps even one) place this time to not loose those travel days like we did on our last trip!
    So – I’m finding accommodation near Hermosa to be quite expensive. We don’t like being around a lot of people.
    I don’t mind driving a ways for day trips – I’m used to driving a lot and am not shy to 4×4 (have rented an appropriate car). With 9 days, and knowing that wildlife, beautiful views, private homes with pools, and hiking are our highlights (of course beach exploring too), would you do either a) a very very southern stay around Santa Teresa or some such, then up near tamarindo. OR would you do b) the samara area then Hermosa (and just keep looking for the accom). We love renting private houses but certainly will book all we can through your website!
    Suggestions appreciated so much!!!

    • Hi Brooke!
      this is a tough question. I would have trouble deciding as well. At that time of year it is hard to say how the weather will be. Both Santa Teresa area and Samara area are unpaved. Just made sure you rent a 4×4 or at least a 4×2 with good clearance.
      Personally, I would go for the Santa Teresa area. We like Montezuma a lot. You may get lucky and see sea turtles there. There is a sea turtle refuge on Montezuma beach. we were there in October once and saw a few little babies making their way to the ocean. http://refugioromelia.com/ There are also a bunch of great hikes in the area, bioluminescent kayaking, a waterfall you can hike to, and more. The beaches there are not the best for swimming though. If you then go to Tamarindo you will have two more chances to possibly see sea turtles. Playa Grande just north of Tamarindo does turtle tours and you could also do a day trip down to Playa Ostional if it happens to be turtle time while you are there. Ostional is the best possible place to see turtles. You can follow their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/GUIASAGLO/ They update as the turtles as arrive. It would be a last minute thing though.
      Let me know what you think and if you need more suggestions. 🙂

  4. I love this blog! We are planning a 10 day hike, beach, and surf trip for early December. I’ve been pouring through your site for cool relaxed hippie locations. Any additional recommendations or 10 day tour suggestions? Keep up the great content!

  5. Hi, thanks for your great blogs! i’m overwhelmed trying to organize a trip to costa rica for me (the mom) and my three kids (9 boy,15 girl,17 boy) to CR. I was planning to rent an SUV (can my 17 year old licensed teen drive it?) but now i’m worried i’m taking on too much spearheading and navigating. Not sure i can afford transports around the country for all four of us though. Dates are 2.30 p.m. 7/31 to 3 p.m. 8/14. Thinking Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, Fortuna, and then beach (was going to do Manuel Antonio but what should we do instead? Do you have counsel on the car–is it hard to navigate/safe (will get international coverage and have waze on phone but we have poor sense of direction!) and how much distance between each place and how long should we stay at each place? def want to avoid any night driving…once i know all that i can book accommodations and car through your links. I would so appreciate your counsel so i can see this one through and not be so daunted!

  6. Thank you for this information! So helpful! We are visiting and volunteering on our honeymoon in November. We want to visit multiple cities in a week, but I’m unsure which areas are optimal with November weather. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Ashley! You’ll have the best weather on the Caribbean coast. It is the dry season on the Caribbean in November so you’ll have sunny days there! Check out Tortuguero, Cahuita, and Puerto Viejo. Where are you volunteering?

      • Thank you so much! I was just reading your post yesterday about it being dry season on that coast. We are volunteering at a school in the Guanacaste region, so hopefully we will luck out with the weather. There are a few schools that people can volunteer with through Creciendo Juntos. My fiance and I are both teachers, so we are excited to work with the kids!

  7. Hi – I’m trying to convert these itineraries coming in and out of Liberia airport. do you have itineraries or suggestions for 7day jungle adventure (or mixed jungle/beach!) that would work for Liberia start/finish? I’m looking at Tenoria Nat’l park but Monteverde looks great too. and I’ve seen that Puerto Viejo has great Afro Caribbean music festivals about the time we’ll be there (next week end March) also – we have rented a car (Adobe thru your site!) from the airport.

    • Hi! Actually, from Liberia I’d suggest La Fortuna or Monteverde and one beach location (maybe Playas del Coco or Tamarindo). Puerto Viejo is great but it is just too far to drive for that short amount of time. You could drive from Liberia, do one night at Tenorio, down to La Fortuna for a few nights and then over to the beach. Also, something nice to check out is Llanos de Cortez waterfall near Liberia. Let me know what you think and I can give you more details. 🙂

  8. Hi There! Hubs and I are planning our 5 year anniversary trip to Costa Rica this Christmas and like your adventure 14 day trip. We’d like to rent a AirBNB as I love to cook – and the savings!! Where would you recommend is the best inbetween place so less drive time?

    • Hi Laura! Oh good I’m so happy our itinerary could help you out! The drives between each of those places actually are really not so bad. If you wanted, you could drive up to La Fortuna the back way (roads are good just a bit curvy) and spend a night near Poas Volcano. Its definitely cool to see. Let me know if you’d like to do that and I can give you more tips for that. The other long drive is Tamarindo back to San Jose but unfortunately, there really isn’t any good middle point to stop. Let me know if you have more questions as you plan everything! I’m happy to help 🙂

  9. Hi Guys, I am looking to do some Spanish Immersion when I get to Central America in mid January. I am flying into Costa Rica, was planning to backtrack to Nicaragua then back into Costa Rica to Panama to Colombia. Do you know any good cities to do Spanish immersion at a fair price for good program for 1-2 weeks. Or maybe I should do it in Nicaragua?

    • Hi Chad! Nicaragua would most likely be cheaper, however, along the Pacific coast in Costa Rica there are a lot of towns with Spanish Immersion programs. The big towns are Jaco and Tamarindo. However, Jaco is a bit too touristy and not the nicest in our opinion. I’d suggest looking in Tamarindo or Playas del Coco. I know both towns have some Spanish programs, they are fun towns, and also not too far from the Nica border.
      Hope that helps a bit!

  10. Hi, Sarah and Thomas:

    My family is planning a trip to Costa Rica, with 2 adults and 2 girls. I would like to get some help from you since you are the expert in this country.

    – we want to stay relaxed and be flexible. Do you think we can find local tour guide whenever we want? What I mean is if we can find safe and good quality tour in the local area for maybe the next day. A good way is to through a nice and helpful house owner who can help us arrange, but it is by luck, right? What do you say about this as a general rule?

    – We are going there in late December and with two girls, I want to show them more animals that they won’t be able to see elsewhere, like sloth and turtle (hatching egg or maybe just a lot of small ones). Do you have any suggestions on where to go?

    – Renting car and driving by ourselves may be too exhausting for us. I learned that the road conditions vary, with rocks and unpredictable delay. If driving, and we get lost or get a car problem, who should we call for help?

    Thank you for helping me with these questions.

    Your posts are really helpful!

    Best regards,

    Wei

    • Hi Wei!

      – I wouldn’t usually suggest this (because it’s a bit too filled with tourists) but Manuel Antonio is probably a good option for you. The national park there is absolutely filled with monkeys, sloths, and more. Also, that area is great for kids. The beaches (for the most part) are calm enough to swim in.
      Another area I would suggest is La Fortuna. The girls will definitely love the hot springs there. Most are very family friendly with multiple pools and waterslides. Also in La Fortuna you should definitely visit the La Fortuna waterfall. They would probably also like the chocolate tour there. You can see how chocolate is made and can eat all the chocolate you want.
      If you are staying for a week or more you can easily do both spots and get a nice mix of beach and jungle. It is about a 4 hour drive between both areas.

      -Usually, you can always find a guide last minute, but in late December things start filling up again, so I can’t guarantee it. Honestly, you really don’t need a guide for most things. If you do go to Manuel Antonio national park I would maybe suggest getting a guide for the day. It can be a bit pricey, but they bring telescopes with them and know where all the animals are. The girls would probably love it. Anyway, you don’t need to book that ahead of time. There are guides waiting at the entrance to the national park. They are usually all really great.

      – As far as transportation, that is a tricky one! If you go from the San Jose airport to La Fortuna or Manuel Antonio (or both) you don’t need to worry. The roads are well maintained. In fact, to Manuel Antonio you will be on a highway the whole time. It’s basically a straight shot from the airport. You will have no trouble. To La Fortuna, the road is paved but it does get a bit hilly in spots. In both the town of Manuel Antonio and La Fortuna you will be fine driving.
      If you book a car through us with Adobe (which I recommend because they are amazing) they will give you a free cell phone to use as well as a number they can always be reached at if you have any problems. For directions, we like the free app Waze. Unfortunately, the phone Adobe gives out is not a smartphone, but if you are able to use your phone in Costa Rica, Waze is the way to go.
      I suggest renting a car because it usually comes out cheaper (especially for 4 people) than taking private shuttles. Plus, then you have the flexibility of getting around in every spot and don’t have to depend on day tours.

      Here are some links you should check out….
      Guide to Manuel Antonio National Park: https://www.costaricavibes.com/manuel-antonio-tips/
      Guide to the Manuel Antonio area: https://www.costaricavibes.com/destinations/puntarenas/manuel-antonio/
      Guide to La Fortuna area: https://www.costaricavibes.com/destinations/alajuela/la-fortuna/
      Our rental car discount: https://www.costaricavibes.com/renting-a-car-in-costa-rica/
      Interbus (the most popular private shuttle company to get an idea of prices): https://www.interbusonline.com/
      Rainforest Chocolate (The chocolate tour in La Fortuna) Also, if you do this I suggest booking it ahead of time. It can fill up: http://www.rainforestchocolatetour.com/

      That’s all I can think of for now! Feel free to email me if you have more questions. I’m happy to help! [email protected]

      Best,
      Sarah

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