Itinerary #1: Costa Rica Essentials - Tortuguero to the Pacific Coast
Hit up the country's best cultural and natural highlights—including food-focused tours, beach days, and national park visits—on this popular trip plan.
|Day 1||Arrive in Costa Rica - Foodie Tour||San José|
|Day 2||Flight to Tortuguero National Park||Tortuguero|
|Day 3||Turtle Spotting in Tortuguero||Tortuguero|
|Day 4||Transfer to Sarapiquí - Optional Rafting Trip||Sarapiquí|
|Day 5||Transfer to La Fortuna||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 6||Hike Arenal 1968 - Tabacón Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 7||Transfer to Rincón de la Vieja - Optional Innertubing||Rincon de la Vieja|
|Day 8||Transfer to the Pacific Coast - Beach Day||Playa Sámara|
|Day 9||Sámara Beach Free Day||Playa Sámara|
|Day 10||Transfer to the Central Valley - Optional Coffee Tour||Alajuela|
|Day 11||Depart San José|
Begin the tour in San José. On the first day, you'll go on a foodie tour of the city, trying local specialties from gallo pinto (rice and beans) to ceviche with plantains. You'll fly to Tortuguero National Park the next day for a turtle-spotting tour: the beach is a nesting area for hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles, and you may also spot manatees and howler monkeys.
Transfer to Sarapiquí, where you can go on a rafting trip or tour a cacao plantation. You'll explore Arenal Volcano National Park and take a dip in Tabacón Hot Springs, then head to Rincón de la Vieja National Park for inner-tubing and horseback riding.
On day eight, you'll make your way to the Pacific coast. Check into five-star lodgings and take a day to relax on the beach of Playa Sámara. The following day, you could take a tour of Palo Verde National Park, known for bird-watching and limestone caverns, or check out the coffee shops and art galleries in the charming beach town of Sámara. You'll travel to the Central Valley at the end of the trip, where optional activities include touring a coffee plantation—Costa Rica is, after all, one of the largest coffee producers in the world—and visiting the eco-theme park at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you can hike through cloud forest to a series of refreshing waterfalls. Learn more
Itinerary #2: Road Trip to Arenal, Monteverde, & Manuel Antonio
This self-guided road trip leads you around many of Costa Rica's top attractions, featuring active adventures along the way from swimming in waterfalls to snorkeling to a zip line tour.
|Day 1||Arrive in San José||San José|
|Day 2||Pick Up Rental Car - Drive to Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 3||Arenal Hanging Bridges & Arenal 1968 Reserve||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 4||Waterfall Hike & Cooking Class||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 5||Drive from Arenal to Monteverde - Night Nature Tour||Monteverde|
|Day 6||Aerial Fun in the Cloud Forest||Monteverde|
|Day 7||Drive from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio||Manuel Antonio|
|Day 8||Guided Hike of Manuel Antonio National Park||Manuel Antonio|
|Day 9||Sea Kayaking & Snorkeling at Manuel Antonio||Manuel Antonio|
|Day 10||Drive from Manuel Antonio to San José||San José|
|Day 11||Depart San José|
After landing in San José, pick up a rental car to begin the adventure. After a night in the city, drive to Arenal Volcano, where you'll check out the volcano and hot springs, Arenal Hanging Bridges, and the Arenal 1968 Reserve. Take a waterfall hike at La Fortuna, then an afternoon cooking class at La Guaria Morada restaurant, followed by a traditional dinner. On day five, drive from Arenal to Monteverde for a nighttime nature tour and adrenaline-raising activities at the Sky Adventures Monteverde Park, an aerial amusement park in the cloud forest.
Continuing along the road trip, surfers will want to make a stop at Jacó, a lively town that's a jumping-off point for popular breaks. Drive to Manuel Antonio National Park for sea kayaking, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing: the region is a great place to spot capuchin monkeys in the wild, plus sloths and over 200 species of birds. End the trip in San José with a city tour that takes you to the National Theater and the busy Mercado Central marketplace. Finish with a three-course meal featuring traditional Costa Rican cuisine. Learn more
Itinerary #3: Río Pacuare Rafting & Corcovado National Park
Pristine landscapes and rugged hiking trails await travelers on this itinerary that takes you around the country's southern region.
|Day 1||Arrive in Costa Rica - Experience San José's Culture and History||San José|
|Day 2||Rafting Río Pacuare||Río Pacuare|
|Day 3||Río Pacuare - Transfer to Turrialba||Turrialba|
|Day 4||Canyoning and Zipline||Turrialba|
|Day 5||Transfer to San Gerardo de Dota - Optional Birding||San Gerardo de Dota|
|Day 6||Transfer to the Southern Pacific Coast||Dominical|
|Day 7||Kayak in Marino Ballena National Park||Dominical|
|Day 8||Free Day in Dominical||Dominical|
|Day 9||Horseback Ride to Nauyaca Waterfalls||Dominical|
|Day 10||Transfer to San José and Sightseeing||San José|
|Day 11||Depart San José|
Get to know the city of San José on the first day of the trip, then head into the wilderness for an adventure on the Río Pacuare, one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world. Transfer to Turrialba for a tour of a virgin forest that incorporates waterfall rappelling, a canopy zip-line adventure over the treetops, and a walk across a 131-foot hanging bridge. Move onto San Gerardo de Dota, an ideal spot for birdwatching opportunities, then keep going to the southern Pacific coast and beautiful Marino Ballena National Park, where you'll go kayaking and have time to relax on the beach.
On the next stop of the trip in Dominical, you have a few options: trekking and spotting howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and jaguars in Corcovado National Park, snorkeling around Caño Island, and boating to secluded Violin Island, a secluded island bordered by the mangrove forests of the Sarapiquí River, for swimming and a picnic lunch. Go horseback riding to the Nauyaca Waterfalls before heading back to San José for an afternoon of sightseeing and learning about Costa Rican food, history, and culture. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Luxury Wildlife & Adventure Sports Getaway
Soak in hot springs and sleep in stylish jungle lodges on this luxurious tour around Costa Rica.
|Day 1||Arrival in Costa Rica - Transfer to Arenal and Luxurious Hot Springs||La Fortuna|
|Day 2||Horseback Riding to La Fortuna Waterfall - Exclusive Farm Tour & Cooking Lesson||La Fortuna|
|Day 3||Private Nature Walk in Ecological Park & Butterfly Garden Danaus||La Fortuna|
|Day 4||Arenal Hanging Bridges & Luxury Hot Springs||La Fortuna|
|Day 5||Full-Day Exclusive Whitewater Rafting Trip on the Balsa River||La Fortuna|
|Day 6||Private Transfer from Arenal to Bajos del Toro||Bajos del Toro|
|Day 7||Bajos del Toro Private Guided Waterfall Tour||Bajos del Toro|
|Day 8||Grand Safari on the Tárcoles River||Uvita|
|Day 9||Private Guided Hike in Corcovado National Park||Uvita|
|Day 10||Exclusive Snorkeling Trip at Caño Island Biological Reserve||Uvita|
Kick off the trip in style by checking into a luxury hotel in La Fortuna and going for a dip in the onsite hot springs. On day two you'll go horseback riding to La Fortuna Waterfall, then enjoy a private tour of an organic farm complete with a cooking lesson and a meal served outdoors. You'll go on a guided nature walk to Ecological Park & Butterfly Garden Danaus the next day, home to more than 40 species of butterflies, 600 varieties of plants, and areas designed for frog reproduction. See the Arenal Hanging Bridges before a full-day whitewater rafting trip on the Balsa River.
On the second part of the trip, you'll travel to Bajos del Toro for a guided tour of jungle waterfalls. Then you'll drive to Uvita for a boat safari on the Tárcoles River, a haven for crocodiles and the home to many species of exotic birds. Go for a private guided hike of Corcovado National Park, then head to Caño Island Biological Reserve for a private snorkeling tour. It's a perfect way to finish the tour: with turquoise waters and fantastic underwater visibility, it's not only one of the best places in Costa Rica for snorkeling and diving, but it's also a wonderful place to experiment with underwater photography. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Culture & Nature on the Caribbean Coast
On this diverse trip plan that covers the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, you'll see sea turtles, surf towns, and coffee plantations.
|Day 1||Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture||San José|
|Day 2||City Tour of San José||San José|
|Day 3||San José to Turrialba Volcano||Turrialba|
|Day 4||Local Farm Experience & Coffee Tour||Turrialba|
|Day 5||Turrialba to the Caribbean Coast||Puerto Viejo de Talamanca|
|Day 6||Transfer to Bambú - Boat Ride to Bribri Village||Yorkin|
|Day 7||Waterfall Hike - Transfer to Puerto Viejo||Puerto Viejo de Talamanca|
|Day 8||Puerto Viejo to Arenal Volcano||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 9||Los Campesinos Farm Experience||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 10||Arenal to San José||San José|
|Day 11||Depart San José|
You'll spend a couple of days in San José at the beginning of the trip for a city tour and overview of Costa Rica's culture, history, and cuisine. Then head to Turrialba Volcano for hiking, a visit to a local farm, and a coffee plantation tour. By day five, you'll be on the Caribbean coast for a sunset swim at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
The next day, transfer to Bambú, located in the Talamanca Mountains, and catch a boat to Yorkín, home of the native Bribri people. You'll have the chance to learn about chocolate-making, palm-thatching, and archery during a guided tour of the community, and at night, you'll have dinner with a local family in their home.
On day seven, after a ride on a cayuco (a traditional indigenous canoe), head back to Puerto Viejo for a hike around a series of waterfalls. Then you'll backtrack to Arenal Volcano for hiking and a dip in hot springs. At the end of the trip, you'll go to the small town of Agua Azul, a jumping-off point for a hands-on visit to a sustainable farm where you'll learn how to milk a cow, extract juice from sugar cane, and distill liquor. Circle back to San José for one last day and night exploring the city's cultural highlights, eating fresh fruit in the marketplace, and getting a feel for Costa Rican nightlife. Learn more
More Great 11-Day Costa Rica Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your Costa Rica trip? Check out these other 11-day Costa Rica itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.
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