With 13 days to spend in Costa Rica, you could choose a coast-to-coast highlights tour that takes you to volcanoes, beaches, and national parks. You might opt instead for an itinerary focused on the Caribbean side, an action-packed tour featuring whitewater rafting and ziplining, or a birdwatching tour that leads you to bird habitats around Costa Rica. For the ultimate mix of relaxation and adventure, try a self-guided road trip around the country's best beaches. Learn more with these five unique itineraries.

Itinerary #1: Costa Rica from Coast to Coast

See Costa Rica from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific coast, enjoying outdoor adventures along the way, on this exciting 13-day itinerary to Tortuguero National Park, Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio National Park.

Enjoy a quiet moment on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive & Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Guided Jungle Night Hike Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 4 Explore the Wilderness of Arenal La Fortuna
Day 5 Hike Hanging Bridges, Volcano & Soak in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 6 Visit Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rehabilitation Center  La Fortuna
Day 7 Guided Night Walk of Children's Eternal Forest Monteverde
Day 8 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 9 Have Fun at the Sky Adventures Park Monteverde
Day 10 Transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 11 Explore Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 12 Boat & Snorkel in Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 13 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Manuel Antonio

 

Welcome to Costa Rica! Spend a day sightseeing in San José before traveling to Tortuguero National Park for a nocturnal wildlife walk and a boat tour along the park's waterways. Then it's off to Arenal, where you'll explore the famous Hanging Bridges, hike around Arenal Volcano, soak in hot springs, and visit a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Continue to Monteverde to discover the cloud forest on a guided hike and zipline through the trees at the Sky Adventures Park. The last leg of the trip takes you to Manuel Antonio National Park for hiking, swimming, boating, and snorkeling around the protected wilderness. You'll head back to San José to catch a flight out. Learn more

Check out this Ultimate Guide to Manuel Antonio National Park for more information.

Itinerary #2: Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Wetlands & Caribbean Coast 

Kayaking, ziplining, whitewater rafting, a coffee tour, hot springs, and horseback riding on the beach await travelers on this wide-ranging 13-day adventure around Costa Rica's natural attractions.

Hike up Cerro Tortuguero for sweeping views over the coast
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José & Transfer to Arenal/La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Spot Nocturnal Wildlife at Ecocentro Danaus  Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Hike Around Arenal Volcano & Soak in Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Taste Costa Rican Coffee, Nighttime Nature Walk Monteverde
Day 5 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest & Sky Adventures Park Monteverde
Day 6 Go Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 7 Tour Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 8 Visit a Jaguar Rescue Center & BriBri Chocolate Farm Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 9 Go Horseback Riding on the Beach Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 10 Transfer from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 11 Hike in the Mountains & Kayak on the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 12 Travel to San José & Enjoy a Free Evening San José
Day 13 Depart San José  

 

Land in San José and transfer to La Fortuna, your base for exploring the Arenal region. Enjoy a guided nighttime wildlife hike, a visit to Arenal Volcano, and a relaxing dip in hot springs before you head to Monteverde for a tour of a coffee farm. You'll have the chance to hike in the cloud forest and zipline through the trees before moving on to your next destination, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Go on a whitewater rafting adventure down the Rio Pacuare, spend a day exploring Cahuita National Park, visit a wildlife rescue center, and learn how chocolate is made on a special tour. You'll ride horses on the beach before departing for Tortuguero National Park. Divide your time hiking and kayaking in the park—don't miss the spectacular view from Cerro Tortuguero—before traveling to San José for an evening out on the town. Learn more

For more ideas, read this article on the Best Things to Do in Tortuguero National Park.

Itinerary #3: Active Adventure in Costa Rica's Jungles and Beaches

Hike, kayak, raft, and zip through the cloud forest canopy on this thrilling 13-day adventure around Costa Rica that leads you from tropical jungles to rushing rivers to wide, inviting beaches.

Paddling on the Rio Pacuare
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Rafting Río Pacuare Río Pacuare
Day 3 Rafting Class III-IV Rapids - Arrive in Arenal Volcano National Park Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Volcano Hike & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Waterfall Rappelling in Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Coffee Farm Tour & Tabacon Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Boat from Arenal to Monteverde - Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 8 Zip-Line Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 9 Monteverde to Jacó Jacó
Day 10 River Safari in Carara National Park Jacó
Day 11 Day trip to Tortuga Island Jacó
Day 12 Jacó to San José San José
Day 13 Depart San José  


Kick off the trip with a quick stay in San José, then transfer to Rio Pacuare for a whitewater rafting adventure. The next day, you'll arrive in Arenal Volcano National Park. Go for a guided volcano hike and an excursion to La Fortuna waterfall. Try waterfall rappelling the next day. On day six, tour a coffee farm and go for a dip in the waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs.

Catch a boat from Arenal to Monteverde for a nighttime nature tour followed by an aerial canopy the next day. Move on to the surf village of Jacó, where you can relax, swim, or go for a hike. Next up is Carara National Park and a guided river safari, then a day trip to Tortuga Island for snorkeling and water sports. Return to San José early for an extra dose of Costa Rican culture and cuisine before flying out. Learn more

Find out more about the best things to do in Arenal.

Itinerary #4: Relaxing Nicoya Peninsula Road Trip

Hit the open road on this laid-back 13-day road trip around Costa Rica's beautiful Nicoya Peninsula that features stops at the stunning beaches of Guanacaste and the quintessential surf towns of Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa.

Take in a glorious sunset in Tamarindo 
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Liberia to Tamarindo - Self Drive Tamarindo
Day 2 Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 3 Sunset Catamaran Adventure Tamarindo
Day 4 Kayak Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 5 Free Day in Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 6 Tamarindo to Nosara - Optional Beach Excursion Nosara
Day 7 Nosara Mangrove Tour - SUP Paddle Board Nosara
Day 8 Nosara - Free Day Nosara
Day 9 Nosara to Santa Teresa Playa Tambor
Day 10 Free Afternoon and Evening Bioluminescent Bay Tour Santa Teresa
Day 11 Free Day in Santa Teresa Santa Teresa
Day 12 Surfing Lesson at Playa Santa Teresa Santa Teresa
Day 13 Santa Teresa to Liberia & Depart Costa Rica  


Touch down in Liberia, where you'll pick up a rental car for the drive to the popular surf village of Playa Tamarindo. Hit the beach on day two for a private surf lesson and a sunset catamaran cruise. On day four, you'll go on a kayaking excursion, and the next day, you'll have a free day for water sports, hiking, or practicing your new surfing skills. Head to another popular surf spot, Nosara, next.

Go on a mangrove tour and try SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) in Nosara before continuing along to Santa Teresa. Enjoy a relaxed day at Playa Tambor beach. Hike in Curú Wildlife Refuge, then go on an evening bioluminescent tour of the bay. This three-hour interactive trip includes a short kayaking excursion to Quesera Beach, where you'll have a picnic and watch the sun go down. Learn more

See this article on the best things to do on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Itinerary #5: Costa Rica Nature and Birding Adventure 

Costa Rica has over 850 species of birds, and you'll see as many as you can on this birdwatching-focused 13-day itinerary through the country's pristine landscapes, including forests, beaches, and national parks. 

Look for vibrantly hued birds on a birdwatching tour
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Costa Rica - Experience San José's Culture and History San José
Day 2 Birding at Vara Blanca - Transfer to La Fortuna/Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal to Caño Negro Caño Negro
Day 4 Early-Morning Birding at Caño Negro Caño Negro
Day 5 Caño Negro to the Celeste River & Tenorio National Park Cañas
Day 6 Travel to Rincón de la Vieja National Park Cañas
Day 7 Palo Verde National Park - Travel to Tárcoles Tarcoles
Day 8 Birding at Villa Lapas - Optional Visit to Carara National Park Tarcoles
Day 9 Tárcoles to the Southern Pacific Coast La Gamba
Day 10 Early Birding on the Southern Pacific Coast La Gamba
Day 11 Esquinas Rainforest Lodge to the Talamanca Mountains San Gerardo de Dota
Day 12 Quetzal Safari in Los Quetzales National Park San Gerardo de Dota
Day 13 San Gerardo to San José - Departure  


Travel to Vara Blanca for your first birding experience. Look for the fiery-throated hummingbird, barred hawk, ornate hawk-eagle, and more. Then transfer to the Arenal region and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, the largest wetland in the country, where you may spot a cinnamon woodpecker. Next up is Celeste River and Tenorio National Park, home to the quail-dove, black-eared wood-quail, rufous-vented ground-cuckoo, and others.

In the second part of the trip, you'll make stops at several national parks: Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park, and Carara National Park. Look for scarlet macaws around Villa Lapas, then continue to another birding outing in Piedras Blancas National Park. Relax at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge before finishing up with a trip to the Talamanca Mountains and a quetzal safari in Los Quetzales National Park. Learn more

Read more about the Best Wildlife Experiences in Costa Rica.

More Great Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other Costa Rica itineraries, explore different ways to spend two weeks in Costa Rica, or discover the best time to visit Costa Rica.