If you have 15 days to spend in Costa Rica, take your time exploring the country—see the best of multiple national parks, get off the beaten path with an interest-driven trip like birding or cycling. Road-trip around the country, hike through rainforests and snorkel around coral reef, mix adventure sports with luxurious spa treatments, and more, with these unique itinerary ideas.

Itinerary #1: Highlights of Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, & Tortuguero

On this comprehensive tour of Costa Rica's national parks, you'll see volcanoes, cloud forests, beaches, and jungle rainforests — and the sea turtles, monkeys, and diverse wildlife that populate them. 

A quiet beach in Tortuguero National Park
A quiet beach in Tortuguero National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 San José to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 3 Turtle Spotting in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 Tortuguero to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Arenal - Whitewater Rafting on the Sarapiquí River Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Hanging Bridges & Hiking in the Arenal 1968 Reserve Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Free Day in Arenal Volcano National Park Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 8 Boat from Arenal to Monteverde - Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 9 Zip-Line Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 10 Santa Elena Birdwatching & Jungle Hike Monteverde
Day 11 Monteverde to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 12 Guided Hike of Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 13 Kayaking - Damas Island Manuel Antonio
Day 14 Snorkeling & Sunset Catamaran Cruise in Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 15 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica  

Start the trip in San José. On day two, you'll pass through Braulio Carrillo National Park on your way to Tortuguero National Park. On the 22-mile stretch of beach, look for three species of turtles: hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtle. Then it's onto Arenal Volcano National Park for hiking and kayaking. On day five, you'll have a whitewater rafting trip on the Sarapiquí River. Then you'll visit Arenal's famed Hanging Bridges and go hiking in the Arenal 1968 Reserve. Take a free day in the park for outdoor activities of your choice.

On the second part of the trip, you'll head to Monteverde for a nighttime nature tour, a zip-line adventure in the cloud forest, and a birdwatching hike through the jungle. By day 11, you'll move onto Manuel Antonio National Park for a guided hike and a kayaking trip through the jungle-lined waterways around Damas Island. Try snorkeling or go on a naturalist-led tour of the park to see some of the more than 300 species of mammals and birds that live in the reserve, including sloths, hawks, iguanas, and several different kinds of monkeys. Finish the trip in style with a sunset catamaran cruise before returning to San José to catch a flight out. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Birding in Costa Rica's National Parks

Costa Rica has more than 850 bird species: spend two weeks spotting as many as you can on this avian-themed trip plan

Toucans on a tree branch in the Costa Rican jungle
Toucans on a tree branch in the Costa Rican jungle
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 Birding Tour Near Arenal Observatory Lodge Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Arenal to Caño Negro Caño Negro
Day 5 Early-Morning Birding at Caño Negro Caño Negro
Day 6 Caño Negro to the Celeste River & Tenorio National Park Cañas
Day 7 Travel to Rincón de la Vieja National Park Cañas
Day 8 Palo Verde National Park - Travel to Tárcoles Tarcoles
Day 9 Birding at Villa Lapas - Optional Visit to Carara National Park Tarcoles
Day 10 Tárcoles to the Southern Pacific Coast La Gamba
Day 11 Early Birding on the Southern Pacific Coast La Gamba
Day 12 Las Cruces Biological Station Las Cruces
Day 13 Las Cruces to the Talamanca Mountains San Gerardo de Dota
Day 14 Quetzal Safari in Los Quetzales National Park San Gerardo de Dota
Day 15 San Gerardo to San José - Departure  


Pick up a rental car in San José and make the 45-minute drive to the town of Poás, located near Poás Volcano in the national park of the same name. After a birding excursion, you'll sleep in a mountain lodge — look for bare-shanked screech-owls and dusky nightjars on your way to bed. Transfer to Boca Tapada for a naturalist-led birding tour where you'll have the chance to see scarlet macaws, toucans, oropendolas, honeycreepers, tanagers, euphonias, and jacamars. Drive to Sarapiquí for birding around a biological research station.

On week two, you'll do morning birding in the Turrialba Valley before driving to the Talamanca Mountains. Enjoy a quetzal safari in Los Quetzales National Park before driving to Piedras Blancas for early morning birding on the southern Pacific coast, staying overnight in La Gamba. Move onto Tárcoles to finish up the trip with morning birding in Carara National Park, where you'll hike on forested trails and spot birds from the chestnut-mandibled toucan and fiery-billed aracari to the pale-billed woodpecker and slaty-tailed trogon. Drive back to the big city to catch your flight out of Costa Rica. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Arenal & The Caribbean Coast

Enjoy Costa Rica's great outdoors on this colorful itinerary that features rainforest hikes, snorkeling around coral reefs, and spotting exotic birds in the wild.

Hiking to a waterfall in Costa Rica's jungle
Hiking to a waterfall in Costa Rica's rainforest
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 San José City Tour San José
Day 3 San José to Arenal, Coffee Plantation Tour Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Hanging Bridges & Hiking in the Arenal 1968 Reserve Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 River Float & Chocolate Tour in Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Free Day for Adventures Around Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Arenal to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 8 Turtle Spotting in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 9 Tortuguero - Transfer to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca Puerto Viejo
Day 10 Sloths, Monkeys & Beach Time Puerto Viejo
Day 11 Rainforest Hike & Kayak adventure in Punta Uva Puerto Viejo
Day 12-13 Puerto Viejo Free Day Puerto Viejo
Day 14 Puerto Viejo - Braulio Carrillo National Park - San José San José
Day 15 Depart San José  


Take a city tour of the capital on your first day in Costa Rica. On day three, you'll leave San José and head to Arenal for a coffee plantation visit, photo ops at the region's iconic Hanging Bridges, and hiking in the Arenal 1968 Reserve. On day five, enjoy a float down a jungle river and a chocolate-making tour in Arenal. Take a day for outdoor activities of your choice: options include mountain biking, hiking, birding, and whitewater rafting down the Balsa River. Then transfer to Tortuguero National Park for turtle-spotting and hiking along the beach.

On day nine, move onto Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where you'll relax on the sand and visit the Jaguar Rescue Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center, to see sloths and monkeys up close. Kayak and go on a hike through the rainforest near Punta Uva before returning to Puerto Viejo for a free day to do whatever you like. Finish up the trip in Braulio Carrillo National Park, where an aerial tram takes visitors high above the jungle canopy, increasing your chances of spotting capuchin monkeys, jaguars, deer, tapir, raccoons, armadillos, and anteaters in the wild. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Luxury Wellness Retreat & Active Adventures

Mix outdoor activities and sports with spa treatments and downtime on this well-balanced trip plan, which includes yoga classes, whitewater rafting excursions, and visits to natural hot springs.

Rafting the rapids on Río Pacuare
Rafting the rapids on Río Pacuare
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to The Retreat Alajuela
Day 2 Luxury Wellness Experience at The Retreat Alajuela
Day 3 Luxury Rainforest Lodge on the Pacuare River Turrialba
Day 4 Exclusive Pacuare River Trip Turrialba
Day 5 Rafting the Río Pacuare - Bajos del Toro Bajos del Toro
Day 6 Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike With Private Guide Bajos del Toro
Day 7 Transfer to Arenal - Luxury Tabacón Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 8 Exclusive Chocolate Making Experience in Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 9 Transfer to the Pacific Coast - Playa Esterillos Quepos
Day 10 Pacific Coast Excursion With Private Guide Quepos
Day 11 Transfer to San Isidro del General San Isidro del general
Days 12-13 Free Day at Hacienda AltaGracia San Isidro del general
Day 14 Transfer to Alajuela Alajuela
Day 15 Depart Costa Rica  


After touching down in Costa Rica, you'll go immediately by private transfer to The Retreat, a wellness center where you can practice yoga, get a massage, relax by the pool, and dine on healthy cuisine made with local produce. The next day, you'll move toward the Caribbean coast and check into the high-end Pacuare River Lodge. Raft down the river on a guided trip before continuing to Bajos del Toro, where you'll spend the night at El Silencio Lodge & Spa. Hike to the Bajos del Toro waterfalls with a private guide. 

On week two, head to Arenal, where you'll be spending a few nights at the luxurious Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. Base yourself at the resort — where you'll have access to onsite hot springs — while going on side trips and tours to hike and learn about chocolate-making. Then transfer to the Pacific, to the beach of Playa Esterillos, and go on a coastal tour with a private guide. Traveling onward to San Isidro del General, you'll relax at Hacienda Altagracia, a boutique hotel with several stylish venues for dining and drinks. On the last night of the trip, take it easy by the pool at Xandari Resort and Spa, a five-star tropical paradise with waterfalls, jungle trails, and a spa. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Ultimate Coast-to-Coast Cycling Trip 

Pedal across the country from the Pacific to the Caribbean on this engaging bicycle trip through national parks and jungles.

Pedal down Costa Rica's country roads on a bike tour
Pedal down Costa Rica's country roads on a cross-country bike tour 
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica - Experience San José's Culture San José
Day 2 Transfer to Arenal Volcano - Mountain Biking El Castillo Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal Volcano - Canopy Tour, Volcano Hike & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Transfer to Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park Quepos
Day 5 Biking and Trekking to Naranjito Naranjito
Day 6 Cemetery Hill Trekking & Cycling Santa Maria de Dota
Day 7 Biking Over the Continental Divide Orosi
Day 8 Cycling & Trekking Through Tapantí Taus
Day 9 Pacuare Adventure Day 1 – Biking & Rafting Río Pacuare
Day 10 Pacuare Adventure Day 2 - Free Day in Pacuare Valley Río Pacuare
Day 11 Pacuare Adventure Day 3 Siquirres
Day 12 Pacuare Cycling & Kayak Adventure - Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 13 Hiking & Snorkeling in Cahuita National Park Cahuita National Park
Day 14 Caribbean Coast Free Morning - Transfer to San José San José
Day 15 Departure  


This 154-mile bicycle journey begins in San José. On day two, transfer to the area of Arenal Volcano, where you'll get outfitted on a mountain bike for the opening ride around Lake Arenal to the village of El Castillo. Go on a canopy tour, volcano hike, and a dip in hot springs before you move onto Quepos, jumping-off point into Manuel Antonio National Park. After the next day's steep ten-mile ride, you'll camp in Naranjito. On day six, challenge yourself with the famed Cemetery Hill trekking and cycling circuit before pedaling over the Continental Divide.

During the second part of the trip, cycle through Tapantí and camp near Taus. Try whitewater rafting on the Río Pacuare river, then kayak and relax at the beach in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The following day, you'll cycle for miles past old banana plantations towards Freeman. Arriving at the Caribbean coast, you'll spend the end of the adventure in Cahuita National Park for jungle hikes, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting. Circle back to San José, where the trip ends. Learn more