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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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|
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
More Great 15-Day Costa Rica Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your Costa Rica trip? Check out these other 15-day Costa Rica itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.
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