With four days to spend in Costa Rica, it's wise to focus on one region. A popular choice is a highlights tour of the Arenal area, featuring volcano hikes and a dip in hot springs. Head to Manuel Antonio National Park for an active itinerary that includes surfing and kayaking, or travel to Monteverde for zip line adventures and horseback riding in the cloud forest. Alternatively, opt for a wildlife-themed luxury tour around the Osa Peninsula, or mix wildlife spotting with cultural experiences in Tortuguero National Park.

Itinerary #1: Explore the Volcanoes & Wildlife of Arenal 

Discover Costa Rica's landscapes and wildlife on this four-day highlights itinerary around the Arenal region that includes a guided rainforest hike, a visit to a sloth habitat, a chocolate tour, and a soak in natural hot springs.

Take in views of Arenal Volcano at dawn
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Transfer to La Fortuna & Nighttime Rainforest Walk La Fortuna
Day 2 Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 3 Explore the Hanging Bridges & Visit a Chocolate Farm  La Fortuna
Day 4 Transfer to San José, Depart  

Welcome to Costa Rica! You'll arrive in San José, then transfer to La Fortuna, your jumping-off point for exploring the Arenal region. You'll go on a guided hike to spot nocturnal wildlife before getting some rest. On Day 2, you'll walk through a sloth habitat, looking for the slow-moving creatures in the trees, and enjoy a relaxing dip in the Tabacon Hot Springs to finish the day.

On Day 3, you'll have a chance to explore the rainforest as you walk along the famous Hanging Bridges of Arenal. Then you'll learn how chocolate is made, from bean to bar, on a tour of a cocoa bean farm. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in La Fortuna before heading back to San José on Day 4 to catch your flight out. Learn more

Check out Ultimate Guide to Arenal for more information.

Itinerary #2: Discover Manuel Antonio National Park 

This action-packed four-day adventure in Manuel Antonio National Park leads you around the park's lush rainforest and white sandy beaches for kayaking, surfing, bird-watching, and wildlife viewing.

Enjoy views of the coastline at Manuel Antonio National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José & Transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 2 Explore Manuel Antonio National Park  Manuel Antonio
Day 3 Kayak Through the Mangrove & Learn to Surf at Playa Scull Manuel Antonio
Day 4 Transfer to San José, Depart  

Touch down in San José, then travel to Manuel Antonio National Park, where you'll spend the rest of the trip. Try some water sports on Espadilla Beach or head to the adjacent town of Quepos for sunset views and dinner. On Day 2, you'll go on a guided tour to see white sandy beaches and exotic wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, birds, reptiles, and butterflies.

After nightfall, you'll go on another guided hike to look for nocturnal wildlife. Then get some rest before the next day's kayaking and surfing adventures. You'll paddle through a unique mangrove setting and have the option to take a surfing lesson—or just relax on the sand—at Playa Scull. Head back to the capital city to catch your flight home. Learn more

Read Ultimate Guide to Manuel Antonio National Park for more ideas.

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Itinerary #3: Monteverde Cloud Forest Adventure

Vibrant birdlife, aerial thrills, and delicious coffee await you on this exciting four-day journey around the Monteverde Cloud Fores that features an excursion on horseback and an exhilarating zipline adventure through the rainforest.

Explore the Hanging Bridges of Monteverde
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José & Transfer to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 2 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest & Sky Adventures Park Monteverde
Day 3 Enjoy Birdwatching & Horseback Riding in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 4 Enjoy a Coffee & Cocoa Bean Tour, Depart  

After arriving in San José, you'll transfer to the Monteverde region. Day 2 brings a guided tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, called the "green lung of Costa Rica" due to its rich biodiversity, and the chance to spot more than 350 bird species, including the quetzal. Enjoy a thrilling zipline experience at Sky Adventures Park in the afternoon, plus a ride in an open-air gondola for sweeping views across the mountains.

Explore the Curi-Cancha Reserve, a birdwatcher's paradise, on Day 3. You might also see armadillos, coatis, agoutis, ocelots, two-toed sloths, and three species of monkeys. Go horseback riding this afternoon through Monteverde's picturesque landscapes, learning about the coffee, banana, and sugar grown in the area. On Day 4, you'll tour a coffee farm and a chocolate processing center before flying out of San José. Learn more

Check out Best Things to Do in Monteverde for more ideas of what to see and do.

Itinerary #4: Wildlife Luxury Adventure on the Osa Peninsula 

Snorkel, hike, and bird-watch by day, then sleep in elegant eco-lodges at night on this luxury four-day tour around Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, including Corcovado National Park and the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve.

Enjoy your natural surroundings at a luxury eco-lodge in Costa Rica
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Drake Bay, Take a Bird-watching Tour Drake Bay
Day 2 Hike in Corcovado National Park Drake Bay
Day 3 Snorkel at Isla del Caño Biological Reserve Drake Bay
Day 4 Drake Bay to San José, Depart  

Catch a connecting flight from San José's airport to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, then check into a luxury hotel like Lapa Rios Lodge. You'll go on a bird-watching tour right away. Get some rest before Day 2's excursion into Corcovado National Park. Begin the trip with a 30-minute boat ride to the San Pedrillo Ranger Station, then enjoy hiking, wildlife spotting, relaxing on the beach, and swimming in waterfalls.

Day 3 takes you to the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve for a scuba or snorkeling excursion. After a safety lesson geared to all ages and experience levels, plunge into the water to see sea turtles, parrotfish, eels, manta rays, puffer fish, snappers, sea cucumbers, and more. You'll fly back to San José on Day 4 to make your connection home. Learn more

Find out more about activities in the area by reading this article on the best things to do on the Osa Peninsula.

Itinerary #5: Culture & Wildlife in Tortuguero National Park

Spot colorful wildlife and learn about Costa Rican culture on this educational four-day itinerary that features sightseeing in San José, a visit to a coffee farm, a boat tour, and a stop in an Indigenous village in Tortuguero National Park.

Look for wildlife on the water in Tortuguero National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive & Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Transfer from San José to Tortuguero National Park, Village Visit Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 4 Visit a Coffee Farm, Depart  

Arrive in San José and spend the day touring the capital city. You'll visit Mercado Central (Central Market), Central Park, the 19th-century Teatro Nacional, the Museo del Oro Precolumbino, and more. On Day 2, transfer to Tortuguero National Park. You'll visit a small village and spend time chatting with the locals about their way of  life and the history of settlement in this Caribbean coastal outpost.

On Day 3, you'll go on a boat tour of the national park's jungle waterways. There are nearly 200 resident bird species in the area, along with three kinds of monkeys, crocodiles, caimans, toucans, sloths, and much more. You'll spot wildlife in the trees as you cruise down quiet canals. On Day 4, visit a coffee farm to learn about local coffee production before continuing to the San José airport. Learn more

Check out this article on the best things to do in the national park.

More Great 4-Day Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other four-day Costa Rica itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 4 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 4 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas