Six days is a great amount of time to experience Costa Rica—you can easily combine two of the country's biodiverse national parks with a day of exploration in San José. Visit the cloud forest of Monteverde, take a surf lesson at Playa Manuel Antonio, zipline across the jungle at Arenal, or cycle the Continental Divide with the five unique itinerary ideas below.

Itinerary #1: Costa Rica Highlights - Arenal & Manuel Antonio National Park

With this classic itinerary, you can explore some of the best outdoor recreation Costa Rica has to offer. From a tour of the iconic Arenal Volcano to rafting on the Balsa River, you'll access the best views and thrills countrywide. Get lost in the jungle among native species and then relax on beautiful white-sand beaches to round out your trip.

Arenal
Arenal at sunset
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José - Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Arenal Sky Trek and Zip-line Tour Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal Free Day Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Arenal to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 5 Snorkeling & Sunset Catamaran Cruise in Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica  


Fly into San José and make the 2.5-hour drive to La Fortuna, which will be the base for your first Costa Rican adventure: Arenal Volcano National Park. You'll have three full days to explore Arenal and its surroundings. There are many ways to enjoy the views of the volcano. Biking, hiking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and ziplining are all popular options. In fact, on day two, you'll have the chance to embark on a 3.5-hour zip lining tour with spectacular views and tree-to-canyon exploration. 

Day three, your halfway point, offers a free day around Arenal. If you are up for the ultimate adrenaline rush, go for a whitewater rafting excursion along the Balsa River. For a more laid-back activity, you can enjoy a chocolate-making class that will teach you about the history of cacao, along with making and sampling your own delicacies.

Next, head to Manuel Antonio National Park, which offers some of the best beaches in Costa Rica. To get acquainted with the area, take a nature walk through a trail clad with monkeys, sloths, and more than 200 bird species. Make sure to indulge in a delicious dinner featuring local seafood and the breathtaking sunset over the water.

Toward the end of your trip, you'll have additional time to spend at your leisure. You can start the day off with a boat tour of the mangroves along the Damas Island Estuary with a private guide. In the afternoon, go for a snorkel session, or even a surf lesson. As the sun goes down, a sunset dinner cruise awaits. Enjoy an evening swim, and then watch for dolphins, whales, and flying fish before heading home in the morning. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Luxury Adventure in the Osa Peninsula

Learn all about Costa Rica’s biodiversity on this trip to the Osa Peninsula, where more than half of the country’s animals reside. On your outdoor journey, take exploratory hikes through Corcovado National Park, from the rainforest to the beaches. Then, transfer from land to sea with a Caño Island Biological Reserve diving excursion.

Beach in Corcovado National Park
Beach in Corcovado National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Costa Rica - Experience San José's Culture and History San Jose
Day 2 Fly to Osa Peninsula - Explore Puerto Jiménez Puerto Jiménez
Day 3 Los Patos to La Sirena Station Corcovado National Park
Day 4 Sirena to La Leona Corcovado National Park
Day 5 Scuba Diving Isla del Caño Corcovado National Park
Day 6 Transfer from Puerto Jiménez to San José - Depart Costa Rica  


Once you land at Juan Santamaría International Airport, a guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel. Kick off the trip by touring San José. Take a stroll through the massive Mercado Central with its 200 vendors, along with visiting the multi-influenced Catedral Metropolitana. A short trip to Barrio Amón will give you a peek at the mansions owned by big coffee growers, while dinner in Escazú will provide your first panoramic valley views.

Next, hop a flight to Puerto Jiménez, which is the main transportation hub of the Osa Peninsula. Stay at a luxury eco-lodge accompanied by views of the Golfo Dulce and fine seaside dining. You'll then embark on multiple hikes through Corcovado National Park. In the northeast, venture through a protected rainforest filled with monkeys and tropical birds; you'll also explore the southeast region, which runs along scenic beaches.

On day five, you'll scuba dive at Caño Island Biological Reserve. Get up-close and personal with reef sharks, octopi, pufferfish, and manta rays. Explore the different varietals of coral from 30 to 100 feet away–the ideal visibility to snap plenty of underwater photos to preserve these memories. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Monteverde Cloud Forest & Manuel Antonio National Park

This six-day adventure in Costa Rica’s best-loved national parks is ideal for nature lovers and first-time visitors. Explore the cloud forest canopy of Monteverde via zipline and suspension bridges. Then, head to Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast, where you can swim, snorkel, and surf your way to the beach life.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 San Jose to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 3 Aerial Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 4 Monteverde to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 5 Snorkeling & Sunset Catamaran Cruise in Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica  


Start with a day in San José. Go museum-hopping to Museo del Oro Precolumbino, which is home to the largest pre-Colombian gold collection in Latin America. Then, make your way to Museo de Jade, which houses the largest collection of pre-Colombian jade artifacts, with more than 7,000 on display.

Your next stop is Monteverde, also called the “Green Lung” of Costa Rica. At its core is the 26,000-acre Cloud Forest Reserve, where suspended bridges take you across the forest. An afternoon visit to Sky Adventures Park takes you over even more bridges and aboard the Sky Tram gondola before you to zipline on the world-famous Sky Trek canopy tour.

After enjoying the heights of the forest, it’s time to catch your ride to the Pacific Coast. At Manuel Antonio National Park, take your pick of four beautiful beaches, plenty of fresh seafood, and gorgeous sunsets. Within the park, you can take a guided tour of more than 300 species that live there, like the famed sloths, along with monkeys, iguanas, and hawks. Take a boat tour of the Damas Island Estuary or schedule a surf lesson to hang ten on the namesake Playa Manuel Antonio. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Wonders of Tortuguero National Park & Arenal Volcano

On this six-day journey through rugged jungles and active volcanoes, you can explore Costa Rica’s best natural attractions. In Tortuguero, true to its name, you'll see the marine turtles hatch from June through December, and you can buddy up with a sloth or two in the rainforest. Then, it's off to Arenal, where you can zipline through the forest, along waterfalls, and beside the majestic volcano itself.

La Fortuna Waterfalls
La Fortuna Waterfalls
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Costa Rica - Experience San Jose's Culture and History San Jose
Day 2 Explore the Megadiverse Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Safari in Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 4 From Tortuguero to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Arenal Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Arenal Volcano to San Jose  


As soon as you land in San José, a guide will pick you up and get you checked into your hotel. Once you are settled, you'll have plenty of time to explore the capital on your own. Make sure to tour Barrio Amón and its historic landmarks, along with hilly Escazú and its forward-thinking cuisine.

Your adventure to the jungle is next on the agenda. A car will take you to Guápiles, where you can enjoy a local breakfast before heading to the docks for your boat ride through the jungle. Disembark to your eco-lodge at Tortuguero National Park, along with touring the colorful town surrounding. An early-morning start is ideal in Tortuguero when the wildlife is most active. Another boat trip along the canals will showcase an array of monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds. Then, enjoy some downtime to stroll the nearby gardens and relax by the pool at your lodge.

Your next stop is La Fortuna, home to Arenal Volcano National Park, which sits along the Tilaran Mountains. Explore the active volcano along Lake Arenal via kayak, or take a mesmerizing zipline through the forest. Arenal is also home to many hanging bridges that offer incredible views, as well as waterfalls where you can take one last refreshing dip at the base of the La Fortuna River. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Overland Cycling & River Trip in Costa Rica

For active travelers, this six-day cycling itinerary will keep you energized and exercised along Costa Rica’s prized views. You'll bike the beautiful beaches, stunning coastal mountains, vast valleys, and rugged rainforests.

Beach Cycling
Go cycling along the beach
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture San Jose
Day 2 Transfer to Quepos - Biking to Naranjito Naranjito
Day 3 Cemetery Hill Trekking & Cycling Santa Maria de Dota
Day 4 Biking Over the Continental Divide Orosi
Day 5 Cycling & Trekking Through Tapantí Taus
Day 6 Pacuare River Adventure – Transfer to San José - Depart San Jose


Arrive in San José and take the day to tour the capital city, which is filled with massive markets, diverse cathedrals, and historical museums. Enjoy the walking tour—the cycling begins on day two.

The next morning, take a 2.5-hour car ride to the coastal town of Quepos, where your biking journey will begin. Along the Pacific Coast, bike 10 miles of steep inclines and mountains before arriving in Esquipulas, where you'll go for a late, 8-mile hike, ending with an overnight camping adventure in Naranjito. Then, bike toward the Continental Divide, and cycle the famed, 8-mile “Cemetery Hill,” which ascends more than 5,000 feet. The following leg hits the pueblo of San Lorenzo, which will have you sub in a mountain bike for the 9-mile ride to Santa Maria for dinner.

Day four will put your endurance to the test, with a sunrise cycle 8 miles to the Continental Divide, the highest point of your journey at more than 7,600 feet. Then, it is downhill toward the stunning Orosi Valley, blanketed with coffee fields. 

The last leg is a scenic trip along the tropical river bank heading to Tapani National Wildlife Refuge to hike for 9 miles through the rainforest. The gorgeous surroundings of the cloud forest will amaze you as you head to the small settlement of Taus to spend the night. Your grand finale adventure awaits at Finca La Cruz, by the upper Pacuare River. The rewarding 18-mile ride reveals views of the rainforests, surrounding canyons, and exotic waterfalls to cap off your trip. Learn more

Map

Map of 6 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 6 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas