An eight-day trip to Costa Rica provides plenty of time for both adventure and relaxation. Choose a classic tour that leads you to the country's volcanoes, cloud forests, and beaches, opt for a wildlife-focused tour of Tortuguero and Cahuita National Parks, or choose an active itinerary that includes whitewater rafting and zip-lining. Alternatively, choose a luxury tour, a cultural trip, or a cycling itinerary across the country. Find out more about your options by reading over these unique itineraries.

Itinerary #1: Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Beaches

See Costa Rica's natural wonders on this dynamic 8-day itinerary around the country's volcanoes, hot springs, cloud forests, coral reefs, and beaches in Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio National Park.

A sweeping view of Arenal Volcano 
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore the Rainforest After Dark Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Taste Costa Rican Coffee & Enjoy a Nighttime Nature Walk Monteverde
Day 4 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 5 Transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Explore Manuel Antonio National Park  Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Boat & Snorkel in Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

 

Welcome to Costa Rica! Your trip begins with a nighttime wildlife hike through the jungle in Arenal. You'll trek through a sloth habitat and do some birdwatching before dipping in the natural hot springs heated by Arenal Volcano. Learn about the process behind Costa Rica's coffee industry, then go for a guided hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

The second part of the trip takes you to Manuel Antonio National Park for wildlife spotting and outdoor adventures. You'll boat in the national park and have a chance to snorkel offshore, spotting tropical fish and other vibrant marine wildlife, before enjoying one last Costa Rican dinner on the last night of the trip. Learn more

Check out The Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List: What to Bring as you plan your trip.

Itinerary #2: Explore Wetlands & Caribbean Beaches

Spot sea turtles, toucans, and sloths in their natural habitats on this 8-day wildlife tour of Costa Rica that includes snorkeling, boating, nighttime hikes, horseback riding, and much more. 

An iguana in the wild in Tortuguero National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Sightsee in Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Go on a Guided Night Hike in the Jungle Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 4 Discover the Beaches Around Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 5 Tour Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 6 Visit a Jaguar Rescue Center Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 7 Go Horseback Riding on the Beach Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

 

Spend a day doing some cultural sightseeing in the capital city of San José to kick off the itinerary. Continue on to Tortuguero National Park, where you’ll spot nocturnal wildlife in the jungle and go for a boat tour through the park's lush waterways, looking for monkeys and toucans in the wild.

On day four, travel to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Take a day to enjoy the region's beautiful beaches before touring Cahuita National Park. Get up close with big cats at a jaguar rehabilitation center, then go for a memorable horseback riding excursion through the jungle and onto the beach to finish the trip. Learn more

Find out more about the Top Nature Experiences in Costa Rica.

Itinerary #3: Active Adventure in Costa Rica's Jungles & Rivers

Go whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, snorkeling, boating, and zip-lining through the jungle on this active 8-day itinerary around the Río Pacuare, Arenal, and Manuel Antonio National Park.

Rafting on the Río Pacuare
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Sightsee in Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Go Rafting on the Río Pacuare Río Pacuare
Day 3 Continue Along the River to Siquirres Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Try Canyoning & Visit Arenal Volcano  Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Zip-line Through the Rainforest Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Explore Manuel Antonio National Park  Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

 

Known as one of the top rafting sites in the world, the Rio Pacuare river runs from the Talamanca Mountains to the Caribbean. Expect plenty of paddling on a two-day excursion that takes you from Class II to Class IV rapids. You may even spot some monkeys, ocelots, and jaguars along the way. The next stop on the itinerary is Arenal. Explore the region's landscapes while canyoning, hiking, and zip-lining through the jungle. 

The final leg of the trip takes you to Manuel Antonio National Park, located on the Pacific Coast. Relax on the beach, spot capuchin monkeys, look for more than 200 bird species, go for a swim, enjoy a snorkeling excursion, and catch a spectacular sunset as the trip comes to a close. Learn more

For more ideas, read about the Top Active Experiences in Costa Rica.

Itinerary #4: Discover Costa Rica's Cultural & Natural Highlights

On this educational 8-day tour that blends culture and nature, you'll enjoy a cooking class, a visit to an indigenous community, horseback riding to La Fortuna Waterfall, and a jungle cruise in Palo Verde National Park.

A cooking class focused on traditional Costa Rican cuisine
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Sightsee in Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Visit a Farm & Take a Cooking Class  Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Go Horseback Riding to La Fortuna Waterfall & Soak in Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Experience Daily Life on a Costa Rican Farm Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Sail on the Gulf of Papagayo at Sunset Gulf of Papagayo
Day 6 Go on a Jungle Cruise in Palo Verde National Park Gulf of Papagayo
Day 7 Explore Beaches & Snorkel Offshore Gulf of Papagayo
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

 

Visit San José's museums and cultural monuments on day one, then move on to the Arenal area, where you’ll spend the next few days. Visit a local farm to learn about the production of coffee and chocolate, followed by a cooking class with a Costa Rican chef. Go on a horseback riding trip to La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can swim in the cool water at the base of the falls.

Stop in an indigenous village on the way back. Soak in the Tabacon Hot Springs and have dinner nearby before you continue to the Gulf of Papagayo for a peaceful sunset sailing expedition. Explore the wildlife of Palo Verde National Park on a jungle cruise. Relax and enjoy the region's beaches, doing some snorkeling offshore, on the last day of the trip. Learn more

Find out more here about the Best Cultural Experiences in Costa Rica.

Itinerary #5: Luxury Adventure in the Costa Rican Wilderness 

Enjoy the good life on this luxurious 8-day Costa Rican adventure that combines wildlife experiences, relaxation in hot springs, a scenic riverboat safari, and stays in elegant eco-lodges and hotels.   

A staircase leading to the base of the Río Celeste waterfall

 

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Liberia -> Transfer to Arenal  La Fortuna
Day 2 Exclusive Wildlife Hike Along the Sloth Trail La Fortuna
Day 3 Early Birding and Private Nocturnal Nature Hike La Fortuna
Day 4 Transfer to Tenorio Volcano National Park - Nocturnal Nature Walk Tenorio National Park
Day 5 Exclusive Guided Hike Along the Río Celeste Tenorio National Park
Day 6 Transfer to Nosara - Corobicí River Safari Nosara
Day 7 Private Kayak Tour of Boca Nosara Mangroves Nosara
Day 8 Transfer to Liberia - Departure  


Fly into Liberia Airport and meet your private driver, who will take you to Arenal. At your hotel, enjoy an early evening hot spring soak, then take a stroll into town for a traditional Costa Rican dinner. The next two days are full of adventures: exploring a sloth habitat, birdwatching, and looking for nocturnal animals during a guided jungle hike. 

Continue to Tenorio Volcano National Park and the beautiful Catarata Rio Celeste, an exotic blue waterfall rich with volcanic minerals. The next leg takes you on a rafting trip on the Corobicí River. This riverboat safari is a unique way to spot wildlife, including parrots, motmots, and caimans. Your final destination is Nosara, a coastal village, a jumping-off point for a kayaking tour of Boca Nosara. Learn more

Check out this article on the Best Luxury Hotels in Costa Rica.

Itinerary #6: Coast-to-Coast Cycling Adventure

This scenic 8-day cycling tour leads you from coast to coast and village to village, passing banana plantations, sugarcane fields, jungle rivers, and active volcanoes on your way to the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Cycling on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast 

 

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 Biking from Playa Bonita to Siquirres Siquirres
Day 3 Cycle from Siquirres to Turrialba Turrialba
Day 4 Bike from Turrialba to Orosi Orosi
Day 5 Cycling from Orosi to Santa Maria Santa Maria de Dota
Day 6 Downhill Ride from Santa Maria to Quepos Quepos
Day 7 Free Day in Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica  

 

After a day in the capital city, the cross-country journey begins. Make the four-hour drive to Playa Bonita, where you can take a relaxing dip before getting on your bike. Ride dirt roads by the water, under the shade of coconut trees, and through the banana fields to Finca Pacuarito Camp. Bike across the famed Pacuare River and see the active Turrialba Volcano before the exhilarating downhill ride to the Reventzon River.

Ride through the Orosi Valley before the most challenging stretch comes up on day five as you climb to the Continental Divide. Breeze through the rainforest toward the fishing town of Quepos. The trip concludes with a hard-earned prize: relaxation in Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can also hike or surf. Learn more

You might look to look over these Costa Rica FAQ while preparing for your trip. 

More Great Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other Costa Rica itineraries, explore 8-day family-friendly tours around Costa Rica, or discover the best time to visit Costa Rica.