Most people visiting Arenal spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Manuel Antonio and Monteverde as well. If you're not interested in Manuel Antonio and Monteverde, 4 to 5 days is enough for your Arenal trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 3 days. Read on for the best itineraries including Arenal, La Fortuna and beyond.

How many days do you need?

  • Most travelers spend 4-5 days in Arenal/La Fortuna
  • Visiting Arenal/La Fortuna in 3 days is possible, but will feel rushed
  • With 6 or more days, most travelers choose to add more stops to their trip
  • The most common extensions are Manuel Antonio, Gulf of Papagayo, and Monteverde

How Many Days Should You Spend in Arenal?

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Recommended Itineraries for Arenal/La Fortuna

Recommended Itinerary for 4 Days

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José -> Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Day Trip from Arenal - Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 La Fortuna - Drive back to San José San José


This itinerary is one of the shortest, yet most action-packed options for travelers looking for a compact Costa Rica experience. Zip-line, rappel, and horseback ride your way throughout the Arenal region and enjoy some of the best volcano views the country has to offer. Read more

Recommended Itinerary for 5 Days

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José -> Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Arenal Gondola, Zip-Line and Canopy Tour Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Volcano Hike & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 La Fortuna - Drive back to San José San José
Day 5 Depart San José  


This immersive nature expedition packs a lot of outdoor adventure in a short timeframe. In just five days you'll experience the greatest hits of Arenal Volcano National Park, including swimming in a waterfall lagoon, hiking above misty cloud forests, and soaking in hot springs. You'll also enjoy some metropolitan excitement as you spend an evening exploring Costa Rica's capital, San José. Read more

Extended Itineraries

6-Day Itinerary Including Manuel Antonio

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José - Transfer to La Fortuna & Hotsprings Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Arenal Gondola, Zip-Line and Canopy Tour Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Day Trip to Raft Rio Balsa Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Arenal to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 5 Morning Free Time - Afternoon Sunset Catamaran Cruise Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Manuel Antonio to San José - Depart Costa Rica  


This exciting 6-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who want to experience quintessential Costa Rica. You'll take in awe-inspiring views of Arenal volcano, and have an exciting rafting day on the Sarapiqui River before heading to Manuel Antonio to explore the jungle and white sand beaches of this nature lovers paradise. Read more

8-Day Itinerary Including Manuel Antonio and Monteverde

Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano.
Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano.
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José - Transfer to La Fortuna & Hotsprings Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 La Fortuna Waterfall - Free Afternoon Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal to Monteverde by Boat with Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 4 Sky Walk, Sky Tram & Sky Trek Zipline Monteverde
Day 5 Monteverde Transfer to Manuel Antonio - Free Afternoon Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Damas Island Kayaking Tour Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Morning Free Time - Afternoon Sunset Catamaran Cruise Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Manuel Antonio to San José - Depart Costa Rica  


This 8-day trip is ideal for travelers looking to experience Costa Rica's highlights. Go for a dip in Arenal's hot springs and spot monkeys and other wildlife on hikes around the famous volcano. Continue to Monteverde, where you'll discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the cloud forest. Finally, spend a few days in Manuel Antonio National Park, kayaking through turquoise waters and relaxing on pristine white sand beaches. Read more

8-Day Itinerary Including Monteverde and Gulf of Papagayo

Baby squirrel monkey and mother
Baby squirrel monkey and mother
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José -> Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal to Monteverde by Boat with Free Afternoon Monteverde
Day 4 Free Day - Night Tour in Monteverde Monteverde
Day 5 Monteverde Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 6 Beach Day and Sunset Catamaran Sail in Guanacaste Gulf of Papagayo
Day 7 Free Day in Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 8 Gulf of Papagayo to Liberia, Depart Costa Rica  


Costa Rica is an ideal destination for families and this itinerary ensures you'll experience the best the country has to offer. On your 8-day adventure, you'll explore the towering Arenal Volcano, visit the beaches of Guanacaste, and have time to relax in volcanic hot springs. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, from waterfall hikes to crossing suspension bridges above the trees. Read more