Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining both Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde with Manuel Antonio. If you're not interested in Manuel Antonio, 6 to 7 days is enough for your Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 4 or 5 days. For the best itineraries including Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde, keep reading below.

How many days do you need?

  • Most travelers spend 6-7 days in Arenal and Monteverde combined
  • Visiting Arenal and Monteverde in 4-5 days is possible, but will feel rushed
  • With 8 or more days, most travelers choose to add more stops to their trip 
  • The most common extensions are Manuel Antonio, Gulf of Papagayo, and Tamarindo

How Many Days Should You Spend in Arenal?

Recommended Itineraries for Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde

Recommended Itinerary for 6 Days

La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José - Transfer to La Fortuna & Hotsprings Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal to Monteverde by Boat with Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 4 Zip-Line Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 5 Transfer Back to San José San José
Day 6 Depart San José  


This 6-day trip is ideal for travelers looking to unwind yet still experience the natural wonders of the country. You'll learn to prepare traditional Costa Rican cuisine and visit a coffee plantation near Arenal, go for a dip in the area's famous hot springs, and have the chance to spot monkeys and other wildlife during a night walk in Monteverde. Spend your last full day ziplining and exploring the cloud forest by day, before heading back to San Jose for your flight home. Read more

Recommended Itinerary for 7 Days

Rafting on the Pacuare River
Rafting on the Pacuare River
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José San José
Day 2 Pacuare River Rafting Tour & Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal Nature Walk & Hot Springs Soak Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Transfer to Monteverde & Horseback Riding in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 5 Ziplining Tour in Monteverde Monteverde
Day 6 Transfer to San José & City Exploration San José
Day 7 Departure From Costa Rica  


Spend an active week discovering some of the natural highlights of Costa Rica. Explore the capital city, and then launch into an adrenaline-pumping rafting excursion along the Pacuare River. Next, explore Arenal Volcano on a nature walk, followed by a hot spring soak. Then, head to Monteverde to tour the incredible cloud forest on horseback and zipline through the canopy. Enjoy more time strolling historical San José before departure. Read more

Extended Itineraries

8-Day Itinerary Including Manuel Antonio

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 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

15-Day Itinerary Including Manuel Antonio and Tortuguero

Toucans can often be spotted among the treetops in Tortuguero National Park
Toucans can often be spotted among the treetops in Tortuguero National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Fly 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 Arenal Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Early Birding and Private Nocturnal Nature Hike 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  


Experience Costa Rica's most spectacular national parks on this 15-day tour. You'll catch glimpses of sea turtles and monkeys in Tortuguero National Park and spot hundreds of bird species in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Then it's time to head to the countries largest and most famous volcano, Arenal, for a mix of wildlife and heart-pumping excursions. Finally, you'll end the trip in  Manuel Antonio, where you'll snorkel among colorful fish and traverse jungle trails. Read more

How to travel between Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde

The distance between Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna and Monteverde–as the crow flies–is pretty short. But the road and waterways between these adventure destinations, though, is not as straightforward. The best option is taxi-boat-taxi. It is quick, convenient, and affordable. Read more

Map

Map of Arenal/La Fortuna, & Monteverde: Best Itinerary Ideas
Map of Arenal/La Fortuna, & Monteverde: Best Itinerary Ideas