Twelve to 14 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers combining Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. Without Monteverde, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 9 to 10 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 7 or 8 days. Check out our favorite trips including Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo below.

How many days do you need?

  • Most travelers spend 9-10 days in Arenal/La Fortuna, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo combined
  • Visiting Arenal/La Fortuna, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo in 7 or 8 days is possible, but will feel rushed
  • With 11 or more days, most travelers choose to add more stops to their trip
  • The most common extension is Monteverde

How Many Days Should You Spend in Arenal?

Recommended Itineraries for Arenal/La Fortuna, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo

Recommended Itinerary for 9 Days

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Private Transfer San José to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 3 Turtle Tour in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 Tortuguero Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Volcano Hike & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 River Float & Chocolate Tour in Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Arenal Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 8 Beach Day and Sunset Catamaran Sail in Guanacaste Gulf of Papagayo
Day 9 Gulf of Papagayo to Liberia, Depart Costa Rica  


Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to Arenal Volcano and its magnificent rainforest trails. After a long day of hiking, soothe your muscles in the natural hot springs at Tabacón. After a river wildlife safari and a chocolate lesson, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay. Read more

Recommended Itinerary for 10 Days

Riverbank lined with untouched rainforest in Tortuguero
Riverbank lined with untouched rainforest in Tortuguero
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Private Transfer San José to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 3 Turtle Tour in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 Tortuguero Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Hanging Bridges & Hiking in the Arenal 1968 Lava Fields Reserve Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Day Trip from Arenal - Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Arenal Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 8 Beach Day and Sunset Catamaran Sail in Guanacaste Gulf of Papagayo
Day 9 Free Day in Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 10 Gulf of Papagayo to Liberia, Depart Costa Rica  


This 10-day adventure allows you to experience Costa Rica from both coasts. Visit San José, check out Tortuguero National Park, marvel at Arenal Volcano, and lounge on the remote beaches of Guanacaste. Enjoy plenty of activities along the way: watch sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach, sample locally produced chocolate, or take a surf lesson in the Pacific. Read more

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Extended Itineraries

14-Day Itinerary Including Monteverde

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Private Transfer San José to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 3 Turtle Tour in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 San Jose Transfer to Arenal - Whitewater Rafting on the Sarapiquí River Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Volcano Hike & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Chocolate Experience - Swimming in Waterfalls Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Boat to Monteverde, with Coffee & Chocolate Tour Monteverde
Day 8 Zip-Line Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 9 Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 10 Monteverde Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 11 Beach Day and Sunset Catamaran Sail in Guanacaste Gulf of Papagayo
Day 12 Day of Adventure - Zipline, Horseback Riding, and Hot Springs Gulf of Papagayo
Day 13 Free Day in Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 14 Gulf of Papagayo to Liberia, Depart Costa Rica  


Experience the country from both coasts on this two-week trip. You'll visit San José, Tortuguero National Park, the towering Arenal Volcano, Monteverde's cloud forest, and the remote beaches of Guanacaste. There will be plenty of activities to choose from along the way: watch sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach, sample locally produced chocolate, and take a surf lesson in the glittering Pacific. Read more

How to travel between Arenal/La Fortuna, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo

How to Get from Tortuguero to Arenal/La Fortuna
Because there are no roads in Tortuguero, most travelers will need to make the final leg of their 111-mile (179 km) journey to Arenal by boat. Taking a flight is the best option as you can land directly in La Fortuna, but this option is only available from December-April during the high season. Read more

How to Get from Arenal/La Fortuna to Gulf de Papagayo
When heading from Arenal/La Fortuna to the Gulf de Papagayo, the 108-mile (173 km) trip will take you almost directly west to the coast. These two locations are connected by some of the most direct routes in the country.  Read more

Map

Map of Arenal, Tortuguero, & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Map of Arenal, Tortuguero, & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas