Tour two of Costa Rica’s prized gems on this weeklong adventure. Begin in La Fortuna and embark on a floating safari, followed by a cultural experience day covering food, the arts, and education. Next, enjoy the rush of the hanging bridges and hike around Arenal Volcano, visit La Fortuna Waterfall and soak in the local hot springs. Then take a boat over to Monteverde to visit the Cloud Forest Reserve and join a local coffee tour to learn all about the crucial crop. The trip winds down back in San José to enjoy the sights of the capital city.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a floating safari tour down the Peñas Blancas River
  • Cross the hanging bridges around Arenal and hike to La Fortuna Waterfall
  • Experience Costa Rican food, music, and the arts at Casona Río Fortuna
  • Visit the Cloud Forest Reserve at night and go on a coffee tour in Monteverde 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival, Transfer to Arenal & Floating Safari Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Costa Rican Cultural Immersion Experience Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Hanging Bridges & Hiking in Arenal, La Fortuna Waterfall, & Hot Springs Soak Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Boat to Monteverde & Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 5 Don Juan Coffee Tour Monteverde
Day 6 Transfer to San José & City Exploration San José
Day 7 Depart From San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival, transfer to Arenal, and floating safari

Welcome to Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!

Welcome to Costa Rica! After arriving at Juan Santamaría International Airport in the capital of San José, transfer 2.5-hours north, by car, to the town of La Fortuna, best known as the base for embarking on adventures into Arenal Volcano National Park. You won't miss the namesake monolith—Arenal juts out above the San Carlos Plains like an arrowhead. 

Check into your hotel, and in the afternoon, join a floating safari excursion on the Peñas Blancas River. This 3-hour river tour puts you in direct contact with the area's abundant wildlife and beautiful, natural scenery.

Tonight, take advantage of a free evening to visit one of the local hot springs located in the area and enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 2: Costa Rican cultural immersion experience

Take a Costa Rican cooking class
Take a Costa Rican cooking class

Today, immerse yourself in a warm and friendly Costa Rican Cultural Experience. Visit Casona Río Fortuna, the elegant, turn-of-the-century country home of former Costa Rican President Rafael Yglesias Castro. Considered one of the most charming and authentic cultural sites near Arenal, enjoy local food and activities including the following: 

  • Live folkloric music
  • Cooking and tortilla classes
  • A sugar cane ancient mill tour
  • An artisanal liquor class

Next, join Herrera Molina´s musical family, and the founders of the Cultural Foundation. They are famous for their warm, Tico hospitality and charity. The Cultural Foundation is an educational trust and was founded by the Association for Cultural Exchange to promote understanding through education, music, and art. The charity is a pioneer of education for children. Your visit helps the Local Rural Schools in a Scholarship Program that keeps students studying, as opposed to out and working in the fields.

Following the day's events, enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening on your own, and relax at your hotel.

Day 3: Hanging bridges and hiking in Arenal, La Fortuna Waterfall, and hot springs soak

Mistico Hanging Bridges at Arenal
Mistico Hanging Bridges at Arenal

Today, you will experience the best of the Arenal Volcano region. Head out early to Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, where visitors can wander along trails and cross over 15 bridges—some that are hundreds of feet long—for a once-in-a-lifetime view of Arenal Volcano. Gain an up-close look at the incredible biodiversity that occurs in this region, where the upland and lowland rainforests meet. More than 350 bird species, alone, can be found here.

Next, it’s time to head to La Fortuna Waterfall, at the base of the dormant Chato volcano, a short drive outside of town. The falls drop some 210 feet, and a 1,500-foot downhill hike provides the opportunity to see it from the bottom up. Swim and relax in the La Fortuna River below the falls, before heading back to your hotel to unwind.

In the afternoon, take a guided hike to the base of Arenal Volcano, where a nature guide will share information and history about this giant. At the end of the hike, transfer to Tabacon Hot Springs to jump into the relaxing mineral waters for a hard-earned soak after the busy day. Then, enjoy a delicious dinner.

Day 4: Boat to Monteverde and nocturnal nature tour

The cloud forests of Monteverde
The cloud forests of Monteverde

After breakfast at your resort in La Fortuna, transfer to the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. This is no ordinary route, however; skip the drive and board a boat, which will take you across the tranquil waters of Lake Arenal. This 3.5-hour boat ride provides ample opportunities to spot local birds, like heron and anhinga. 

When you arrive at Monteverde, take the afternoon and evening to enjoy nearby Santa Elena, a charming town with Quaker influences known for excellent coffee and cheese. There are also plenty of dining options featuring delectable Costa Rican standards, like ceviche and arroz con pollo.

At night, embark on a 2-hour, guided hike to spot nocturnal wildlife at its most active in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Your knowledgeable nature guide will point out sloths, armadillos, and kinkajous, as well as sleeping birds and frogs.

Day 5: Don Juan Coffee Tour

Join the Don Juan Coffee Tour to learn about the crop
Join the Don Juan Coffee Tour to learn about the crop

Today, enjoy some time exploring the cultural highlights of Monteverde.

Coffee is an old family tradition in Costa Rica and dates back to 1820. On the Don Juan Coffee Tour, learn about the golden bean and the process from seed to cup. A tour guide will teach you about the germination beds, coffee plantations, de-pulping machines, solar dryers, peeling methods, roasting process, and packaging.  

Following the tour, enjoy the rest of the afternoon on your own. You can also embark on sugar cane and chocolate tours to continue learning about the local food customs and crops. Then, the evening will be at your leisure.

Day 6: Transfer to San José and city exploration

Explore the capital city of San José
Explore the capital city of San José

After breakfast in Monteverde, begin the 4.5-hour drive to the capital city of San José. Once you check into your hotel, you will have the rest of the day and night to explore.

San José is home to almost two-thirds of the country's total population. It has buildings more than 100 years old and vividly maintains its culture, art, and history. A myriad of theaters and museums make the capital a city full of treasures to enjoy. 

Explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood that is home to cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of this area’s historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and galleries, making it a frequented bohemian district. 

For dinner, opt for a restaurant on the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers breathtaking panoramic views of the valley below. That said, San José's culinary offerings cover everything from traditional Costa Rican food to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 7: Depart from San José

Farewell, Costa Rica!
Farewell, Costa Rica!

It's time to say adiós to Costa Rica. Depending on your departure, enjoy more time discovering San José. Relax in a café, or browse the local shops for souvenirs, before boarding your flight home. Safe Travels!

Map

Map of Discover Costa Rica: Arenal & Monteverde - 7 Days
Map of Discover Costa Rica: Arenal & Monteverde - 7 Days