Spot vibrant wildlife and learn about Costa Rican culture on this educational four-day tour. You'll start with a day of sightseeing in San José, then move on to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll learn about Indigenous traditions on a village visit. Enjoy a motorboat excursion along the park's jungle waterways, looking for toucans, sloths, and monkeys along the journey. Then tour a coffee farm, sampling locally produced coffee and finding out more about the country's coffee-growing history.


  • Discover San José's culture at your own pace on a self-guided walking tour
  • Explore the lush jungle canals of Tortuguero National Park on a motorboat
  • Witness sea turtles nesting on the beaches of the national park 
  • Sample locally produced coffee at a coffee farm near San José

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive & Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Transfer from San José to Tortuguero National Park, Village Visit Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 4 Visit a Coffee Farm, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive & Explore Downtown San José

The National Theater
The National Theater in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica! A driver will transfer you from the airport to your hotel in San José. After settling in, go for a self-guided walking tour of downtown. Depending on your hotel's location, you can walk or take a taxi to your first destination: Mercado Central (Central Market), featuring over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants). It's a short walk to Central Park, a small plaza always bustling with activity. Pass various outdoor sculptures as you walk through the park toward Catedral Metropolitana and continue walking down Central Avenue until you reach the 19th-century Teatro Nacional.

Your first museum stop is the Museo del Oro Precolumbino, accessible from beneath the Plaza de la Cultura and holds the most extensive Pre-Columbian gold collection in Latin America. Next, head to the Museo del Jade, the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts. As you wander among thousands of unique jade pieces, you'll gain an even deeper appreciation for Costa Rica's rich history. 

Read about the top restaurant recommendations in San José here.

Day 2: Transfer from San José to Tortuguero National Park, Village Visit

Rainforest on the banks of the Tortuguero River
Rainforest on the banks of the Tortuguero River
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Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today you'll transfer to Tortuguero National Park. A driver will pick you up in an air-conditioned minivan and transfer you to the boat dock near Tortuguero. From there, a boat will take you to your hotel in Tortuguero. Read more about the best boutique hotels in the area

Your two-hour excursion this afternoon focuses on the community of Tortuguero itself. With your bilingual naturalist guide, your group will spend time chatting with the locals in Tortuguero and learning about their way of life and their settlement history in this Caribbean coastal outpost.

The region's first inhabitants were Zambo-Miskito Indians and people who escaped enslavement. They lived off the land through subsistence farming, turtle hunting, and raiding cacao plantations. The vast seasonal migrations of sea turtles to the Tortuguero coastline also attracted 19th-century sailors who would purchase turtle meat, oil, and shells to sell in Europe. Today, Tortuguero's approximately 1,500 residents have traded turtle hunting for turtle conservation and ecotourism. 

Day 3: Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals

Sun on the tree branches
Sun on the tree branches in Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is one of the world's most important locations for several species of nesting sea turtles. Explore the park's jungle waterways on a motorboat tour that allows you to see the forest and its wildlife from the water.

A 2021 count registered 186 species of birds in the area, along with three monkey species, crocodiles, caimans, toucans, sloths, and much more. You will likely see most of these creatures on your tour. On some of the canals, you can get close to the tangled jungle on the riverbanks, where you can observe many animals.

Check out this article on the best things to do in the national park.

Day 4: Visit a Coffee Farm, Depart

Tour a working coffee farm
Tour a working coffee farm

Check out of your hotel after breakfast and enjoy a relaxing ride through the Costa Rican countryside, driving along the mountains of the central volcanic range on your way to Hacienda Alsacia. Affiliated with Starbucks, the property is dedicated to the production of coffee, experimental coffee-growing techniques, and public education. Arabica beans were first introduced to Costa Rica in the 1700s, and coffee is an integral part of the country's economy today.

Stop into the visitor's center for an overview before touring the working tree nursery, a wet mill, the drying patio, and the roasting area. During the tour, you will learn about the process and sample various coffees. Then it's time to transfer to the airport to catch your flight. Safe travels!

More Great Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other Costa Rica itineraries, explore different ways to spend four days in Costa Rica, or discover the best time to visit Costa Rica.


Map of Culture & Wildlife in Tortuguero National Park - 4 Days
Map of Culture & Wildlife in Tortuguero National Park - 4 Days
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Oct 17, 2022