Combine lush rainforests and Pacific beaches on this relaxed, weeklong road-trip through Costa Rica. Starting in the vibrant capital of San José, you'll set out for the volcanic landscapes of Arenal, where scenic hikes and natural hot springs beckon. Continue to the rare cloud forests of Monteverde to zip-line through the canopy and discover nocturnal wildlife on an evening jungle tour. End your trip on the coast, where you can surf, snorkel, and relax on the tropical white sands of Tamarindo.

Highlights

  • Hike around the iconic Arenal Volcano
  • Discover nocturnal wildlife on an evening jungle walk
  • Zip-line through the cloud forests of Monteverde
  • Relax on the white sands of Costa Rica's Pacific coast
  • Hit the surf on Tamarindo Beach

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Drive to the Arenal Volcano Area Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Drive to Monteverde & Cloud Forest Night Tour Monteverde
Day 4 Zip-lining Tour in Monteverde Monteverde
Day 5 Drive to Tamarindo Beach Tamarindo
Day 6 Tamarindo Beach - Surfing Lessons Tamarindo
Day 7 Depart From Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!

¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! After arriving at the airport, pick up your rental and head for your accommodation in the metropolitan capital of San José.

San José is home to almost two-thirds of the country's total population and vividly maintains its culture, art, and history. A myriad of theaters and museums make the capital a city full of treasures to enjoy. If you arrive early, feel free to explore the city at your leisure.

Be sure to 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 2: Drive to the Arenal Volcano Area

Lush jungles surround the active Arenal Volcano
Lush jungles surround the active Arenal Volcano

Hit the road this morning and make your way towards La Fortuna, home of the 7,500-year-old Arenal Volcano. The Arenal region is located about 56 miles (90 km) from San José and is a prime destination for accessible adventure activities and spectacular views of Costa Rica's most famous volcano. Home to lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, its proximity to the capital makes it a convenient spot to experience some of the country's highlights in a short time. 

After arrival, devote your afternoon to exploring the rainforest and relaxing in the natural hot springs near the volcano. Start with an immersive nature walk in Arenal Volcano National Park, where an expert guide will lead you through a fascinating tour of the area's natural history.  There are many chances to see wildlife on the walk and, of course, experience the volcanic activity first hand. Finish with a dip in the thermal waters near Arenal, where you can swim and relax. Enjoy dinner at the springs before settling into your accommodation for the evening.

Day 3: Drive to Monteverde & Cloud Forest Night Tour

Monteverde is home to diverse and rare wildlife like the quetzal
Monteverde is home to diverse and rare wildlife like the quetzal

After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, set off for your next destination—the spectacular cloud forests of Monteverde. Known as Costa Rica's "green lung" due to its rich biodiversity, Monteverde is located in the mountainous northwest region of the country, and famous for its 26,000-acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

This evening you'll discover the hidden treasures of the tropics' most endangered habitat in a journey that takes you deep into the cloud forest after dark. As night falls, the forest reveals a  magical world few human eyes have ever witnessed. A naturalist guide will point out sloths, armadillos, and kinkajous, as well as sleeping birds. Examples of nocturnal animals you'll encounter here include agoutis, porcupines, grey foxes, tarantulas, and frogs.

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Day 4: Zip-lining Tour in Monteverde

Zip-line your way through the jungle canopy
Zip-line your way through the jungle canopy

Today you'll head out to tackle one of the most popular activities in Costa Rica—the canopy tour. With the help of a zip-line, you'll glide your way between trees and mountains, with bird's eye views of the rare and remarkable ecosystem below. While you "fly" through the dense cloud forest, see and feel all the natural activity occurring within the treetops. With the help of your guides, you'll get the chance to see many of the jungle's birds, insects, and mammals up close.

Following the excursion, the rest of the day and evening are at your leisure.

Day 5: Drive to Tamarindo Beach

The white sands of Tamarindo Beach
The white sands of Tamarindo Beach

Make your way to the coast today, driving 1.5 hours to the beautiful, white sands of Tamarindo Beach. After checking into your beachside accommodations, the afternoon is yours to explore the tropical beaches and enjoy the warm waters of Costa Rica's western coast. The calm waters are perfect for watersports like swimming, surfing, and snorkeling, and the town boasts a great selection of restaurants and nightlife. Make sure to head to the waterfront in the evening for an unforgettable sunset.

Day 6: Tamarindo Beach - Surfing Lessons

Take a surfing lesson on Samara Beach
Take a surfing lesson on Samara Beach

Today you'll have the opportunity to practice one of Tamarindo's most famous pastimes, as you suit up for a surfing lesson in the warm Pacific waters. The ocean here has little-to-no rip currents and small, inviting waves, which makes it the perfect spot for beginners and those looking to perfect their technique. With experienced guides providing you with the best tricks and tips, you'll be surfing the waves in no time. 

After an adventurous morning, the rest of the day is free to unwind on the beach or explore the charming downtown. 

Day 7: Depart From Costa Rica

Farewell, Costa Rica!
Farewell, Costa Rica!

It's time to say adiós to your beautiful journey through Costa Rica as you drive back to San José to drop off your car and catch your onward flight.

Map

Map of Diverse Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Tamarindo - 7 Days
Map of Diverse Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Tamarindo - 7 Days