Travelers with more than a week to spend in Costa Rica have time to experience much of what makes the country so exceptional, from its many ecosystems and spectacular wildlife to culture, cuisine, and adventure activities. Each of these itineraries takes a theme and runs with it—you can hit all the highlights, spend ten days on the coast, or focus on specific interests like surfing or wildlife.

Itinerary #1: Highlights of Costa Rica

Volcan Arenal, one of Costa Rica's best highlights
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Costa Rica San José
Day 2 San José City Tour San José
Day 3 Volcanos & Waterfalls La Fortuna
Day 4 Activities In & Around Arenal Volcano La Fortuna
Day 5 Outdoor Adventures at Arenal La Fortuna
Day 6 Arenal to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 7 Monteverde to Playa Sámara Sámara
Day 8 Explore Isla Chora Sámara
Day 9 Playa Sámara Free Day Sámara
Day 10 Transfer to San José, Depart Costa Rica  

 

This itinerary hits all of Costa Rica's best-loved highlights. Start in San José, with a tour of the city's best museums and historical sites, led by a private guide. Then, head to Arenal Volcano National Park, home of the 5,437-foot-high peak that is one of Costa Rica’s most famed landmarks—and until 2010, the country’s most active volcano. Hike to a waterfall, soak in the hot springs of nearby Tabacón, and raft the rapids of the Río Balsa before exploring Costa Rica's birdwatching capital: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. End your trip with surfing, kayaking, and hanging with sea turtles at beautiful Playa SámaraLearn more

Itinerary #2: Adventure & Wildlife Tour

Scarlet Macaw takes flight in Monteverde Cloud Forest
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 San José to Arenal La Fortuna
Day 3 Mountain Biking in Arenal La Fortuna
Day 4 Hanging Bridges, Waterfalls & Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 5 Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge La Fortuna
Day 6 Boat from Arenal to Monteverde, Night-time Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 7 Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 8 Birdwatching & Jungle Hike Monteverde
Day 9 Monteverde to San José San Jose
Day 10 Depart San José  

 

Spend 10 days getting acquainted with Costa Rican wildlife, with plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities in the mix. Begin with a guided mountain bike tour of Arenal Volcano National Park. You'll pedal towards the village of El Castillo, stopping for snacks and a swim at Lake Arenal. Then, take a naturalist-led night hike and spot nocturnal animals like sloths, bats, and frogs, and enjoy a day-trip to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge for bird watching.

After a raft trip down the Río Frio (keep your eyes peeled for monkeys, sloths, and even jaguars), you'll head to Monteverde. Take an evening to enjoy the Quaker town of Santa Elena, and end your trip with a few days of exploration in the area's multiple cloud forest reserves. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast 

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Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Liberia - Transfer to Rincón De La Vieja Rincon de la Vieja
Day 2 Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park - Oropendola Waterfall Rincon de la Vieja
Day 3 Rincon de la Vieja - Transfer to Arenal Volcano National Park Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Arenal Hanging Bridges - La Fortuna Waterfall and Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Boat from Arenal to Monteverde - Nocturnal Nature Tour Monteverde
Day 6 Aerial Fun in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 7 Monteverde - Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf de Papagayo
Day 8 Beach Day and Sunset Catamaran Sail Gulf de Papagayo
Day 9 Free Day in Guanacaste Gulf de Papagayo
Day 10 Depart Costa Rica from Liberia  

 

This itinerary combines mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. Your first stop is Rincon de la Vieja National Park, where you'll hike the Las Pailas loop through tropical forest and take a swim at the base of the Oropendola waterfall, just a short walk from the riverside trail. Then, travel by boat to Monteverde for some aerial fun at Sky Adventures Monteverde Park—try zip lining, enjoy the views from a gondola, and take a guided Sky Walk, which combines trails and suspension bridges at heights of up to 984 feet above the jungle canopy.

From there, head to Guanacaste on Costa Rica's western coast. Take a sunset catamaran cruise in the Gulf de Papagayo and choose from a number of amazing day trips; embark on a jungle trail tour and relax in thermal pools at Sensoria, or enjoy the rainforest from the water on a two-hour safari float along the Corobicí RiverLearn more

Itinerary #4: Caribbean Coast Adventure

Snorkeling off the Caribbean coast
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 Rafting Río Pacuare on Class II-IIl Rapids Río Pacuare
Day 3 Rafting Class III-IV Rapids, Continue to Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 Monkeys & Turtles in Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 5 Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 6 Sloths, Jaguars & Beach Time in Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 7 Hiking & Snorkeling in Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 8 Puerto Viejo Free Day Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 9 Puerto Viejo to Braulio Carrillo National Park to San José San Jose
Day 10 Depart San José  

 

Spend your vacation snorkeling in coral reefs, rafting the world-class rapids of Río Pacuare, hiking the coast, and more. This itinerary is ideal for travelers heading to Costa Rica during the "green season" (May - November), as the Caribbean side stays relatively dry during rainy months—and it's also the best time to see turtles nesting in Tortuguero National Park.

You'll also visit the Jaguar Rescue Center, a home and rehabilitation facility for injured and orphaned animals. During your guided tour, you'll see monkeys, wild cats, sloths, and more. Then, make the short drive south to Cahuita National Park for an easy jungle hike and an overnight stay. End your trip in Braulio Carrillo National Park, where hikers will find uncrowded trails—both short and long, ranging from easy to difficult—and native species such as white-faced monkeys, jaguars, tapir, armadillos, and anteaters. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Surfing & Yoga on the Nicoya Peninsula

Surf the Nicoya Peninsula 
Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Liberia; rent SUV Tamarindo
Day 2 Yoga; Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 3 Playa Avellanas; Witch's Rock Tamarindo
Day 4 Playa Negra Nosara
Day 5 Yoga; Playa Guiones Nosara
Day 6 Ostional Wildlife Refuge Nosara
Day 7 Snorkel in Samara Santa Teresa
Day 8 Yoga; Playa Santa Teresa Santa Teresa
Day 9 Hike Montezuma Waterfall Santa Teresa
Day 10 Drive back to San Jose, Depart Costa Rica   

 

On the northwestern edge of Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula features year-round swells and seaside, open-air yoga studios. Here you’ll find Tamarindo, one of Costa Rica's original surf towns with dozens of beachfront hotels, restaurants, and bars. A short drive takes you to Playa Avellana, which boasts multiple surf spots—including a few that cater to intermediate and expert riders.

Next up is Playa Guiones—check out the weekly farmers' market and take a day-trip to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, where sea turtles come to nest their eggs. Wrap things up in Santa Teresa, where you'll spend the last three nights of the trip enjoying the towns funky shops, farm-to-table restaurants, and yoga studios. Learn more

For more Costa Rica trip ideas, check out all of our 10-day tours and itineraries.

Map

Map of 10 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itineraries
Map of 10 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Unique Itineraries