With a week in Costa Rica, you can explore two to three locations. Nature lovers will delight in a natural wonders trip, complete with visits to La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manual Antonio National Park, while those looking for an uninterrupted time at the beach will love a Caribbean coast itinerary. Or, if you're looking for a slice of luxury, base yourself at elegant lodges and get well off the beaten path while searching for unique wildlife.

Itinerary #1: Costa Rica's Natural Wonders

Explore the "green lung of Costa Rica," spot monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park, and soak in mineral-rich hot springs on this weeklong natural wonders tour, perfect for wildlife lovers. With two nights each in La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manual Antonio, there's plenty of time to get to know your surroundings and embark on guided hikes in search of monkeys, sloths, and reptiles. Add in a visit to a local coffee plantation and a river home to a large crocodile population, and there's no chance of being bored on this ecotourism journey.

Cross the Hanging Bridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest
Cross the Hanging Bridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Nocturnal Nature Walk Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Sloth & Bird Hike, Soak in Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Boat to Monteverde, Taste Costa Rican Coffee, Nocturnal Nature Walk Monteverde
Day 4 Guided Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour Monteverde
Day 5 Tárcoles River Crocodiles and on to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Explore Manuel Antonio National Park  Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Return to San José, Depart   

Welcome to Costa Rica! After a transfer from San José to your hotel in La Fortuna, you'll get your first glimpse of the country's incredible nature and wildlife during a guided hike in Ecocentro Danaus. The natural wonders keep coming the next morning during a hike along the "Sloth Trail," followed by a trek around Arenal Volcano and a soak at Tabacon Hot Springs. Settled into life in Costa Rica, it's time to board a boat and journey to Monteverde, located on the other side of Lake Arenal and famous for its diverse wildlife and ecotourism. 

Two days in Monteverde will fly by as you visit a local coffee plantation, search for nocturnal animals on a nighttime nature walk, and journey along the hanging bridges of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. With plenty more to discover, a transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park is next on the agenda, and after stopping to spot crocodiles in the Tárcoles River, you'll enjoy a relaxing evening on Espadilla Beach. Wake early on your last full day for a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park, keeping an eye out for monkeys, sloths, and birds; then, transfer back to San José to catch your onward flight. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Costa Rica Pacific Coast Road Trip

There's no shortage of beaches, kayaking excursions, and snorkel stops on this road trip of Costa Rica's Pacific Coast. Crafted for those looking for an active beach holiday, you'll have time to surf at Playa Sámara and Playa Tamarindo, explore the nooks and crannies of Isla Chora, and spend a day sailing alongside sea turtles, tropical fish, and dolphins. Plus, with a rental car on hand, stops at Rincón de la Vieja National Park and Palo Verde National Park add the perfect touch of tropical jungle exploration to your adventure.

Surfing in Tamarindo
Surfing in Tamarindo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Liberia, Pick Up Rental Car & Transfer to Sámara Sámara
Day 2 Paddle to & Snorkel Around Isla Chora Sámara
Day 3 Sámara Beach Free Day Sámara
Day 4 Drive to Tamarindo, Optional Sea Kayak & Snorkel Tour or Turtle Spotting Tamarindo
Day 5 Morning Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 6 Free Morning, Afternoon Snorkel & Sunset Catamaran Cruise Tamarindo
Day 7 Return to Liberia, Depart   

Hop off the plane in Liberia, pick up your rental car, and begin your beach-filled road trip with a drive to Sámara on the Nicoya Peninsula, stopping by Rincón de la Vieja National Park on the way to refresh at the base of Oropendola Waterfall. Over the following three days, you'll have plenty of time to snorkel, surf, and hike into Werner Sauter Biological Preserve. A highlight is sure to be a half-day guided paddleboard or kayak excursion to Isla Chora, but don't overlook the chance to take a guided tour to Palo Verde National Park or go spelunking at Barra Honda

It's back on the road on Day 4, with Playa Tamarindo your destination. Spend the afternoon kayaking and snorkeling around Capitán Island and, if the season is right, head to Las Baulas National Marine Park to watch leatherback turtles amble ashore. Get an exciting introduction to Playa Tamarindo's surf culture the following day during a private lesson at Playa Naranjo or Ollie's Point, then embark on an afternoon sailing trip that turns into a sunset cruise complete with a tropical beverage in hand. All too soon, it'll be time to return to Liberia and catch your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast: Tortuguero & Puerto Viejo

Discover the ideal mix of exploration and relaxation on this Caribbean Coast highlights itinerary, celebrating Costa Rica's laid-back attitude, pristine beaches, famous national parks, and Afro-Caribbean culture. Complete with time in Tortuguero National Park, reachable only by boat, and Cahuita National Park, known for its sandy beaches and diverse marine life, you'll have plenty of time to observe wildlife while embarking on gentle hikes. Plus, with time in San José at the start and end of your trip, it's easy to tick off the capital city's highlights.

Maleku Masks
Admire Maleku Masks
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Evening Tour San José
Day 2 Hike in Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero National Park
Day 3 Boat Tour in Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero National Park
Day 4 Transfer to Puerto Viejo via Lunch in Guapiles Puerto Viejo
Day 5 Snorkel & Hike Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo
Day 6 Morning at the Beach, Afternoon Return to San José San José
Day 7 Depart San José  

Your Costa Rica trip begins in San José, where the afternoon is yours to visit Mercado Central, Museo del Oro Precolumbino, or join an evening tour of the city. Then, wake early for a scenic boat transfer to the car-free Tortuguero National Park, watching for crocodiles, sloths, and monkeys along the way. Upon arrival, stretch your legs on a guided hike around town, and if the season's right, spend the evening watching green sea turtles swimming up to the beach. The next day promises to be a trip highlight as you embark on a boat tour through canals and enjoy an afternoon fishing, canoeing, or joining a canopy tour.

With more adventures on the horizon, say your goodbyes to ​Tortuguero National Park and transfer to the vibrant and unique South Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo. An evening will disappear as you try out one of the many restaurants in town, but be sure to rest up, as the next day brings you on a hike in Cahuita National Park. Follow a jungle trail to Cahuita Point, opt for a dip in the Caribbean Sea, and test your luck spotting wildlife. Then, spend the following morning relaxing, and after a transfer to San José and a free evening, you'll head to the airport to catch your flight home. Learn more

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Itinerary #4: Costa Rica Culinary, Nature & Beaches Tour

Explore Costa Rica's highlights as you experience its culture through its cuisine on this food-themed tour. Through a chocolate-making workshop, a hands-on cooking class, and a coffee farm tour, you'll not only taste but also gain an appreciation for Costa Rica's farming traditions and its focus on maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Between foodie-focused excursions, work up an appetite while hiking to waterfalls, sea kayaking in the Gulf of Papagayo, and spotting nocturnal animals during a night walk.

Enjoy a culinary-focused trip—and one that features chocolate making—in Costa Rica
Enjoy a culinary-focused trip—and one that features chocolate making—in Costa Rica
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Explore San José
Day 2 Transfer to Arenal Volcano, Chocolate Making & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Waterfall Hike & Cooking Class Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Coffee Farm Tour & Nocturnal Nature Walk Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf of Papagayo
Day 6 Free Morning, Afternoon Snorkel & Sunset Catamaran Cruise Gulf of Papagayo
Day 7 Transfer to Liberia, Depart  

Begin your trip in San José, indulging in Costa Rica's traditional culinary delights at Mercado Central, then choose between a casual dinner at Tiquicia or a more upmarket experience at Restaurante Grano de Oro. It's off to Arenal Volcano National Park the following day for an educational afternoon learning about chocolate production, followed by a therapeutic bath at Tabacón Thermal Resort and dinner at Ave Del Paraíso. Next, take in the beauty of La Fortuna Waterfall Reserve during a short hike and reward your efforts with a visit to Arenal Vida Campesina Farm and a cooking class at La Guaria Morada.

With one more day in La Fortuna, you'll spend the morning learning about coffee production at a local farm; then, after a night walk hosted by Ecocentro Danaus, it's back on the road to the Pacific coast. Once you've reached your destination, Papagayo, warm up the muscles with a sea kayaking or snorkeling excursion around Capitán Island. As your last full day dawns, take advantage of the sandy beaches and enjoy a relaxing day soaking up the sun and an evening on board a dinner cruise before transferring to Liberia to catch your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Wildlife Luxury Adventure in Arenal & the Osa Peninsula

Delight in a week of luxury on this wildlife-focused tour of Arenal and the Osa Peninsula, perfect for those looking to admire Costa Rica's unique animals well away from the crowds. While staying at the luxurious Lapa Rios Lodge in Drake Bay, you'll explore remote parts of Corcovado National Park and search unspoiled waters for dolphins and whales. Then, finish your adventure with two nights at the elegant Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, the perfect base to explore La Fortuna and admire Arenal Volcano.

Enjoy the vistas from your luxury hotel in the Osa Peninsula (photo courtesy of Lapa Rios Lodge)
Enjoy the vistas from your luxury hotel in the Osa Peninsula (photo courtesy of Lapa Rios Lodge)
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Explore San José
Day 2 Fly to Drake Bay & Take a Bird-Watching Tour Drake Bay
Day 3 Hike in Corcovado National Park Drake Bay
Day 4 Whale & Dolphin Tour on Drake Bay Drake Bay
Day 5 Fly to San José, Transfer to La Fortuna, Afternoon Hot Springs Soak Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 See Sloths in the Wild & Visit a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Return to San José, Depart   

Your luxury Costa Rica adventure begins in San José, pleasing plane legs with a self-guided walking tour of Central Park, Teatro Nacional, and the Plaza de la Cultura. Then, it's back to the airport for a short flight to the Osa Peninsula—one of the most biodiverse areas on earth—and after settling into your elegant room at the Lapa Rios Lodge, you'll join a guide for a sunset bird-watching experience around Drake Bay. Your next two days will fly by as you search for jungle cats at the remote San Pedrillo Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park, join a whale and dolphin watching boat tour, and if the weather is right, snorkel in search of sea turtles and manta rays. 

With three more days left, catch a flight back to San José, transfer to La Fortuna, and check into the lavish Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying views of Arenal Volcano, then decide between the Italian Cafe Mediterraneo or the upscale Dun Rufino for dinner. Next on the itinerary is a two-hour guided hike along the "Sloth Trail," followed by a visit to Proyecto Asis to learn about its resident anteaters, monkeys, parrots, and sloths that are being rehabilitated. After a transfer to San José, your trip comes to an end, and you'll catch your onward flight. Learn more

Itinerary #6: Costa Rica Cycling Adventure

Pedal from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific coast on this epic cycling adventure that gets you off the beaten track to lead you past Costa Rica's farms, banana plantations, and sugar cane fields. Along the way, take in impressive views of Turrialba Volcano, cool off with a swim in the Pejibaye River, and cross over the Continental Divide. Then, end your trip in style, relaxing on the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park and indulging in seafood and steak in the bustling town of Quepos.

Cycling on the coast in Costa Rica
Cycling on the coast in Costa Rica
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Bike from Playa Bonita to Siquirres Siquirres
Day 3 Cycle from Siquirres to Turrialba Turrialba
Day 4 Continue from Turrialba to Orosi Orosi
Day 5 Pedal from Orosi to Santa Maria Santa Maria de Dota
Day 6 Enjoy a Downhill Ride from Santa Maria to Quepos Quepos
Day 7 Return to San José, Depart  

Start your Costa Rica trip in San José, the perfect place to get your bearings in the country while strolling along Central Avenue, Mercado Central, and the Plaza de la Cultura. Ready to explore by bike, you'll first transfer to Playa Bonita on the Caribbean coast, where you'll hop on two wheels and cycle 37.2 miles (60 km) along railroad tracks to the Finca Pacuarito Camp on the banks of the Pacuare River. Rest up, as the following day brings you on a 21.7 miles (35 km) uphill ride to Turrialba, with epic views of Turrialba Volcano along the way.

Next up is a thrilling downhill ride, rolling through sugar cane fields to the valley floor of the Reventazon River. Then, after lunch and a swim at Pejibaye River, you'll continue to Orosi and kick your feet up at the Tetey Lodge. Hopefully, you're legs are up for another challenging day, as an uphill ride to the Continental Divide greets you in the morning, followed by an enjoyable cruise down to Santa Maria de Dota. Continue on your path to the Pacific, and with Quepos as your final destination, you'll celebrate while dining on fresh seafood and steak at Gabriella's or Z Gasto Bar before catching your flight the next day. Learn more

More Great 1-Week Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other one-week Costa Rica itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 1 Week in Costa Rica - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 1 Week in Costa Rica - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas