This trip is perfect for those who want to explore Costa Rica's highlights, combined with active tours that get your blood pumping. Start this adventure navigating rapids on the Pacuare River — one of the top 10 rivers in the world for whitewater. Explore Arenal Volcano by bike, then head to the misty cloud forest of Monteverde for nature hikes and a zip line tour. End your trip on Tamarindo Beach, one of Costa Rica's premier beach destinations. Relax on the sand, take a surf lesson, or go snorkeling, then finish things off with a sunset sail on the Pacific.
Costa Rica Travel Insights
Costa Rica is a well-known adventure destination, and this 10-day itinerary makes time for all the highlights. You'll go whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River, ride a horse through the misty cloud forest, zip from tree to tree in Monteverde, and stand up paddle in the Pacific Ocean. This trip makes time for cultural highlights, too: a visit to a traditional coffee plantation, the National Theater, and Jaco's nightlife round out the trip.
Take in the best of Costa Rica's wildlife and nature on this two-week trip into the rainforest. Start in Arenal to hike around the Arenal Volcano and soothe your muscles in the regenerative hot springs, then head to Monteverde for a treetops adventure in the cloud forest. You'll zip line through the canopy and hike through the nighttime forest before ending your trip in Manual Antonio, where crystal clear water and endless beaches await.
This whirlwind 5-day itinerary is perfect for first-time travelers who want to experience quintessential Costa Rica nature and rainforests. You'll take in awe-inspiring views of Arenal volcano and have an exciting day of zip lining before heading to Manuel Antonio to explore the jungle and white sand beaches of this nature lovers paradise.
Costa Rica is open to all international travelers without requiring a PCR test as of October 2020. This article describes current entry requirements for entering Costa Rica during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as some of the current protocols setup in the country to protect your health. We will keep this up to date as the situation evolves.
Costa Rica looks deceptively small on a map, a fact many travelers discover when trying to choose which of its locales to visit on vacation. We've eliminated this paradox of choice by creating optimum itineraries based on the average length of time people spend in this amazing country and what they most want to see. We interviewed tourism experts, locals, and real-life travelers, taking their advice to heart in order to craft the perfect Costa Rica vacations spanning five days to two weeks. Read on to discover which is best for you.
Most people visiting Arenal spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Manuel Antonio and Monteverde as well. If you're not interested in Manuel Antonio and Monteverde, 4 to 5 days is enough for your Arenal trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 3 days. Read on for the best itineraries including Arenal, La Fortuna and beyond.
Most people visiting Manuel Antonio spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde as well. For travelers wanting to visit Manuel Antonio exclusively, plan about 5 days for a well-paced trip. A fast-paced highlights trip is possible in 3 or 4 days for travelers with limited time. Check out our favorite Manuel Antonio trips below.
Eight to 10 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers interested in visiting the Gulf of Papagayo, especially when also including Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde. For travelers wanting to visit the Gulf of Papagayo exclusively, plan about 5 days for a well-paced trip. A fast-paced highlights trip is possible in 3 or 4 days for travelers with limited time. Check out our favorite Gulf of Papagayo trips below.
This easy week-long itinerary lets you experience some of Costa Rica's finest national parks and natural areas. Spot turtles on the beach at the Tortuguero National Park; hike, swim, canoe or cycle in the Arenal Volcano National Park, with the mighty volcano as your backdrop; learn about one of Costa Rica's most important crops, coffee, at a plantation, and much more. Travelers with a range of interests will enjoy this varied tour, which packs a lot into a week.
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.
Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining both Arenal and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. If you're only headed to Arenal and Gulf of Papagayo, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 7 to 8 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 5 or 6 days. Read on for the best itineraries including Arenal, Gulf of Papagayo, and beyond.
Most people visiting both Manuel Antonio and Monteverde spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Arenal/La Fortuna as well. For travelers wanting to visit Manuel Antonio and Monteverde exclusively, plan on 6 to 7 days for a well-paced trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 5 days. Check out our favorite Manuel Antonio and Monteverde trips below.
Twelve to 14 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers combining Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. Without Monteverde, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 9 to 10 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 7 or 8 days. Check out our favorite trips including Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo below.
Combining Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, and Río Pacuare makes for a perfect trip to Costa Rica. To make the most of your trip, maximizing time between travel days at each stop, you'll want to plan your trip for about 10 to 11 days. Even with a tight schedule, travelers can see the classic highlights in as few as 8 or 9 days. See our best-loved Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, and Río Pacuare itineraries below to start planning your Costa Rica trip.
Experience a perfect blend of cloud forests and tropical beaches on this 8-day Costa Rican road trip. Start your adventure in Arenal, where you'll explore the rainforest via suspension bridges and zip-line tours while spotting exotic birds and playful monkeys. After some exhilarating whitewater rafting and volcano hiking excursions, you'll head to the western Nicoya Peninsula to wind down with snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the white sands of Tamarindo.
This 9-day self-drive adventure covers three of Costa Rica's most distinct, exotic, and naturally beautiful regions: Arenal Volcano National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the Guanacaste Province's Pacific coast. Set off from the capital of San José to explore the lush jungles and imposing volcanoes of Arenal, then make your way to the cloud forests of Monteverde for zip-lining and wildlife spotting. Head for the coast to end your trip on the spectacular beaches of the Guanacaste Province, where you can surf, snorkel, and go dolphin watching on a sunset catamaran cruise.
This 10-day self-drive itinerary takes you off the beaten path to discover Costa Rica's highlights at your own pace. After an evening in San José, embark from the capital and drive north to explore the cloud forests of Monteverde by zip-line. Journey west to the Pacific coast and the surf village of Tamarindo for sea kayaking and wildlife spotting, then make your way inland to La Fortuna. Here you'll explore the lush landscapes of Arenal Volcano National Park, hike the brilliant blue Río Celeste, and visit a working coffee plantation.
Manuel Antonio National Park is a microcosm of many of the things that travelers come to Costa Rica for, and its proximity to San José makes it an ideal destination if you're short on time in the country—it's possible to go for just a day. But for travelers with more flexibility, extra time spent in and around Manuel Antonio won't be wasted, with so many natural and outdoor activities to enjoy. Here's a guide to spending your time in Manuel Antonio wisely.
Monteverde is one of the Central American nation's most popular ecotourism hot spots, and the main reason travelers come here is to tour the cloud forests. In 24 hours, you can do many of the activities make this area famous—ziplining, canopy walks on suspension bridges, and naturalist-led night hikes. With an extra day or two, venture into the surrounding countryside for coffee plantation tours and special garden visits. Read on to find out more.
Add a little adrenaline to your family vacation with this 8-day Costa Rica adventure. Starting in San José, you'll set out to experience the rainforest and its hidden treasures first-hand in Arenal Volcano National Park. Raft the rapids of the Sarapiquí River, zipline through the jungle canopy, and visit with monkeys and parrots at a local wildlife center. End your trip where the rainforest meets the ocean at Manuel Antonio National Park, where kids can swim and snorkel, relax on pristine white sand beaches, and go dolphin-spotting on a catamaran cruise.
Embark on an active, weeklong adventure to three different regions of Costa Rica. The journey begins in La Fortuna—home to Arenal Volcano—where you can cross the hanging bridges, discover a beautiful waterfall, and soak in the natural hot springs. Then, head to Montverde to explore the Cloud Forest Reserve, along with an adrenaline-pumping excursion to Sky Adventures Monteverde Park. Next, spend some time lazing on Guanacaste's stunning Playa Hermosa. With some free time, soak up the sun, go kayaking, and board a sunset catamaran, before departing out of Liberia.
Enjoy a quick and eventful five days exploring two of Costa Rica’s best-known attractions. Begin in La Fortuna, where you can take some time to explore the village and dine in town. Then, discover Arenal Volcano on a nature hike, and soak in the natural hot springs. Next, float along scenic Lake Arenal to Monteverde. Mingle with the locals and then hike through the biodiverse Cloud Forest Reserve, which is home to many species of plants and animals—including plenty of exotic birdlife. Integrate this quick trip into other travel plans, or arrive and depart from San José, depending on your preference.
Get your adrenaline pumping with this active 8-day itinerary showcasing Costa Rica's magnificent natural wonders. Starting in the capital of San José, you'll journey through a land of rivers, jungles, waterfalls, and volcanoes to reach the spectacular white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, enjoy a perfect blend of thrilling activities and relaxing downtime as you brave whitewater rapids, hike high into the rainforest's canopy, and sail and swim off the pristine Pacific coast.
Embark on a nine-day, nature-driven expedition through Costa Rica. After landing in the current capital, discover the history of the former capital of Cartago en route to Irazú Volcano and Turrialba. Next, visit the significant archaeological site of Guayabo National Monument and the biodiverse CATIE Bontanical Gardens. Then, spend time discovering the rainforest and rivers of Sarapiqui. Embark on a chocolate tour before reaching La Fortuna for the grand finale—the beauty of Arenal Volcano and its incredible surroundings.
This family-friendly trip allows you to experience two sides of Costa Rica. Begin in La Fortuna—home of the stunning Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall—to enjoy nature walks, hikes, and an excursion over hanging bridges. Then, it's off to the Nicoya Peninsula for a few days of fun in the sun, snorkeling, nature discovery on Tambor Beach. The trip winds down in San José to do some sightseeing.
Enjoy active adventures and luxurious stays on this 11-day Costa Rica journey. Conquer whitewater rapids in Pacuare, before heading to the Arenal Volcano region with opportunities to zipline, hike, and soak in natural hot springs. Then, stop to visit the crocodiles along the Tarcoles River en route to coastal Manuel Antonio, where you'll explore the rainforest and snorkel in pristine waters. Next, hop a flight to an Osa Peninsula eco-lodge, before one last day of exploration in San José.
Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining both Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde with Manuel Antonio. If you're not interested in Manuel Antonio, 6 to 7 days is enough for your Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 4 or 5 days. For the best itineraries including Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde, keep reading below.
Enjoy a few of the best outdoor highlights of Costa Rica on this nine-day adventure. Do some sightseeing in the capital city, then conquer the rapids on a rafting trip down the Pacuare River. Next, go canyoning, head out on a nature walk, and soak in the hot springs around Arenal Volcano. Then, explore the cloud forest of Monteverde on horseback and go ziplining through the canopy. The trip concludes with some surfing, snorkeling, and relaxation on Samara Beach, before returning to San José.
On this weeklong trip, enjoy two stunning destinations in Costa Rica. From the capital, stop for a rafting trip on the Pacuare River, before reaching La Fortuna. Then, explore Arenal Volcano on a nature hike, along with a soak in the hot springs. Next, take a Jeep-Boat-Jeep to Monteverde to discover the hanging bridges, and go ziplining and horseback riding through the forest canopy. Circle back to San José to explore more of the city before departure.
Spend an active week discovering some of the natural highlights of Costa Rica. Explore the capital city, and then launch into an adrenaline-pumping rafting excursion along the Pacuare River. Next, explore Arenal Volcano on a nature walk, followed by a hot spring soak. Then, head to Monteverde to tour the incredible cloud forest on horseback and zipline through the canopy. Enjoy more time strolling historical San José before departure.
This jam-packed tour of Costa Rica’s highlights takes you from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Begin with a boat tour of Tortuguero before two days o f relaxation on Puerto Viejo Beach. Conquer the rapids on the Pacuare River en route to adventure-filled Arenal. Then, head to Monteverde, where you'll zipline through the rare cloud forest, followed by a cultural tour of local plantations. The trip winds down in Manuel Antonio, with its gorgeous beaches and adundant wildlife.
On this nine-day getaway, explore three of Costa Rica’s most prized beaches, parks, and nature reserves—along with plenty of downtime. First, venture to Dominical, home of a biodiverse national park and a great base for watersports, like sea kayaking and tubing. Then, head to Jacó Beach to take a jungle river cruise and zipline over the rainforest. Next is Santa Teresa Beach to see a nature reserve and a massive waterfall. The trip winds down with some sightseeing in the capital city of San José.
This eight-day itinerary is perfect for travelers seeking a balanced beach holiday, laced with organized day trips and free time by the water. Land in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste province, and head south to the popular surf town of Tamarindo Beach. Spend your days riding the waves, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling, and diving through the reefs of some of the most beautiful Pacific waters rich with exotic marine life. Bookmark day trips to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and Rio Negro Hot Springs, Las Catalinas Islands, and Capitán Island, too.
Enjoy the best of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica in just one week. Upon arrival, head to Rincón de la Vieja to explore the national park—which hosts a plethora of volcanic activity—embark on a ziplining adventure over White River Canyon, and enjoy some relaxing downtime in your hotel’s spa and natural hot springs. Next, venture to stunning Tamarindo Beach for some fun in the sun. Go surfing and beach hopping, before boarding an unforgettable sunset catamaran—complete with reef snorkeling.
Experience the best of birding in Costa Rica on this 13-day journey through tropical paradise. In Tortuguero, learn about turtle conservation and spot dozens of birds and other species. Then, venture to Turrialba Volcano to discover the native birdlife. Next, stroll the cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota, where hummingbirds and quetzals thrive, followed by Corcovado National Park and Ballena National Marine Park. The finale includes scarlet macaws flying overhead at Carara National Park, before returning to San José for some sightseeing.
Enjoy a 15-day honeymoon adventure that covers several of Costa Rica’s greatest outdoor destinations. Begin in the capital city for a welcome dinner, before heading to the Arenal region for river rafting, volcano hikes, scenic waterfalls, and more. Next, go snorkeling and kayaking in the ocean on the shores of beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park. Venture into the cloud forests of Monteverde to take suspension bridges and ziplines through the greenery, followed by downtime in Tamardino Beach to surf, sail, and relish magnificent sunsets.
This birding and nature adventure through Costa Rica covers five biodiverse areas in 10 days. Enjoy some post-travel relaxation in Heredia, and do your first round of birding at Tapantí National Park. Stay in Turrialba for the next two nights, and enjoy the great outdoors of Rancho Naturalista and Braulio Carrillo National Park. From Sarapiquí, visit the famed La Selva Biological Station, and then spend time in stunning La Fortuna, home to Arenal Volcano. In Tárcoles, board a riverboat tour, then enjoy time spotting species at Carara National Park.
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.
This 10-day itinerary showcases three of Costa Rica's most popular destinations: Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. In Arenal, you'll paddleboard past the volcano on the lake, traverse tropical forests on suspension bridges, and soak in the region's hot springs. Monteverde offers the chance to spot monkeys, birds, and more of the country's wildlife as you zip-line through the Cloud Forest Reserve, while Manuel Antonio provides downtime at the beach, where days end with spectacular Pacific Coast sunsets.
This 8-day trip is ideal for travelers looking to experience Costa Rica's highlights. Go for a dip in Arenal's hot springs and spot monkeys and other wildlife on hikes around the famous volcano. Continue to Monteverde, where you'll discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the cloud forest. Finally, spend a few days in Manuel Antonio National Park, kayaking through turquoise waters and relaxing on pristine white sand beaches.
Arenal Volcano National Park (along with the gateway town of La Fortuna) is a highlight of any Costa Rica itinerary. In an afternoon, you can get a feel for the park from one of its hiking trails or hot spring pools, but you'll need a few days to further take advantage of the views and adventure activities that make this region special. With four days or more, you can add world-class whitewater rafting and indigenous culture excursions to your itinerary.
This 7-day trip is ideal for travelers looking to unwind yet still experience the natural wonders of the Arenal region. You'll mountain bike around the famous volcano, visit a working coffee farm, and go for a dip in the area's famous hot springs. You'll also have the chance to spot monkeys and other wildlife during a guided tour of the cloud forests in the Monteverde region. You can also visit beautiful gardens abounding with colorful orchids and exotic butterflies.
With abundant wildlife, a nocturnal nature tour, a visit to the jungle in Manuel Antonio National Park, and time to relax on the beach, this trip captures the essence of Costa Rica's motto: Pura Vida! Starting in San José, you'll travel first to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where you'll encounter Costa Rica's famed biodiversity. Continue on to Manuel Antonio National Park, where the forest meets the sea, for activities including a sunset catamaran cruise.
This is a special trip for nature lovers to satisfy the adventurer's soul. You will visit the most prominent places in Costa Rica and enjoy beautiful landscapes while experiencing the great variety of flora and fauna of this little paradise. A lot of outdoor adventure awaits you, combining exciting jungle exploration, interesting volcano hikes, boat safari with animal sightings, and beach leisure.
Combining Arenal/La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde - Recommended Itineraries from 8 to 14 Days
A trip to Costa Rica that includes Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde takes around 8 to 10 days. If you don't have that much time it's possible to see the highlights in 6 or 7 days, but your trip will feel quite fast-paced. If you have more time, or want to pack more places into your trip, you can add Tortuguero, Tamarindo, or Puerto Viejo to your itinerary. Read on for the best itineraries to explore Arenal, Manual Antonio and Monteverde.
Most people visiting both Arenal and Manuel Antonio spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, usually with some time in Monteverde as well. For travelers wanting to visit Arenal and Manuel Antonio exclusively, plan 6 to 8 days for a well-paced trip. With less time it's possible to see the highlights in as few as 4 days. Read on for best itineraries to explore Arenal and Manuel Antonio.
This fantastic 11-day itinerary includes many of Costa Rica's greatest hits. You will venture into some of the country's most beautiful national parks to enjoy hikes, relax in hot springs, go on beach excursions, spot wildlife, and more. In this trip, you won't just be looking outwards, but also inwards, with wellness activities and yoga lessons. Waking up to the sound of waves and trying new poses with the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop will help you be even more mindful during this unique experience.
As one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, Costa Rica makes an effort to protect its natural resources and biodiversity. Travelers on this trip will be able to enjoy the many facets of this beautiful country. You will hike up the Arenal volcano, relax in natural hot springs, zip-line through the forest, and snorkel the pacific. You will also do a behind-the-scenes tasting tour of a coffee and chocolate farm, which will stimulate all your senses.
Embark on this five-day adventure that introduces you to the natural beauty of northwestern Costa Rica. You'll get to witness native animals during rainforest and sea tours, hike through Arenal Volcano National Park and stand on the active side of the volcano, and take up various activities at Sámara Beach, from snorkeling to horseback riding and laying on the golden sand.