Taking a road trip through Costa Rica gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore where you want. You'll pass through stunning natural scenery — from lush cloud forests to picturesque beaches — in seven days of scenic driving. This tour can be extended or shortened depending on how much time you have.
Costa Rica Self-Drive Tours & Itineraries
- Do I need a 4WD vehicle? The short answer: yes. If you're visiting Monteverde or the South Pacific region, 4WD is needed—the roads aren't always paved, and 4WD is especially essential in the wet months.
- What about GPS? Using GPS is essential. Costa Rica has no formal addresses, so having the exact coordinates is vital.
To learn more about what to expect on a Costa Rican Road trip, check out our driving in Costa Rica FAQ.
Chat with a local specialist who can organize your trip
This itinerary is one of the shortest, yet most action-packed options for travelers looking for a compact Costa Rica experience. Zip-line, rappel, and horseback ride your way throughout the Arenal region and enjoy some of the best volcano views the country has to offer.
In this two-week tour, you can experience Costa Rica's main attractions as well as its lesser-known marvels. Drive along coasts, rainforest roads, and hills to discover the natural sights that make Costa Rica the most visited country in Central America.
This 7-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who want a comprehensive beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, head south to Playa Sámara, a coastal village on the Nicoya Peninsula. Then, make the drive back north to the popular surf town of Tamarindo, where you'll spend your days riding the waves and taking part in nature excursions—you might even get to see nesting sea turtles, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Explore the highlights of Costa Rica, from volcanos and jungles to beach and surfing in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.
This road trip itinerary is a truly off-the-beaten-path nature excursion. Head to the remote beaches and rainforest of the Osa Peninsula before a scenic drive up the Pacific coast. You'll experience white-sand beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park, along with the cloud forest ecosystem of Monteverde where you'll hike over the jungle canopy via suspension bridges. Finally, you'll pay a visit to Arenal, an active volcano and one of Costa Rica's most famous landmarks.
This self-drive tour is ideal for families who love animals and exploring the outdoors. You'll spot plenty of the country's adorable mammals like sloths and monkeys, as well as rare species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and tropical fish. Along the way, stay at unique eco-lodges
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love adventure. Visit Costa Rica's highlights, from the famous Arenal Volcano to the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and powdery beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, you'll fly over the treetops on a zip line tour, swim in waterfall lagoons, and spot wildlife on nature walks and snorkeling excursions.
This itinerary combines mountain excursions with a bit of a beach holiday and some aquatic adventure. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From there, drive to Arenal Volcano National Park, where you'll hike to a waterfall, relax in natural hot springs, and raft world-class whitewater. Then it's west to the Monteverde to see the cloud forest canopy via suspension bridges and a zip-line tour. A drive south will take you to Manuel Antonio, a unique destination with a combination of the beach, jungle and national park. After a couple days enjoying the beach and wildlife in Manuel Antonio, you'll return to San Jose for your journey home.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature, beaches, and adventure activities. It covers all of Costa Rica's highlights, starting at the famous Arenal Volcano. From there, on to the Gulf of Papagayo on the northern Pacific coast. It's the perfect spot to snorkel and take a sunset sailing cruise. Then, you'll venture into the misty cloud forests of Monteverde—spot rare birds, partake in a zip-line canopy tour, and embark on a nocturnal wildlife excursion. End your trip with hiking and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park.
This itinerary is designed for those who want a classic tropical excursion into Costa Rica's rainforests. Start with the remote Osa Peninsula, where you'll visit beaches and hike through the rainforest. Then, drive north along the Pacific coast to the white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park before heading northwest into the Monteverde region. Finally, pay a visit to Arenal, an active volcano and one of Costa Rica's most famous landmarks.
Time to hit the open road and enjoy the wonders of Costa Rica on this 11-day self-drive tour. Your adventure begins on the Pacific beaches of Tamarindo and Nosara, both gems of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. On top of exploring and surfing these beaches, you'll make pit stops in coastal villages and glean insight into the local culture. Continue your journey eastward to the towering Arenal Volcano. Here you will soak in natural hot springs and brave whitewater rapids on a rafting trip.
This itinerary is perfect for those who want a vacation filled with tropical beauty and adventure. Take a self-drive tour of Costa Rica that begins in the cloud forests of Monteverde, where you can hike over suspension bridges and zip-line over the forest canopy. Then it's off to Arenal Volcano National Park—your days here will be spent trekking around the base of the volcano, soaking in natural hot springs, and embarking on waterfall hikes.
Explore many of Costa Rica's off-the-beaten-path destinations on this 16-day self-drive tour. You'll travel to all corners of the country, from the surf town of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, to Arenal Volcano in the north, and to Pacific beaches and protected areas home to exotic wildlife like scarlet macaws. The final leg of this adventure will be a trip to the far south and the remote and beautiful Osa Peninsula.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature. You will visit the highlights of the country, from the infamous Arenal volcano to the misty cloud forest, to the beautiful beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Along the way, you will zip through trees on zip lines, swim in waterfalls, and also have a chance to spot the wildlife (from monkeys to the resplendent quetzel) on naturalist lead walks.
Get ready for a laid-back beach vacation to the stunning beaches of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Península. This slow-paced trip allows you to slow down and adjust to the Costa Rican lifestyle of pura vida in four quintessential surf towns: Tamarindo, Nosara, Playa Sámara and Santa Teresa.
Get ready for a laid-back beach vacation to the stunning beaches of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Península. This slow-paced trip allows you to slow down and adjust to the Costa Rican lifestyle of pura vida in three quintessential surf towns: Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa.
Costa Rica's rainforest, volcanoes, and beaches are yours to explore on this two-week self-drive tour. First, you'll take in sweeping views of Arenal Volcano as you zip-line over the treetops and even take a hands-on chocolate making class. Then, it's on to the Pacific Coast to explore three of Costa Rica's most beloved surf towns: Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa. These coastal towns offer a lot more than just surfing though. With world-class yoga studios, pristine nature reserves, and breathtaking sunsets, the Nicoya Peninsula offers something for everyone.
Experience the best of Costa Rica's rainforest, volcanoes, and Pacific beaches during this 16-day self-drive adventure. You'll explore the jungle via suspension bridges and zip-lines, and even have a free day to go whitewater rafting or relax in the charming town of La Fortuna. Then, it's time to head westward to the Nicoya Peninsula where you'll adjust to the laid-back vibes of three quintessential surf towns: Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa.