Costa Rica

Perfect 10 Days in Costa Rica Itinerary for First Time Visitors

by Viola
10 days in costa rica itinerary

10 days in Costa Rica is the perfect length of time to get a taste of all the best things this gorgeous country has to offer. If you’ve chosen CR as your holiday destination, I will bet 100 sloths that you are after some natural therapy. Well, I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. From pristine beaches to mysterious rainforests, Costa Rica is one of the purest places on earth. I spent a whole month in Costa Rica and it genuinely healed me in so many ways. (That’s a story for another blog post)

In this article, I crafted the best Costa Rica 10 Day itinerary for first-time visitors. With this itinerary, you can visit both the beach and the jungle, and experience a mix of relaxation and adventures. The activities can be comfortably fit into a 10 day trip. Towards the end of the article, I also provide suggestions on how to modify for a shorter or a longer trip.


*This article may contain affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting!


When is the best time to visit Costa Rica

Mid-December to April is Costa Rica’s dry season, which means lots of sunshine and minimal rain for you to enjoy exploring. The disadvantage is that other tourists know this as well, making this period the busiest and most expensive. If you don’t mind a little rain every now and then, consider traveling right before or after this time. According to data on Skyscanner, September is generally the cheapest month to fly into Costa Rica.



How to get around in Costa Rica

The best way to get around in Costa Rica is by rental car. My friends and I used Alamo Car Rental during our girl’s road trip around CR and loved it. Their customer service is excellent and the prices are fair.

Buses are also available for popular tourist routes. The tickets are very cheap and the seats are decently comfortable. For more info on public transportation in Costa Rica, check this article here.


10 days in Costa Rica budget/cost of travel

The currency used in Costa Rica is Colón. Many places accept American dollars as well. At the time this article is written, 1 USD= 576 CRC.

Costa Rica is known to be more expensive than its neighboring countries in Central America, such as Nicaragua. However, comparing to the average cost of things in North America, it’s really not bad. Depending on your style of travel, your budget for CR may be very different from the next person. Here is a peek at some of our trip expenses in USD:

Accommodation at an Airbnb per person per night $18
Rental Car for 10 days $700
Bus fare from San Jose to Arenal $4
A typical (not fancy) meal $8.75
Park entrance fees $15
Guided wildlife tour $51
Canyoning $105
Kayaking $49

Again, keep in mind that these are just example costs from our personal experience. We stayed in mostly mid-range accommodations. You may want to go for nice resorts or cost-saving hostels instead. Plan your own budget accordingly.

Sample car rental prices in Costa Rica


10 Days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 1 -Arrive in San José

Juan Santamaría International Airport is the main airport serving San José. The airport is located 20 km west of downtown San José in the city of Alajuela. You can pick up a car rental at the airport. Otherwise, the options to get into the city are shuttle bus, private transfer, or taxi.

The public bus that connects to downtown’s Tuasa Bus Station is a red bus called TUASA. It runs every 10 minutes between 4:30 am to 11:00 PM. The cost is 665 colones which is about $1.15 USD.


Things to do in San José

National Museum of Costa Rica in San José

San José is quite a cosmopolitan city. Between the shopping malls and Starbucks, it may not feel super special. Some travelers skip this travel hub entirely and head straight to the beach or jungle, which is understandable. But if you are like me and like to take it easy on first arrival days, one night stop in the capital won’t hurt. Take some time to nurse any jet lag or go for a walk around.

There is actually a lot of culture and history to be found San José. Start with the National Museum of Costa Rica if you want to know about this country’s past. Housed in a real fort, the exhibitions showcase artifacts and stories from the Jade period, to the Spanish conquest, to Costa Rica’s modern progressive state. One can really spend hours in this building. For real culture buffs, also check out the other heritage gems in the city such as the National Theatre and Pre-Colombian Gold Museum.


After you are all cultured, head to the Central Market to get a taste of the vibrant local life. Wander through the maze of vendor stalls selling everything from meat, bread, herbs, and sweets, to clothes and electronics. You can sample some fresh Costa Rican fruits, or if you are really hungry, sit down at one of the eateries serving up cheap hot meals.

For the most well informed and efficient way to spend the day, you may want to consider hiring a guide or going on a tour, like this San Jose Walking and Bus tour, or this Food, History & Architecture tour.


Where to stay in San José

If you primarily just want to rest up for the journey ahead and don’t care too much about sightseeing in the city, it may be best to just stay close to the airport. San Antonio de Belén and Cariari City are accessible and safe areas. My friends and I stayed in this beautiful AirBnb in Heredia. It had a gym, pool and free parking.

If you do want to venture to the tourist attractions, consider the San José Old Town. Here you can easily get to the nightlife, bustling markets, shops, and main landmarks.

Here are some of my picks for different budgets (Example room price listed is for two people per night):

Studio Hotel Boutique: Luxury | $90 USD| Rooftop swimming pool. Eco-friendly. Modern attractive decor. Buffet breakfast included.

Casa Reflejos: Mid-range | $55 USD| Gym and outdoor with sauna + hot tub. Great location and view of the city.

Xocolatique rooms: Budget | $34 USD| Homestay. Clean and comfortable. Great location. Interaction with local host.


Day 2-3 Manuel Antonio

Say goodbye to the city. We are officially heading into nature. Manuel Antonio is a beach town located on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast. From San José, it’s about a 3 hours drive. Here, the ocean and rainforest await with plenty of fun activities for both adventurers and relaxation seekers.


Things to do in Manuel Antonio

THE BEACH. Spend a day exercising your best resting beach face at one of the gorgeous playas. 😛 We liked Playa Espadilla, where the water is warm and the sand is super soft. Come here in the afternoon to catch the sunset over the horizon.

Tip: One thing to beware of when coming here is that you may encounter men who ask you to pay for parking by the road. This happened to us and we ended driving away to find a different spot to park. Parking is free. Do not fall for the scams.

On the second day, head to Manuel Antonio National Park for an active day of hiking and wildlife spotting. This precious park has a vast diversity of tropical plants and animals. With butterflies alone, there are 12,000 species. Other creatures that call this place home include the endangered Titi monkeys, frogs, many species of birds, and Costa Rica’s famous sloths. It’s highly recommended to hire a guide as it really takes professional eyes to find the wildlife. The guides also provide high quality binoculars that allow you to get a close up look of the animals and insects. You can even take photos through the binocular lens. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour we did in Manuel Antonio Park. Our guide did a fabulous job teaching us about Costa Rica’s flora and fauna. We saw hummingbirds, blue Morpho butterflies, white line bats, and a three-toed sloth!


Manuel Antonio Park also has beautiful beaches that are great for kayaking, snorkeling, and surfing. After hiking in the morning, you can spend the afternoon doing a Watersport of your choice. I recommend the company Dante’s water sports. My friends and I went with these guys for kayaking and SUPing. Our guide Charlie was professional, fun, and flexible. He even let us borrow snorkels for free. We swam in the oceam and saw some big bluefish. Unfortunately, I got really seasick after awhile out at sea under the hot sun (I may or may not have tasted my lunch a second time…). Charlie was so nice to pull me back to shore and give me some Gravol. I really appreciated his thoughtfulness. 


Where to eat in Manuel Antonio

Falafel Bar is rated as the #1 restaurant in Manuel Antonio. My friends and I happened to stay in an Airbnb right across the restaurant. We visited the Falafel Bar twice and loved it. The platters here are healthy, vegetarian friendly, and very delicious. They have an open salad bar that is self-served. After you order your sandwiches, you can load up on toppings as much as you like. The fresh fruit juices are also really good. Top that off with the super friendly staff, what is not to love about Falafel Bar seriously?

Also don’t miss El Avión, a unique restaurant that is built into, around, and above an actual historic airplane. The C-123 Fairchild cargo plane had a scandalous history (read about it here).  Today, it is resting in peace as one of the best restaurants with a view in Manuel Antonio. The cargo area of the plane had been transformed into a bar. You can sit and watch the sunset here as you sip mojito. El Avión is famous for their seafood dishes such as Coconut Shrimp and Fried Calamari.

Emilio’s Cafe

Emilio’s Cafe offers a great view of the ocean as well. It’s a really nice place to come for brunch. The menu has a fusion of American, Mediterranean and Costa Rican cuisines. I tried the hibiscus quesadilla here and really liked it. The restaurant also displays a huge selection of yummy desserts, with many gluten-free options.


Where to stay in Manuel Antonio

You can find everything from high end luxury beach resorts to budget hostels in Manuel Antonio. Here are some recommendations depending on your budget (Example room price listed is for two people per night):

Gaia Hotel & Reserve: Luxury | $225 USD | Rainforest view. 3 level infinity pool. Adults only resort.

Hotel Plaza Yara: Mid-range | $70 USD | Breakfast included. Jungle view suites. Outdoor pool. Great location.

Beach B&B: Budget | $22 USD| Simple rooms with shared bathroom. Terrace with garden view. Private Beach.


Day 4 & 5: Monteverde

Located in the Puntarenas region, Monteverde is most famous for its unique cloud forests. There are only a few countries in the world where these high elevation forests exist. No wonder why Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s top ecotourism destinations. To get here from Manuel Antonio, the drive takes about 3.5-4 hours. Plan to leave early in the morning so you can arrive with some time for afternoon activities. Two nights in Monteverde should be plenty.


Things to do in Monteverde

Santa Elena Cloud Forest

Hiking in the cloud forests is definitely first on the activities list. Many people don’t realize that there are actually 3 cloud forests in Monteverde: The Monteverde Cloud Forest, Santa Elena Cloud Forest, and Children’s Eternal Rain Forest. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is by far the most popular. It has some very instagrammable hanging bridges that let you walk above the enchanting forest canopy. However, I recommend the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, it is less crowded than Monteverde Cloud Forest and just as beautiful (if not more so). Hiking here, you can take in the lush vegetation and fresh air in silence. The Children’s Eternal Rain Forest is also quite underrated. You really can’t go wrong at any of these cloud forests!

For a different way to experience the jungle, take a guided night tour. (This would be a good thing to arrange for the first night in Monteverde if you arrived too late in the day to do other activities.) At night, you can see many nocturnal animals that don’t come out during the day, such as snakes, tree frogs, kinkajous, and scorpions. It’s fascinating to learn about these creatures. Check out these well-reputed tour options on Viator.

Quetzal bird in Curi Cancha Reserve

Monteverde is home to many avian species. Whether you are into birding or not, you don’t want to miss the chance to spot the Resplendent Quetzal, a strikingly colorful bird that is preciously found only in certain areas of Central America. The Curi Cancha Reserve is the top place to go for Quetzal watching. Make sure to get to the reserve nice and early because the birds are most active in the morning. You can go to Curi Cancha by yourself, but I highly recommend going with the Three Brothers Tours. I did a tour with Elberth from the company. He was so passionate about birds and did an excellent job helping me spot quetzals.

You can climb up the center of this tree!

Type in “ficus tree in Santa Elena” on the app and you can find these incredible trees that are hollow on the inside. The coolest part is that you can climb up to the top of the trees through the center. Watch my stories in my Costa Rica highlights to really understand what I’m talking about. You feel like Alice who has fallen down a rabbit hole. Once you reach the treetop, you can see a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. This is such a random yet totally rad activity to do. Not to mention, it is completely free.

There is also a funky ficus tree bridge near the Monteverde Lodge that is a great photo op. Follow the small trail in front of the lodge until it comes to an end, then turn right on the river and you will find it.

You can do many other fun things in Monteverde such as zip-lining or visiting the hanging bridge park, but the suggestions above are the most special offerings of Monteverde in my opinion.


Where to eat in Monteverde

Chicken Casado at Sabor Tico

If you want authentic Costa Rican food, go to Sabor Tico. Their plate portions are generous for a fair price. I had the tastiest chicken casado here. The meat was tender and juicy. They also served me a whole plantain.

For a unique ambiance, check out the Tree House Restaurant. There is literally an enormous ficus tree that grows through the middle of the restaurant. The whole space is enveloped in branches, so you feel like you are dining in the jungle. They have great live music on most nights and the service is top-notch. The only drawback is that it’s a bit pricey. So perhaps a good strategy is to come here for drinks once you’ve had dinner elsewhere.

Thai Bowl at Orchid Cafe

Orchid Cafe is a great spot for breakfast or lunch. They have delicious coffee and their rice bowls are just scrumptious. The menu has a mix of international and Tico dish. I ordered the Thai bowl and loved it. It was very filling and satisfying. Their cheesecake is raved to be “World’s best” online. Unfortunately, I was too full to get it while I was here. If you get a chance to try Orchid Cafe’s desserts, make sure to share your review with me.


Where to stay in Monteverde

There are actually two towns you can stay in. Both are convenient for accessing the attractions. Besides Monteverde town, which is near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, there is also Santa Elena town. Between the two, I would say that Santa Elena has more budget-friendly accommodations. 

Here are some recommendations depending on your budget (Example room price listed is for two people per night):

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens: Luxury | $125 USD | STUNNING decor. Heated outdoor pool. Extensive garden. Indoor butterfly garden. Excellent location.

La Guayaba Monteverde: Mid-range | $58 USD | Great breakfast included. Lovely family owned business. Friendly hosts.

Casa Tranquillo Hostel: Budget | $21 USD | Private rooms with private bathrooms available. Cute rustic decor. Clean and comfortable.


Day 6 Tenorio

The land of Costa Rica is blessed with countless pretty waterfalls, but the most magical and famous of them all is arguably Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park. It is worth coming here for a day to witness its beauty. From Monteverde, the drive to Tenorio takes 2 to 2.5 hours.


Things to do in Tenorio

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One cannot visit Costa Rica without hiking to the enchanting Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park. There is a soul healing feeling when you gaze into the aqua blue river and listen to the spectacular waterfall. 🇨🇷 Legend has it that Rio Celeste got its magical color after God finished painting the sky and dipped his paint brush in the river. How pretty is this story? 🇨🇷 Feel so blessed we got to witness this stunning work of art by nature. We even saw some blue mopho butterflies and monkeys nearby. 🦋 🐒 Costa Rica, you continue to make me fall in love (pun intended) • • • • #puravida #costaricatraveler #costaricaphoto #costaricatrip #costaricalife #costaricapuravida #tenorio #costaricagram #costaricanature #rioceleste #femaletravelbloggers #journeyofgirls #backpackersintheworld #travelinladies #damestravel #traveldreamseekers #thewanderingtourist #iamatraveller #explorerbabes #thetravellingnomads #traveltagged #shetravels #speechlessplaces #sidewalkerdaily #thevisualscollective #allaboutadventures #theculturetrip #globetrotter#prettylittleiiinspo #womenwhotravel

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Tenorio Volcano Park is quite a young park. It was created in 1995 to protect the Tenorio Volcano, which is still active today. With four different zones, the park is a great place to hike and enjoy nature. I suggest getting up early and aim to arrive before 10 AM. The park only allows 1000 visitors in a day and they stop letting people enter at 2 PM. The quota may be even tougher post-corona era.

Rio Celeste is one of the main attractions in the park. It features a 90 meters waterfall that cascades into a sky blue pool below. The river gets its show-stopping color from sulfur that is emitted by the volcanic activity in the park. Although, the local myth is that God washed his paintbrush in the water after painting the sky. How cute is that? The hike to Rio Celeste is 6 km round trip and takes around 3 hours. The trails are mostly quite easy until you get to the waterfall entrance. There are about 200 steep steps leading down to the falls. Let me emphasize that they are STEEP. I remember that going down was okay but coming back up was definitely a fight. It is doable though. Just make sure to take your time and breathe.

The park has plenty more features including the pretty Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon), and the volcano itself. You can actually climb to the 6,286 feet summit. Along the way, you can admire the flora and fauna of the mountain rainforest.

Swim spot discovered right outside Tenorio National Park

After all the hiking, take a dip in one of the natural hot springs that can be found in the park. Be careful that the water temperature can be unstable and there are some really hot mud pots. If you want to cool down instead, there is a river right outside the park that makes for a refreshing swim. My friends and I were so happy to find this spot. 


Where to stay near Tenorio

You cannot stay inside the national park, but Bijagua is a village that is very close by, making it very suitable for a one night stay. My friends and I stayed in this adorable wood lodge in the rainforest. Picture the house in Goldilocks and the 3 bears. It is exactly what this sweet little cabin feels like.

Here are more of my picks (Example room price listed is for two people per night):

Finca Amistad Cacao Lodge | Luxury $95 USD | Great breakfast included. Located on a cacao farm where you can take a tour. Surrounded by nature with activities such as horseback riding.

Hotel Catarata Río Celeste | Mid-range $46 USD | Great breakfast included. 2 Swimming pools. Rooms with garden, mountain or pool view. Excellent location.

Paradise Celeste | Budget $28 USD | An apartment featuring 1 bedroom, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Great value for the price.


Day 7-9 La Fortuna & Arenal

A first-timers’ Costa Rica trip is not complete without visiting the Arenal region. The perfectly coned shaped Arenal Volcano is an iconic emblem that you can find on many CR postcards. Couple that with the tranquil Lake Arenal, this area is bursting with nature’s energy. La Fortuna is the town where most people stay. It is the gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park and has everything you need from restaurants to grocery stores. If you are coming from Bijagua, as suggested by this itinerary, the drive to La Fortuna takes just under two hours.


Things to do in Arenal

Image by Frank Ravizza from Pixabay

I wrote an extensive list of things to do in Arenal after I stayed in this region for three weeks. To summarize, here are some of my top suggestions:

Give canyon jumping a go. My friends and I tried this adrenaline filled activity with the company Pure Trek and had so much fun. Be prepared to get wet as you rappel and zip-line through waterfall-filled canyons. The experience will get you laughing and screaming.

Photograph Arenal Volcano. Photography enthusiasts will not want to miss the opportunity to get a shot of this majestic volcano. Warning that the weather doesn’t always like to cooperate, so you do need a little bit of luck on your side. Cloudless days are perfect for spot hunting to get that perfect composition. Psst, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is a prime location.

Go horseback riding. There are several companies around Arenal that can take you for a ride into the wild on horses. The slow and natural pace of a horse allows you to appreciate the surrounding in a relaxing way, and you often get to see vistas that tourists don’t visit.

Get on the lake. You can never tell that Lake Arenal is manmade by how naturally beautiful it looks. Try out a water activity at least once. From kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, to sunset boat cruising, the options are abundant. It is so refreshing to be on the water, where you can feel the cool wind and see the encircling greenery from a different perspective.



Where to stay in Arenal

As mentioned previously, La Fortuna is the most popular place to stay in Arenal. My girl gang stayed in this cool Airbnb during our time in town. The apartment is spacious, clean, and located in the heart of La Fortuna. It was nice and comfy for the four of us. I would highly recommend this place for group travelers. Use my code to receive $45 off if it is your first time booking on Airbnb. 

Here are some other good options for your consideration (Example room price listed is for two people per night):

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa | Luxury $101 USD | Surrounded by 860 private acres of tropical rainforest. Featuring an on-site lake and bird sanctuary. Rated one of the best views of the Arenal Volcano. A guided morning walk and the breakfast buffet is included for all guests.

Casa Luna Hotel & Spa | Mid-range $75 USD | Breakfast included. Great value. Eco-friendly. Quiet. Outdoor pool. Surrounding tropical garden is ideal for bird watching.

Alojamientos N&S | Budget $20 USD | Entire apartment. Fully equipped kitchenette with a dining area. Welcoming host.


Day 10 San Jose

Finally, return to San Jose for departure from Costa Rica. From La Fortuna, the drive is just under 3 hours. We have come full circle on this journey. With this itinerary, we got to experience a bit of everything from white sand beaches, cloud forests, magical waterfalls, to stunning lakes and volcanos. I hope you enjoy your Costa Rica travel and carry that Pura Vida attitude wherever you go from here.


Costa Rica Itinerary 10 Days Map



What to pack for your 10 day Costa Rica vacation

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Throw back to our first day in Costa Rica 🇨🇷 Watching this mesmerizing sunset at Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio. 🌅 Can’t believe it’s been a week in this country already. Said goodbye to my chicas today. ❤️As they head back home I am heading to the jungle. I will be volunteering at a yoga retreat near Lake Arenal for the next two weeks. More adventures ahead! Follow along in my stories 🙂 • • • • #manuelantonio #costaricatraveler #costaricaphoto #costaricatrip #costaricalife #costaricapuravida #manuelantonio #costaricagram #costaricanature #femaletravelbloggers #journeyofgirls #backpackersintheworld #travelinladies #damestravel #traveldreamseekers #thewanderingtourist #iamatraveller #explorerbabes #thetravellingnomads #citizenfemme #traveltagged #shetravels #speechlessplaces #sidewalkerdaily #thevisualscollective #allaboutadventures #theculturetrip #globetrotter#prettylittleiiinspo #womenwhotravel

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The weather in Costa Rica can be quite moody. One moment the sun is shining, and the next, torrential downpour. Combine the weather factor with adventurous activities, and you got to consider a lot of things when packing. Here are some items to not forget:

  • Swimwear | Is it a tropical vacation if you don’t get in the water? Don’t think so.
  • Beach towel | This quick drying microfibre towel is super convenient for travel.
  • Hiking shoes | I loved these Colombia hiking shoes I got especially for our CR trip. They are very comfortable, waterproof, and have excellent ankle support.
  • Rain gears | Umbrellas are not very practical when you are caught in the rain while hiking. Instead, bring a raincoat or waterproof jacket.
  • Bug repellant | One of the worst things about Costa Rica has got to be the insects. Protect yourself from bug bites.
  • Sunscreen | It is suggested to wear at least SPF 35 in Costa Rica. Check out this reef-safe sunscreen that will protect you and the environment.
  • Water shoes | water shoes are a game changer! They will defend your feet from dangerous rocks and sharp objects in water. Check out this sleek pair.

  • Long pants | Sometimes you need to protect your legs such as when hiking through trails with thick vegetation or when horseback riding. A pair of lightweight trousers or leggings will do the trick.
  • Sunglasses | Protect your eyes on bright sunny days. 
  • Sun hat | Sun hats help you stay cool and shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Check out this cute wide brim that will go well with any tropical outfit.
  • Dry bag | Water activities are essential in Costa Rica, which makes keeping your valuables dry a challenge. Luckily, a dry bag is a handy item that can do just that.
  • Go pro | If you want to capture some memories of you zip-lining or kayaking, a Go Pro is the best gadget to have.
  • Water case for your phone | If a Go Pro is too expensive, a budget alternative is to simply get a waterproof case for your phone that will allow you to take videos and photos in water.
  • First aid kit | It’s easy to get bumps and scrapes when you are having an adventure. Get this portable little kit that has all the tools to get you cleaned up.

Don’t leave without travel insurance! You never know what might happen on the road. Always protect yourself with travel insurance. Check out World Nomad, A company created by travelers, for travelers.

Get a quick quote here:




What to do with more or less time in Costa Rica

10 days don’t exactly work for your vacation plan? Here are some suggestions on how to modify the itinerary:


Costa Rica Itinerary 5 Days

Visit 2 destinations max.

Sample A: Volcano + Cloud Forest

Day 1: Arrive in San Jose and drive straight to La Fortuna.

Day 2: Explore Arenal and try an adventurous sport like canyon jumping or zip lining.

Day 3: Drive to Monteverde. Stop by Tenorio and see Rio Celeste on the way. This will be a long day but it will be worth it.

Day 4: Enjoy a full day in Monteverde.

Day 5: Drive back to San Jose.

Sample B Beach + Cloud Forest

Day 1: Arrive in San Jose and drive straight to Manuel Antonio.

Day 2: See wildlife and try water sports in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Day 3: Drive to Monteverde and do an activity in the afternoon/evening.

Day 4: Enjoy a full day in Monteverde.

Day 5: Drive back to San Jose.


Costa Rica Itinerary 7 Days (1 week)

Visit 3 destinations max.


Day 1: Arrive in San Jose and drive straight to Manuel Antonio.

Day 2: See wild life and try water sports in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Day 3: Drive to Monteverde/Tenorio

Day 4: Enjoy a full day in Monteverde/Tenorio

Day 5: Drive to La Fortuna.

Day 6: Enjoy a full day in Arenal.

Day 7: Drive back to San Jose.


Costa Rica Itinerary 14 Days

If you have more than 10 days in Costa Rica, congratulations! Even more Pura Vida awaits. Here are some things you can add on to your itinerary:

  • Costa Rica Wellness Retreat: CR is renowned for its Yoga and wellness scene. So why not try out a retreat while you are here? There are many different kinds of experiences from detox, to thermal hydrotherapy, to hybrids like Surf + Yoga. Explore on Book Yoga Retreats for all the options. No matter what you choose, you will leave feeling revitalized and nourished.
  • Tortuguero National Park: Head to the east coast and witness the beauty of Tortuguero National Park. This protected wilderness area is famous as a nesting ground for sea turtles, including the endangered green turtles. Unlike other parks, the best way to navigate inside Tortuguero is by boat due to the extensive network of freshwater creeks, lagoons and canals. You can also rent a canoe or kayak to get a workout in, while you spot creatures such as caimans, otters and many species of fish. This is really an off-the-beaten-path destination, so make sure to read this guide on how to get here.
  • Puerto Viejo: From San José, it takes about 4 hours to get to Puerto Viejo. This town on the Caribbean side of the country is a paradise for surfers. Beaches such as black-sand Playa Negra serve up great waves. The culture is different from the rest of Costa Rica. Think Reggae music, colorful houses, coconuts, and laid back island vibes.


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Nichole July 4, 2020 - 2:48 am

A fantastic comprehensive guide! Your photos of Costa Rica are beautiful! I cannot wait to visit.

Parita July 4, 2020 - 3:27 am

What an exhaustive list! Pinned it for my future reference 😁

Viola July 4, 2020 - 3:51 pm

Thanks a lot Parita!

Taylor July 4, 2020 - 3:32 am

This is an amazing guide! Costa Rica is on my bucket list and I am hoping to go in 2021! All of your photos are beautiful and I will definitely be keeping this post handy. 🙂

Viola July 4, 2020 - 3:51 pm

Yay! Thanks so much for the awesome feedback. I definitely hope this can help you when you plan your trip!

Deborah Patterson July 4, 2020 - 7:39 am

We’re hoping to spend at least two weeks, if not perhaps a whole month in Costa Rica in 2021. Cross fingers it’s safe to do so and we get to enjoy some of these gorgeous places.

Viola July 4, 2020 - 3:49 pm

Yes! I had planned to host a retreat in CR this year but now it’s pushed to 2021. Fingers crossed we can all go then!

Anna July 4, 2020 - 9:42 am

Amazing guide – so much useful info in here for my next trip to Costa Rica. Can’t wait to go back!

Viola July 4, 2020 - 3:48 pm

Thank you Anna! I had planned to go back this year but I guess we all just have to wait a little longer. Glad you found the info helpful!

Alessia July 4, 2020 - 9:52 am

Absolutely love this itinerary! Can’t wait to be able to travel again and explore Costa Rica!

Viola July 4, 2020 - 3:47 pm

Thank you so much Alessia 🙂 Yes can’t wait to travel again!

Jiayi Wang July 4, 2020 - 2:58 pm

Arenal volcano looks so stunning! This is such a helpful guide, definitely inspired me to visit one day! 🙂

Barbara - Porty's Diary July 4, 2020 - 4:31 pm

Costa rica is high on my wishlist for travel destinations, and your post is going to be very helpful when the time comes!
Loved all the information you provided and the photos.
I knew Costa Rica was beautiful, but not this beautiful!!

Thanks for sharing!

Linn July 4, 2020 - 5:20 pm

I love this itinerary! I was meant to go to Costa Rica but tickets got cancelled so I’ll keep this for when I’ll be going. I can’t wait!

Viola July 4, 2020 - 6:36 pm

Aww hopefully you can make it next year!

Curls en Route July 4, 2020 - 6:21 pm

Costa Rica is on my list so I’m definitely pinning this for later!

Viola July 4, 2020 - 6:35 pm

Thank you! I’m sure you’ll love CR!

shazia July 5, 2020 - 10:52 am

Hello Viola,
An excellent comprehensive guide. I am saving this one for sure. Costa Rica is now on my bucket list for sure 🙂


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