12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip planner

Make it your trip
Fly to Juan Santamaría International Airport, Drive to Vara Blanca
1
Vara Blanca
— 1 night
Drive
2
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive
3
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive
4
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
— 1 night
Drive
5
Manuel Antonio
— 1 night
Drive
6
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Tamarindo
— 2 nights
Fly

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Vara Blanca

— 1 night
A vacation in Vara Blanca, located in the heart of Costa Rica, offers excellent access to a number of attractions across the area.
On the 4th (Sun), take in the dramatic scenery at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz and then take in the dramatic scenery at La Paz Waterfall and Peace Lodge Gardens.

For other places to visit, ratings, photos, and other tourist information, read Vara Blanca road trip site.

Rochester, USA to Vara Blanca is an approximately 11.5-hour combination of flight and car. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 1 hour traveling from Rochester to Vara Blanca. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 4th (Sun) so you can go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Parks · Nature · Wildlife
Highlights from your trip

La Fortuna de San Carlos

— 3 nights
Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
La Fortuna de San Carlos is known for nature, adventure, and parks. Your trip includes some of its best attractions: relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, take in the dramatic scenery at La Fortuna Waterfall, and trot along with a tour on horseback.

To find maps, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos travel planning website.

Getting from Vara Blanca to La Fortuna de San Carlos by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Wed) to allow time to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Tours · Outdoors · Parks · Nature

Tortuguero

— 1 night

Costa Rica's Amazon

One of Costa Rica's least accessible destinations, Tortuguero sits within an eponymous national park and remains accessible only by plane or boat.
Start off your visit on the 8th (Thu): explore the striking landscape of Tortuguero National Park.

To find traveler tips, more things to do, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Tortuguero travel route builder app.

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tortuguero takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In September, plan for daily highs up to 86°F, and evening lows to 73°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Thu) so you can drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Parks · Nature
Highlights from your trip

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

— 1 night

Walaba

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a wealth of entertainment by the sea, attracting a lively international crowd of revelers while maintaining a bright and breezy coastal charm with a local feel.
On the 9th (Fri), tour the pleasant surroundings at Nature Observatorio and then surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour.

To see ratings, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, go to the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca itinerary builder site.

Getting from Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca by car takes about 4.5 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 9th (Fri) so you can go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Wildlife · Parks · Tours · Outdoors

Side Trip

Manuel Antonio

— 1 night
The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Kick off your visit on the 10th (Sat): enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio and then surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour.

To see ratings, maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, you can read our Manuel Antonio trip planning app.

You can drive from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Manuel Antonio in 7 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Sat) early enough to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors · Beaches · Parks · Tours

Monteverde

— 2 nights
Monteverde is all about natural attractions, not surprising for an eco-tourism hotspot known for its cloud forests and rich diversity of animal life.
Start off your visit on the 11th (Sun): tour the pleasant surroundings at Ranario Monteverde Frog Pond and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Here are some ideas for day two: admire the natural beauty at Monteverde Orchid Garden and then whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Monteverde day trip website.

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks · Wildlife · Tours · Adventure

Tamarindo

— 2 nights
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Start off your visit on the 13th (Tue): head outdoors with Outdoor Activities and then wander the wide-open spaces of Pura Aventura.

To find photos, other places to visit, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Tamarindo trip planner.

Traveling by car from Monteverde to Tamarindo takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or take a shuttle. On the 14th (Wed), you'll travel back home.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Tours · Outdoors

Costa Rica travel guide

4.5
Beaches · Nature & Parks · Zipline
Tiny in terms of land area, Costa Rica is astoundingly diverse when it comes to culture and natural attractions. In a country called "Rich Coast", it's no surprise most Costa Rica vacations dedicate at least a few days to picturesque Pacific and Caribbean beaches, ideal for water sports and relaxation. Few small countries offer such a range of landscapes, allowing tourists to observe towering volcanoes while soaking away their worries in a hot spring, or hike into dense rainforests in the morning and surf at a modern resort in the afternoon. A trip to Costa Rica also lets you discover pristine national parks, ensuring plenty of chances to view wildlife from the comfort of eco-friendly lodges packed with amenities even ardent nature lovers secretly desire.