20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip itinerary builder
Make it your trip
Fly
1
San Jose
— 1 night
Drive
2
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
— 2 nights
Drive
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive
4
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive
5
Jaco
— 1 night
Drive
6
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Playa Samara
— 3 nights
Drive
8
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
Drive
9
Playas del Coco
— 2 nights
Fly

S M T W T F S
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
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11

San Jose — 1 night

A trip to San Jose, the capital, commercial center, and cultural hub of Costa Rica, gives you a chance to experience the lively atmosphere and rich cultural past of this vibrant country.
Kick off your visit on the 23rd (Mon): contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Metropolitan Church (Catedral Metropolitana). On the 24th (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get engrossed in the history at Jade Museum, then take in the architecture and atmosphere at Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, and then take in the architecture and atmosphere at Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora.

To find maps, more things to do, where to stay, and tourist information, you can read our San Jose day trip website.

New York City, USA to San Jose is an approximately 8.5-hour flight. You can also drive. The time zone difference moving from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Central Standard Time (CST) is minus 1 hour. Traveling from New York City in January, expect San Jose to be warmer, temps between 78°F and 65°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
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Historic Sites · Museums
Side Trip

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca — 2 nights

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.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Puerto Viejo. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 26th (Thu): tour the pleasant surroundings at Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Gardens, enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Punta Uva, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Cocles.

To see reviews, photos, and other tourist information, read our Puerto Viejo de Talamanca trip planner.

Traveling by car from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.
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Parks · Beaches · Outdoors · Wildlife
Side 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.
Explore hidden gems such as Butterfly Conservatory - Arenal and Paradise Hot Springs. Next up on the itinerary: soothe aching muscles at Tabacon Hot Springs, admire the sheer force of La Fortuna Waterfall, gain insight with a tour of cultural highlights, and identify plant and animal life at Wildlife Areas.

For reviews, more things to do, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos trip builder app.

Drive from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sun) so you can drive to Manuel Antonio.
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Parks · Wildlife · Nature · Tours
Side Trip

Manuel Antonio — 2 nights

The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
On the 30th (Mon), see what you can catch with Jackpot Sport Fishing, look for all kinds of wild species at Safari Adventures, and then stroll around Parque Nahomi. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Biesanz, and then view the masterpieces at The Captain's Booty.

To see reviews, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio trip itinerary planning website.

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) so you can drive to Jaco.
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Outdoors · Parks · Tours · Beaches
Side Trip

Jaco — 1 night

A seaside resort town with plenty of entertaining distractions along its attractive coastline, Jaco has long been a major tourist destination on the central Pacific coast.
Start off your visit on the 1st (Wed): stroll through Royal Butterflies, see Off-Road Tours, then get outside with Outdoor Activities, and finally take in the views from Tarcoles Bridge.

To see other places to visit, where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Jaco trip planning website.

Getting from Manuel Antonio to Jaco by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) to allow time to drive to Monteverde.
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Tours · Outdoors · Wildlife · Parks
Side Trip

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.
Kick off your visit on the 2nd (Thu): stroll through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Ranario Monteverde Frog Pond. Here are some ideas for day two: admire nature's wide array of creatures at The Bat Jungle, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, then admire the natural beauty at Monteverde Orchid Garden, and finally browse the exhibits of Arte Jaguar Gallery.

To find maps, ratings, other places to visit, and more tourist information, you can read our Monteverde vacation maker.

Traveling by car from Jaco to Monteverde takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Fri) so you can go by car to Playa Samara.
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Parks · Wildlife · Zoos & Aquariums · Museums

Playa Samara — 3 nights

A beach town with just enough development to be comfortable for families accustomed to the trappings of modern life, Playa Samara has the resorts you'd expect to find in such a scenic area, but they don't hinder the relaxing atmosphere.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Playa Guiones and Horseback Riding Tours. We've included these beaches for you: Playa Carrillo and Playa Buena Vista. When in Playa Samara, make a side trip to see Room Escape Games in Nosara, approximately Nosara away. And it doesn't end there: tour the pleasant surroundings at Barrigona Beach, get up close to creatures of the deep with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and enjoy the sand and surf at Samara Beach.

To see ratings, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Playa Samara trip planner.

You can drive from Monteverde to Playa Samara in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Tamarindo.
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Outdoors · Beaches · Parks · Tours
Side Trips

Tamarindo — 3 nights

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Playa Avellana and Spas. Your itinerary includes some good beach time at Potrero Beach and Tamarindo Beach. Spend the 9th (Thu) wandering through the wild on a nature and wildlife tour. There's more to do: discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

Quickly create a custom-made itinerary for Tamarindo using our trip planner.

Getting from Playa Samara to Tamarindo by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 9th (Thu) early enough to go by car to Playas del Coco.
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Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours · Beaches
Side Trips

Playas del Coco — 2 nights

Coco Beach

A long-established beach community, Playas del Coco has developed a reputation as a favored spot for young travelers and locals to let loose by the sea.
On the 10th (Fri), take in the spiritual surroundings of Hope Fellowship, then kick back and relax at Playa Hermosa, and then see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour. On the next day, tour the pleasant surroundings at Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands.

To find ratings, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Playas del Coco route planning tool.

You can drive from Tamarindo to Playas del Coco in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a bus. On the 11th (Sat), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can fly back home.
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Wildlife · Parks · Outdoors · Tours
Side Trips

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.
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