21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Central America itinerary planner
Make it your trip
Fly to Juan Santamaría International Airport, Drive to Alajuela
1
Alajuela
— 2 nights
Taxi to La Fortuna, Shuttle to Monteverde
2
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Bus
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 2 nights
Drive
4
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui
— 2 nights
Drive
5
Tortuguero
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Cahuita
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Drake Bay
— 3 nights
Drive
8
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Bus
9
San Jose
— 2 nights
Fly

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Alajuela — 2 nights

Here are some ideas for day two: get to know the resident critters at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center.

For ratings, more things to do, traveler tips, and tourist information, use the Alajuela day trip site.

Manchester, UK to Alajuela is an approximately 20-hour combination of flight and car. Traveling from Manchester to Alajuela, you'll gain 6 hours due to the time zone difference. On the 30th (Thu), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Monteverde.
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Parks · Zoos & Aquariums
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 1st (Fri): stroll through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Ranario Monteverde Frog Pond. On the next day, catch some excitement at El Trapiche Tour and then indulge in some personalized pampering at Monteverde Massage Center.

For maps, traveler tips, reviews, and tourist information, read our Monteverde trip planner.

Traveling by combination of taxi and shuttle from Alajuela to Monteverde takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Sat) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.
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Parks · Wildlife · Tours · Fun & Games

La Fortuna de San Carlos — 2 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.
On the 3rd (Sun), get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports and then witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs.

To find other places to visit, reviews, ratings, and tourist information, read our La Fortuna de San Carlos online travel route planner.

Traveling by car from Monteverde to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 4th (Mon) to allow time for the car ride to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.
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Parks · Spas · Nature · Tours

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui — 2 nights

On the 4th (Mon), take an exotic tour of Green Rivers Rafting & Kayaking Company. Here are some ideas for day two: stroll through Tirimbina Biological Reserve and then meet the residents at Frogs Heaven.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui online trip builder.

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in 1.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Tortuguero.
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Parks · Wildlife · Tours · Outdoors
Side Trips

Tortuguero — 2 nights

One of Costa Rica's least accessible destinations, Tortuguero sits within an eponymous national park and remains accessible only by plane or boat.
Go for a jaunt from Tortuguero to Guapiles to see La Danta Salvaje about 1h 20 min away. Spend the 6th (Wed) exploring nature at Tortuguero National Park. There's still lots to do: stroll through Sendero Cerro Tortuguero and get a new perspective on nature at Sea Turtle Conservancy.

To see ratings, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Tortuguero tour planning app.

You can drive from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to Tortuguero in 2.5 hours. In July, plan for daily highs up to 34°C, and evening lows to 26°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Fri) to allow enough time to drive to Cahuita.
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Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Wildlife
Side Trip

Cahuita — 2 nights

With its dusty streets and simple (read affordable) lodgings, Cahuita bustles as a hub of backpacker tourism in southeastern Costa Rica.
On the 9th (Sat), enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Puerto Viejo.

To see maps, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Cahuita sightseeing planning website.

Getting from Tortuguero to Cahuita by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and bus; or do a combination of taxi and bus. In July, plan for daily highs up to 34°C, and evening lows to 26°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 10th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Drake Bay.
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Beaches · Parks · Outdoors
Side Trip
Highlights from your trip

Drake Bay — 3 nights

Spend a day of island exploring on the 11th (Mon) at Cano Island.

To find ratings, other places to visit, maps, and more tourist information, refer to the Drake Bay road trip tool.

Traveling by car from Cahuita to Drake Bay takes 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of bus and ferry. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Wed) to allow time to drive to Manuel Antonio.
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Wildlife · Nature · Parks · Tours

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.
Change things up with a short trip to Canyoning & Rappelling Tours in Jaco (about 1h 25 min away). There's lots more to do: tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Manuel Antonio, get outside with Outdoor Activities, get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, and get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

To find maps, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio online route builder.

You can drive from Drake Bay to Manuel Antonio in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and bus; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 15th (Fri) so you can go by car to San Jose.
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Outdoors · Tours · Beaches · Parks
Side Trip

San Jose — 2 nights

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.
On your second day here, examine the collection at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, then get engrossed in the history at Museo Nacional De Costa Rica, then get engrossed in the history at Jade Museum, and finally browse the exhibits of Galeria Namu.

To see more things to do, where to stay, reviews, and other tourist information, you can read our San Jose tour builder tool.

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to San Jose in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. In July in San Jose, expect temperatures between 31°C during the day and 22°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Sun) early enough to fly back home.
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Tours · Museums · Outdoors · Adventure

Costa Rica travel guide

4.4
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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Arenal Volcano National Park travel guide

4.4
Hot Springs · Waterfalls · River Rafting & Tubing
Plan a tour of Arenal Volcano National Park to get in touch with nature, enjoy scenic views, and admire the majestic volcano up close. The park, established in 1991, protects a variety of ecosystems and wildlife. You can choose from four hiking trails, taking you across the rainforest and lava fields. Enjoy scenic lookout points, see a staggering variety of birds and plants, or climb the dormant Mount Chato on your trip to Arenal Volcano National Park.
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Sarapiqui travel guide

4.3
Nature & Parks · Kayaking & Canoeing · Zoos