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Costa Rica Itinerary Concepts: 7 Days, 2 Weeks, or 1 Month

Looking for the perfect Costa Rica itinerary? After spending nearly a month exploring this beautiful country and seeing how much it has to offer, I left only wanting more. Isn’t that the best-case scenario when traveling, though? Whether you only have a week to experience Costa Rica or can give yourself a bit more time […]



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On the lookout for the proper Costa Rica itinerary? After spending almost a month exploring this stunning nation and seeing how a lot it has to supply, I left solely wanting extra. Isn’t that the best-case state of affairs when touring, although?

Whether or not you solely have every week to expertise Costa Rica or can provide your self a bit extra time to discover, I’ve put collectively three superior itinerary choices, full with the place to go, what to do, and the place to remain:

7-Day Costa Rica Itinerary: The Spotlight Reel

When you solely have every week to get pleasure from one of the best of the nation, it doesn’t provide you with a lot time to get from place to put, so I like to recommend renting a automotive, so you may transfer round rapidly and simply, profiting from your time.

There are just a few locations that you just undoubtedly don’t need to miss out on. Right here’s how I might spend seven days in Costa Rica:

Day 1: Arrive in San José & get a style for metropolis life

To get essentially the most out of San José in simply a short while, decide to fly in as early as doable. Verify in to your lodging and begin exploring straight away (perhaps even becoming a member of a food & sightseeing tour, like I did). Because you’ll solely have a day, I like to recommend hitting up locations which are shut collectively: begin with Spirogyra Butterfly Backyard in Barrio Amón, then go subsequent door to Simón Bolivar Botanical Backyard & Zoo.

From there, I recommend heading to Mercado Borbón or Mercado Central to take a look at the number of fruit and veggies. That is additionally an awesome place to seize lunch, because it’s low-cost, fast, and scrumptious. These two markets are additionally central locations for locals, so that you’ll get a style of Costa Rican metropolis life.

Discover extra concepts for what to do in San José here, together with suggestions on the place to remain. You’ll need to get a superb night time’s relaxation, as a result of that is just the start of your journey. Subsequent cease: La Fortuna!

  • The place to remain in San José: I like to recommend this Airbnb for solo vacationers and {couples}. When you’re on a price range, Selina is a superb choice as properly and provides a co-working house.

Days 2-4: La Fortuna Sizzling Springs & Arenal Volcano

From San José, it’s straightforward to get to La Fortuna through public transportation, however for such a brief journey, a rental automotive may be a greater choice in case you actually need to get essentially the most out of La Fortuna. This space is legendary due to the monstrous Arenal Volcano, the thundering La Fortuna Waterfall, and an abundance of journey actions. From zip-lining and white-water rafting to swimming on the base of waterfalls, La Fortuna has all of it.

Attributable to volcanic exercise from the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna can also be one of the best spot in Costa Rica to seek out scorching springs. I like to recommend spending at the least two full days there, so you may try Arenal Nationwide Park, La Fortuna Waterfall, and a few scorching springs.

  • The place to remain in La Fortuna: For an inexpensive non-public room, I recommend FAS. For backpackers and solo vacationers, Poshpackers is the best way to go. When you lease a automotive and have a bit extra of a price range, go for Casa Luna Hotel & Spa, or one of the best scorching springs resort there, Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa.

Days 5-6: Monteverde Cloud Forest

From La Fortuna, you may both drive to Monteverde or take a shuttle that includes a boat transfer. I did the latter, and the boat journey throughout Lake Fortuna in itself was an superior expertise, a lot that it didn’t really feel like another boring shuttle service.

Even in case you solely have every week to get pleasure from Costa Rica, you completely can't skip out on Monteverde. This cloud forest was my favourite place within the nation, due to its mystical high quality, mind-blowing biodiversity, and abundance of mountain climbing alternatives. To be trustworthy, two days doesn’t really feel like sufficient time right here, nevertheless it’s higher than skipping it altogether.

Some key locations in Monteverde are the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Selvatura Journey Park, and Bosque Eterno de los Niños. These are all spots the place yow will discover nature trails, hanging bridges, zip-lines, and tons of wildlife. I like to recommend occurring a night tour through the cloud forest, and venturing out to the waterfalls and trekking through the jungle.

  • The place to remain in Monteverde: There are few locations that provide the similar worth to your cash than Hotel El Bosque, which is the place I liked staying. It’s in the course of the forest and solely a brief drive from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Protect.

Day 7: Cartago & farewell to Costa Rica

In your final day in Costa Rica, I like to recommend venturing to Cartago when you have time to take action. It’s solely about an hour from the San José metropolis heart and provides a distinct view of Costa Rican historical past, because it was the nation’s capital. Right here you may try the ruins of an unfinished cathedral, go to the gorgeous Lankester Botanical Backyard, and go to the municipal marketplace for an genuine chew. In my view, no journey to Costa Rica is full with out getting the dose of historical past and tradition that Cartago provides.

In comparison with the bustle of San José, Cartago is a way more laid-back metropolis, which is why I feel it’s an awesome different as your journey is winding down. The municipal market there's additionally an awesome spot to get cheaper souvenirs earlier than you head dwelling.

2-Week Costa Rica Itinerary: Pacific Coast & Mountains

With two entire weeks in Costa Rica, you’ll expertise far more selection, which higher captures the range of the panorama. Whereas one week grants you the chance to deal with the mountains and dense forests, this two-week itinerary brings you to the Pacific coast as properly, which has some stellar seashores and nationwide parks.

Be aware: For 2 weeks in Costa Rica, renting a automotive is right if you wish to really reap the benefits of all of the websites and off-the-beaten-path locations. Nonetheless, this itinerary is completely doable through public transportation, and I’ll provide you with recommendations on how one can get from place to put.

Days 1-2: Discover San José

Hacienda La Chimba is simply 20 minutes from San José

Since this itinerary is longer, I undoubtedly suggest profiting from it by spending greater than only a day in San José. Together with the whole lot talked about above, I like to recommend getting out of the town heart and exploring different areas, like Hacienda La Chimba Espresso Farm. This beautiful, colonial-style farm has sufficient to occupy you for a whole morning and even the entire day. Solely 20 minutes exterior of San José, it has mountain climbing trails, espresso excursions (that are extra perfect throughout harvesting season in September), and even a zip-line.

Staying in San José for a pair days additionally offers you an opportunity to enterprise out to Cartago, Escazú, or different surrounding areas to get pleasure from what Costa Rican metropolis life has to supply.

Days 3-5: Take pleasure in Uvita and Marino Ballena Nationwide Park

In awe of Marino Ballena Nationwide Park

From San José, head to the Pacific coast, beginning in Uvita. To get there, you may both take a 7:30am Tracopa bus or drive there in case you’ve rented a automotive. The size of this journey is about the identical, because the bus is direct and makes only a few stops.

Uvita is a small seaside city that encompasses Marino Ballena Nationwide Park. As a result of the nationwide park takes up a big majority of the seaside’s actual property, there aren't any huge inns proper on the coast. This makes for a extra untamed expertise, which I completely liked.

Apart from trying out the seaside within the park, I like to recommend heading to Playa Ventanas in case you’ve rented a automotive; if not, you may skip it, as the general public transportation getting again to city isn’t very dependable. Additionally don’t miss out on the Uvita Waterfall and close by swimming holes, which you'll be able to examine on this Uvita guide.

  • The place to remain in Uvita: I stayed at Cascada Verde Hostel, which has a treehouse vibe. I liked it and would undoubtedly keep there once more, regardless that it’s an extended stroll from city and too far to stroll to the seaside.

Days 6-8: Take in the fantastic thing about Manuel Antonio

Playa Biesanz (aka Manuel Antonio’s finest saved secret)

Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park is the most-visited nationwide park in Costa Rica, and I rapidly understood why as quickly as I bought there. So far as wildlife variety and general surroundings, it feels completely unreal. Not solely is the park price spending at the least a day exploring, however the city itself has hidden gems, like Playa Biesanz (learn the way to get there in this Manuel Antonio guide).

General, Manuel Antonio is totally price spending two days in, regardless that most issues are overpriced and there are crowds virtually year-round (however in case you get to the park proper when it opens at 7am, you may keep away from the crowds for essentially the most half). Additionally, keep someplace that has a kitchen so it can save you cash on meals. (Discover extra Costa Rica budget tips here.)

Some in style actions in Manuel Antonio are night time excursions (I did this one and liked it), mangrove boat tours, and visiting close by Rainmaker Park to see waterfalls and hanging bridges.

  • The place to remain in Manuel Antonio: Lodging is just not low-cost right here normally, however I stayed in this gem of an Airbnb and thought it was an outstanding alternative for a solo feminine traveler like me. An important alternative for backpackers is Selina, which has a co-working house and an informal, social setting. When you've got extra room in your price range, I’d suggest staying at Shana by the Beach, which is the lodge that it's important to undergo to get to Playa Biesanz.

Days Sept. 11: Head to Monteverde Cloud Forest

Because you’ll be in Costa Rica for 2 weeks, I recommend spending an day or two greater than you'll in case you have been solely within the nation for one week. See my above suggestions for things to do in Monteverde, together with the place to remain.

The very best half about having three days versus one or two is that you just’ll have extra alternatives to do actions. Contemplating that Monteverde is so inexperienced, it ought to come as no shock that it rains there virtually year-round, which might make it tougher to spend time outside (until you utilize this Costa Rica packing list and put together like a professional).

One other profit of getting further time in Monteverde is which you can enterprise out to some wonderful close by locations, just like the El Tigre waterfalls. Visiting them is way simpler when you have a automotive, however this tour can even take you there.

Days 12-13: Try La Fortuna and the encompassing space

Personally, La Fortuna wasn’t my favourite place in Costa Rica, so it will be the primary one I’d say goodbye to on a two-week itinerary. Nonetheless, having a rental car would have modified the image utterly for me, as many of the locations I needed to go have been not possible to get to through public transportation and even taxis.

Together with the whole lot I discussed on the above seven-day itinerary, I additionally recommend heading to Río Celeste at Volcán Tenorio Nationwide Park in case you can. There you’ll discover a river so vivid blue that it’s onerous to imagine someone didn’t dump dye into it. You may find out about how the river will get its shade, see an impressive waterfall, and admire tons of wildlife there too. When you haven’t rented a automotive, I like to recommend this tour that can take you there.

Day 14: Again in San José

When you’re again in San José unwinding after an superior two-week journey, take it straightforward by leisurely visiting just a few museums and trying out the native markets. I like to recommend the Museum of Costa Rican Artwork, which is free, as a result of after two weeks round Central America’s most costly nation, you’ll be glad to see at the least one free exercise, assured!

The markets, Mercado Borbón and Mercado Central, are each nice locations to get souvenirs or seize an affordable meal in your manner out of Costa Rica. Try my information to San José for extra concepts on what to do, the place to remain, and different useful suggestions.

1-Month Costa Rica Itinerary: Coast to Coast

Since I spent a few month exploring Costa Rica, I’m a bit a fan of this itinerary. There’s a lot to see and do on this unbelievable nation that if you'll be able to spend this lengthy right here, do it. A lot of the locations under have been coated within the seven-day and two-week itineraries, however right here I’ll embrace any actions or sights which you can reap the benefits of with the extra time you’ll have.

Right here’s how I might spend one month in Costa Rica:

Days 1-3: Get essentially the most out of San José and Cartago

The Japanese Backyard at Lankester in Cartago was one in every of my favourite locations close to San José.

Proper off the bat, I might undoubtedly spend at the least 48 hours in San José, ensuring to take a look at the town heart, markets, museums, and eating places. I like to recommend spending at the least a half day in Cartago, going to the Lankester Botanical Backyard, Cultural Heart, and municipal market.

The world surrounding San José has a number of volcanos which you can simply go to if you have a rental car or hop on a tour, like this one that goes to Irazú volcano. Poas Volcano can also be an superior place when you have time, because it has a mysterious blue lake in its crater which you can see in case you’re fortunate sufficient have cloudless climate.

Most Costa Rica itineraries go in a loop, a lot of them taking the Caribbean route first. Nonetheless, I did the alternative and went to the Pacific coast first, which is what I’ll share right here, as I discovered it to be straightforward to do with no rental automotive.

Days 4-7: Calm down in Uvita and discover Marino Ballena Nationwide Park

Playa Arco is simply accessible throughout low tide, so get there early within the morning!

Similar to the two-week itinerary above, I like to recommend heading to Uvita from San José. Having at the least three days right here is right, as you’ll be capable of enterprise out to close by locations and see extra. Uvita can also be near Corcovado Nationwide Park, which I wasn’t capable of get to this time (however undoubtedly want I had). Many individuals say it’s one of the wild nationwide parks, with a better density of untamed animals, particularly pumas and jaguars.

If you go to Uvita, take into account trying out Playa Arco, which is a part of Marino Ballena Nationwide Park; yow will discover out how one can get there in my Uvita guide. This seaside was completely empty after I bought there, and I liked exploring and connecting with nature with out one other human soul round. It was my favourite place I visited in Uvita by far.

Days 8-10: Chill and surf in Dominical

From Uvita, you may simply hop on a bus to Dominical, which is simply 20 minutes away. Buses cross by each half-hour or so, value solely a pair {dollars}, and can take you proper to the seaside.

One remorse I had in Costa Rica was not spending sufficient time in Dominical. This hip surf city has large stretches of sentimental, sandy seaside, with a cool, laid-back environment that I adored. I like to recommend spending a pair days right here, absorbing the solar and taking it good and sluggish.

Dominical can also be an awesome place to take a surf lesson, be part of a yoga class, or go for an extended stroll on the seaside. There’s a small hall subsequent to the seaside the place you’ll discover folks promoting handmade jewellery and different items, which is right for selecting up souvenirs.

That is additionally one of the best launching level for visiting the beautiful Nauyaca Waterfall, which I wasn’t capable of get to, sadly. The hike there's 1.5 hours, so visiting from Dominical is an all-day affair and might be costly in case you accomplish that on a tour; if you have a car, it’s straightforward and reasonably priced to get to. Entrance into the park is simply $10. Nonetheless, excursions cost round $70-80 with transportation from Dominical.

Days 11-14: Benefit from the pure wonders of Manuel Antonio

From Dominical, you may simply hop on a bus on the principle freeway headed towards Quepos. The bus solely takes about 40 minutes and prices round $3. From Quepos, it's important to take one other bus (for about $0.50) to Manuel Antonio, which is able to take off from the identical station, leaving each half-hour or so. This a part of the monthlong itinerary is by far the simplest to do through public transportation.

Since this itinerary permits for extra wiggle room, my finest recommendation for spending three days in Manuel Antonio is to take it sluggish and go to the nationwide park early within the morning in an effort to give your self the remainder of the day to take a look at the seashores. The entire abovementioned actions and lodging apply right here, with the added bonus that you just’ll have extra time to squeeze as a lot of them in.

Days 15-18: Delight in the fantastic thing about Monteverde Cloud Forest

costa rica itinerary

Getting from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde could be very difficult on public transportation, so I like to recommend taking a shuttle in case you don’t have already got a rental automotive. With Interbus, the shuttle prices about $60, which is cheap contemplating the general public transportation route will take 3 times as lengthy.

Since this one-month itinerary grants you an additional day in Monteverde in comparison with the two-week choice, I like to recommend venturing out to the El Tigre waterfalls for at the least a type of days. When you don’t need to go away Monteverde, although, there’s nonetheless a lot to do for 3 days. Try my Monteverde cloud forest guide for extra concepts, plus the place to remain.

Days 19-21: Make a cease in La Fortuna

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Attending to La Fortuna from Monteverde through public transportation can take as much as eight hours, regardless that the 2 locations will not be very removed from each other. That is because of the mountainous terrain and low-quality roads. Nonetheless, there's an choice that works properly and cuts your journey time in half: a boat transfer between La Fortuna and Monteverde, which features a scenic journey throughout La Fortuna Lake. It’s a bit expensive at $45, however I believed it was completely price it because of the superior views and shorter journey time.

Because you’ll have just a few days in La Fortuna, I extremely suggest profiting from the close by nationwide parks on this journey. Spend at the least a day exploring Arenal Nationwide Park and enterprise out to Volcán Tenorio Nationwide Park to see the huge waterfall and vivid blue river. You may simply spend a full day at each parks, which I extremely suggest.

For extra concepts on what to do right here, try this complete guide to La Fortuna.

Days 22-25: Head to the Caribbean coast, beginning in Tortuguero

costa rica itinerary

From La Fortuna, attending to Tortuguero is a really lengthy and difficult route through public transportation. It takes about 12 hours and requires that you just go all the best way to San José first. (Learn my Tortuguero guide to learn the way to get from San José to Tortuguero.) Alternatively, you are able to do a shuttle, which is what I did. I booked it via Caribe Shuttle for $65. They picked me up at my lodging in La Fortuna at 5:30am, and I used to be in Tortuguero earlier than midday. Plus, it included breakfast, which was a pleasant shock. For the worth, I believed it was price it, since I didn’t have a automotive.

Because you’ll have a complete month to discover Costa Rica, making it to the Caribbean aspect is a should. Tortuguero is a small island with a namesake nationwide park recognized for being one of the outstanding nesting and hatching locations for sea turtles.

With tranquil canals which are paying homage to the Amazon and jungles teeming with wildlife, Tortuguero is ideal for nature lovers. The city itself is chill, with a cool vibe and scrumptious meals, because the delicacies right here is extra impressed by African dishes. General, Tortuguero shocked me with how completely different it was than the opposite locations I’d been in Costa Rica, including to the nation’s seemingly limitless selection.

  • The place to remain in Tortuguero: I stayed at Aracari Garden Hostel and thought it was excellent for solo vacationers, {couples}, and price range backpackers. When you don’t thoughts spending somewhat further, I like to recommend Miss Junie’s Lodge, because it’s proper on the seaside and has one of the best restaurant on the town on-site.

Days 25-27: Try Cahuita Nationwide Park

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The general public transportation route between Tortuguero and Cahuita can also be difficult however doable. From Tortuguero, take a ship to La Pavona. From there, you may take a bus or collective taxi to Cariari. From there, take a bus to Limón, which takes about 2 hours and half-hour. From Limón, it’s a straightforward one-hour bus journey to Cahuita.

If I had extra time in Costa Rica, I might have liked to go to Cahuita. All people informed me it was a must-see, which solely offers me another good purpose to return. Cahuita Nationwide Park flies underneath many journey radars and doesn’t get as many guests as Tortuguero. Plus Cahuita city is tiny and relaxed, with little to do moreover having fun with the nationwide park, which is pretty much as good an excuse as any to go to.

Cahuita is understood for having an abundance of sloths, iguanas, monkeys, and different wildlife. Spend your time there mountain climbing the paths and admiring the attractive seashores. Sadly, the water right here is just too treacherous to swim in, however the beautiful ocean views make up for it.

  • The place to remain in Cahuita: Playa Grande Lodge is a crowd favourite in Cahuita because it’s only a 2 minute stroll from the seaside and inside strolling distance from the nationwide park.

Days 28-29: Calm down on the Seaside in Puerto Viejo

costa rica itinerary

From Cahuita to Puerto Viejo there's a direct bus that solely takes half-hour, so public transportation on this leg is a breeze. This gorgeous seaside city is a highly regarded vacation spot for surfers and has a wealthy Afro-Caribbean tradition. From the flavors to the music, Puerto Viejo has a completely completely different vibe than the Pacific coast.

It’s additionally an awesome final cease on this one-month Itinerary due to the stress-free environment and stellar seashores. After a month of touring, you may additionally need to have fun your journey and exit with a bang. Puerto Viejo has a enjoyable nightlife scene the place you’ll be capable of just do that.

Some can’t-miss spots listed below are Playa Negra, the place you’ll discover a black-sand seaside; Punta Uva, the place you may kayak alongside a rocky coast and see some sea caves and wildlife; and Salsa Brava, which is one in every of Costa Rica’s most well-known surf breaks, the place you may both take a lesson or watch the surfers from shore.

  • The place to remain in Puerto Viejo: Vacationers love Casa Kimba for its glorious location within the coronary heart of Puerto Viejo and excellent hospitality. For price range backpackers and solo vacationers, La Ruka Hostel is a prime choose.

Day 30: Bid farewell to Costa Rica in San José

costa rica itinerary

Because you already had a pair days to discover San José if you arrived, take this final day as a chance to revisit any locations you really liked, or just spend it exploring the town on foot. When you didn’t have the prospect to go to the markets (Mercado Borbón and Mercado Central), be certain that to take action in your manner out.

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That’s it! Now you have got three choices for how one can spend your time in Costa Rica, hitting up my absolute favourite spots and giving your self sufficient time to get pleasure from every of them.

How lengthy are you planning to go to Costa Rica?

Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE

This post is originally published at Be My Travel Muse blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!