17 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

17 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

17 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Lisbon
+2
Fly + Bus + Shuttle:  20 h 45 min
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  2 h
2
Monteverde
— 1 night
Drive:  2 h 30 min
3
San Jose
— 3 nights
Drive:  2 h
4
Puerto Jimenez
— Few hours
Drive:  3 h 45 min
5
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Ferry:  3 h 30 min
6
Santa Teresa
— 1 night
Drive:  3 h
7
Tamarindo
— 2 nights
Drive:  2 h
8
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  21 h 30 min
End: Lisbon

4
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos

La Fortuna de San Carlos ©
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.
Get in touch with nature at Tabacon Hot Springs and Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal).

To see where to stay, ratings, maps, and more tourist information, read La Fortuna de San Carlos trip itinerary builder.

Lisbon, Portugal to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 21-hour combination of car and flight. The time zone changes from Western European Time (WET) to Central Standard Time (CST), which is usually a -6 hour difference. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Mon) early enough to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

1
night
Monteverde

Monteverde ©
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 6th (Mon): take in the views from Santa Elena Skywalk, then whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, and then stop by Hummingbird Gallery. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 7th (Tue): identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

To see other places to visit, more things to do, maps, and more tourist information, you can read our Monteverde travel planner.

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Monteverde takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Tue) early enough to drive to San Jose.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Tours
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery ©
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

3
nights
San Jose

San Jose ©
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 the 8th (Wed), revel in the low prices at Fabrica de Carretas Eloy Alfaro, then explore the world behind art at Museo de Arte Costarricense, then view the masterpieces at Galeria Namu, and finally browse the eclectic array of goods at Central Market (Mercado Central). Keep things going the next day: get engrossed in the history at National Museum (Museo Nacional), stop by Chocolatería Sibú, then look for all kinds of wild species at Toucan Rescue Ranch, then take an in-depth tour of Jade Museum, and finally don't miss a visit to Central Bank (Banco Central).

For where to stay, ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, you can read our San Jose vacation planner.

Drive from Monteverde to San Jose in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi, flight, and shuttle; or take a bus. In February, plan for daily highs up to 30°C, and evening lows to 21°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Puerto Jimenez.

Things to do in San Jose

Shopping Museums Parks

Side Trips

San Isidro, Fabrica de Carretas Eloy Alfaro
Highlights from your plan
Toucan Rescue Ranch ©
Toucan Rescue Ranch
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica ©
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica
Galeria Namu ©
Galeria Namu

few
hours
Puerto Jimenez

On the 10th (Fri), get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour and then look for gifts at Jagua Arts and Crafts.

For where to stay, more things to do, photos, and tourist information, you can read our Puerto Jimenez trip itinerary maker.

Traveling by combination of shuttle and flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and taxi. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time to Eastern Standard Time, which is usually a 1 hour difference. Traveling from San Jose in February, expect Puerto Jimenez to be a bit warmer, temps between 38°C and 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 10th (Fri) so you can go by car to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Things to do in Puerto Jimenez

Tours Wildlife Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Jagua Arts and Crafts ©
Jagua Arts and Crafts

2
nights
Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio ©
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 11th (Sat), explore the stunning scenery at MidWorld Costa Rica and then stroll through Playa Biesanz. Keep things going the next day: explore the wealth of natural beauty at Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.

To see maps, other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, go to the Manuel Antonio National Park trip planner.

Traveling by car from Puerto Jimenez to Manuel Antonio National Park takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. The time zone difference moving from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Central Standard Time (CST) is minus 1 hour. Traveling from Puerto Jimenez in February, expect Manuel Antonio National Park to be a bit cooler, temps between 30°C and 21°C. On the 12th (Sun), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Santa Teresa.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Highlights from your plan
MidWorld Costa Rica ©
MidWorld Costa Rica
Playa Biesanz ©
Playa Biesanz

1
night
Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa ©
A coastal getaway popular with surfers and young travelers, Santa Teresa spreads out from the beach and the main coastal road to a ring of newer developments on the surrounding hills.
Kick off your visit on the 13th (Mon): kick back and relax at Playa Hermosa and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Santa Teresa.

For where to stay, other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, you can read our Santa Teresa custom trip planner.

Traveling by combination of ferry and taxi from Manuel Antonio National Park to Santa Teresa takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Mon) to allow time to drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Santa Teresa

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Highlights from your plan
Playa Santa Teresa ©
Playa Santa Teresa
Playa Hermosa ©
Playa Hermosa

2
nights
Tamarindo

Tamarindo ©
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Kick off your visit on the 14th (Tue): stroll through Playa Avellana, then stroll through Tamarindo Beach, then stop by Papaya Con Leche, and finally look for gifts at Lydia Beech Art. On the next day, discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour and then kick back and relax at Playa Conchal.

To see photos, reviews, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read Tamarindo tour planner.

Traveling by car from Santa Teresa to Tamarindo takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus. In February, daily temperatures in Tamarindo can reach 39°C, while at night they dip to 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 15th (Wed) early enough to drive to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trips

Scuba & Snorkeling, Playa Conchal
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana

2
nights
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste ©
On the 16th (Thu), look for all kinds of wild species at El Viejo Wetlands and then take in the dramatic scenery at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 17th (Fri): relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour and then get impressive views of Parque Nacional Volcan Rincon de la Vieja.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, reviews, and more tourist information, read Area de Conservacion Guanacaste trip itinerary builder.

You can drive from Tamarindo to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste in 2 hours. In February, daily temperatures in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste can reach 39°C, while at night they dip to 25°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 17th (Fri) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

Parks Nature Trails
Highlights from your plan
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands ©
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands

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