17 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

17 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Central America trip planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
San Jose
Drive
2
Uvita
— 2 nights
Drive
3
Manuel Antonio
— 1 night
Drive
4
Jaco
— 1 night
Drive
5
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Playa Samara
— 1 night
Drive
7
Tamarindo
— 1 night
Drive
8
Playas del Coco
— 1 night
Drive
9
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 1 night
Shuttle
10
San Jose
Drive
11
Cahuita
— 4 nights
Drive
12
Tortuguero
— 1 day
Drive
13
San Jose
— 1 night
Fly

S M T W T F S
13
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1
2

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.
To see reviews, maps, photos, and other tourist information, go to the San Jose trip planner.

Prague, Czech Republic to San Jose is an approximately 19-hour flight. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 7 hours traveling from Prague to San Jose. Plan for much hotter temperatures traveling from Prague in December, with highs in San Jose at 30°C and lows at 22°C. On the 16th (Wed), you're off to Uvita.

Things to do in San Jose

Tours · Outdoors · Wildlife · Parks

Uvita

— 2 nights
Ideal for visitors looking to escape Costa Rica's busy beaches, Uvita offers a serene atmosphere and plenty of uncrowded sand for a leisurely vacation.
Kick off your visit on the 16th (Wed): tour the pleasant surroundings at Oro Verde Biological Reserve and then get a dose of the wild on Ultralight Tour. Here are some ideas for day two: discover the deep blue sea with Mad About Diving, stroll through Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge, then trek along Locos por el Bosque, then relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, and finally look for gifts at Mama Toucan's Natural and Organic Food Store.

To find more things to do, ratings, maps, and more tourist information, refer to the Uvita road trip planner.

Traveling by car from San Jose to Uvita takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 18th (Fri) so you can go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Uvita

Outdoors · Parks · Wildlife · Trails

Side Trips

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.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Fri): tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Espadilla Norte, enjoy the sand and surf at La Playita, take a memorable tour with Tours, relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, then stroll around Manuel Antonio National Park, and finally walk around Parque Nahomi.

For more things to do, other places to visit, traveler tips, and more tourist information, refer to the Manuel Antonio online road trip planner.

Getting from Uvita to Manuel Antonio by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 19th (Sat) to allow time for the car ride to Jaco.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Parks · Outdoors · Beaches · Spas

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 19th (Sat): explore by horseback at Vista Los Suenos Horseback Riding, skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, look for gifts at Fruity Monkey Poop, then take in panoramic vistas at El Miro, and finally take some stellar pictures from Mirador de Jaco.

To find reviews, more things to do, traveler tips, and other tourist information, go to the Jaco online visit planner.

Getting from Manuel Antonio to Jaco by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Sun) to allow time to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Jaco

Outdoors · Parks · Trails · Tours

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.
Start off your visit on the 20th (Sun): stop by Women Artisans Cooperative Santa Elena and Monteverde, stroll through Valle Escondido Preserve, get to know the fascinating history of Ecological Sanctuary, tour the pleasant surroundings at Ranario Monteverde Frog Pond, then indulge in some personalized pampering at Monteverde Massage Center, and finally get a dose of the wild on monteverde nature guided tours. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: tour the pleasant surroundings at Aguti Monteverde - Wildlife Reserve, then ride a horse along Finca el Rodeo, then take in the dramatic scenery at San Luis Waterfall, and finally tour the pleasant surroundings at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

To find ratings, reviews, maps, and tourist information, refer to the Monteverde trip itinerary planning site.

You can drive from Jaco to Monteverde in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 32°C, and evening lows to 32°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 22nd (Tue) early enough to drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks · Wildlife · Outdoors · Tours

Side Trip

Playa Samara

— 1 night
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.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Tue): get up close to creatures of the deep with a dolphin and whale watching tour, stroll through Playa Buena Vista, then get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, then soothe aching muscles at Chillasana Yoga & Surf School, and finally learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at La Selva Wildlife Refuge & Zoo. On the 23rd (Wed), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in the dramatic scenery at Belen Waterfall, tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Garza, then take an exotic tour of Nosara Riversafari - Tours, then get outside with Equisol Retreats CR, SRL, and finally explore the galleries of MAEL's ABSTRACT ART GALLERY.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, refer to the Playa Samara holiday planner.

Traveling by car from Monteverde to Playa Samara takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. In December in Playa Samara, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 32°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Wed) so you can drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Outdoors · Parks · Wildlife · Tours

Side Trips

Tamarindo

— 1 night
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 23rd (Wed): soothe aching muscles at some of the top local wellness centers.

To see where to stay, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, you can read our Tamarindo trip itinerary planner.

You can drive from Playa Samara to Tamarindo in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 32°C in December, and nighttime lows around 32°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Thu) so you can drive to Playas del Coco.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours · Adventure

Side Trip

Playas del Coco

— 1 night

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.
Kick off your visit on the 24th (Thu): relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers.

To find reviews, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, read our Playas del Coco trip itinerary planning website.

Traveling by car from Tamarindo to Playas del Coco takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a bus. In December in Playas del Coco, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 32°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Fri) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Playas del Coco

Spas
Highlights from your trip

La Fortuna de San Carlos

— 1 night
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.
Kick off your visit on the 25th (Fri): get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, stroll through Arenal Oasis Wildlife Refuge, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then hike along Natura Eco Park Costa Rica, then take in the natural beauty of Paradise Hot Springs, and finally get engrossed in the history at ChocoMuseo La Fortuna.

To find ratings, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, read our La Fortuna de San Carlos sightseeing planner.

Drive from Playas del Coco to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. You will have some time to spend on the 26th (Sat) before leaving for San Jose.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks · Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours

San Jose

Start off your visit on the 26th (Sat): get in on the family fun at Parque Diversiones, get engrossed in the history at Jade Museum, and then relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas.

To plan San Jose vacation without wasting time, ask Inspirock to design an itinerary.

Take a shuttle from La Fortuna de San Carlos to San Jose in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sat) so you can drive to Cahuita.

Things to do in San Jose

Theme Parks · Spas · Museums

Cahuita

— 4 nights
With its dusty streets and simple (read affordable) lodgings, Cahuita bustles as a hub of backpacker tourism in southeastern Costa Rica.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Punta Uva Beach and Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Gardens. Kids will enjoy Tarantulas Way and Ara Manzanillo. Change things up with a short trip to Playa Manzanillo in Manzanillo (about 38 minutes away). There's lots more to do: tour the pleasant surroundings at Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, admire the natural beauty at Alma Verde - Cahuita Healing Garden, get outside with Nature Riders, and take in the exciting artwork at Luluberlu Art Gallery.

To find traveler tips, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Cahuita route site.

Drive from San Jose to Cahuita in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Cahuita can reach 34°C, while at night they dip to 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 30th (Wed) early enough to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in Cahuita

Parks · Wildlife · Outdoors · Beaches

Side Trips

Tortuguero

— 1 day

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.
On the 30th (Wed), see the interesting displays at Sea Turtle Conservancy and then see exotic creatures in open habitats at Jungle Tom Safaris Day Tours.

To find out how to plan a trip to Tortuguero, use our trip itinerary maker.

Traveling by car from Cahuita to Tortuguero takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In December, daily temperatures in Tortuguero can reach 34°C, while at night they dip to 25°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Wed) so you can drive to San Jose.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours · Museums
Highlights from your trip

San Jose

— 1 night
To find ratings, maps, photos, and more tourist information, use the San Jose online trip planner.

Traveling by car from Tortuguero to San Jose takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus. Traveling from Tortuguero in December, things will get little chillier in San Jose: highs are around 30°C and lows about 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Thu) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in San Jose

Tours · Outdoors · Wildlife · Parks

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.

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.

Province of Limon travel guide

4.4
National Parks · Nature & Wildlife Tours · Beaches
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón, is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón of Limón in Costa Rica. It is the sixth-largest city in Costa Rica, with a population of over 55,000, and is home of a multicultural community. Part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province. As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced the decision to not move even after it was legally permitted. Nowadays, there is an important outflow of Limón natives who move to the country's Central Valley in search for better employment and education. The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.Puerto Limón contains two port terminals, Limón and Moín, which permit the shipment of Costa Rican exports as well as the anchoring of cruise ships. In 2016, the government pledged ₡93 million for a new cruise ship terminal for Puerto Limón.Health care is provided for the city by Hospital Dr. Tony Facio Castro. Two small islands, Uvita Island and Isla de Pájaros, are just offshore.HistoryColonizationChristopher Columbus first dropped anchor in Costa Rica in 1502 at Isla Uvita, just off the coast of Puerto Limón. The Atlantic coast, however, was left largely unexplored by Spanish settlers until the 19th century.

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