21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip itinerary planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
Drive
2
Playa Samara
— 4 nights
Drive
3
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive
4
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Shuttle
5
San Jose
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Jaco
— 3 nights
Fly

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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.
Escape the urban bustle at Adrenaline & Extreme Tours and Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Lydia Beech Art Boutique and Azul Profundo Boutique. Step out of Tamarindo with an excursion to Hidden Garden Art Gallery in Liberia--about 1h 30 min away. There's more to do: look for gifts at Papaya Con Leche.

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

Salt Lake City, USA to Tamarindo is an approximately 12-hour flight. You can also drive. The time zone difference moving from Mountain Standard Time to Central Standard Time is 1 hour. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 24th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Shopping · Wildlife · Parks · Museums

Side Trips

Playa Samara

— 4 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.
Step out of the city life by going to dondeJavitours and Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. Discover out-of-the-way places like Koss Art Gallery and Belen Waterfall. Change things up with a short trip to Jungle Butterfly Farm in Nandayure (about 1h 5 min away). It doesn't end there: kick back and relax at Puerto Carrillo.

For other places to visit, more things to do, and tourist information, refer to the Playa Samara road trip planner.

Traveling by car from Tamarindo to Playa Samara takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Fri) so you can drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Parks · Wildlife · Outdoors · Beaches

Side Trips

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.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena and Ecological Sanctuary. Sarah's Gallery and Arte Jaguar Gallery are good opportunities to explore the local culture. The adventure continues: kick back and relax at Reserva Biologica Isla del Cano and stop by Souvenir Rosewood-Info Center.

To see ratings, photos, maps, and more tourist information, use the Monteverde road trip planning site.

Traveling by car from Playa Samara to Monteverde takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. On the 30th (Sun), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Monteverde

Wildlife · Parks · Shopping · Outdoors

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.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Natura Eco Park Costa Rica and Butterfly Conservatory. Onirica Art Gallery and Wood & Art Gallery will appeal to museum buffs. When in La Fortuna de San Carlos, make a side trip to see Catedral de Ciudad Quesada in Quesada, approximately Quesada away. There's much more to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Los Lagos Hot Springs, stop by Souvenir Leo, and explore the fascinating underground world of Venado Caves.

To find maps, more things to do, where to stay, and tourist information, read La Fortuna de San Carlos journey tool.

Traveling by car from Monteverde to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Wed) so you can catch the shuttle to San Jose.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks · Nature · Wildlife · Shopping

Side Trips

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.
Start off your visit on the 4th (Thu): take an in-depth tour of Juan Santamaria Historical Cultural Museum, tour the pleasant surroundings at Tirimbina Biological Reserve, then view the masterpieces at Galeria Namu, and finally stop by La Bodega de Chema.

To see ratings, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, refer to the San Jose trip itinerary builder.

Getting from La Fortuna de San Carlos to San Jose by shuttle takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. In July, daytime highs in San Jose are 31°C, while nighttime lows are 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 5th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in San Jose

Museums · Shopping · Wildlife · Parks

Side Trips

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.
Get outdoors at Mike’s Nature Tours and Playa Matapalo. Give yourself a bit of retail therapy at Jaime Peligro Book & CD Shop and Farmers Fair (Ferias del Agricultor). It doesn't end there: identify plant and animal life at Mulguri Adventure.

For photos, other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, you can read our Manuel Antonio vacation planner.

Drive from San Jose to Manuel Antonio in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 7th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Jaco.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors · Tours · Wildlife · Beaches

Side Trip

Jaco

— 3 nights
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.
Get in touch with nature at Playa Bejuco and Palo Seco Beach. Step off the beaten path and head to Tico Pod Art House & Gifts and Dantica Gallery. Next up on the itinerary: explore by horseback at Vista Los Suenos Horseback Riding, meet the residents at Neo Fauna CR, and look for gifts at Carton the Surf Shop.

To see ratings, where to stay, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the Jaco online road trip planner.

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Jaco in 1.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Wed) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Jaco

Parks · Outdoors · Beaches · Shopping

Side Trips

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.