🇨🇷COSTA RICA

Arenal, Costa RicaBursting with wildlife, volcanoes and gorgeous beaches, Costa Rica’s size makes it easy to get around and full of incredible sights. As with many itineraries, so as to optimise the journey the Mid-range version borrows some of the better hotels from the Luxury version and makes savings elsewhere to bring the cost down. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Costa Rica itinerary:

Luxury Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
1 ✈To San Jose (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening 🏨Barceló San José (Book >) All hotels >
Settle in to your hotel and rest after your journey. Visitors from many countries do not require a visa for entry.
2 The Museo del Oro Precolombino contains many fascinating Pre-Colombian gold exhibits. Stop by the Catedral Metropolitana and admire the ornate interior. You’ll find plenty of things to buy in the Mercado Centrale. ‘Sodas’ are family-run restaurants that serve local food.
3 ✈San Jose to Tortuguero flight (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Hotel Manatus Lodge (Book >) All hotels >
Once in Tortuguero National Park enjoy a boat tours along the waterways and then, in the evening, go on a guided tour through the hotel grounds. You’ll need to pay a fee before entering the park.
4 Visit Tortuguero Village for a taste of Afro-Caribbean culture, take to the water in a kayak. A canopy tour is a must for thrill seekers and a night-time turtle hatching tour is a must for everyone. Tap water is safe in Costa Rica, but if you’re really worried about stomach problems buy a filter water bottle and top up from taps.
5 ⛴️🚐Tortuguero to Arenal transfer  (Book >) Dep: 12:00 Arr: 17:00 🏨Hotel Nayara Spa & Gardens (Book >) All hotels >
Use your last few hours in Tortuguero to see anything you may have missed out on days 3 and 4. From your beautiful hotel in La Fortuna you can often see the lava flows from Arenal volcano. Roads in Costa Rica can be unpaved – be prepared for bumpy rides
6 Go on hikes long or short in Volcano Arenal National Park. When you’ve exhausted yourself visit one of the many thermal spas in the area (I recommend Tabacon Hot Springs) Do you need a guide for hiking here? Not really – park rangers will close trails if they’re unsafe.
7 🚕⛴️🚕Arenal to Monteverde transfer (Book >) Dep: 08:30 Arr: 11:30 🏨Hotel Belmar (Book >) All hotels >
Spend the afternoon relaxing after the journey from La Fortuna. In the evening go on a guided night walk to meet the areas many nocturnal critters. It can rain even in dry season here – bring good waterproofs. It can also get cold at night.
8 Experience the tree tops via zipline or canopy walk, visit the cloud forest, ride on a very sedate aerial tramway, or see the wildlife from the ground on a guided walk. The Certificate of Sustainable Tourism ranks businesses from 1 to 5 based on their commitment to carbon neutrality.
9 🚐Monteverde to Playa Panama bus (Book >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 13:30 🏨Hotel Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort (Book >) All hotels >
Playa Panama is one of the best beaches in the region and is perfect for swimming. Many businesses close down for the month of October.
10-12 See sea turtles at Playa Grande, visit nearby national parks, go sea kayaking, diving or snorkelling, have a surfing lesson or white water rafting experience…or just do nothing at all on the beach. Protect the environment and buy an eco-friendly sunscreen.
13-14 🚕Playa Panama to Liberia transfer (Book >)
✈Liberia to San Jose flight (Book >)
✈San Jose to Home (Book >)
Dep: 08:00
Dep: Morning
Dep: Afternoon
Arr: 08:45
Morning
Arr: Afternoon (next day)
Connect this Costa Rica itinerary with the Ecuador & Galapagos or Cuba itinerary
Ensure you leave a few hours between the time your flight from Libera lands and your flight home departs.
Mid-range Monteverde, Costa Rica
1 ✈To San Jose (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening 🏨Hotel Terrazas De Golf (Book >) All hotels >
Settle in to your hotel and rest after your journey. Visitors from many countries do not require a visa for entry.
2 The Museo del Oro Precolombino contains many fascinating Pre-Colombian gold exhibits. Stop by the Catedral Metropolitana and admire the ornate interior. You’ll find plenty of things to buy in the Mercado Centrale. ‘Sodas’ are family-run restaurants that serve local food.
3 ✈San Jose to Tortuguero flight (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Hotel Manatus Lodge (Book >) All hotels >
Once in Tortuguero National Park enjoy a boat tours along the waterways and then, in the evening, go on a guided tour through the hotel grounds. You’ll need to pay a fee before entering the park.
4 Visit Tortuguero Village for a taste of Afro-Caribbean culture, take to the water in a kayak. A canopy tour is a must for thrill seekers and a night-time turtle hatching tour is a must for everyone. Tap water is safe in Costa Rica, but if you’re really worried about stomach problems buy a filter water bottle and top up from taps.
5 ⛴️🚐Tortuguero to Arenal transfer (Book >) Dep: 12:00 Arr: 17:00 🏨Hotel El Silencio del Campo (Book >) All hotels >
Use your last few hours in Tortuguero to see anything you may have missed out on days 3 and 4. From your hotel you can often see the glow of lava from Arenal volcano. Roads in Costa Rica can be unpaved – be prepared for bumpy rides
6 Go on hikes long or short in Volcano Arenal National Park. When you’ve exhausted yourself visit one of the many thermal spas in the area (I recommend Tabacon Hot Springs) Do you need a guide for hiking here? Not really – park rangers will close trails if they’re unsafe.
7 🚕⛴️🚕Arenal to Monteverde transfer (Book >) Dep: 08:30 Arr: 11:30 🏨Casa Batsu (Book >) All hotels >
Spend the afternoon relaxing after the journey from La Fortuna. In the evening go on a guided night walk to meet the areas many nocturnal critters. It can rain even in dry season here – bring good waterproofs. It can also get cold at night.
8 Experience the tree tops via zipline or canopy walk, visit the cloud forest, ride on a very sedate aerial tramway, or see the wildlife from the ground on a guided walk. The Certificate of Sustainable Tourism ranks businesses from 1 to 5 based on their commitment to carbon neutrality.
9 🚐Monteverde to Playa Tamarindo bus (Book >) Dep: 09:00 Arr: 12:30 🏨Tamarindo Bay Boutique (Book >) All hotels >
As well as having a beautiful beach, Tamarindo is also a pretty town with excellent restaurants. Many businesses close down for the month of October.
10-12 See sea turtles at Playa Grande, visit nearby national parks, go sea kayaking, diving or snorkelling, have a surfing lesson or white water rafting experience…or just do nothing at all on the beach. Protect the environment and buy an eco-friendly sunscreen.
13-14 🚕Playa Tamarindo to Liberia transfer (Book >)
✈Liberia to San Jose flight (Book >)
✈San Jose to Home (Book >)
Dep: 07:00
Dep: Morning
Dep: Afternoon
Arr: 09:00
Morning
Arr: Afternoon (next day)
Connect this Costa Rica itinerary with the Ecuador & Galapagos or Cuba itinerary
Ensure you leave a few hours between the time your flight from Libera lands and your flight home departs.
Budget Montezuma Beach, Costa Rica
1 ✈To San Jose (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening 🏨Hostel Urbano (Book >) All hotels >
Settle in to your hotel and rest after your journey. Visitors from many countries do not require a visa for entry.
2 The Museo del Oro Precolombino contains many fascinating Pre-Colombian gold exhibits. Stop by the Catedral Metropolitana and admire the ornate interior. You’ll find plenty of things to buy in the Mercado Centrale. ‘Sodas’ are family-run restaurants that serve great value local food.
3 🚌San Jose to Cariari bus
🚌Cariari to La Pavona bus
⛴️La Pavona to Toruguero ferry
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 15:00
Dep: 16:30
Arr: 12:00
Arr: 16:15
Arr: 17:45
🏨Aracari Garden Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
This bus schedule assumes that you’ll miss the 11:30 Cariara to La Pavona departure (although that bus should wait), but if not then boats to Tortuguero will be waiting at earlier times. Once in Tortuguero National Park go on a guided night tour to see the wildlife. Tap water is safe in Costa Rica, but if you’re really worried about stomach problems buy a filter water bottle and top up from taps.
4 Visit Tortuguero Village for a taste of Afro-Caribbean culture, take to the water in a kayak. A canopy tour is a must for thrill seekers and a night-time turtle hatching tour is a must for everyone. You’ll need to pay a fee before entering the park.
5 ⛴️🚐Tortuguero to La Fortuna transfer (Book >) Dep: 12:00 Arr: 17:00 🏨Howler Monkey Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Use your last few hours in Tortuguero to see anything you may have missed out on days 3 and 4. At night in La Fortuna you can often see the lava glow from Arenal volcano. Roads in Costa Rica can be unpaved – be prepared for bumpy rides (especially between
6 Go on hikes long or short in Volcano Arenal National Park. Exhausted? Treat yourself to one of the many thermal spas in the area (I recommend Tabacon Hot Springs) Do you need a guide for hiking here? Not really – park rangers will close trails if they’re unsafe.
7 🚌La Fortuna to Tilarán bus
🚌Tilarán to Santa Elena bus (Info >)
Dep: 07:30
Dep: 12:30
Arr: 11:00
Arr: 15:00
🏨OutBox Inn (Book >) All hotels >
Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing after the journey from La Fortuna. In the evening go on a guided night walk to meet the areas many nocturnal critters. For several dollars more you can shave 5 hrs off your journey with a shuttle-boat-shuttle combination.
8 Experience the tree tops via zipline or canopy walk, visit the cloud forest, ride on a very sedate aerial tramway, or see the wildlife from the ground on a guided walk. It can rain even in dry season here – bring good waterproofs. It can also get cold at night.
9 🚌Monteverde to Puntarenas bus (Info >)
⛴️Puntarenas to Paquera ferry (Info >)
🚌Paquera to Montezuma bus (Info >)
Dep: 06:00
Dep: 11:00
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 09:30
Arr: 12:10
Arr: 16:00
🏨Proyecto Montezuma Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Situated right on the beach and with plenty of hammocks, the hostel is the perfect place to chill out after that journey. It’s cheaper to bring snorkel equipment from home than to join a tour.
10-12 Visit the nearby waterfall, go sea kayaking, diving or snorkelling, have a surfing lesson…or just do nothing at all on the beach. Protect the environment and buy an eco-friendly sunscreen.
13 🚌Montezuma to Paquera bus (Info >)
⛴️Paquera to Puntarenas ferry  (Info >)
🚌Puntarenas to San Jose bus (Info >)
Dep: 12:00
Dep: 14:00
Dep: 16:00
Arr: 14:00
Arr: 15:15
Arr: 17:30
🏨Hostel Urbano (Book >) All hotels >
Make the most of your last morning on the beach before returning to the capital. Many businesses close down for the month of October.
14-15 ✈San Jose to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon (next day) Connect this Costa Rica itinerary with the Ecuador & Galapagos or Cuba itinerary
An exit tax is applied to many airline tickets (check the list here).