12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Vancouver
+2
Fly + bus + shuttle:  16​h 15​min
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
2
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive:  5​h 30​min
3
Manuel Antonio
— 1 day
Drive:  3​h 45​min
4
Monteverde
— 2 nights
5
Tamarindo
— 2 nights
+2
bus + shuttle + Fly:  14​h 45​min
End: Vancouver

3
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.
Visiting Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal) and Tabacon Hot Springs will get you outdoors. There's lots more to do: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, view the masterpieces at Galeria Estudio, scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and take in the natural beauty of Baldi Hot Springs.

To see traveler tips, reviews, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the La Fortuna de San Carlos day trip planning site .

Vancouver, Canada to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 16.5-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. Traveling from Vancouver to La Fortuna de San Carlos, you'll lose 2 hours due to the time zone difference. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Sun) so you can go by car to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Nature Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Find places to stay Dec 20 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)

1
night
Tortuguero

Tortuguero ©
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 24th (Mon), identify plant and animal life at Tortuguero National Park.

To find where to stay, maps, ratings, and tourist information, use the Tortuguero travel site .

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tortuguero in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. December in Tortuguero sees daily highs of 34°C and lows of 25°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Nature Wildlife Parks
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park

1
day
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 25th (Tue), enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio and then soothe aching muscles at some of the top local wellness centers.

Take the guesswork out of planning a Manuel Antonio vacation by using our trip itinerary maker.

Traveling by car from Tortuguero to Manuel Antonio takes 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Tue) early enough to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Spas & Wellness

2
nights
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 26th (Wed): identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. On the 27th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks and then look for all kinds of wild species at Curi Cancha Reserve.

To find more things to do, photos, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Monteverde trip planning app .

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 32°C in December, and nighttime lows around 32°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Thu) early enough to drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Wildlife Parks Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Curi Cancha Reserve ©
Curi Cancha Reserve

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.
On the 28th (Fri), enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Avellana, then stroll through Tamarindo Beach, and then view the masterpieces at Lydia Beech Art Boutique.

For maps, photos, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Tamarindo trip site .

Traveling by car from Monteverde to Tamarindo takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 32°C in December, and nighttime lows around 32°C. You will leave for home on the 29th (Sat).

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Lydia Beech Art Boutique ©
Lydia Beech Art Boutique

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