18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip itinerary planner

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Route & dates

18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Brussels
+4
train + Fly + shuttle + foot + bus:  19​h 15​min
1
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h
2
Cartago
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
3
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  2​h
5
Cano Negro
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 45​min
6
Monteverde
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
7
Vara Blanca
— 1 night
Fly:  17​h 15​min
End: Brussels

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.
Spend the 20th (Fri) on the water with a fishing tour. Make the 21st (Sat) an awe-inspiring day at Naturalist Michael Araya Flores. It doesn't end there: stroll through Playa Manuel Antonio and take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

To see photos, maps, other places to visit, and tourist information, you can read our Manuel Antonio online route planner .

Brussels, Belgium to Manuel Antonio is an approximately 19.5-hour combination of train, flight, and bus. You can also do a combination of flight and bus. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 7 hours traveling from Brussels to Manuel Antonio. Cap off your sightseeing on the 21st (Sat) early enough to go by car to Cartago.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Wildlife Outdoors Parks

Side Trip

Quepos
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Fishing Charters & Tours
Parasailing & Paragliding

3
nights
Cartago

Cartago ©
Cartago is a city in Costa Rica, about 25km east of the capital, San José. Popular historic sites such as Guayabo National Park and Monument and Santiago Apostol Parish Ruins are in your itinerary. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Cartago: House of the Dreamer - Casa Del Sonador (in Cachi), Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi and the Museum (in Orosi) and El Copal Reserve (in Pejibaye). And it doesn't end there: contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Our Lady of the Angels Basilica (Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles), take in the architecture and atmosphere at Ruins of the Church of Carthage, and explore the striking landscape of Irazu Volcano National Park.

To see more things to do, reviews, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Cartago vacation planner.

Drive from Manuel Antonio to Cartago in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 30°C, and evening lows to 22°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in Cartago

Parks Historic Sites Nature

Side Trips

Irazu Volcano National Park, Guayabo National Park and Monument, Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi and the Museum, El Copal Reserve, House of the Dreamer - Casa Del Sonador
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Guayabo National Park and Monument ©
Guayabo National Park and Monument
Irazu Volcano National Park ©
Irazu Volcano National Park

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.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): explore the striking landscape of Tortuguero National Park.

For other places to visit, more things to do, photos, and more tourist information, read Tortuguero online trip itinerary planner .

You can drive from Cartago to Tortuguero in 3.5 hours. In December, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) to allow time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Wildlife Nature Parks
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park

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.
La Fortuna de San Carlos is known for nature, adventure, wildlife, trails, and parks. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, take a peaceful walk through La Fortuna Arenal Volcano Rain Forest Reserve, explore the wealth of natural beauty at Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal), and trek along Ecocentro Danaus.

To find maps, where to stay, traveler tips, and tourist information, read La Fortuna de San Carlos travel route builder .

You can drive from Tortuguero to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 29th (Sun) early enough to travel to Cano Negro.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)

1
night
Cano Negro

Cano Negro ©
On the 30th (Mon), look for all kinds of wild species at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.

For other places to visit, maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our Cano Negro trip maker website .

Drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Cano Negro in 2.5 hours. December in Cano Negro sees daily highs of 38°C and lows of 24°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Monteverde.

Things to do in Cano Negro

Wildlife Parks
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge ©
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

3
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.
Popular historic sites such as Ecological Sanctuary and Santa Elena Skywalk are in your itinerary. There's still lots to do: look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, meet the residents at The Bat Jungle, and take in the dramatic scenery at San Luis Waterfall.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Monteverde itinerary planner .

You can drive from Cano Negro to Monteverde in 4 hours. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from Cano Negro in December: highs in Monteverde hover around 32°C, while lows dip to 32°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Thu) so you can go by car to Vara Blanca.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Historic Sites
Find places to stay Dec 30 — Jan 2:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Curi Cancha Reserve ©
Curi Cancha Reserve

1
night
Vara Blanca

Vara Blanca
A vacation in Vara Blanca, located in the heart of Costa Rica, offers excellent access to a number of attractions across the area.
Start off your visit on the 3rd (Fri): identify plant and animal life at La Paz Waterfall and Peace Lodge Gardens and then admire the sheer force of La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Find out how to plan Vara Blanca trip without stress by asking Inspirock to help create an itinerary.

You can drive from Monteverde to Vara Blanca in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trip

La Paz Waterfall and Peace Lodge Gardens
Find places to stay Jan 2 — 3:

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