20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica sightseeing planner

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Route & dates

20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Des Moines
Fly + Drive:  16​h 15​min
1
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
2
Nicoya
— 1 day
Drive:  1​h 15​min
3
Playa Samara
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
4
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h
5
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h
6
San Jose
— 2 nights
bus:  1​h 30​min
7
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h
8
Tortuguero
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
9
Vara Blanca
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  16​h
End: Des Moines

3
nights
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste ©
Your day-by-day itinerary now includes Playa Conchal as well as Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: kick back and relax at Playa Conchal.

To see maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, read Area de Conservacion Guanacaste trip maker .

Des Moines, USA to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste is an approximately 11.5-hour combination of flight and car. Plan for much warmer temperatures traveling from Des Moines in December, with highs in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste at 82°F and lows at 82°F. You'll set off for Nicoya on the 12th (Tue).

Things to do in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

Parks Nature Beaches

Side Trips

Playa Conchal, Rio Negro Hot Springs
Find places to stay Dec 9 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall ©
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Rio Negro Hot Springs ©
Rio Negro Hot Springs

1
day
Nicoya

Nicoya ©
Nicoya, a city on the Nicoya Peninsula of the Guanacaste province, Costa Rica, is one of the country's most important tourist zones; it serves as a transport hub to Guanacaste's beaches and national parks. Start off your visit on the 12th (Tue): explore the wealth of natural beauty at Barra Honda National Park.

To see more things to do, where to stay, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Nicoya road trip tool .

Traveling by car from Area de Conservacion Guanacaste to Nicoya takes 2.5 hours. In December, daily temperatures in Nicoya can reach 82°F, while at night they dip to 82°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Tue) so you can drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Nicoya

Nature Parks
Find places to stay Dec 11 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Barra Honda National Park ©
Barra Honda National Park

2
nights
Playa Samara

Playa Samara ©
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.
Samara Beach has been added to your itinerary. Start off your visit on the 13th (Wed): stroll through Samara Beach, then kick back and relax at Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones), and then get a taste of the local shopping with MAEL's ABSTRACT ART GALLERY. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 14th (Thu): take a pleasant ride with a tour on horseback.

To see traveler tips, maps, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Playa Samara trip planner .

You can drive from Nicoya to Playa Samara in an hour. In December, daily temperatures in Playa Samara can reach 82°F, while at night they dip to 82°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Thu) so you can drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trip

Nosara
Find places to stay Dec 12 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Samara Beach ©
Samara Beach
Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones) ©
Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones)
Horseback Riding Tours

2
nights
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 15th (Fri): stop by Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery and then identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 16th (Sat): admire the natural beauty at Monteverde Butterfly Garden (Jardin de Mariposas) and then kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks.

To find ratings, traveler tips, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Monteverde online trip itinerary builder .

You can drive from Playa Samara to Monteverde in 3 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Monteverde can reach 82°F, while at night they dip to 82°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Sat) to allow time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 14 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline

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.
You've added Tabacon Hot Springs, River Rafting & Tubing, Canyoning & Rappelling Tours, and other attractions to your itinerary. There's still lots to do: admire the sheer force of La Fortuna Waterfall, take in nature's colorful creations at Arenal Natura Ecological Park, take in the exciting artwork at Onirica Art Gallery, and take in the natural beauty of Baldi Hot Springs.

Use Inspirock's suggestions to plan your La Fortuna de San Carlos trip and find the best activities and attractions for your vacation.

You can drive from Monteverde to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Tue) early enough to drive to San Jose.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Canyoning & Rappelling Tours

2
nights
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.
Start off your visit on the 20th (Wed): take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then take an in-depth tour of Museo Nacional De Costa Rica, and then take in the exciting artwork at Galeria Namu. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: walk around Parque La Sabana, take an in-depth tour of Jade Museum, and then examine the collection at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.

To find where to stay, more things to do, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read our San Jose road trip planner .

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to San Jose in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in San Jose can reach 79°F, while at night they dip to 66°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 21st (Thu) to allow time to take a bus to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in San Jose

Museums Adventure Tours
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica ©
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica
Jade Museum ©
Jade Museum

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.
Your day-by-day itinerary now includes Pineapple Tours as well as Playa Manuel Antonio. Here are some ideas for day two: kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio and then stop by Super Joseth.

To find reviews, maps, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Manuel Antonio day trip planner .

Take a bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Cap off your sightseeing on the 23rd (Sat) early enough to go by car to Tortuguero.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Adventure Parks

Side Trip

Pineapple Tours
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Super Joseth ©
Super Joseth

2
nights
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.
You've now added Tortuguero National Park to your itinerary. Start off your visit on the 24th (Sun): explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: add some adventure to your tour with Tortuguero Adventures and then learn more about the world around you at Sea Turtle Conservancy.

To find where to stay, more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, you can read our Tortuguero day trip planner .

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Tortuguero takes 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi; or do a combination of bus and shuttle. In December, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 84°F, while nighttime lows are 71°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Mon) early enough to drive to Vara Blanca.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Nature Parks Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero Adventures ©
Tortuguero Adventures
Sea Turtle Conservancy ©
Sea Turtle Conservancy

2
nights
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 26th (Tue): stop by Souvenir Muy Tranquilo and then take in the dramatic scenery at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz. Keep things going the next day: take in the architecture and atmosphere at Metal Church and then contemplate the geological forces at Poas Volcano.

To find more things to do, traveler tips, photos, and more tourist information, read Vara Blanca trip itinerary planner .

You can drive from Tortuguero to Vara Blanca in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Wed) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Nature Parks Shopping

Side Trips

Souvenir Muy Tranquilo, Poas Volcano, Metal Church
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Souvenir Muy Tranquilo ©
Souvenir Muy Tranquilo
Metal Church ©
Metal Church

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