20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

20 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Santiago
Fly:  11 h 30 min
1
San Jose
— 3 nights
Bus:  3 h
2
Manuel Antonio
— 4 nights
Drive:  5 h 30 min
3
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive:  3 h 15 min
4
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  3 h 45 min
5
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
Drive:  1 h 45 min
6
Playa Samara
— 1 night
Drive:  3 h
7
Monteverde
— 3 nights
+2
Taxi + Bus + Fly:  14 h
End: Santiago

3
nights
San Jose

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.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near San Jose: Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park), Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz (in Vara Blanca) and Zoo Ave (in Alajuela). There's much more to do: steep yourself in history at Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, get impressive views of Irazu Volcano National Park, take an in-depth tour of Museo Nacional De Costa Rica, and pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia La Soledad.

To see other places to visit, ratings, more things to do, and tourist information, go to the San Jose attractions app .

Santiago, Chile to San Jose is an approximately 11.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of bus and flight. You'll gain 2 hours traveling from Santiago to San Jose due to the time zone difference. January in San Jose sees daily highs of 30°C and lows of 21°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 29th (Wed) so you can catcht the bus to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trips

Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Poas Volcano, Zoo Ave, J.LANG Atelier & Showroom, Irazu Volcano National Park
Find places to stay Jan 26 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Zoo Ave ©
Zoo Ave
Teatro Nacional Costa Rica ©
Teatro Nacional Costa Rica

4
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.
When in Manuel Antonio, make a side trip to see Zipline in Jaco, approximately 1h 25 min away. There's lots more to do: stroll through Playa Manuel Antonio, surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas, and see Off-Road Tours.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Manuel Antonio trip planner .

You can take a bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio in 3 hours. Other options are to drive; or take a shuttle. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Adventure

Side Trips

Quepos, Zipline
Find places to stay Jan 29 — Feb 2:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Zipline
River Rafting & Tubing

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 3rd (Mon): paddle through the water with a kayaking and canoeing tour and then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, refer to the Tortuguero trip itinerary planning website .

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 February, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Mon) to allow time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Parks Nature Tours
Find places to stay Feb 2 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park
Kayaking & Canoeing

4
nights
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.
Family-friendly places like Butterfly Conservatory and Arenal Eco Zoo will thrill your kids. And it doesn't end there: take in the natural beauty of Tabacon Hot Springs, explore the activities along Lake Arenal, scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and get impressive views of Arenal Volcano.

To see maps, photos, ratings, and tourist information, go to the La Fortuna de San Carlos sightseeing planner.

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 7th (Fri) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

El Castillo, Arenal Volcano
Find places to stay Feb 3 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Eco Zoo ©
Arenal Eco Zoo
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs

3
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.
You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Tamarindo Beach and Playa Avellana. Go for a jaunt from Tamarindo to Playa Conchal to see Playa Conchal about 38 minutes away. There's much more to do: get in on the family fun at Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates, glide peacefully along the water with some of the best stand-up paddleboarding in the area, relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, and see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour.

To find more things to do, maps, and other tourist information, read our Tamarindo tour itinerary planning website .

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tamarindo in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Mon) so you can drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Beaches Parks

Side Trips

Playa Flamingo, Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates, Playa Conchal
Find places to stay Feb 7 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates ©
Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach

1
night
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.
Kick off your visit on the 11th (Tue): enjoy the sand and surf at Samara Beach, kick back and relax at Playa Carrillo, and then indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas.

To find photos, more things to do, and more tourist information, go to the Playa Samara online itinerary builder .

You can drive from Tamarindo to Playa Samara in 2 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 11th (Tue) so you can go by car to Monteverde.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Beaches Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

Playa Carrillo
Find places to stay Feb 10 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Samara Beach ©
Samara Beach
Playa Carrillo ©
Playa Carrillo
Spas

3
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.
On the 12th (Wed), stroll through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then stroll through Monteverde Frog Pond. On the 13th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: look for gifts at Women Artisans Cooperative Santa Elena and Monteverde, whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, then experience rural life at El Trapiche Tour, and finally get to know the resident critters at The Bat Jungle.

To see where to stay, ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, use the Monteverde trip itinerary planner.

You can drive from Playa Samara to Monteverde in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 14th (Fri) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Feb 11 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
The Bat Jungle ©
The Bat Jungle

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