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: San Jose
bus + taxi:  2​h 45​min
1
Tortuguero
— Few hours
Drive:  3​h 15​min
2
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Tamarindo
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
5
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Fly + taxi:  3​h 30​min
6
Poas Volcano National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h
End: San Jose

few
hours
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 23rd (Sun), explore the striking landscape of Tortuguero National Park.

For more things to do, reviews, maps, and tourist information, read our Tortuguero trip planner .

San Jose to Tortuguero is an approximately 3-hour combination of bus and taxi. You can also drive; or take a shuttle. December in Tortuguero sees daily highs of 34°C and lows of 25°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Sun) to allow time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Nature Parks
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: relax and rejuvenate at Tabacon Hot Springs, relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, get interesting insight from Tours, and trek along Ecocentro Danaus.

To see traveler tips, more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the La Fortuna de San Carlos route planning app .

Getting from Tortuguero to La Fortuna de San Carlos by car takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Nature Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano National Park
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Canyoning & Rappelling Tours

1
night
Tamarindo

Tamarindo ©
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Fri): see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, and then look for gifts at Dolores Shop.

To see maps, where to stay, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Tamarindo tour itinerary website .

Getting from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tamarindo by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or take a bus. In December in Tamarindo, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 32°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 28th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Tours Wildlife
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Scuba & Snorkeling
Dolores Shop ©
Dolores Shop

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.
Kick off your visit on the 29th (Sat): look for gifts at Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery and then look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: identify plant and animal life at Curi Cancha Reserve, whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, and then look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Frog Pond.

To find ratings, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, you can read our Monteverde online trip itinerary planner .

You can drive from Tamarindo to Monteverde in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. December in Monteverde sees daily highs of 32°C and lows of 32°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Monteverde

Wildlife Parks Adventure
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery ©
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

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.
Kick off your visit on the 31st (Mon): fly like a bird with a parasailing or paragliding tour, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Manuel Antonio, and then stop by Super Joseth. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 1st (Tue): relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, then get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, and then view the masterpieces at The Captain's Booty.

To see reviews, ratings, maps, and tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio tour planning tool .

You can drive from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of shuttle and bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Tue) to allow time to drive to Poas Volcano National Park.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Adventure

Side Trip

The Captain's Booty
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Nature & Wildlife Tours
River Rafting & Tubing

2
nights
Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park
On the 2nd (Wed), look for gifts at Souvenir Muy Tranquilo and then take in the dramatic scenery at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

To see other places to visit, more things to do, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Poas Volcano National Park driving holiday planning website .

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Poas Volcano National Park takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 3rd (Thu) to allow enough time to drive back home.

Things to do in Poas Volcano National Park

Nature Parks Shopping

Side Trips

Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Souvenir Muy Tranquilo
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Souvenir Muy Tranquilo ©
Souvenir Muy Tranquilo

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