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: Dallas
Fly:  8​h 30​min
1
San Jose
— 2 nights
bus:  3​h
2
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
4
Tamarindo
— 2 nights
+2
bus + foot + Fly:  9​h 45​min
End: Dallas

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 8th (Sun): relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas, and then take in the exciting artwork at Galeria Namu.

For where to stay, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, use the San Jose sightseeing planning website .

Dallas, USA to San Jose is an approximately 8.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of car and flight; or drive. Traveling from Dallas in September, things will get slightly colder in San Jose: highs are around 81°F and lows about 65°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 9th (Mon) early enough to go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in San Jose

Tours Outdoors Adventure
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Spas
Galeria Namu ©
Galeria Namu

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.
Start off your visit on the 9th (Mon): get some thrills out on the water with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure and then stroll through Playa Manuel Antonio. Here are some ideas for day two: explore the striking landscape of Naturalist Michael Araya Flores.

To find photos, where to stay, and tourist information, refer to the Manuel Antonio trip planner .

Take a bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Naturalist Michael Araya Flores
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio

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'll discover tucked-away gems like Bogarin Trail and Paradise Hot Springs. Escape the urban bustle at River Rafting & Tubing and Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano). Change things up with a short trip to Ecological Sanctuary in Santa Elena (about 1h 10 min away). There's lots more to do: take in the natural beauty of Tabacon Hot Springs, Head underground at Venado Caves, stop by Galeria Aguas Verdes, and trek along Senderos Los Tucanes.

For traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos tour builder .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 14th (Sat) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Arenal Volcano National Park, Ecological Sanctuary
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Paradise Hot Springs ©
Paradise Hot Springs

2
nights
Tamarindo

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to River Rafting & Tubing and Playa Avellana. Get in touch with nature at Tamarindo Beach and Adrenaline & Extreme Tours. Go for a jaunt from Tamarindo to Las Catalinas to see Playa Danta about 52 minutes away. The adventure continues: get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports and look for all kinds of wild species at Monkey Park.

To see ratings, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, read our Tamarindo planner .

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tamarindo takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Tue) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trip

Playa Danta
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach

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