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:  3​h
1
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Herradura
— 1 night
shuttle:  1​h
3
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
4
Playas del Coco
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h
5
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 45​min
6
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
— 2 nights
bus:  3​h 30​min
End: San Jose

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.
Take a break from the city and head to Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge and Playas Gemelas. Discover out-of-the-way places like Playa Ventanas and Manuel Antonio Hot Springs. Change things up with a short trip to Parasailing & Paragliding in Dominical (about 50 minutes away). There's much more to do: relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, walk around Parque Nahomi, witness a stunning natural landmark at Manuel Antonio Hot Springs, and stop by Beso Loco Boutique de Playa.

For more things to do, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, you can read our Manuel Antonio attractions planner.

San Jose to Manuel Antonio is an approximately 3-hour bus ride. You can also drive; or take a shuttle. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Sat) to allow enough time to drive to Herradura.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Parasailing & Paragliding, Parque Nahomi, Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge, Playa Ventanas
Highlights from your plan
Parasailing & Paragliding
Spas

1
night
Herradura

Herradura ©
Kick off your visit on the 22nd (Sun): stroll through Playa Linda, then look for gifts at Dantica Gallery, then enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Mantas, and finally snap pictures at Tarcoles Bridge.

For maps, where to stay, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Herradura online trip itinerary planner .

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Herradura takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Sun) so you can take a shuttle to Monteverde.

Things to do in Herradura

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trips

Tarcoles Bridge, Playa Linda
Highlights from your plan
Playa Mantas ©
Playa Mantas
Dantica Gallery ©
Dantica Gallery

2
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.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Mon): identify plant and animal life at Valle Escondido Preserve, witness a stunning natural landmark at Middle Earth Thermal Springs, and then explore the world behind art at Chorotega Arts & Crafts. Keep things going the next day: identify plant and animal life at Sustainability Demonstration Center, then stroll through Finca el Rodeo, and then stop by Foresta.

For where to stay, ratings, maps, and tourist information, read our Monteverde trip itinerary builder site .

Traveling by shuttle from Herradura to Monteverde takes an hour. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) so you can drive to Playas del Coco.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Trails

Side Trips

Sustainability Demonstration Center, Middle Earth Thermal Springs
Highlights from your plan
Valle Escondido Preserve ©
Valle Escondido Preserve
Sustainability Demonstration Center ©
Chorotega Arts & Crafts ©
Chorotega Arts & Crafts

2
nights
Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco ©
A long-established beach community, Playas del Coco has developed a reputation as a favored spot for young travelers and locals to let loose by the sea.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): identify plant and animal life at Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands and then see what you can catch with a fishing tour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 26th (Thu): get outside with Wild & Fun, kick back and relax at Playa Danta, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Dantita.

To see more things to do, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, read Playas del Coco route tool .

Getting from Monteverde to Playas del Coco by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Playas del Coco

Outdoors Wildlife Parks

Side Trips

Las Catalinas, Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands
Highlights from your plan
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands ©
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands
Fishing Charters & Tours
Playa Danta ©
Playa Danta

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Fri): trek along Senderos Los Tucanes, then identify plant and animal life at Butterfly Conservatory, and then get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour. Here are some ideas for day two: look for all kinds of wild species at Arenal Oasis Wildlife Refuge, take in nature's colorful creations at Arenal Natura Ecological Park, and then Head underground at Venado Caves.

For traveler tips, ratings, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read La Fortuna de San Carlos travel route planner .

Getting from Playas del Coco to La Fortuna de San Carlos by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and taxi; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 28th (Sat) so you can go by car to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Wildlife Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Butterfly Conservatory, Venado Caves
Highlights from your plan
Arenal Natura Ecological Park ©
Arenal Natura Ecological Park
Butterfly Conservatory ©
Butterfly Conservatory
Venado Caves ©
Venado Caves

2
nights
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a wealth of entertainment by the sea, attracting a lively international crowd of revelers while maintaining a bright and breezy coastal charm with a local feel.
Start off your visit on the 29th (Sun): head outdoors with Nature Riders, surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, and then look for gifts at Choco. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 30th (Mon): discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour and then look for all kinds of wild species at Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary.

To see ratings, where to stay, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca itinerary builder app .

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 30th (Mon) to allow time to take a bus back home.

Things to do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Scuba & Snorkeling
Choco ©
Choco

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