12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Central America vacation planner

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Route & dates

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
Fly:  11​h 30​min
1
San Jose
— 1 day
Drive:  2​h 45​min
2
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Tamarindo
— 5 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
Puntarenas
— 1 night
Drive:  5​h 30​min
5
Chirripo National Park
— 1 night
Drive + Fly:  18​h 30​min
End: San Francisco

1
day
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.
On the 24th (Tue), look for gifts at Holalola Souvenir Shop and then let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour.

For reviews, more things to do, ratings, and more tourist information, refer to the San Jose trip itinerary planning tool .

San Francisco, USA to San Jose is an approximately 11.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 2 hours traveling from San Francisco to San Jose. While traveling from San Francisco, expect a bit warmer days and warmer nights in San Jose, ranging from highs of 79°F to lows of 66°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 24th (Tue) 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
Holalola Souvenir Shop ©
Holalola Souvenir Shop

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.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): admire the natural beauty at Arenal Natura Ecological Park and then take in the natural beauty of Tabacon Hot Springs.

To find photos and tourist information, go to the La Fortuna de San Carlos travel planning website .

Getting from San Jose to La Fortuna de San Carlos by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 26th (Thu) to allow time for the car ride to Tamarindo.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Spas
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
La Fortuna Waterfall ©
La Fortuna Waterfall
Arenal Natura Ecological Park ©
Arenal Natura Ecological Park

5
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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Playa Conchal (in Playa Conchal), Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones) (in Nosara) and Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands & Llanos de Cortez Waterfall). The adventure continues: tour the pleasant surroundings at Tamarindo Beach, kick back and relax at Playa Avellana, stop by Dolores Shop, and get a taste of life in the country at Pura Aventura.

For ratings, maps, traveler tips, and other tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo trip planner .

Getting from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tamarindo by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or take a bus. December in Tamarindo sees daily highs of 82°F and lows of 82°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 31st (Tue) early enough to go by car to Puntarenas.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones), Playa Conchal
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall ©
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

1
night
Puntarenas

Puntarenas ©
A major port city with a busy fish market, for most tourists Puntarenas represents little more than the launching point for ferries heading to the pleasant beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula.
On the 31st (Tue), whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks and then take in the architecture and atmosphere at The Old Catholic Church.

For other places to visit, where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Puntarenas online trip itinerary maker .

Traveling by car from Tamarindo to Puntarenas takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. On the 1st (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Chirripo National Park.

Things to do in Puntarenas

Parks Wildlife Historic Sites
Highlights from your plan
Macaw Sanctuary Natuwa ©
Macaw Sanctuary Natuwa
Guacimal River Bridge 2 ©
Guacimal River Bridge 2

1
night
Chirripo National Park

Chirripo National Park ©
On the 2nd (Thu), take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Chirripo National Park.

To see ratings, more things to do, other places to visit, and tourist information, use the Chirripo National Park online holiday planner .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Puntarenas to Chirripo National Park. On the 2nd (Thu), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Chirripo National Park

Nature Parks

Side Trip

Chirripo National Park
Highlights from your plan
Chirripo National Park ©
Chirripo National Park

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