13 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

13 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

13 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Ottawa
+2
train + bus + Fly:  10​h 15​min
1
San Jose
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
2
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
3
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
+2
bus + foot + Fly:  12​h
End: Ottawa

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.
Escape the urban bustle at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz and Poas Volcano. Get some historical perspective at Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles and Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora. When in San Jose, make a side trip to see Souvenir Museum in Alajuela, approximately 52 minutes away. And it doesn't end there: get engrossed in the history at Museo Nacional De Costa Rica, examine the collection at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and view the masterpieces at Galeria Namu.

To find ratings, more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, you can read our San Jose trip itinerary website .

Ottawa, Canada to San Jose is an approximately 10.5-hour combination of train and flight. You can also fly; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 1 hour traveling from Ottawa to San Jose. In December, San Jose is much warmer than Ottawa - with highs of 30°C and lows of 22°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) early enough to go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in San Jose

Nature Parks Museums

Side Trips

Cartago, Poas Volcano, Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Souvenir Museum
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica ©
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica

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.
Take a break from the city and head to La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Iglesia de La Fortuna de San Carlos and Galeria Estudio. There's lots more to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and admire the natural beauty at Arenal Natura Ecological Park.

To see photos, reviews, maps, and more tourist information, read our La Fortuna de San Carlos day trip planner .

You can drive from San Jose to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Sun) to allow time to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano
Highlights from your plan
La Fortuna Waterfall ©
La Fortuna Waterfall
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing

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.
On the 30th (Mon), identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Frog Pond. Here are some ideas for day two: get to know the fascinating history of Ecological Sanctuary, kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, and then explore the world behind art at Chorotega Arts & Crafts.

To find where to stay, maps, other places to visit, and tourist information, you can read our Monteverde trip planning app .

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Monteverde takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle. In December in Monteverde, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 32°C at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 31st (Tue) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Wildlife Parks Adventure
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Ecological Sanctuary ©
Ecological Sanctuary

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.
On the 1st (Wed), kick back and relax at Playa Conchal and then kick back and relax at Playa Avellana. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour, then enjoy the sand and surf at Tamarindo Beach, and then stop by Organic Products by Coco Beauty Spa.

For photos, maps, and other tourist information, read Tamarindo trip planner .

You can drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. December in Tamarindo sees daily highs of 32°C and lows of 32°C at night. You will leave for home on the 3rd (Fri).

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Beaches Parks

Side Trip

Playa Conchal
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Scuba & Snorkeling

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