18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: London
Fly + Drive:  18​h
1
Vara Blanca
— 1 day
Drive:  2​h
2
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
3
Tortuguero
— 1 night
taxi + bus:  2​h 45​min
4
San Jose
— 3 nights
bus:  3​h
5
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
6
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
7
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
+2
shuttle + bus + Fly:  19​h 15​min
End: London

1
day
Vara Blanca

Vara Blanca
A vacation in Vara Blanca, located in the heart of Costa Rica, offers excellent access to a number of attractions across the area.
Start off your visit on the 7th (Thu): get great views at Mirador Huequecura and then admire the sheer force of Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz.

To see photos, other places to visit, reviews, and tourist information, go to the Vara Blanca travel route planner.

London, UK to Vara Blanca is an approximately 18-hour combination of flight and car. The time zone difference moving from Greenwich Mean Time to Central Standard Time is minus 6 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Thu) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Parks Nature

Side Trip

Mirador Huequecura

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: soothe aching muscles at Tabacon Hot Springs, admire the sheer force of La Fortuna Waterfall, take in the natural beauty of Ecotermales Fortuna, and take in the exciting artwork at Onirica Art Gallery.

To find where to stay, photos, traveler tips, and tourist information, refer to the La Fortuna de San Carlos road trip planner .

Drive from Vara Blanca to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 11th (Mon) so you can go by car to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

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

1
night
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 12th (Tue), learn more about the world around you at Sea Turtle Conservancy and then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park.

To find other places to visit, reviews, maps, and more tourist information, go to the Tortuguero trip planner.

Getting from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tortuguero by car takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In May, plan for daily highs up to 35°C, and evening lows to 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 12th (Tue) so you can travel to San Jose.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Parks Nature Museums
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park
Sea Turtle Conservancy ©
Sea Turtle Conservancy

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.
Change things up with these side-trips from San Jose: Jardin Botanico Lankester (in Cartago), Toucan Rescue Ranch (in San Isidro) and Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park). The adventure continues: get interesting insight from Tours, get impressive views of Irazu Volcano National Park, and get engrossed in the history at Museo Nacional De Costa Rica.

For where to stay, maps, photos, and tourist information, you can read our San Jose visit planner.

Do a combination of taxi and bus from Tortuguero to San Jose in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Plan for little chillier nights when traveling from Tortuguero in May since evenings lows in San Jose dip to 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 15th (Fri) early enough to take a bus to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Adventure

Side Trips

Jardin Botanico Lankester, Irazu Volcano National Park, Poas Volcano, Toucan Rescue Ranch
Highlights from your plan
Toucan Rescue Ranch ©
Toucan Rescue Ranch
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Irazu Volcano National Park ©
Irazu Volcano National Park

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.
On the 16th (Sat), surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour and then kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio. Here are some ideas for day two: tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Biesanz, then relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, and then stop by Jungle Avenue.

To find more things to do, where to stay, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Manuel Antonio trip itinerary website .

You can 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 17th (Sun) so you can drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trip

Jungle Avenue
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Nature & Wildlife Tours
River Rafting & Tubing

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 18th (Mon): look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then stop by Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery. On the 19th (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in nature's colorful creations at Monteverde Orchid Garden, then relax in the rural setting at El Trapiche Tour, and then kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks.

For reviews, photos, where to stay, and other tourist information, read Monteverde tour itinerary planner.

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Tue) to allow time to drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Adventure
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
El Trapiche Tour ©
El Trapiche Tour

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.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Tamarindo: Playa Conchal (in Playa Conchal) and Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands (in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste). The adventure continues: kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, identify plant and animal life at Monkey Park, discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and stop by Dolores Shop.

For more things to do, traveler tips, ratings, and more tourist information, use the Tamarindo itinerary website .

Getting from Monteverde to Tamarindo by car takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Fri) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trips

Playa Conchal, Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands
Highlights from your plan
Pura Aventura ©
Pura Aventura
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Scuba & Snorkeling

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