21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Zurich
Fly:  14​h 30​min
1
San Jose
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 45​min
2
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Manuel Antonio
— 4 nights
Drive:  5​h 30​min
4
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 15​min
5
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
6
Nicoya
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
7
San Jose
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
8
Cahuita
— 3 nights
Drive + Fly:  21​h 45​min
End: Zurich

1
night
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.
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Fri): take an in-depth tour of Museo Nacional De Costa Rica, then take an in-depth tour of Jade Museum, and then view the masterpieces at Galeria Namu. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 21st (Sat): take a memorable drive along Top Travel Costa Rica, see the interesting displays at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, then contemplate the long history of Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, and finally make a trip to Plaza Juan Mora Fernandez.

To see where to stay, reviews, photos, and other tourist information, refer to the San Jose road trip planner .

Zurich, Switzerland to San Jose is an approximately 14.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight. The time zone changes from Central European Time to Central Standard Time, which is usually a -7 hour difference. Prepare for warmer weather when traveling from Zurich in March: high temperatures in San Jose hover around 32°C and lows are around 21°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 21st (Sat) early enough to go by car to Monteverde.

Things to do in San Jose

Museums Scenic Drive Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Top Travel Costa Rica ©
Top Travel Costa Rica
Teatro Nacional Costa Rica ©
Teatro Nacional Costa Rica
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica ©
Museo Nacional De Costa Rica

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 22nd (Sun), stroll through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, then learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at The Bat Jungle, and then view the masterpieces at Alas y Raices. Here are some ideas for day two: stroll through Monteverde Frog Pond, then take in nature's colorful creations at Monteverde Orchid Garden, and then experience rural life at El Trapiche Tour.

For ratings, photos, and more tourist information, read our Monteverde tour planning site .

Getting from San Jose to Monteverde 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 23rd (Mon) so you can go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Zoos & Aquariums
Highlights from your plan
El Trapiche Tour ©
El Trapiche Tour
Monteverde Orchid Garden ©
Monteverde Orchid Garden

4
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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Jaco (Mirador de Jaco & Canyoning & Rappelling Tours). There's still lots to do: stroll through Playa Manuel Antonio, zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, and explore the striking landscape of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Before you visit Manuel Antonio, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.

Getting from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of shuttle and bus; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 27th (Fri) early enough to go by car to Tortuguero.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trips

Jaco, Quepos
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Canyoning & Rappelling Tours
Nature & Wildlife 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.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Sat): get interesting insight from Tours and then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park.

To see other places to visit, maps, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our Tortuguero road trip planning site .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Tortuguero in 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi; or do a combination of bus and shuttle. In March, plan for daily highs up to 34°C, and evening lows to 24°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Sat) to allow enough time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Nature Parks Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park
Kayaking & Canoeing

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, parks, trails, and wildlife. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, trek along Arenal Natura Ecological Park, contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Arenal, and explore the wealth of natural beauty at Arenal Volcano.

To see photos, reviews, more things to do, and tourist information, read La Fortuna de San Carlos online journey builder .

You can drive from Tortuguero to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 1st (Wed) so you can go by car to Nicoya.

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
La Fortuna Waterfall ©
La Fortuna Waterfall

2
nights
Nicoya

Nicoya ©
Nicoya, a city on the Nicoya Peninsula of the Guanacaste province, Costa Rica, is one of the country's most important tourist zones; it serves as a transport hub to Guanacaste's beaches and national parks. Start off your visit on the 2nd (Thu): tour the pleasant surroundings at Curu National Wildlife Refuge and then explore the striking landscape of Barra Honda National Park.

For maps, other places to visit, reviews, and more tourist information, read our Nicoya trip itinerary builder site .

Getting from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Nicoya by car takes about 3.5 hours. On the 3rd (Fri), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to San Jose.

Things to do in Nicoya

Parks Nature Beaches
Highlights from your plan
Barra Honda National Park ©
Barra Honda National Park
Curu National Wildlife Refuge ©
Curu National Wildlife Refuge
Playa Manzanillo ©
Playa Manzanillo

2
nights
San Jose

San Jose
Start off your visit on the 3rd (Fri): look for gifts at Va de nuevo. On the 4th (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: admire the masterpieces at Museo de Arte Costarricense and then take in the dramatic scenery at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz.

For where to stay, traveler tips, and more tourist information, use the San Jose trip planner .

You can drive from Nicoya to San Jose in 3.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 5th (Sun) to allow time to drive to Cahuita.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Museums

Side Trips

Poas Volcano, Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Parque La Sabana ©
Parque La Sabana
Museo de Arte Costarricense ©
Museo de Arte Costarricense

3
nights
Cahuita

Cahuita ©
With its dusty streets and simple (read affordable) lodgings, Cahuita bustles as a hub of backpacker tourism in southeastern Costa Rica.
Start off your visit on the 6th (Mon): explore the wealth of natural beauty at Cahuita National Park and then take in nature's colorful creations at Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Gardens. Here are some ideas for day two: stroll through Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, take in nature's colorful creations at Finca La Isla, and then stroll through Punta Uva Beach.

For reviews, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Cahuita trip planner .

You can drive from San Jose to Cahuita in 4 hours. Another option is to take a bus. In April, plan for daily highs up to 35°C, and evening lows to 26°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 8th (Wed) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Cahuita

Parks Wildlife Nature

Side Trip

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Highlights from your plan
Cahuita National Park ©
Cahuita National Park
Punta Uva Beach ©
Punta Uva Beach
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica ©
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica

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