21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica travel route maker

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Route & dates

21 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Seattle
Fly:  12​h 15​min
1
San Jose
— 3 nights
Bus + Taxi:  2​h 45​min
2
Tortuguero
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 15​min
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  2​h
4
Vara Blanca
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 45​min
5
Manuel Antonio
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
6
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
7
Tamarindo
— 3 nights
Bus:  1​h 30​min
8
Liberia
— 3 nights
Fly:  12​h 45​min
End: Seattle

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.
Explore San Jose's surroundings by going to Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park) and Jardin Botanico Lankester (in Cartago). There's lots more to do: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, take an in-depth tour of Jade Museum, explore the striking landscape of Irazu Volcano National Park, and stop by Holalola Souvenir Shop.

For traveler tips, maps, and tourist information, go to the San Jose route planner .

Seattle, USA to San Jose is an approximately 12.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of shuttle and flight; or drive. The time zone changes from Pacific Standard Time to Central Standard Time, which is usually a 2 hour difference. Traveling from Seattle in September, expect San Jose to be somewhat warmer, temps between 81°F and 65°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Wed) to allow time to travel to Tortuguero.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Jardin Botanico Lankester, Irazu Volcano National Park, Poas Volcano
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Irazu Volcano National Park ©
Irazu Volcano National Park
Jade Museum ©
Jade Museum

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 3rd (Thu), get a new perspective on nature at Sea Turtle Conservancy and then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park.

To see photos, traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, go to the Tortuguero tour itinerary builder site .

Getting from San Jose to Tortuguero by combination of bus and taxi takes about 3 hours. Other options: drive; or take a shuttle. Traveling from San Jose in October, expect Tortuguero to be a bit warmer, temps between 87°F and 73°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Tortuguero

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

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: relax and rejuvenate at Tabacon Hot Springs, shop like a local with Onirica Art Gallery, scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and take in the architecture and atmosphere at Iglesia de La Fortuna de San Carlos.

To find other places to visit, ratings, traveler tips, and other tourist information, refer to the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip planner.

You can drive from Tortuguero to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 7th (Mon) early enough to go by car to Vara Blanca.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Nature Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

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

1
night
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 8th (Tue): take some stellar pictures from Mirador Huequecura and then admire the sheer force of Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz.

Plan my day in Vara Blanca using traveler tips and tourist information provided by Inspirock.

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Vara Blanca takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Tue) so you can drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Nature Parks

Side Trip

Mirador Huequecura

3
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.
Get out of town with these interesting Manuel Antonio side-trips: Jaco (Costa Rica SUP'ers & Zipline) and Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary (in Dominical). Next up on the itinerary: kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, stop by The Captain's Booty, and walk around Parque Nahomi.

To see traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and tourist information, go to the Manuel Antonio online day trip planner .

Drive from Vara Blanca to Manuel Antonio in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 11th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Adventure

Side Trips

Quepos, Jaco, Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Zipline
Nature & Wildlife Tours

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 12th (Sat): look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then look for gifts at Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery. Keep things going the next day: kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, then take in nature's colorful creations at Monteverde Orchid Garden, and then experience rural life at El Trapiche Tour.

To find reviews, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, go to the Monteverde trip itinerary planning website .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde in 4 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 13th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Tours
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.
Go for a jaunt from Tamarindo to Playa Conchal to see Playa Conchal about 38 minutes away. There's still lots to do: kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, stroll through Playa Avellana, stop by EK Art Jewelry, and see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To see more things to do, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo journey planning app .

You can drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Wed) early enough to take a bus to Liberia.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

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

3
nights
Liberia

Liberia ©
Tourism in Liberia has been growing since the opening of its airport, with more and more international visitors using the city as a starting point for explorations of the country's northwest.
On the 17th (Thu), take in the spiritual surroundings of Church of La Ermita La Agonia and then get impressive views of Parque Nacional Volcan Rincon de la Vieja. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 18th (Fri): explore the striking landscape of Rincon de La Vieja National Park and then admire the sheer force of Llanos de Cortez Waterfall.

For maps, ratings, reviews, and more tourist information, refer to the Liberia online travel route planner .

Getting from Tamarindo to Liberia by bus takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: drive. You will have some time to spend on the 19th (Sat) before leaving for home.

Things to do in Liberia

Nature Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Rincon de La Vieja National Park
Highlights from your plan
Rincon de La Vieja National Park ©
Rincon de La Vieja National Park
Church of La Ermita La Agonia ©
Church of La Ermita La Agonia

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