36 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

36 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

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Route & dates

36 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

Start: Vancouver, Canada
+2
Fly + foot + bus:  13​h 15​min
1
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Playa Samara, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h
3
Monteverde, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
4
Cano Negro, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 15​min
5
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 5 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
6
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive:  8​h 45​min
7
Drake Bay, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
8
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
bus:  3​h
9
San Jose, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Fly:  4​h 15​min
10
Panama City, Panama
— 5 nights
Fly:  13​h
End: Vancouver, Canada

3
nights
Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Tamarindo: Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands & Llanos de Cortez Waterfall), Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge (in Cuajiniquil) and Adrenaline & Extreme Tours (in Playa Flamingo). Next up on the itinerary: take a memorable tour with Tours, look for gifts at Organic Products by Coco Beauty Spa, wander the wide-open spaces of Pura Aventura, and enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Conchal.

To plan Tamarindo vacation without wasting time, ask Inspirock to design an itinerary.

Vancouver, Canada to Tamarindo is an approximately 13.5-hour combination of flight and bus. You can also fly; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 2 hours traveling from Vancouver to Tamarindo. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Fri) so you can drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trips

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge, Adrenaline & Extreme Tours, Playa Conchal
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands ©
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands
Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge ©
Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge

4
nights
Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Playa Samara ©
A beach town with just enough development to be comfortable for families accustomed to the trappings of modern life, Playa Samara has the resorts you'd expect to find in such a scenic area, but they don't hinder the relaxing atmosphere.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Playa Samara: Jungle Butterfly Farm (in Nandayure), Nicoya (Curu National Wildlife Refuge & Casa de Arte Curime de Nicoya) and Nosara (Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones), MAEL's ABSTRACT ART GALLERY, & more). And it doesn't end there: enjoy the sand and surf at Samara Beach, take in the exciting artwork at Koss Art Gallery, tour the pleasant surroundings at Barrigona Beach, and identify plant and animal life at Macaw Recovery Network - Formerly The Ara Project.

For ratings, more things to do, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Playa Samara planning site .

Drive from Tamarindo to Playa Samara in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Parks Wildlife Beaches

Side Trips

Nosara, Nicoya, Macaw Recovery Network - Formerly The Ara Project, Jungle Butterfly Farm
Highlights from your plan
SIBU Wildlife Sanctuary ©
SIBU Wildlife Sanctuary
Jungle Butterfly Farm ©
Jungle Butterfly Farm
Nosara Refuge for Wildlife ©
Nosara Refuge for Wildlife

4
nights
Monteverde, Costa Rica

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.
Change things up with a short trip to Sustainability Demonstration Center in Guacimal (about 34 minutes away). There's lots more to do: look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, catch some excitement at Curi Cancha Reserve, and appreciate the extensive heritage of Ecological Sanctuary.

To see ratings, more things to do, maps, and tourist information, you can read our Monteverde trip maker tool .

Traveling by car from Playa Samara to Monteverde takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Sat) early enough to drive to Cano Negro.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Sustainability Demonstration Center
Highlights from your plan
Curi Cancha Reserve ©
Curi Cancha Reserve
Ecological Sanctuary ©
Ecological Sanctuary

1
night
Cano Negro, Costa Rica

Cano Negro ©
Start off your visit on the 1st (Sun): identify plant and animal life at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.

For where to stay, maps, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Cano Negro travel planner .

You can drive from Monteverde to Cano Negro in 3.5 hours. In February, daytime highs in Cano Negro are 39°C, while nighttime lows are 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Sun) early enough to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Cano Negro

Parks Wildlife
Highlights from your plan
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge ©
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

5
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Butterfly Conservatory (in El Castillo) and Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park (in La Virgen). There's lots more to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, look for all kinds of wild species at Proyecto Asis, scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour.

To find ratings, where to stay, traveler tips, and other tourist information, go to the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip planner .

You can drive from Cano Negro to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Fri) early enough to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trips

Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park, Butterfly Conservatory, Arenal Volcano
Highlights from your plan
La Fortuna Waterfall ©
La Fortuna Waterfall
Proyecto Asis ©
Proyecto Asis
Butterfly Conservatory ©
Butterfly Conservatory

1
night
Tortuguero, Costa Rica

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 7th (Sat), see the interesting displays at Sea Turtle Conservancy and then explore the striking landscape of Tortuguero National Park.

For where to stay, photos, other places to visit, and other tourist information, use the Tortuguero trip planner.

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tortuguero in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In March, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 24°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Sat) so you can drive to Drake Bay.

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
Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Drake Bay ©
Step out of Drake Bay to go to Carate and see Corcovado National Park, which is approximately 1h 15 min away. Spend a day of island exploring on the 9th (Mon) at Cano Island. Spend the 8th (Sun) observing fascinating marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour.

Make your Drake Bay itinerary with Inspirock to find out what to see and where to go.

You can drive from Tortuguero to Drake Bay in 9 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Drake Bay

Wildlife Parks Nature

Side Trip

Corcovado National Park
Highlights from your plan
Cano Island ©
Cano Island
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Nature & Wildlife Tours

4
nights
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

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: Zipline (in Jaco) and Dominical (Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary & Parasailing & Paragliding). There's still lots to do: enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio, stop by Jaime Peligro Book & CD Shop, relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, and relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas.

Plan my day in Manuel Antonio using traveler tips and tourist information provided by Inspirock.

Getting from Drake Bay to Manuel Antonio by car takes about 4.5 hours. Other options: do a combination of ferry and bus; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 15th (Sun) so you can take a bus to San Jose.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trips

Quepos, Dominical, Zipline
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Fishing Charters & Tours
Nature & Wildlife Tours

3
nights
San Jose, Costa Rica

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.
Get out of town with these interesting San Jose side-trips: Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park), Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz (in Vara Blanca) and Toucan Rescue Ranch (in San Isidro). There's still lots to do: explore and take pictures at Top Travel Costa Rica, admire the masterpieces at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, examine the collection at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and get engrossed in the history at Museo Nacional De Costa Rica.

Start your trip to San Jose by creating a personalized itinerary on Inspirock.

You can take a bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. March in San Jose sees daily highs of 32°C and lows of 21°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Wed) so you can travel to Panama City.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trips

Toucan Rescue Ranch, Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Poas Volcano
Highlights from your plan
Toucan Rescue Ranch ©
Toucan Rescue Ranch
Top Travel Costa Rica ©
Top Travel Costa Rica
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano

5
nights
Panama City, Panama

Panama City ©
Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Change things up with a short trip to Scuba & Snorkeling in Portobelo (about 1h 40 min away). The adventure continues: make a trip to Panama Canal, explore the striking landscape of Metropolitan National Park, get to know the fascinating history of Avenida Balboa, and take an in-depth tour of Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama.

To find where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Panama City trip itinerary tool .

You can fly from San Jose to Panama City in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. The time zone difference when traveling from San Jose to Panama City is 1 hour. Plan for a bit warmer temperatures traveling from San Jose in March, with highs in Panama City at 38°C and lows at 28°C. On the 23rd (Mon), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Panama City

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trip

Scuba & Snorkeling
Highlights from your plan
Panama Canal ©
Panama Canal
Scuba & Snorkeling
Casco Viejo ©
Casco Viejo

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