38 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

38 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Central America trip itinerary builder

This plan was created by another user.  Make it your plan

Route & dates

38 days in Costa Rica & Panama City Itinerary

Start: Vancouver, Canada
+2
Fly + foot + bus:  14​h 45​min
1
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Playa Samara, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
3
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
4
Monteverde, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
5
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
6
Drake Bay, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  7​h
7
Vara Blanca, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h
8
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 5 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
9
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
— 1 night
taxi + bus:  2​h 45​min
10
San Jose, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Fly:  4​h 15​min
11
Panama City, Panama
— 6 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 hidden gems such as Playa Avellana and Playa Mina. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Tamarindo: Playa Dantita (in Las Catalinas), Fishing Charters & Tours (in Playas del Coco) and Playa Conchal (in Playa Conchal). Next up on the itinerary: kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, look for all kinds of wild species at Wildlife Areas, and view the masterpieces at Lydia Beech Art Boutique.

To see traveler tips, more things to do, photos, and tourist information, read Tamarindo trip planner .

Vancouver, Canada to Tamarindo is an approximately 15-hour combination of flight and bus. You can also do a combination of train, flight, and bus; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 2 hours traveling from Vancouver to Tamarindo. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Sat) so you can drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trips

Playa Conchal, Fishing Charters & Tours, Playa Dantita
Highlights from your plan
Fishing Charters & Tours
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal

3
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.
Step off the beaten path and head to Barrigona Beach and Playa Garza. Change things up with these side-trips from Playa Samara: Nosara (Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones), MAEL's ABSTRACT ART GALLERY, & more). The adventure continues: stroll through Samara Beach, admire the sheer force of Belen Waterfall, kick back and relax at Playa Buena Vista, and shop like a local with Koss Art Gallery.

To find ratings, traveler tips, and tourist information, refer to the Playa Samara tour planner .

Traveling by car from Tamarindo to Playa Samara takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 28th (Tue) early enough to drive to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trips

Nosara, Playa Garza
Highlights from your plan
Barrigona Beach ©
Barrigona Beach
Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Samara Beach ©
Samara Beach

2
nights
Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Area de Conservacion Guanacaste ©
On the 29th (Wed), look for all kinds of wild species at Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands and then take in the dramatic scenery at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Keep things going the next day: get impressive views of Miravalles Volcano.

To find reviews, where to stay, photos, and more tourist information, refer to the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste day trip tool .

Getting from Playa Samara to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste by car takes about 3 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Thu) so you can go by car to Monteverde.

Things to do in Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

Parks Nature Wildlife
Highlights from your plan
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands ©
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall ©
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Miravalles Volcano ©
Miravalles Volcano

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.
Explore hidden gems such as Ecological Sanctuary and Monteverde Frog Pond. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Monteverde: Sustainability Demonstration Center (in Guacimal) and Middle Earth Thermal Springs (in Quebrada Grande). Spend the 3rd (Mon) exploring nature at Up in the Cloud Forest. There's still lots to do: look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, stop by Souvenir Rosewood-Info Center, and admire the masterpieces at Chorotega Arts & Crafts.

To see maps, ratings, and other tourist information, you can read our Monteverde trip planner.

You can drive from Area de Conservacion Guanacaste to Monteverde in 3 hours. Cap off your sightseeing on the 3rd (Mon) early enough to go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Nature

Side Trips

Middle Earth Thermal Springs, Sustainability Demonstration Center
Highlights from your plan
Valle Escondido Preserve ©
Valle Escondido Preserve
Ecological Sanctuary ©
Ecological Sanctuary

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.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and Spas. Explore Manuel Antonio's surroundings by going to Dominical (Parasailing & Paragliding & Parque Reptilandia) and Playa Ventanas (in Ballena). There's much more to do: stroll through Playa Manuel Antonio, let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, and surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour.

To see reviews, maps, more things to do, and tourist information, use the Manuel Antonio vacation builder .

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. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Drake Bay.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trips

Dominical, Waterskiing & Jetskiing, Playa Ventanas
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary ©
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
River Rafting & Tubing

3
nights
Drake Bay, Costa Rica

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 (Sun) at Cano Island. Spend the 10th (Mon) observing fascinating marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour.

To see other places to visit, photos, maps, and other tourist information, use the Drake Bay trip builder tool .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Drake Bay in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Vara Blanca.

Things to do in Drake Bay

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trip

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

1
night
Vara Blanca, Costa Rica

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.
Kick off your visit on the 11th (Tue): take some stellar pictures from Mirador Huequecura and then admire the sheer force of Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz.

Plan a Vara Blanca trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

You can drive from Drake Bay to Vara Blanca in 7 hours. Other options are to do a combination of ferry and bus; or do a combination of ferry and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 11th (Tue) early enough to go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Vara Blanca

Parks Nature

Side Trip

Mirador Huequecura

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.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Butterfly Conservatory and Paradise Hot Springs. Step out of La Fortuna de San Carlos with an excursion to Catedral de Ciudad Quesada in Quesada--about 1h 05 min away. There's still lots to do: take in the natural beauty of Tabacon Hot Springs, let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, take in nature's colorful creations at Arenal Natura Ecological Park, and identify plant and animal life at Arenal Oasis Wildlife Refuge.

Quickly create a custom-made itinerary for La Fortuna de San Carlos using our trip planner.

You can 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 16th (Sun) so you can go by car to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Butterfly Conservatory, Venado Caves, Catedral de Ciudad Quesada
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
Arenal Natura Ecological Park ©
Arenal Natura Ecological Park
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.
Start off your visit on the 17th (Mon): explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park and then get a new perspective on nature at Sea Turtle Conservancy.

To see reviews, photos, and other tourist information, read Tortuguero trip itinerary planning site .

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. Expect a daytime high around 34°C in February, and nighttime lows around 24°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Mon) to allow enough time to 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

4
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.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Toucan Rescue Ranch and Top Travel Costa Rica. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around San Jose: Savegre Reserve (in Cartago), Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center (in Turrucares) and Bosque de la Hoja (in Heredia). Next up on the itinerary: take a memorable tour with Tours, explore the world behind art at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, get a new perspective on nature at Museo de Ciencias Naturales La Salle, and take an in-depth tour of Museo Nacional De Costa Rica.

To find maps, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the San Jose trip itinerary builder website .

You can do a combination of taxi and bus from Tortuguero to San Jose in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. When traveling from Tortuguero in February, plan for little chillier days and about the same nights in San Jose: temperatures range from 30°C by day to 21°C at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 21st (Fri) early enough to travel to Panama City.

Things to do in San Jose

Wildlife Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Toucan Rescue Ranch, Bosque de la Hoja, Savegre Reserve, Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center
Highlights from your plan
Toucan Rescue Ranch ©
Toucan Rescue Ranch
Top Travel Costa Rica ©
Top Travel Costa Rica
Bosque de la Hoja ©
Bosque de la Hoja

6
nights
Panama City, Panama

Panama City ©
Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Explore hidden gems such as Soberania National Park and Nature & Wildlife Tours. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Panama City: Gamboa (Panama Rainforest Discovery Center & Asociacion Panamericana para la Conservacion) and Scuba & Snorkeling (in Portobelo). There's still lots to do: get engrossed in the history at Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama, take in the spiritual surroundings of Bahai Temple, explore the ancient world of Panama La Vieja, and pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis.

To see more things to do, other places to visit, traveler tips, and other tourist information, you can read our Panama City visit planner.

Fly from San Jose to Panama City in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time (CST) to Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is usually a 1 hour difference. Traveling from San Jose in February, expect Panama City to be a bit warmer, temps between 37°C and 28°C. On the 27th (Thu), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Panama City

Wildlife Outdoors Tours

Side Trips

Gamboa, Scuba & Snorkeling
Highlights from your plan
Bahai Temple ©
Bahai Temple
Fishing Charters & Tours
Scuba & Snorkeling

Similar Plans

16 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM URUGUAY January, popular sights PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 60 days in Costa Rica, Ecuador & Peru BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 60 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND November, popular sights PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 37 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, popular sights PREFERENCES: November ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 51 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM CANADA January, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 15 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM ARGENTINA January, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: January, teens, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 59 days in United States, Central America, Mexico, South Pacific, Asia & Africa BY A USER FROM NETHERLANDS March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife, fast-paced, popular sights PREFERENCES: March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Fast-paced 57 days in Central America, South Pacific & Europe BY A USER FROM NETHERLANDS March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife, fast-paced, popular sights PREFERENCES: March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Fast-paced 59 days in Europe, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa & Asia BY A USER FROM NETHERLANDS March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife, fast-paced, popular sights PREFERENCES: March, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Fast-paced 57 days in Caribbean, Mexico, Central America & South America BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular sights PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 11 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, museums, wildlife, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 14 days in Costa Rica BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, teens, kids, popular sights PREFERENCES: December, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium
View more plans