12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Playa del Carmen
+4
bus + foot + Fly + bus + shuttle:  9​h 45​min
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
2
Manuel Antonio
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Monteverde
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
Tamarindo
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
5
San Jose
— 1 night
+2
Fly + foot + bus:  6​h 15​min
End: Playa del Carmen


3
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.
Visiting Butterfly Conservatory and River Rafting & Tubing will get you outdoors. Discover out-of-the-way places like Ecocentro Danaus and Arenal Natura Ecological Park. There's lots more to do: soothe aching muscles at Tabacon Hot Springs, take in the dramatic scenery at La Fortuna Waterfall, view the masterpieces at Wood & Art Gallery, and head outdoors with Canopy San Luis.

To find reviews, maps, more things to do, and other tourist information, use the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip planner .

Playa del Carmen, Mexico to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 10-hour combination of bus, flight, and shuttle. You can also do a combination of bus, flight, and car; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 1 hour traveling from Playa del Carmen to La Fortuna de San Carlos. Cap off your sightseeing on the 8th (Thu) early enough to travel to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Outdoors Nature

Side Trips

Canopy San Luis, Butterfly Conservatory
Find places to stay Mar 5 — 8:
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Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
Butterfly Conservatory ©
Butterfly Conservatory
River Rafting & Tubing

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.
Kick off your visit on the 9th (Fri): kick back and relax at Playa Biesanz and then kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: identify plant and animal life at Wildlife Areas.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, photos, and tourist information, read Manuel Antonio trip itinerary tool .

Traveling by combination of taxi and flight from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. March in Manuel Antonio sees daily highs of 31°C and lows of 22°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 10th (Sat) to allow time for the car ride to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Beaches Parks
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Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Playa Biesanz ©
Playa Biesanz

3
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.
Kick off your visit on the 11th (Sun): look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Frog Pond and then look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. On your second day here, admire nature's wide array of creatures at The Bat Jungle, then identify plant and animal life at Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, and then kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks.

To see other places to visit, photos, more things to do, and more tourist information, refer to the Monteverde trip itinerary tool .

Getting from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 13th (Tue) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Adventure
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Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena ©
Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena
Zipline

2
nights
Tamarindo

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
On the 13th (Tue), push the limits with an extreme tour. Keep things going the next day: explore and take pictures at Pura Aventura, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Tamarindo Beach, and then relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers.

For photos, other places to visit, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read our Tamarindo road trip website .

You can drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or take a shuttle. In March in Tamarindo, expect temperatures between 40°C during the day and 25°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 15th (Thu) so you can travel to San Jose.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Tours Beaches

Side Trip

Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Find places to stay Mar 13 — 15:
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Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Spas & Wellness

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.
On the 15th (Thu), get engrossed in the history at National Museum (Museo Nacional), steep yourself in history at Ruins of the Church of Carthage, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Our Lady of the Angels Basilica (Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles). Here are some ideas for day two: admire the masterpieces at Precolumbian Gold Museum, then get a taste of the local shopping with Galeria Namu, and then explore the world behind art at Museo de Arte Costarricense.

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

You can fly from Tamarindo to San Jose in 2.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus, flight, and taxi; or drive. Plan for slightly colder temperatures traveling from Tamarindo in March, with highs in San Jose at 32°C and lows at 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Fri) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in San Jose

Museums Historic Sites Shopping

Side Trip

Cartago
Find places to stay Mar 15 — 16:
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