15 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

15 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

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Route & dates

15 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: Seattle
+2
Fly + shuttle + bus:  14​h 15​min
1
Tamarindo
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 15​min
2
Monteverde
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 4 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
4
Manuel Antonio
— 3 nights
bus:  3​h
5
San Jose
— 3 nights
Fly:  12​h
End: Seattle

1
night
Tamarindo

Tamarindo ©
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Start off your visit on the 15th (Sun): pause for some serene contemplation at Tamarindo Church, kick back and relax at Playa Avellana, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Tamarindo Beach, and finally stop by Dolores Shop. On your second day here, find your balance on the water with some of the best stand-up paddleboarding in the area and then stroll through Playa Conchal.

For ratings, where to stay, reviews, and other tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo day trip site .

Seattle, USA to Tamarindo is an approximately 14.5-hour combination of flight and bus. You can also do a combination of flight and shuttle; or drive. The time zone changes from Pacific Standard Time to Central Standard Time, which is usually a 2 hour difference. Expect warmer temperatures when traveling from Seattle in December; daily highs in Tamarindo reach 82°F and lows reach 82°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) early enough to go by car to Monteverde.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Beaches Parks

Side Trips

Playa Conchal, Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Find places to stay Dec 15 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana

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.
Kick off your visit on the 17th (Tue): look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then look for gifts at Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: admire all the interesting features of Ecological Sanctuary, then whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, and then look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Frog Pond.

For maps, ratings, where to stay, and other tourist information, read our Monteverde attractions planner .

You can drive from Tamarindo to Monteverde in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or take a bus. In December in Monteverde, expect temperatures between 82°F during the day and 82°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 18th (Wed) early enough to go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Monteverde

Wildlife Parks Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 18:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Monteverde Frog Pond ©
Monteverde Frog Pond

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.
Step out of the city life by going to River Rafting & Tubing and Canyoning & Rappelling Tours. There's lots more to do: relax and rejuvenate at Tabacon Hot Springs, pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia de La Fortuna de San Carlos, witness a stunning natural landmark at Ecotermales Fortuna, and view the masterpieces at Galeria Estudio.

To see ratings, photos, where to stay, and tourist information, refer to the La Fortuna de San Carlos road trip planner.

Traveling by car from Monteverde to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle. Cap off your sightseeing on the 22nd (Sun) early enough to go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)

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 outdoors at Playa Manuel Antonio and Nature & Wildlife Tours. Spend the 25th (Wed) on the water with a fishing tour. And it doesn't end there: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, shop like a local with The Captain's Booty, walk around Parque Nahomi, and enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Biesanz.

To find photos, ratings, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Manuel Antonio tour planning website .

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 25th (Wed) so you can catcht the bus to San Jose.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Quepos
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Fishing Charters & Tours

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.
On the 26th (Thu), steep yourself in history at Ruinas de Ujarras and then take in the dramatic scenery at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz. On your second day here, pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora and then get impressive views of Poas Volcano.

For ratings, photos, maps, and other tourist information, you can read our San Jose trip planner.

Traveling by bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 79°F in December, and nighttime lows around 66°F. On the 28th (Sat), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in San Jose

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trips

Cartago, Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Ruinas de Ujarras, Poas Volcano
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Ruinas de Ujarras ©
Ruinas de Ujarras

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