18 days in Costa Rica & Panama Itinerary

18 days in Costa Rica & Panama Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in Costa Rica & Panama Itinerary

Start: Bratislava, Slovakia
+3
bus + Fly + bus + shuttle:  21​h 30​min
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 5 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
2
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Monteverde, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
4
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
5
San Jose, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Fly:  2​h 15​min
6
Panama City, Panama
— 3 nights
Fly + bus:  17​h 15​min
End: Bratislava, Slovakia

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.
Take a break from the city and head to River Rafting & Tubing and Tabacon Hot Springs. The adventure continues: get impressive views of Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal), look for gifts at Souvenir Leo, get interesting insight from Tours, and take in the exciting artwork at Wood & Art Gallery.

For more things to do, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos trip maker app .

Bratislava, Slovakia to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 21.5-hour flight. The time zone changes from Central European Time (CET) to Central Standard Time (CST), which is usually a -7 hour difference. Cap off your sightseeing on the 26th (Wed) early enough to travel 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 21 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
River Rafting & Tubing
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 26th (Wed): stop by Super Joseth, then look for gifts at Beso Loco Boutique de Playa, and then kick back and relax at Playa Biesanz. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 27th (Thu): relax in the rural setting at Villa Vanilla / Rainforest Spices and then take in breathtaking views at MidWorld Costa Rica.

To find photos, reviews, more things to do, and more tourist information, go to the Manuel Antonio journey maker site .

You can do a combination of taxi and flight from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. In December in Manuel Antonio, expect temperatures between 30°C during the day and 22°C at night. On the 28th (Fri), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Biesanz ©
Playa Biesanz
MidWorld Costa Rica ©
MidWorld Costa Rica

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 29th (Sat): stop by Hummingbird Gallery and then look for all kinds of wild species at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 30th (Sun): meet the residents at The Bat Jungle and then kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks.

To find traveler tips, maps, where to stay, and tourist information, read our Monteverde day trip planning site .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Sun) so you can go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Monteverde

Parks Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery ©
Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

3
nights
Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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 31st (Mon): tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Avellana, then kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, and then look for gifts at Azul Profundo Boutique. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 1st (Tue): explore and take pictures at Pura Aventura, look for all kinds of wild species at Monkey Park, and then stroll through Playa Conchal.

To see ratings, traveler tips, maps, and more tourist information, use the Tamarindo trip itinerary app .

You can drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo in 3.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of taxi and bus; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 38°C in December, and nighttime lows around 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Wed) early enough to travel to San Jose.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Playa Conchal
Find places to stay Dec 30 — Jan 2:
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana

1
night
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.
On the 2nd (Wed), admire the masterpieces at Museo de Arte Costarricense, then explore the world behind art at Precolumbian Gold Museum, and then view the masterpieces at Galeria Namu. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 3rd (Thu): look for gifts at Chieton Moren, then take an in-depth tour of Jade Museum, and then get engrossed in the history at National Museum (Museo Nacional).

To see other places to visit, traveler tips, ratings, and 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. Prepare for little chillier weather when traveling from Tamarindo in January: high temperatures in San Jose hover around 30°C and lows are around 21°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Thu) so you can travel to Panama City.

Things to do in San Jose

Museums Shopping
Find places to stay Jan 2 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Galeria Namu ©
Galeria Namu
National Museum (Museo Nacional) ©
Jade Museum ©
Jade Museum

3
nights
Panama City, Panama

Panama City ©
Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Casco Viejo and Iglesia del Carmen will appeal to history buffs. Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama and Biomuseum will appeal to museum buffs. Next up on the itinerary: buy something for everyone on your list at Albrook Mall, delve into the distant past at Panama La Vieja, hunt for treasures at Mercado de Mariscos, and contemplate in the serene atmosphere at San Jose Church.

To find photos, other places to visit, and tourist information, go to the Panama City itinerary maker .

You can fly from San Jose to Panama City in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Traveling from San Jose to Panama City, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. In January, Panama City is somewhat warmer than San Jose - with highs of 36°C and lows of 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 6th (Sun) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Panama City

Historic Sites Shopping Neighborhoods
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Casco Viejo ©
Casco Viejo
Panama La Vieja ©
Panama La Vieja

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