8 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

8 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip itinerary planner

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Route & dates

8 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
+2
Fly + shuttle + bus:  13​h 30​min
1
Tamarindo
— 1 day
Drive:  5​h 45​min
2
Manuel Antonio
— 1 day
Drive:  4​h 15​min
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 15​min
4
Tortuguero
— 1 night
taxi + bus:  2​h 45​min
5
San Jose
— 1 night
Fly:  11​h 30​min
End: San Francisco

1
day
Tamarindo

Tamarindo ©
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Kick off your visit on the 22nd (Sun): enjoy the sand and surf at Tamarindo Beach, admire all the interesting features of Pura Aventura, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Avellana.

To see other places to visit, photos, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo day trip planning tool .

San Francisco, USA to Tamarindo is an approximately 13.5-hour combination of flight and bus. You can also do a combination of train, flight, and bus; or drive. The time zone difference moving from Pacific Standard Time to Central Standard Time is 2 hours. Expect much hotter temperatures when traveling from San Francisco in December; daily highs in Tamarindo reach 82°F and lows reach 82°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Sun) so you can go by car to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Beaches Parks Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana
Pura Aventura ©
Pura Aventura

1
day
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.
On the 23rd (Mon), enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio, then enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Biesanz, and then walk around Parque Nahomi.

For maps, where to stay, traveler tips, and tourist information, read Manuel Antonio trip builder .

Getting from Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio by car takes about 6 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Mon) to allow time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Parque Nahomi
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Biesanz ©
Playa Biesanz
Parque Nahomi ©
Parque Nahomi

3
nights
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.
La Fortuna de San Carlos is known for nature, adventure, wildlife, trails, and parks. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: relax and rejuvenate at Tabacon Hot Springs, get outside with Salto, view the masterpieces at Wood & Art Gallery, and take in the natural beauty of Baldi Hot Springs.

For where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos day trip planning tool .

Drive from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to Tortuguero.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Nature Parks Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
Canyoning & Rappelling Tours

1
night
Tortuguero

Tortuguero ©
One of Costa Rica's least accessible destinations, Tortuguero sits within an eponymous national park and remains accessible only by plane or boat.
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Fri): explore the striking landscape of Tortuguero National Park.

To see ratings, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Tortuguero visit 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 December, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 84°F, while nighttime lows are 71°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Fri) early enough to travel to San Jose.

Things to do in Tortuguero

Nature Wildlife Parks
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Tortuguero National Park ©
Tortuguero National Park

1
night
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 28th (Sat), relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour.

For maps, other places to visit, where to stay, and other tourist information, go to the San Jose day trip tool .

Getting from Tortuguero to San Jose by combination of taxi and bus takes about 3 hours. Other options: drive; or take a shuttle. Traveling from Tortuguero in December, things will get little chillier in San Jose: highs are around 79°F and lows about 66°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 28th (Sat) to allow time for travel back home.

Things to do in San Jose

Tours Adventure Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing

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