There are many itinerarys to enjoy a 2 week visit to Costa Rica, some are made for people seeking the beach and some are for other adventurers looking only for waterfalls and jungles. We on the other hand think it is important to experience as much as possible, whenever you travel.
We personally created this itinerary for friends from all over the world who have visited us over the years. Some days can be very tiresome, but it is truthfully a very effective method in really squeezing the most out of what Costa Rica has to offer. Our tropical home has so much to offer that even though we have lived here most of our lives we haven’t even experienced it all. But, we promise that this itinerary will help you experiment little by little the best of what Costa Rica has to offer.
Arrival to SJO – Depending on whether you will be arriving in the morning or at night, your options may vary. If you get in really early you can go directly to the Poas Volcano which is less than an hour (32.9 km) away from the airport. But if you get in at night, we suggest saving this trip to the volcano for the final day when you are back in the city. After the Poas Volcano the best thing to do is to head over to La Fortuna to spend the night there. La Fortuna is around 2 and half hours away (108 km) from the Poas Volcano. Once again, if you’re flight arrives at night definitely try and book a hotel near the airport so you can get an early start to the Volcano and on wards.
La Fortuna – If you don’t have much time this can also be an ideal daytrip from Alajuela or San Jose. Once you are there go and enjoy the incredible view of the Arenal Volcano, hike through to the La Fortuna waterfalls and relax in the thermal hot springs.
Before leaving to Monteverde, you can choose to make a quick stop and visit Rio Celeste, a beautiful light blue waterfall, which is only 1 hour from La Fortuna. Afterwards, head over to the Monteverde which is 4 hours and 45 minutes away (186 km). Depending on what time you arrive in Monteverde you can go out and see the town or rest for the next day.
Monteverde – One of the most biological diverse places on the planet, this rain forest has innumerable amounts of activities to enjoy which include walks through hanging bridges, canopy and admiring all the amazing species living within.
Guanacaste – Now its time for some sunshine and the beach. From Monteverde to Guanacaste is about 3 hours depending on which beach you will be staying at. We suggest choosing Tamarindo, since it is the unofficial epicenter of nightlife of Guanacaste. Plus it is also a great place to branch off and visit all the other beaches around. Definitely stay in this region for at least 3 days so you can visit all the beautiful beaches. The nicest beaches to visit (all within a relatively short driving range) are: Playa Negra, Playa Avellanas, Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Playa Grande, Playa Langosta, Playa Marbella and the exquisite beaches of the Papagayo area.
Southern Guanacaste – This area, only 2 hours away at most from all the beaches we just specified, is filled with even more beautiful beaches to visit. Definitely stay at least 2 nights in this area so you can enjoy Playa Nosara, Playa Guiones, Playa San Juanillo, Playa Samara and Playa Carillo. Our favorite is definitely Playa Guiones.
Cobano – The beaches of the Cobano area are about 4 hours away from Guiones. Once again, set aside at least 2 days to visit the world famous beaches such as Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Malpais, Playa Montezuma and Playa Coyote. These beaches are amongst are favorites, and we are not the only ones who think so – many celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Giselle Bundchen have homes here. If you have the time, you can also book a quick trip to Isla Tortuga for the day.
Manuel Antonio – From Cobano to Manuel Antonio is about 5 hours away, but 2 of this are spent on a fun ferry. We suggest to take the earliest ferry possible to not only enjoy watching the sun rise over the waters of the pacific but also watch the sunset in Manuel Antonio.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica is located inside the Manuel Antonio National Park. Definitely get there early because they close at 4:00 pm. Be sure to bring your camera because the small monkeys living inside the park are notorious for being playful with all the visiting tourists.
Playa Matapalo – This is Dylans favorite beach, and for good reason. A 4 hour trip from Manuel Antonio, this place is a forgotten paradise. Located on the southern most tip of the Osa Peninsula, this beach is surrounded on nearly all sides by the dense tropical rainforest. If you came to visit the tropics, this place is the epitome of it. Do stay at least 2 nights to really enjoy it. There is only 1 restaurant in a 30 km radius and because of this on Thursdays and Fridays the place has small parties where street vendors come to sell jewelry and souvenirs. Now its time to turn back to San Jose, and be ready because it’s a long drive all the way to capital.
This itinerary is mainly thought for the visiting tourist with a rental car. But if you are visiting Costa Rica and plan on using public transportation, this itinerary will definitely be spread out for a longer period of time. Some buses don’t even have direct routes to the places we mentioned above, especially Playa Matapalo so be careful when you plan your trip.
The area of Limon is also very dreamy and a favorite of many visitors, but in just 2 short weeks and following the itinerary above it would be just too tiresome to visit. You can of course trade out some spots we picked out and include Limon. If you do so we suggest placing it at the end of your trip, this is because it is only 3 hours away from San Jose and the only route is actually from the capital itself. Limon is beautiful and has a more Caribbean vibe to it with beautiful beaches and a laid back environment to it. However, Limon has become notorious for being somewhat violent. Be careful with your personal belongings and always be vigilant of your surroundings. But don’t let that get in the way of having a great time!
Once again, the itinerary above are simply some options that we chose and thought would be the best to base your trip off of. But feel free to choose your travel destinations and itinerary based off your own personal interests. Besides, Costa Rica has so much to offer that you will probably have to visit again to see it all.
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