Travelers who have never been to Costa Rica will be happy to learn that they can hit all the country’s hot spots in just 14 days. Although not everyone would want to spend a Costa Rica vacation exploring as many major attractions as possible, seeing Costa Rica in 14 days or more can provide a memorable overview of one of the most diverse vacation spots on earth.
Once you’ve seen what Costa Rica has to offer, don’t be surprised if your favorite spots become a yearly R & R pilgrimage, or even a new home.
The following 14-day itinerary provides a generous sample of Costa Rica’s highlights:
- Days 1 and 2. Arrive at the San Jose Costa Rica airport. Take a cab to your hotel, settle in, then head downtown to tour the Gold Museum and have dinner at Bakea, a gorgeous old home converted into a popular and elegant restaurant. The next day, rent a car and head for Arenal National Park, which surrounds Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Find a hotel and spend the afternoon touring the Tabacon Hot Springs.
- Day 3. Spend the morning hiking in Arenal National Park Costa Rica, or opt for a horseback riding or canyon trekking experience there. Hit the La Fortuna Butterfly Gardens in the afternoon, and then back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest and possibly a spa treatment at Tabacon.
- Day 4. Take a four-hour morning drive around Lake Arenal to Monteverde. Stop at Toad Hall and the Lucky Bug Gallery to do a little souvenir shopping. In Monteverde, settle into your hotel and head downtown to watch the sunset over a leisurely drink and dinner at El Sapa Dorado.
- Day 5. Set your alarm for an early start and tour the Monteverde Cloud Forest before it fills up for the day. Spend the afternoon touring some of Monteverde’s other attractions, such as the Butterfly Garden, the Serpentarium, the Frog Pond, the Orchid Garden, or the World of Insects.
- Day 6. By now you realize that you can’t really see all of Monteverde in one day. Spend Day 6 catching up on what you missed on Day 5. Shop some of the local art galleries and craft stores, and have dinner at Sophia, which features cutting edge Latin-fusion cuisine.
- Day 7. Schedule a morning zip-line tour in Monteverde, but finish early enough to be on the road by noon. Drive to Manuel Antonio Park, settle into your hotel, and enjoy a late drink and dinner at any of the roadside restaurants. Return your rental car and rely on taxis and tours here.
- Day 8. Explore Manuel Antonio Costa Rica by taking a morning boat tour through Damas Island Estuary. Hike the loop trail through the rainforest around Cathedral Point. Unwind over dinner at the Sunspot Bar & Grill.
- Days 9, 10, and 11. Take a plane from Quepos and Manuel Antonio to Drake Bay. Settle into one of the more remote ecolodges in the southern zone, such as La Paloma Lodge. Spend the next three days exploring the rainforest, scuba diving or snorkeling, sport fishing, kayaking, or taking surfing lesions.
- Days 12, 13, and 14. Fly up to Guanacaste and spend the last three days of your Costa Rica vacation lounging on one of Costa Rica’s famous Gold Coast beaches. The Four Seasons Resort is pricey but one of the best in the world. Or, opt for a boutique hotel like Sueno del Mar. On your last day, fly home from Liberia Costa Rica, chock full of stories, memories, and souvenirs of a 14-day journey through one of the most popular vacation destinations on earth.