Costa Rica Itinerary

In this 21-day Costa Rica Itinerary, we will be providing a day-by-day rundown of our time in Costa Rica, together with general tips which should come in handy for anyone planning a trip to this beautiful Central American gem. 

Day 1SJO Airport to Monteverde

Flew into San Jose (SJO Airport) in the afternoon and went directly to Monteverde

Getting from SJO Airport to Monteverde
Travel time: 2.5 hours
Travel cost: $83
Travel mode: Uber

Day 2Monteverde

Took in the beauty and became one with nature at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 3Monteverde

Ziplined, saw the forest from a different angle, learned about the local fauna and wildlife on the hanging bridges, and went on a night hike in Monteverde to see more wildlife. 

Day 4Monteverde to La Fortuna

Departed Monteverde in the morning and arrived in La Fortuna early afternoon. Settled into our bungalow and visited the town of La Fortuna to eat and discover what the town has to offer. 

Getting from Monteverde to La Fortuna
Travel time: 3 hours
Travel cost: $27 per person
Travel mode: Jeep-boat-Jeep

Day 5La Fortuna

Visited Arenal Volcano National Park and La Fortuna Waterfall.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 6La Fortuna

Went white water rafting in La Fortuna with Costa Rica Descents.

Day 7La Fortuna

Relaxed and enjoyed our lodging in La Fortuna. Took a walk to Fortuna River and strolled through La Fortuna town.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 8La Fortuna to Playa Grande

Departed La Fortuna in the morning and arrived in Playa Grande early afternoon. Spent the rest of the day exploring the area, walked to the beach to watch the sunset and had dinner. 

Getting from La Fortuna to Playa Grande
Travel time: 5 hours
Travel cost: $55 per person
Transport mode: Shared Shuttle bus 

Day 9Playa Grande

Spent the whole day exploring all the nearby beaches by foot – Playa Cabron, Playa Ventanas, and surfed at Playa Grande.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 10Playa Grande

Spent the morning enjoying the laid back vibes of Playa Grande. Caught an Uber from Playa Grande to Playa Conchal and spent an afternoon relaxing on the seashell lined shores.

Day 11Playa Grande

More surfing and relaxing at Playa Grande.

Day 12Playa Grande to Tamarindo

Left Playa Grande in the morning, and arrived at our lodging in Tamarindo late morning. Spent a few hours relaxing by the pool area of our hostel, explored the busy streets of Tamarindo, and had dinner. 

Getting from Playa Grande to Tamarindo
Travel time: 1 hour
Travel cost: ₡1000 per person 
Travel mode: On foot + boat ride 

Day 13Tamarindo

Strolled around town, swam, and watched the sunset on Tamarindo beach.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 14Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio

Departed Tamarindo early in the morning, and spent most of our day travelling to get to our next beautiful destination – Manuel Antonio

Getting from Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio
Travel time: 12 hours
Travel cost: $17 per person 
Travel mode: Public buses 

Day 15Manuel Antonio

Explored our surroundings – spent the morning in Playa Espadilla beach then visited Quepos Town in the afternoon. 

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 16Manuel Antonio

Spent the whole day in Manuel Antonio National Park – Hiked the trails, kept an eye out for wildlife, and enjoyed the beautiful beaches in the park. 

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 17Manuel Antonio

Rented deck chairs, relaxed, and surfed at Espadilla Norte Beach.

Day 18Manuel Antonio

More relaxing and surfing at Espadilla Beach and later went for dinner whilst enjoying the beautiful sunset in Manuel Antonio.

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 19Manuel Antonio to Puerto Viejo

Woke up early to depart from Manuel Antonio and spent most of the day travelling to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Getting from Manuel Antonio to Puerto Viejo
Travel time: 12 hours
Travel cost: ₡10,440 per person
Travel mode: Public buses

Day 20Puerto Viejo

Rented bicycles, went beach hopping, visited the Jaguar Rescue Center, and visited Puerto Viejo town. 

Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 21Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro, Panama

Departed Costa Rica and arrived in Bocas del Toro, Panama in the morning. 

Getting from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro, Panama
Travel time: 3 hours
Travel cost: $35 per person
Travel mode: Shuttle bus + boat

Costa Rica Itinerary

Useful information and tips

Below are some tips which we would have personally appreciated ahead of our travels to Costa Rica. Read through them and hope that they come in handy. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section.


  • Many places only accept cash and when a credit card is accepted, you might be paying an additional fee. Make sure you have some cash available to get you through the day.
  • Although most places accept US Dollars, we do suggest carrying some local currency as well – It might be cheaper in most places to pay in local currency. 


  • Uber is much cheaper than the traditional taxis but can be dodgy in certain places. We found this to be especially the case in La Fortuna. We still used them, but we would suggest that you don’t completely rely on them. 
  • Be especially careful if you’re using Uber in and around San Jose bus stations. Local / official station taxis don’t take a liking to people walking out of the station with the obvious intention of using Uber. In addition, be careful of where you actually wait for an Uber. Areas around stations are a little sketchy. At one point, we even had a police officer tell us to move to a safer place.
  • Buy bus tickets at least one day in advance where and if possible.


  • Maybe not relevant to many people, and obvious to most we’re sure, but if you wear contact lenses, bring lenses with you since they’re not easy to come by in Costa Rica. If you’re lucky enough to find someone selling lenses, chances are that they’re going to be very expensive.
  • Buy a local sim card. As with most places, having a data connection makes getting around easier.
  • Sunblock is expensive in Costa Rica. We definitely recommend bringing extra bottles – you will be using a lot of it! 
  • Another obvious one, but make sure to carry insect repellent with you.

3 thoughts on “Costa Rica Itinerary: 3 weeks of beaches & Pura Vida!”

  1. Pingback: Visiting Isla Holbox, Mexico’s ‘car-free’ island

  2. Hey, really enjoyed your post about Costa Rica. I have a few questions about transportation.
    1. When using public trans, how many time would you have to transfer to get to one destination?
    2. Other then Uber, What where the other company’s of transportation did you use?

    Thanks for reading this, looking forward to your reply 🙂

    1. Hey! 🙂

      When using public buses, in our case it was either direct or a max of one connection (sometimes connecting via another company). It would really depend on your destination though. We have highlighted how many bus transfers we had to make in each of our destination posts:

      Apart from Uber, we only used public buses and shuttle buses. When booking shuttle services, we did not book in advance. We just compared prices with various tour agencies whilst in Costa Rica. The only shuttle we booked in advance was with Caribe Shuttle (Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro: )

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