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Costa Rica is really not that far from the US, so you can definitely visit the country in a week. As with visiting any country for a week, of course there will be things you don't see. This howeverOne week itinerary to Costa Ricastarting in Liberia and ending in San José, allows you to see the best Costa Rica has to offer—the beach, rainforests, volcanoes and the city.
Day 1 – Arrival in Liberia, shuttle to Tamarindo
In this week-long itinerary forCosta Rica, you fly into Liberia and fly out of San José. When you land in Liberia, take a shuttle to Tamarindo. The shuttle takes about 1.5 hours. When you're in Tamarindo, check out where you're staying and go to the beach.
For a relaxed hostel with fitness classes and a swimming pool, go toOf milk bottle.
If hostels aren't your thing, check out any number of Tamarindo hotels or Airbnbs.
Tamarindo is quite a small town, but it is filled with many shops and restaurants. It's definitely been affected by tourism over the years, but there are plenty of cool places to check out.
Day 2 – Tamarindo
Of course, on day 2 of your week in Costa Rica, you can't go wrong with relaxing all day on the beach in Tamarindo. But if you want to see a bit of what Tamarindo has to offer, take a Tamarindo estuary tour.
The mouth of the Tamarindo is just north of the town. You can either walk from Tamarindo to the beginning of the estuary where there is a small brown building and hire a guide to take you to the estuary, book a guide through your hostel/hotel/Airbnb, oryou can reserve one in advance.
Tamarindo Estuary is a beautiful nature reserve with a wide variety of wildlife that is easy to see on an excursion. The amount of wildlife you see obviously depends on your luck, but the guides generally know where the animals are and how to spot them so you can see them.
Therefore, we recommend hiring a guide in most national parks in Costa Rica.Below the estuary we saw tons of animals including crocodiles, different species of birds, iguanas and howler monkeys.
Since the estuary only takes about 2 hours, you have the rest of the day free in Tamarindo to enjoy the beach,take surfing lessons, or even visit a nearby beach if you want. We recommend at least enjoying your time on the beach, as it doesn't necessarily have to be as sunny or hot in the rainforest you're going to.
Read our fullTamarindo travel guidefor what to do in Tamarindo.
Day 3 – Tamarindo to Monteverde
Day 3 of your week-long trip to Costa Rica begins with an early morning shuttle (usually around 8:00 AM) from Tamarindo to Monteverde. The drive from Tamarindo to Monteverde is mostly pretty smooth. However, the final climb to Monteverde is an unpaved, winding road.
Warning: It will be difficult to sleep, read, eat or generally look down this stretch from the road.
When we finally arrived in Monteverde,Becca eventually threw upof the drive to Monteverde. This is one of the less fun aspects of traveling that doesn't always come across through our blog.
jungle house a great place to stay in Monteverde. It has a small shared kitchen, breakfast and private rooms. Their staff is incredibly friendly and helped us set up a ton of different activities in Monteverde.
There are many moreaccommodateIhotelsto also book in Monteverde if Casa Jungle is not what you are looking for.
Once in Monteverde, you could immediately go ziplining, to one of the two national parks in the cloud forest, or hiking. Due to Becca's upset stomach, we saved these activities for day 4.
Later in the evening, when it got dark, we set outNight walk. There are about 3 different nature walks at night in Monteverde. We didKinkajou night tourand had a good experience. We highly recommend this as you will see so much wildlife as the jungle really comes alive at night. Plus, just being in the jungle at night is a pretty cool experience. If you are walking with your group, walk to the back of the group, turn around and briefly cover your flashlight. The pitch black jungle and its sounds will give you an eerie yet peaceful feeling.
After dark is one of the best things to do in Monteverdenight trip in the junglebecause at night the jungle really comes alive!
There are about 3 different nature tours in Monteverde at night, all of which are pretty similar. While you can't guarantee which animals you'll see on a night hike in Monteverde, chances are you'll see quite a few because the guides know where to see all the different animals.
Read our full review on making oneNight hike in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Day 4 – Monteverde
On day 4 of your week-long trip in Costa Rica, get up early and check outMonteverde nevelwoud To reserve.
The cloud forest has tons of wildlife and rich biodiversity. There is a bus that leaves from downtown Monteverde and takes you directly to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We recommend arriving early as there is often a queue to enter, especially in high season. As previously mentioned, we recommend paying for a guide. We guarantee you'll see a lot more wildlife and learn more than if you didn't rent one.
Return to Monteverde and have lunch after visiting the cloud forest. In the afternoon, take one of the zip lines in Monteverde! We chose to go along100% Aventuraand cannot recommend it enough. The zip line was fun and exciting, especially the 'Superman' cables where you were stuck face down while flying like Superman over the rainforest canopy.
If heights aren't your thing, check out 100% Aventura's other offerings, such as ATV riding, horseback riding, or their suspension bridge tours.
After the adrenaline rush of ziplining, grab some food and relax in Monteverde as you depart for La Fortuna tomorrow morning.
Day 5 – Monteverde to La Fortuna
Day 5 begins with a drive at 8:00 AM from Monteverde to La Fortuna. There are a few different ways to get from Monteverde to La Fortuna, but we recommend jeep-boat-jeep.
The boat helps you cross a lake faster than driving around it and is a nice change from the bumpy car ride. And once you get to the boat part of the tour on Lake Arenal, all the bumpy roads are gone! FOR THE REST OF YOUR COSTA RICA TRIP!!!
After the short drive across the lake, it's just a quick, smooth ride to La Fortuna (maybe 45 minutes max).
La Fortuna is actually running off tourism these days, so there are a ton of options for you here. They have everything from canyoning to easy, relaxing nature walks.
One of the best things to do in La Fortuna isvisiting the sloth ride.If you haven't yet seen a sloth in Costa Rica, you can almost be sure to see one if you follow the sloth trail in La Fortuna... or 8!
Again, make sure to hire the guide when you go. They can point out sloths and other wildlife that you probably wouldn't see on your own.
After the nature walk, you will probably have some time to relax and pamper yourself.
Checking outHet Springs Resort & Spa. Here they have thermal pools heated by the nearby Arenal volcano. The thermal pools have natural minerals supplied by the volcano which help to heal and rejuvenate the body.
Spring Resort & Spa has onetwo-day passes for about $65(The price may vary depending on the season). This is a great deal for one of the best thermal baths in La Fortuna. To save money while you're there, pack some snacks!
Day 6 – Happiness
In the morning you will go to La Fortuna waterfall. It's about a 45 minute to an hour walk from La Fortuna, but you can also take a taxi. We took one and decided to go back.
There is a butterfly garden at the top of the falls and after a short but steep walk down you can see and swim at the bottom of the falls. It's pretty cool to see and it's something cheap and fun to do in the morning.
In the afternoon you can take another walk in nature around the Arenal volcano. There are plenty of options, but we recommendChallenge.
During the Arenal nature walk we saw toucans, snakes, anteaters and several other animals. Plus, you get to walk on the other side of the Arenal Volcano.
During our stay, we could not see the Arenal Volcano from La Fortuna at all. It was completely covered in clouds the whole time. But with this trip and hike to the other side, we got this beautiful view of about 90% of the volcano…
In the evening, hit The Springs Resort & Spa's hot springs again, because you still have the 2-day pass after all! Check out all their different pools and relax because chances are you don't have these thermal pools at home.
Day 7 – La Fortuna to San Jose
On the last day of your week-long Costa Rice itinerary, head to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, in the morning (departing again at 8:00 AM). If you have time, check out the city center of San Jose and the area near the university. Of course, it may be that you have to go directly to the airport, since you are traveling from San José.
San José is often skipped because tourists in Costa Rica head straight for the beach, volcanoes or rainforests. But in recent years, San José has really tried a lot to make San José more attractive to visitors. It may still not have the same appeal as other major cities in Latin and Central America, but it's worth checking out.
Hopefully this week-long Costa Rica itinerary will help those of you traveling to Costa Rica and flying to Liberia and San Jose. It was difficult for us to research this kind of itineraries for a week in Costa Rica, so we wanted to write an itinerary that could help you, since flying to one city and to another can be challenging.
If you're still looking for reasons to visit Costa Rica, here they are20 photos that make you want to visit Costa Rica.
What other recommendations would you have for a week-long trip to Costa Rica? Are there any places or things we missed?