One Week Itinerary: Costa Rica
Happy Sunday wanderers! As I have currently lived in Costa Rica for the past four months, I decided it’s passed due for me to share some travel advice. Back in November, I had a ten day vacation from work over Thanksgiving. My boyfriend and I took advantage of that time to do some traveling around the country.
Our itinerary involved exploring the city, beaches, volcanoes waterfalls and and even surfing. I thought I would share our itinerary with you so you can get inspired for any future trips to Costa Rica. As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it is no wonder it’s such a popular travel destination. My main recommendation would be that you plan your travel to Costa Rica during dry season which lasts from mid December through April, to avoid a rainy vacay.
Day 1: Arrive in San Jose
Arrive at San Jose, INTL Airport. From there, catch an Uber to your hostel of choice. I suggest Hostel Urbano in Los Yoses because the rooms are cheep and it is a safe and fun area of town. For the first day, I suggest you enjoy exploring the city of San Jose. Grab a drink and some amazing food in Barrio Escalante and then venture further downtown to explore one of San Jose’s many museums.
Day 2: Travel to La Fortuna
On the second day travel from San Jose to La Fortuna via bus. The bus is 2495₡ and takes about 4hrs. To make the most out of the day, I would suggest taking an early bus. La Fortuna is a quaint and gorgeous town overlooked by the towering Arenal Volcano. There are lots of different thing to do like zip lining and the famous La Fortuna Waterfall. Personally, we recommend doing a bit of exploring on your own to find the free natural hot springs or the beautiful fresh water swimming hole pictured above. We opted to stay at Selena La Fortuna because of its trendy and young expat vibe. This chain of hostels can be found all around Costa Rica.
Day 3: La Fortuna
On day three, enjoy your first day without traveling and spend the day relaxing at Paradise Hot Springs Thermal Water Resort. For $28 a person you can access the resort from 11am to 9pm. Spend the day swimming around the maze of beautifully designed thermal pools. The resort is a short and cheep taxi ride from town. Bring some extra money to buy lunch or cocktails or come prepared with your own snacks and a hydroflask of your favorite beverage. If you really want to pamper yourself, the resort offers spa services as well.
Day 4: Travel to Santa Teresa
The next step of the itinerary is to get yourself from La Fortuna to the beautiful costal town of Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. We opted to take the bus from La Fortuna to San Jose and then take the bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa. This could be accomplished in one day, but it would be a long 9 hour day. Therefore, we opted to split it into two. The bus from San Jose also happens to include an enjoyable ferry ride. However, if you rent a car or find an alternative bus route it could possibly take a lot less time. We decided not to rent a car because we wanted rent an ATV in Santa Teresa. It’s a much more fun and practical way to get around the pothole filled dirt roads, not to mention cheaper. ATV rentals average $50 USD per day, which we thought was fair and affordable. In Santa Teresa, we stayed in Selena Santa Teresa South. We didn’t think it was that great, but there are many other options nearby.
Day 5 Explore Santa Teresa
For a great day in Santa Teresa we suggest having a meal at The Bakery and then taking the ATV around to explore. Check out the cool tidal pools in Mal PaÍs or head down to Salty Bird Surf Shop and rent a board for cheep. Practice your skills on the calm beginner waves and shallow water of Playa Hermosa. For evening drinks, Banana Beach is a great place to lounge in the sand. Despite it’s gimmicky marketing, the food is actually delicious! I will say it is a bit overpriced, but it is one of those places where you pay for the location.
Day 6 Monte Zuma
Via ATV, Monte Zuma is just under an hour away from Santa Teresa and the ride there is a fun adventure in itself. We took Mal Pais to Cabuya Road from west to east and then followed the coast north to Monte Zuma. The trip involved speeding up hills, dodging potholes and forging small rivers. It was super fun and all worth it for the gorgeous views of the coast. In Monte Zuma, we stayed in this jungle bungalow Airbnb that we could not recommend more. It provided gorgeous views in a secluded, yet accessible area. The glass wall that slid into an open air window was definitely my favorite part!
Day 7 Monte Zuma
If you do choose to rent out that Airbnb there is no way you will want to stay for only one night! Two nights was not even enough for us. If you have never signed up for Airbnb use my link for $41 off a home booking of $77 or more and $15 off an experience of $51 or more. Monte Zuma is beautiful little town which is home to gorgeous beaches, a sea turtle hatchery and of course the iconic Monte Zuma waterfall. It is definitely worth hanging here for 2-3 days. Hiking the waterfall was a great experience! Be sure to dip in the pools and jump from the rocks along the way. In the evening enjoy some vegan options and possibly some live music at Cafe Organico.
Day 8 Return to San José
On the last day we got up early to bring the ATVs back to Santa Teresa and catch the bus back to San José. Enjoy another evening in the city or depart from there! Just make sure to account for possible traffic & delays.
I hope you all enjoyed following along this itinerary and hopefully inspires you to plan a trip to Costa Rica. I think it is important to note that if you don’t care to see San José, you could fly into Liberia as well. HoweverI will be here for the rest of the year if you ever need someone to show you around San José.