12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

12 days in Costa Rica Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Costa Rica trip itinerary planner

Plan created by another user. Make it yours

Route & dates

1
San Jose
— 1 night
2
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
— 2 nights
3
La Fortuna de San Carlos
— 2 nights
4
Manuel Antonio
— 1 night
5
Jaco
— 1 night
6
Tamarindo
— 4 nights

1
night
San Jose

A trip to San Jose, the capital, commercial center, and cultural hub of Costa Rica, gives you a chance to experience the lively atmosphere and rich cultural past of this vibrant country.
Start off your visit on the 19th (Thu): see the interesting displays at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.

To see reviews, photos, maps, and tourist information, use the San Jose trip planner.

Toronto, Canada to San Jose is an approximately 8.5-hour flight. You can also drive. The time zone difference when traveling from Toronto to San Jose is minus 1 hour. Expect warmer temperatures when traveling from Toronto in December; daily highs in San Jose reach °C and lows reach °C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 20th (Fri) so you can go by car to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Things to do in San Jose

Adventure Tours Outdoors

Side Trip

Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Galeria Namu ©
Galeria Namu

2
nights
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a wealth of entertainment by the sea, attracting a lively international crowd of revelers while maintaining a bright and breezy coastal charm with a local feel.
Kick off your visit on the 21st (Sat): look for all kinds of wild species at Wildlife Areas, stroll through Ara Manzanillo, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Punta Uva Beach. On the 22nd (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: enjoy the sand and surf at Puerto Viejo Beach and then view the masterpieces at Luluberlu Art Gallery.

To see other places to visit, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Puerto Viejo de Talamanca trip itinerary maker.

Drive from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Sun) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Ara Manzanillo
Find places to stay Dec 20 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Punta Uva Beach ©
Punta Uva Beach
Ara Manzanillo ©
Ara Manzanillo

2
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos

Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Mon): surround yourself with nature on Ecocentro Danaus, let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, and then take in the natural beauty of Paradise Hot Springs. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 24th (Tue): relax and rejuvenate at Tabacon Hot Springs and then hike along Arenal Natura Ecological Park.

To see photos, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip builder tool.

Traveling by car from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Tue) early enough to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Spas
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
Ecocentro Danaus ©
Ecocentro Danaus

1
night
Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio ©
The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
On the 25th (Wed), kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio, enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Espadilla Norte, and then explore the galleries of The Captain's Booty.

Before you visit Manuel Antonio, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.

Drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) early enough to go by car to Jaco.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Beaches Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

Quepos
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Espadilla Norte ©
Playa Espadilla Norte
The Captain's Booty ©
The Captain's Booty

1
night
Jaco

A seaside resort town with plenty of entertaining distractions along its attractive coastline, Jaco has long been a major tourist destination on the central Pacific coast.
On the 26th (Thu), get interesting insight from Tours, thenget to know the resident critters at Neo Fauna CR, and then take in the exciting artwork at Tico Pod Art House & Gifts.

Ask Inspirock to suggest an itinerary and make planning a trip to Jaco fast, fun, and easy.

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Jaco in 1.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) early enough to go by car to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Jaco

Adventure Tours Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Zipline
Tico Pod Art House & Gifts ©
Tico Pod Art House & Gifts
Neo Fauna CR ©
Neo Fauna CR

4
nights
Tamarindo

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to River Rafting & Tubing and Lydia Beech Art Boutique. Step out of the city life by going to Shark Diving and Playa Conchal. Step out of Tamarindo with an excursion to Rojas Bros Boruca Indigenous Arts in Playas del Coco--about 1h 20 min away. And it doesn't end there: kick back and relax at Tamarindo Beach, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Tamarindo Church, tour the pleasant surroundings at Monkey Park, and look for gifts at Con Mucho Gusto.

For maps, where to stay, more things to do, and tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo journey planning app.

Traveling by car from Jaco to Tamarindo takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Expect a daytime high around °C in December, and nighttime lows around °C. You will have some time to spend on the 30th (Mon) before leaving for home.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Playas del Coco, Playa Conchal
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Lydia Beech Art Boutique ©
Lydia Beech Art Boutique
Tamarindo Beach ©
Tamarindo Beach

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