How to spend 10 days In Costa Rica - 5 itineraries

Discover Costa Rica, a paradise of unspoiled beauty and limitless opportunities for exploration. Immerse yourself in our selection of thoughtfully designed five Costa Rica itinerary for 10 days that will turn your stay in Costa Rica into a journey filled with rich experiences. Each day becomes a new chapter woven into the fabric of this Central American gem, where natural wonders and endless discoveries await your arrival.

Itinerary #1: Costa Rica Express - Animals & Beaches

Start at Arenal Volcano with its waterfalls, hot springs, and suspension bridges, before crossing the lake to Monteverde. The unique cloud forest invites adventure and nature lovers for canopy and ziplining activities, as well as wildlife spotting. End this mesmerizing 10-day journey on the beach at Manuel Antonio.

On the first day, a friendly driver will meet you at SJO International Airport and take you to your first Costa Rican residence.

Day two is the start of your journey to La Fortuna, where the Arenal Volcano awaits you. In the afternoon, soak in Arenal Volcano's famous hot springs filled with natural energy.

Day three immerses you in the realm of La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano National Park. Explore the volcanic terrain and its rainforest inhabitants.

On the fourth day, you will travel across Lake Arenal to Monteverde. The next day's program includes exploring the charms of Monteverde.

On day six, as dusk descends, see the nocturnal wonders of the Monteverde Reserve on a night visit. The next day, transfer to Manuel Antonio, where you can see pristine beaches and wildlife.

Days eight and nine are dedicated to exploring the vibrant Manuel Antonio National Park. A naturalist guide accompanies you on a walk, introducing you to the diverse wildlife of the Central Pacific coastline. After lunch, a catamaran ride offers sunset views and marine life encounters.

On the tenth day, you will say goodbye to Costa Rica with a transfer to San Jose International Airport. Read more.

Arenal volcano, Costa Rica ©  Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Arenal volcano, Costa Rica © Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

monteverde -costa-rica-shutterstock_1164189547

Monteverde , Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

    Itinerary overview

    Day one

  • Arrival in San Jose and Transfer to La Fortuna.
  • Overnight in La Fortuna.

    Day two

  • La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Overnight in La Fortuna.

    Day three

  • Hanging Bridges and Hot Springs.
  • Overnight in La Fortuna.

    Day four

  • From La Fortuna to Monteverde Boat Transfer.
  • Overnight in Monteverde.

    Day five

  • Adventure Day in Monteverde - canopy, coffee and cocoa.
  • Overnight in Monteverde.

    Day six

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Night Tour.
  • Overnight in Monteverde.

    Day seven

  • From Monteverde to Manuel Antonio.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day eight

  • Nature Walk in Manuel Antonio.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day nine

  • Afternoon Catamaran Trip.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day ten

  • Transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose Airport.

Interested? Don't miss the opportunity to book this trip now.

Costa Rica Sunset at Manuel Antonio Antonio National Park  © thefilmpoets/Shutterstock

Sunset at Manuel Antonio Antonio National Park © thefilmpoets/Shutterstock

Halloween Crab (Gecarcinus quadratus) in defensive posture on beach, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Halloween Crab, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

La-Fortuna-waterfall-Arenal-volcano-Costa-Rica-shutterstock_634125518

La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa-Rica @ Shutterstock

Itinerary #2: From the Cloud Forest to the Beaches

On this amazing tailor-made trip, you will explore the Cloud Forest and rural life of Dota, including a community visit to get to know the real Tico life before heading to the incredible Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park, and then the amazing beaches of Manuel Antonio.

Upon arrival in San José, your driver will transfer you to your hotel and set the tone for your Pura Vida adventure.

Day two is a free exploration of San José, day three is a visit to the Irazú Volcanoes National Park and the charming colonial capital before traveling to San Gerardo de Dota for bird watching.

Day four is an introduction to the local people in Providencia. You will visit families, learn about traditional sugar production, explore the Salitre waterfall, and participate in a cooking class.

On day five, see a variety of ecosystems during a transfer to Drake's Bay, located on the Pacific coast. Day six is to explore the marine splendor of Caño Island while snorkeling, where archaeological treasures can also be discovered.

On the seventh day, a day trip is planned to Corcovado National Park, located on the Osa Peninsula and characterized by rich biodiversity. On the eighth day, the itinerary continues with a transfer to Manuel Antonio.

Day nine offers rest or optional excursions, and day ten of this Costa Rica itinerary for 10 days will be the conclusion of your Pura Vida odyssey. A transfer will take you to the San Jose airport. Read more.

Puerto Escondido bay, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Puerto Escondido Bay, Manuel Antonio National Park © Shutterstock

National monument of Costa Rica is a sculptural group located in the National Park of San Jose © Shutterstock

The national monument of Costa Rica in the National Park of San Jose © Shutterstock

    Itinerary overview

    Day one

  • Arrival in San Jose.
  • Overnight in San Jose.

    Day two

  • Free Day in San Jose.
  • Overnight in San Jose.

    Day three

  • San Gerardo de Dota visiting Irazu Volcano National Park.
  • Overnight in San Gerardo de Dota.

    Day four

  • Day Tour to Providencia for an authentic community experience.
  • Overnight in San Gerardo de Dota.

    Day five

  • From San Gerardo de Dota to Drake Bay.
  • Overnight in Corcovado.

    Day six

  • Day Trip to Cano Island with snorkeling.
  • Overnight in Corcovado.

    Day seven

  • Day Trip to Corcovado National Park.
  • Overnight in Corcovado.

    Day eight

  • From Drake Bay to Manuel Antonio.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day nine

  • Day at Leisure.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day ten

  • Transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose Airport.

Inspired? Don't waste any time and book this trip now.

Scarlet macaw (Ara macao) in flight with nut in its beak, Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, Central America, Costa Rica

Scarlet macaw in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

Suspension bridge across the Rio Agujitas © Shutterstock

Suspension bridge across the Rio Agujitas © Shutterstock

A large coastal wave crashes on the reef. Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica, Drake Bay © Shutterstock

Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica, Drake Bay © Shutterstock

Itinerary #3: A self-drive Caribbean Adventure

If you are looking for Costa Rica itinerary for 10 days with a rental car, this is it. From Boca Pacuare to the unique culture of Cahuita and the beaches of Puerto Viejo! Your self-guided 10-day journey will end in Turrialba.

On the first day, after renting a car, you will travel to Sarapiqui, known for its lush landscapes, agricultural activities, and nature reserves.

Day two is an introduction to the canals of Boca Pacuare, reminiscent of the Costa Rican Amazon. You will immerse yourself in the complex ecosystem and cruise through canals similar to those of Tortuguero National Park.

Day three offers the opportunity to experience a variety of wildlife as you cruise the floating canals and visit a sea turtle conservation project. On day four, you'll travel to the tranquil shores of the southern Caribbean Sea, a sanctuary for turtles, iguanas, and indigenous culture

On day five, you'll hike the Gandoca-Manzanillo Reserve in search of dolphins, and on day six, you'll visit the inspiring Jaguar Rescue Center, where injured animals are cared for.

The seventh day takes you to Turrialba, a historic agricultural center, where we recommend seeing the Guayabo National Monument. The eighth day is a journey through the Marta Reserve.

On the ninth day, you will return to San José, where you will be invited to visit the summit of the Irazu Volcano. Finally, on the tenth day, you will return the rental car to the airport and bid farewell to the enchanting realm of Costa Rica. Read more.

eco-lodge-rainforest-puerto-viejo-de-talamanca-costa-rica-shutterstock_318740831

Eco Lodge in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

jaguar, costa, rica

Jaguar,, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

    Itinerary overview

    Day one

  • Arrival and Drive to Horquetas.
  • Overnight in Horquetas.

    Day two

  • Boat Trip on the Costa Rican Amazonia.
  • Overnight in Barra De Pacuare.

    Day three

  • Exploring Barra De Pacuare.
  • Overnight in Barra De Pacuare.

    Day four

  • Heading down South to Puerto Viejo.
  • Overnight in Puerto Viejo De Talamanca.

    Day five

  • Hiking and Dolphin Watching.
  • Overnight in Puerto Viejo De Talamanca.

    Day six

  • The Jaguar Rescue Center.
  • Overnight in Puerto Viejo De Talamanca.

    Day seven

  • On the way to Turrialba.
  • Overnight in Turrialba.

    Day eight

  • The Wild Refuge The Marta.
  • Overnight in Turrialba.

    Day nine

  • To San Jose.
  • Overnight in San Jose.

    Day ten

  • Drop off your rental car at the San Jose airport.

Looking for a new experience? Book your trip now.

Costa Rica Travel Tips Manzanillo-Caribbean-Coast

Costa Rica, Manzanillo, Caribbean Coast @ Shutterstock

A river through the Sarapiqui Rainforest, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

A river through the Sarapiqui Rainforest, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Panthera onca in Costa Rica © Pedro Helder Pinheiro/Shutterstock

Panthera onca in Costa Rica © Pedro Helder Pinheiro/Shutterstock

Itinerary #4: Discover Northern Costa Rica

This self-drive itinerary allows you to explore the Central and Northern highlights of Costa Rica: from the active volcano Arenal to the cloud forest of Monteverde and the beaches of Guanacaste with plenty of surf & yoga.

On the first day, rent a car and head to La Fortuna, a fascinating starting point.

Day two will discover the delights of Arenal Volcano, combining a visit to La Fortuna Waterfall. Lunch at the Rodriguez Family Restaurant will immerse you in tradition, while a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park allows for a scenic walk amongst eruption history and rainforest thickets.

On day three, you'll travel to Monterrey, where you'll experience village life before moving on to Rio Celeste. On the fourth day, you'll head to Tenorio Volcanoes National Park, passing through primary clouds and rainforests, and see the mesmerizing blue waters of the Rio Celeste. On the fifth and sixth days, continue your journey to Nosara, where surfing, yoga, and beach relaxation await.

On the seventh day, you'll travel to Monteverde, where you'll explore the local attractions in the afternoon. A charming night walk through the Valle Escondido Reserve will reveal the nightlife of the forest. Day eight is dedicated to the charm of Santa Elena, from craft shops to cloud forest walks and canopy tours.

Day nine is a return to Alajuela with a possible stop in Sarchi for souvenir shopping. Finally, on the tenth day of this Costa Rica itinerary for 10 days, we bid you farewell, leaving the rental car at the airport. Read more.

Waterfall and natural pool with turquoise water of Rio Celeste, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

nosara-costa-rica-shutterstock_256906996

Nosara, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

    Itinerary overview

    Day one

  • Pick up your rental car and drive to La Fortuna.
  • Overnight in La Fortuna.

    Day two

  • La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Overnight in La Fortuna.

    Day three

  • Drive from La Fortuna to Rio Celeste and visit a local village.
  • Overnight in Celeste.

    Day four

  • Visit Tenorio Volcano National Park and drive to Nosara.
  • Overnight in Nosara.

    Day five

  • Free Day in Nosara.
  • Overnight in Nosara.

    Day six

  • Free Day in Nosara.
  • Overnight in Nosara.

    Day seven

  • Drive from Nosara to Monteverde.
  • Overnight in Monteverde.

    Day eight

  • Adventure Day in Monteverde.
  • Overnight in Monteverde.

    Day nine

  • Drive from Monteverde to Alajuela.
  • Overnight in Alajuela.

    Day ten

  • Drop off your rental car at the San Jose airport.

Interested? Don't miss the opportunity to book this trip now.

Playa Ocotal Beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Playa Ocotal Beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Iguana in Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Iguana, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

La Agonía Church in Alajuela, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

La Agonía Church in Alajuela, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Itinerary #5: Eco Adventures in Costa Rica

People come to Costa Rica for its compact jungles, tropical beaches, forests, wildlife, and national parks. The country may be small, but it's strikingly diverse and provides the perfect backdrop for this 10 days in Costa Rica true eco-adventure.

The first day begins in San Jose, and on day two you will take a domestic flight to Puerto Jimenez, from where you will be transferred to the Lapa Rios Ecolodge. Day three offers a choice of three daily excursions included in the price.

On day four, you will immerse yourself in the cultural world of Los Bajos, exploring local orchids, schools, churches, and community life. Day five is bird watching and horseback riding through the beautiful landscapes of Bajos del Toro.

Day six - transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its biodiversity. Day seven - kayaking and snorkeling, watching seabirds and natural wonders.

Day eight - catamaran sailing along the coast of Manuel Antonio, where you can see stunning views and observe wildlife. On the ninth day, it's a return transfer to San Jose, concluding the trip.

Your Costa Rica vacation will end on the tenth day with a departure from San Jose, leaving behind unforgettable memories of nature, culture, and adventure. Read more.

Catarata del Toro waterfall in Bajos del Toto, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Catarata del Toro waterfall in Bajos del Toto, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Tourists on horseback in Costa Rican cloud forest © Shutterstock

Tourists on horseback in Costa Rican cloud forest © Shutterstock

    Itinerary overview

    Day one

  • Arrival in San Jose.
  • Overnight in San Jose.

    Day two

  • Flight to Puerto Jimenez.
  • Overnight in Lapa Rios Ecolodge.

    Day three

  • Lapa Rios Lodge Excursions.
  • Overnight in Lapa Rios Ecolodge.

    Day four

  • Los Bajos Cultural Experience.
  • Overnight in Bajos Del Toro.

    Day five

  • Daybreak Bird Watching and Horseback Riding.
  • Overnight in Bajos Del Toro.

    Day six

  • Transfer to Manuel Antonio and Manuel Antonio National Park Tour.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day seven

  • Ocean Kayaking and Snorkelling.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day eight

  • Catamaran Adventure Tour.
  • Overnight in Manuel Antonio.

    Day nine

  • Drive Back To San Jose.
  • Overnight in San Jose.

    Day ten

  • Departure from San Jose.

Feeling curious? Take a step forward and book this trip now.

Hummingbird, Rara Avis Reserve, Costa Rica

Hummingbird, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

Tree House Lodge, Costa Rica

Tree House Lodge, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

Walking through Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Costa Rican jungle, Costa Rica @ Shutterstock

For even more inspiration, check out The Rough Guide to Costa Rica. You can also browse our customized Costa Rica itineraries or chat with our local Costa Rica experts.

Ties Lagraauw

written by Ties Lagraauw

updated 22.08.2023

Ties is a true world explorer - whether it be for work or leisure! As Content Manager at RoughGuides, and the owner of Dutch travel platform Reis-Expert.nl, Ties is constantly on the move, always looking for new destinations to discover.

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