Costa Rica in a Week: 7 Days of Epic Adventures That Might Change Your Life

Costa Rica in a Week: 7 Days of Epic Adventures That Might Change Your Life

“All trails lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.” – Lonely Planet


What You Need To Know Before You Go:


This Trip Is For You If: 

✓ You want an action-packed itinerary filled with all of Costa Rica’s highlights

✓ You don’t mind roughing it beach-bum style without the amenities of an all-inclusive resort

✓ You’re ready to get your surf board out, hike some volcanoes, and explore some waterfalls


How Long To Go For: 8-10 days 


Weather In Costa Rica:

  • April is the hottest month in Costa Rica with an average temperature of 25°C (76°F) 
  • The coldest is January at 22°C (71°F) 
  • The sunniest month is in June 
  • The wettest month is September with an average of 240mm of rain


Daily Travel Costs In Costa Rica:

Below is daily average of a typical travel budget for Costa Rica. Costs include accommodations and food in US dollars.

Budget Travel:  $40/day 

  • Dorm bed: $8–15
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $3–7
  • Local hikes and surfing: free
  • Travel on a local bus: Around $1


Mid-Range Travel: $80/day

  • Basic room with private bathroom: $20–50 per day
  • Meal at a restaurant geared toward travelers: $5–12
  • Travel on an efficient 1st-class bus company: $50–60


Luxury Travel: $150 day

  • Luxurious beachside lodges and boutique hotels start at $80
  • Meal at an international fusion restaurant: from $15
  • Guided wildlife-watching excursion: from$30
  • Short domestic flight within country: $50–100
  • Car or 4WD rental for local travel: from $60 per day
Souce: estimated costs and EXPENSES from Lonely Planet


Getting There & Around:

Flights: See the best flights to Costa Rica and compare prices here. 

Airport Transfer: Avoid the hassle of cabs and book a private transfer into San Jose or Liberia here. 

Car Rental: Explore Costa Rica on your own terms with the cheapest care rentals in the country here. 

Local Transpiration: Find the best bus routes using their local transportation here. 


The Itinerary:

Directions and more for this itinerary can be found here.


Day 1: San José  


✓ SEE: Teatro Nacional Costa Rica

Cost: Free to see!

Duration: 1-2 hours

Tip: Before checking out the theatre, look at the schedule online to see if any performances will be happening that day. Performances can be found here. 

“Do not miss! Stunning! This has got to be THE most important historical and cultural treasure in Costa Rica. Built around 1890 with money earned from coffee and banana exports, the theater was built to emulate European venues the elite had observed when traveling abroad.”- TripAdvisor



✓ EAT & DRINK: El Sotano

Cost: $5-10 per show

Duration: 1-2 hours

Tip: Go for some sangria and food and watch some world famous jazz. More information can be found on their site here. 

“One of my favorite night spots while in San Jose. The owner from Hostel Bekuo brought people interested in jazz to this place a few times while I was there. Really intimate setting that I didn’t really expect to find in San Jose.”- TripAdvisor

Ayer la pasamos increíble, muchas gracias! ?: @nttlcmps #tickingtimebomb #punkrock #sanjose

A photo posted by Ticking Time Bomb (@tickingtimebombcr) on

See more pictures here!

✓ SLEEP: San Jose

BUDGET: Recommended hostel Hostel Urbano Yoses ($15/night)

MID-RANGE: Recommended hotel Apartotel La Sabana ($105/night)

LUXURY: Recommended hotel Hotel Grano de Oro San Jose ($215/night)


Days 2-3 :La Fortuna/Arenal 


✓ DO: Whitewater Rafting

Cost: $90-100 USD 

Duration: 6 hours approximately

Highest Ranked Operator on TripAdvisor: Desafio Adventure Company

“Went whitewater rafting with this tour group. Had a BLAST! The ride from Arenal was a little long, but it was so worth it. We stopped at local fruit stands for snacks later on the river. We did class 3/4 and woah- it was a great challenge!”-TripAdvisor



✓ DO: Canyoneering

Cost: $80-90 USD

Duration: 4 hours approximately

Highest Ranked Operator on TripAdvisor: Pure Trek Tours

Fun filled adrenaline rush!! This excursion was one of my favorite all time adventures. They took great care with the beginners and made everyone feel comfortable. Safety was a high priority as we were given very good instructions before hitting the drops.” TripAdvisor 


✓ DO: Hike Arenal Volcano

Cost: Free when self-guided or $80 for a guided hike (park fees are $10-15)

Duration: 3-5 hours approximately

Tip: Check the weather before heading out! Weather can change quite frequently on the volcano. 

“Do you like hiking 4-5 hours? Do you like heights? Then this trip for you. 🙂 This trip, Arenal Volcano, includes hiking in the Rainforest, walking on the suspension bridges, and spent some time from long distance from Arenal volcano Go and you won’t regret it.”- TripAdvisor

Costa Rica ??? #PuraVida #sloths #spanish2 #termitestasteminty #localsthinkImchinese

A photo posted by Jacob Arquisola (@jarq_5) on

See more pictures here!


✓ SEE: La Fortuna Waterfall

Cost: Free

Duration: 1-2 hours approximately

Tip: Bring a bathing suit, towel and good walking shoes

“Stunning! it’s not the largest waterfall around, but it’s beautiful. We saw monkeys on this hike, but they were VERY far away. Most of the wild life spotted was cool bugs, snakes and birds. Really amazing rain forest hike.”- TripAdvisor 

Living the dream in Costa Rica ?? Pura vida

A photo posted by ᒍᗩᑕEY ᗷᗩIᒪEY? (@jacey.bailey3) on

See more pictures here!


✓ RELAX: Hot Springs

Cost: Free

Duration: 1-2 hours approximately

Tip: Go after a long hike, and then rest in the therapeutic waters heated by the earth’s healing minerals and salts. 

Free, warm and relaxing! Don’t pay for the hot springs when you can be part of the local culture! Tips: Go early on weekdays, if you can, to avoid large crowds. Wear closed toe water shoes. Have a relaxing time!”- TripAdvisor

A photo posted by MARIANNY (@naniegurrola) on

See more pictures here!


✓ SLEEP: La Fortuna 

BUDGET: Recommended hostel Arenal Hostel Resort ($40-50/night)

MID-RANGE: Recommended hotel Hotel Rancho Cerro Azul ($75-80/night)

LUXURY: Recommended hotel The Royal Corin Thermal Water Spa & Resort ($250-270/night)


Days 4-5 :Monteverde 


✓ SEE: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Cost: Free to explore on your own, but a guide is highly recommended

Duration: 3-5 hours approximately

Tip: The majority of reviews recommend getting a guide to explore the cloud forest as it’s so large and dense. 

Beautiful but get a guide! There is just so much to see here but you will miss a lot if you don’t have a pro. The guides in Costa Rica are all highly trained and we were able to see so many more bugs, birds, plants and animals because ours had such a good eye! Plus they bring a spotting scope” – TripAdvisor

See more pictures here!


✓ DO: Zip-lining 

Cost: Approximately $45

Duration: 2-3 hours approximately

Recommended Operator: The Original Canopy Tour

Great Bucket list experience with lots of fun. I was initially scared to put my life in someone else’s hands. The guides made me feel comfortable and friendly with their timely humor. Did the Tarzan jump which gave me the confidence to continue on further.”-TripAdvisor

Superman that ohhhh

A photo posted by Mariam Khan (@_marzipan) on

See more pictures here!


✓ DO: Horseback Riding 

Cost: Approximately $25-45

Duration: 2-3 hours approximately

Recommended Operator: Horse Trek Monteverde

“We did the waterfalls ride, all day. Not sure why anyone would ever say anything negative. Riding through the outskirts of town beats a road in the states any day. Horses were awesome.” –TripAdvisor

All this polo on I got horsepower

A photo posted by Michael Carter (@mistacartah) on

See more pictures here!


✓ SLEEP: Monteverde

BUDGET: Recommended hostel Hostel Monteverde Backpackers ($17-30/night)

MID-RANGE: Recommended hotel Los Pinos – Cabanas y Jardines ($90-100/night)

LUXURY: Recommended hotel Hotel Belmar ($180-200/night)


Days 6-7 : Manuel Antonio 


✓ SEE: Playa Manuel Antonio Beach

Cost: Free to explore on your own

Duration: As much time as you can

Beautiful but get a guide! There is just so much to see here but you will miss a lot if you don’t have a pro. The guides in Costa Rica are all highly trained and we were able to see so many more bugs, birds, plants and animals because ours had such a good eye! Plus they bring a spotting scope” – TripAdvisor

Turn up(side down)

A photo posted by Emma (@emmafullerton_) on

See more pictures here!


✓ DO: Learn To Surf

Cost: Free or $20-$50 a lesson 

Duration: 2 hours per initial lesson…and then as much as you can!

Tip: If you can afford it hire a private or semi-private instructor for your first time. Recommended company is Manuel Antonio Surf School. 

Great lesson and an awesome time! I had a great experience learning to surf with MASS. As a beginner I never thought I would expect to catch on to it so quickly but the tricks and tips offered by my instructor, Lorenzo, were very helpful!”TripAdvisor

Kui lained toovad kaldale ?? #costarica

A photo posted by Karmen Silde (@karmensilde) on

More pictures can be found here!


✓ SLEEP:Manuel Antonio 

BUDGET: Recommended hostel Hostel Vista Serena ($17-30/night)

MID-RANGE: Recommended hotel Karahe Beach Hotel ($120-150/night)

LUXURY: Recommended hotel Buena Vista Luxury Villas ($200+/night)


Days 8 : Depart San Jose 


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