Whether you’re interested in surfing, birding, hiking, white water rafting, or relaxing in a hot spring, you’ll find lots to love about Costa Rica. Costa Rica is bordered by Panama to the south and southeast, Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the North Pacific Ocean to the west.
Ever wondered what is there to do if you have seven days in Costa Rica? Dick, a Trippy user, had that question. He wrote:
Anyone with a suggested 7-day itinerary for a family of 10 would be appreciated. Where to fly into, where to stay day by day, what to see, where to fly out of. Thanks!!
Before you decide on your itinerary, Trippy user Claudia said:
It depends on the age, interest, physical fitness, and budget of your group of 10. Where you fly from matters as well because there are two major airports in Costa Rica – one in Liberia and the other in San Jose, the capital city. Liberia has fewer flights compared to San Jose Airport.
It’s an excellent choice if you want to visit the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica.
Here is a sample 7-day Costa Rica travel itinerary recommended by Trippy users starting from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica:
Manuel Antonio National Park
Upon arrival at San Jose International Airport, you can fly, take the bus or private shuttle or rent a car and drive south to Manuel Antonio National Park. When in Costa Rica you must rent an SUV since you may have to drive on dirt roads.
It takes around three hours to drive to Manuel Antonio, and you will have to pay tolls to head down to the coast. Bear in mind that traffic can be a problem getting out of San Jose. If you prefer a faster way to travel, we suggest taking a flight with Skyway or Sansa.
Trippy user Rosalie Ann shared her experiences in Manuel Antonio:
The two places I saw the most wildlife were Tortuguero (which is on the Caribbean coast) and Manuel Antonio National Park There are also lots of activities in that area including waterfall rappelling, zip lines, kayaking, etc. I went in August, which is the middle of the green season, but we had beautiful weather the whole time. And if it rained when you were rappelling a waterfall, it wouldn’t really matter, would it?
The roads to Manuel Antonio National Park are pretty good. We stayed at the San Bada hotel, which has secure parking and is right at the park entrance.
Hotel San Bada offers tours to the Manuel Antonio National Park. The hotel is located right beside the national park and a short walk from Manuel Antonio Beach. On the first day, you may want to relax by the hotel pool or a walk on the beach.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Spend day two visiting the park with a tour guide. The park is opening hours are from 7 am to 4 pm, and it is closed on Mondays. Most guided tours are about three hours. You get the rest of the day to enjoy, white water rafting, surfing, joining a mangrove tour, dolphin watching, and snorkeling or get pampered at Hotel San Bada’s Sana Spa.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Start early and drive north to Arenal. It’s about a six-hour drive, depending on traffic. Most Trippy users recommended La Fortuna. You can find accommodations in La Fortuna as suggested by Roccio from Costa Rica:
The best spots are located in La Fortuna. In addition, you can see the amazing Arenal volcano from almost every main hotel in the area. I will recommend only those that I have stayed in, but I am sure you can find a few on the internet. To me, the best hot springs are Tabacón Grand Spa, Baldi Hot Springs Resort Hotel & Spa, Termales del Bosque, and Arenal Springs Hotel. If you are driving from Tamarindo or Monteverde, it is much better that you leave in the morning. Hot springs area is not very close to where you will be.
A trippy user loved Arenal Volcano National Park and Monteverde. He wrote:
We then drove from Arenal Volcano National Park to Monteverde- absolutely terrible driving experience. Roads are intentionally unpaved; at times, we were averaging 10kph. Took us 8 hours overall with occasional breaks, in an intermediate SUV. Drive back from Monteverde to LIB was much easier since we were able to get back onto a highway from there. We spent a couple of nights in Guanacaste before flying back stateside.
My recommendation: if these are your 2 locations (and they are awesome locations), don’t take a rental car. Not worth the amount you pay with the cost of insurance and I hear the jeep-ferry-jeep option from Arenal to Monteverde is very scenic too!
For accommodation, we suggest Arenal Observatory Lodge and Spa, located within the Arenal Conservation Area and less than two miles from Arenal Volcano. On arrival, grab a meal at the hotel’s on-site restaurant with views of the volcano and Lake Arenal. Surrounded by 860 acres of private tropical forest, you are in a tropical paradise when staying at this hotel. You can enjoy the hiking trails, swimming pool, and on-site bird sanctuary with 500 different species of birds.
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, take a tour with Sky Trek Arenal. Go zip-lining from mountain to mountain, ride on Sky Tram, go canyoning and more. Check out your options at their official booking site.
Hiking and activities at Arenal Volcano National Park
Take a guided hike along lava trails to see the breathtaking views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. On this hike, you’ll see lava fields, lava rocks and learn about the plants and wildlife of the area. The park is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
Another activity you must do when at Arenal is to soak in natural hot springs. There are multiple hot springs in the area. Check out Los Perdidos Springs or follow Ashley’s and Jesse’s suggestions:
Baldi Hot Springs Resort and Spa is great!
Tabacon Grand Spa definitely has the most hot springs but are also usually the most crowded. If you’re only there for a quick stop, I still think either that or The Springs Resort & Spa are your best options. Both incredible and both great day or night.
Your road trip to Monteverde won’t be as easy as the first four days. You’ll be driving through unpaved and steep road to Santa Elena, the main town in Monteverde, the tropical cloud forests region of Costa Rica. Trippy user Henrieke loved Monteverde:
During my visit to Costa Rica, I especially enjoyed Monteverde. There are lots of activities to do, such as zip-lining, coffee, and sugar cane tours and walking on high bridges right through the beautiful green surroundings. Nature is beautiful, and because of the hight, there are several breathtaking viewings. This place is nice to visit with children because of the large number of activities.
Likewise for Instituto:
Another amazing place is Monteverde – the road getting there is rough, but it is a special pocket in Costa Rica. It is in the middle of a cloud forest, which makes it a place with amazing wildlife and nature. There are many activities there, including ziplining, a snake museum, a frog museum, a bird hatchery, tours in the beautiful national park, and much more! It’s a good place for kids and adults alike.
One of my favorite places in Monteverde is Rustic Lodge. It is located about 8 minutes-walk from the center of Santa Elena. The price is $70.00 per room and includes a great home-made breakfast. Ask for Jose, the owner, a friendly and gracious host. Also, the rooms are very nice and clean!
Other accommodations to consider in Monteverde are Hotel Belmar, and Los Pinos Lodge and Gardens.
Trippy user Erick also suggested visiting a farm:
There is a place in Monteverde, a small farm that offers a horseback riding tour and at the end, this place has a gorgeous hot springs. The name is Finca La Lindora, and you may want to ask about them once you get to Monteverde.
When in Monteverde, don’t miss out on the Monteverde night walk to see nocturnal wildlife of Costa Rica.
Adventures in Monteverde
Some of the adventures to look into are:
- San Luis Waterfall
- Santa Elena Reserve
- Sky Adventures
- Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
In Monteverde, the best zipline tour is there. A must-do. It offers 17 platforms, and at the end, the Tarzan swing will make your adventure full of adrenaline!
Trapp Family Country Inn is very peaceful in spite of the fact that it is quite near to the airport – and safe. They serve dinner and breakfast but not usually lunch. I have also stayed quite happily at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, but it was some time ago. They have a pool and a free breakfast and a shuttle that will take you to the airport or dinner. The only other place in that area I’ve stayed was right in San Jose.
If you have enough time, Erick wrote:
I would like to recommend the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls Garden, both are located in the same destination and is easy to make it in one day.
For those who have just a few hours to spare, check out the Gold Museum, Jade Museum, and San Jose Central Market.
And if your idea of a perfect way to end your vacation in Costa Rica is to relax at a hotel away from the city, read this recommendation by Terry:
In reference to Xandari Resort And Spa (closest to San Juan airport) or Peace Lodge BUT I would also include Finca Rosa Blanca (as my top choice for something really close to the airport). Otherwise, and if the budget can absorb it – you can also go to the Pacuare Lodge – Linda Vista or honeymoon suites specifically for a crazy amazing time – only 1.5 hrs away. This is the lodge where one had to raft in and raft out. It is incredible (albeit not cheap)…