Begin your Costa Rica trip in capital San Jose, before travelling to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for beach relaxation, Caribbean food and surfing. From here, travel to Tortuguero National Park on the coast, where green sea turtles leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles come to nest. End your trip on the beaches of Guanacaste near the border with Nicaragua. Here, you can mix beach life with wildlife watching. Travel back to San Jose for your flight home.

Key information

Destinations Costa Rica
Activity Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Responsible Travel
Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Get cultural in San Jose

Get cultural in San Jose

Day 1 in San Jose

At first glance, San Jose might not seem like the prettiest of cities but delve a little deeper into the colonial mansions of Barrio Amon, the restaurants of Barrio Escalante and the many live music clubs, and you’ll soon uncover the beating cultural heart of Costa Rica’s capital.

Don't miss

Explore the slopes of Poás volcano

Explore the slopes of Poás volcano

The most popular of Costa Rica’s five active volcanoes, Poás volcano is within easy-driving distance of San José and is the largest open volcano in the world. Its crater is over a mile across and 1,050ft deep, with two small lakes at the bottom. Arrive early to beat the crowds and clouds.

Surf and snooze in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Surf and snooze in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Day 2–4 in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Once a sleepy backwater surfing town, Puerto Viejo has become a stop-off for travellers looking to party. While it can be raucous on the main strip, head a couple of blocks out of town and you’ll be able to stay with families in quiet houses with only the sounds of the rainforest for company.

Don't miss

Snorkelling in Cahuita

Snorkelling in Cahuita

The protected coral reef in Cahuita National Park is home to 35 species of live coral and hundreds of species of fish, including angelfish, parrotfish and stingray. You can also explore a protected area for nesting sea turtles.

Float down the canals of Tortuguero

Float down the canals of Tortuguero

Day 5 in Tortuguero National Park

This wild and interconnected web of canals is an aquatic fairyland, where gavilan trees stand sentry at the water’s edge, caiman snouts poke out of canals, tiger herons perch atop driftwood, and four species of endangered sea turtle travel thousands of miles every year to lay their eggs on the beaches where they once hatched.

In this truly unique and special place, days are spent exploring motoring through amaretto-, emerald- and black-hued canals, and evenings are dedicated to watching returning sea turtles conclude their epic journeys.

Don't miss

Volunteer with with a sea turtle conservation project

Volunteer with with a sea turtle conservation project

Costa Rica is a sea turtle paradise, with turtle hatching occurring on various beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts throughout the year. There are dozens of small conservation projects and protected areas set up, with many containing a nursery where volunteers can help. Do your research and always be respectful of these beautiful and endangered animals.

Return to San Jose

Return to San Jose

Day 6 in San Jose

A free day to explore San Jose; there are lots of hidden gems to be found in the capital — we recommend exploring the historic neighbourhoods such as Barrio Amon, where grand colonial mansions have been transformed into contemporary art galleries, or the city’s wonderful gastronomic centre to delight in some delicious cuisine.

Laze on tropical beaches in Guanacaste

Laze on tropical beaches in Guanacaste

Day 7–9 in Guanacaste National Park

Sandwiched between Santa Rosa National Park and Rincón de la Vieja National Park -- the other two parks in the Guanacaste Conservation Area trio -- this incredibly diverse and endearingly rustic national park is one of Costa Rica’s least visited.

Hiking trails connect the park’s various biological stations and sectors, offering intermediate to difficult paths for which a professional guide is highly recommended.

Don't miss

Hot springs of Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Hot springs of Rincon de la Vieja National Park

The reinvigorating hot springs of Rio Negro are ten natural pools accessed through a wooded trail, complete with hanging bridges, rainforest and a pulsing river.

San Jose

Day 10–11

Enjoy the sights and scenery of this glorious city for one more day before your adventure draws to an end. There are lots of cafes, restaurants, museums and galleries to see, in addition to serene parks and magnificent monuments to explore.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £1,929pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.