The Ultimate Costa Rica Itinerary for 14 Days

The Ultimate Costa Rica Itinerary for 14 Days

The Ultimate Costa Rica Itinerary for 14 Days

Are you visiting Costa Rica for the first time and looking for the perfect Costa Rica Itinerary?

We’ve put together a 14-day Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary that covers the popular attractions, best beaches, stunning waterfalls, and some hidden gems.

A Costa Rica Road Trip is the best way to visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Rio Celeste Waterfall, the tropical beaches in Puerto Viejo, the Arenal Volcano National Park, and explore diverse wildlife.

Our Costa Rica Travel Guide includes the best places to visit, how to get there, where to stay, and the best things to do in Costa Rica.

You’ll also find all the useful tips and information you need to plan your Costa Rica Itinerary.

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through our link. This is a free way to support us and allow us to continue to create inspiring travel guides.

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2 Week Costa Rica Itinerary

How to Get to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America. The best way to travel to Costa Rica is by plane.

Costa Rica has two main international airports: the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (airport code SJO) and the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia (airport code LIR).

A return flight ticket is required to enter Costa Rica.

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Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Most international flights arrive in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, where you can start your Costa Rica Itinerary.

The Juan Santamaria International Airport (San Jose Airport) is located in Alajuela, about 17 kilometers from San Jose.

Recommended post → Places to Visit in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano National Park

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If you like our content and we’ve helped you with our free travel guide, please consider supporting what we do. Thank you.

If you’re following our Costa Rica Itinerary, we recommend flying into San Jose instead of Liberia Guanacaste International Airport. Because from here you can get to Puerto Viejo in a shorter time.

International Airports in Costa Rica

  • Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
  • Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR)
  • Limon International Airport (LIO)
  • Tobias Bolanos International Airport (SYQ)

Get a Costa Rica Visa.

Good to know
Since many people arrive in Costa Rica from Mexico, Panama, or Nicaragua, you can easily combine your trip with these countries. But Costa Rica is much more expensive than neighboring countries.

Keep reading → 2 Weeks in Mexico

How to Get Around Costa Rica

Wondering how to visit Costa Rica? Getting around Costa Rica is easy, and there are different modes of transport.

The cheapest way is the bus, and the best way is to rent a car. You can also use taxis, book private or shared transfers, or join organized tours.

During our travels, we always use Discover Cars for car rentals. Because they always offer the best deals and provide free cancellation 48 hours before your reservation.

We have a complete guide to how to rent a car in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica by car

The best way to get around Costa Rica is by car, as you can easily reach the best places and hidden gems.

We did this 14-day Costa Rica Itinerary by rental car and enjoyed exploring the sights at our own pace.

You don’t need a 4×4, but a car with higher ground clearance is worth booking for your Costa Rica road trip!

The driving will make this Costa Rica Itinerary much easier and more flexible.

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During the high season (December to April), car rental prices can be extremely high!

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you book your car in advance! Check car rental prices and availability here.

Costa Rica Itinerary by car

Costa Rica Itinerary without a car

Travel by local bus and save money on your trip to Costa Rica! Although you can’t get to the stunning waterfalls or best beaches by bus, you’ll need to take a taxi, shuttle, or rent a bike, which will also increase the budget.

Another disadvantage is that the journey time by bus is much longer than by car. Some routes have no direct bus services, and you need to change to another bus to reach your destination.

Bus timetables change often, so always check the current departure times!

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If you want to book bus tickets or transfers, use Bookaway.

How to Get Around Costa Rica

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica has two seasons: a dry season from December to April and a rainy season from May to November.

The cheapest time to visit Costa Rica is from May to November during the wet (green) season when you can avoid the crowds and high prices.

But the best time to visit Costa Rica is usually from December to April during the dry season when the weather is pleasant and rainfall is rare.

As it is the most visited period in Costa Rica, you can expect high prices during Christmas and Easter.

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In high season, we strongly recommend booking accommodation and tours in advance.

Read more → Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park sloths

The rainiest months in Costa Rica are September and October. Although tropical rain can occur all months.

We did this 2-week Costa Rica Itinerary in April, and the weather was fantastic, only raining a few times.

Puerto Viejo’s temperatures are warm all year round. But Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast has different weather, usually more rainy and humid.

The best time to visit Puerto Viejo is from February to April and September to October.

See also → Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Do I need a Visa to Travel to Costa Rica?

Probably not. Citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe don’t need a visa to travel to Costa Rica.

Requirements for entry to Costa Rica: valid passport and return or onward flight ticket within 90 days.

Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Costa Rica and apply for an e-visa online.

How Much Does it Cost for 2 Weeks in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is not a cheap country! It is also known as the Switzerland of Central America.

The two-week Costa Rica Itinerary will cost around 80 USD per day for budget travelers.

The budget depends on the mode of transport, which accommodation you prefer, and how much you are willing to pay for restaurants.

Recommended post → Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica

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Save money, avoid ATM transaction fees when going abroad, and pay in local currency with a Wise Card.

A 2-week trip to Costa Rica costs between 1000 and 1500 USD per person. This budget includes car rental with full insurance, entrance fees, all accommodation, and restaurants. To save money, you should avoid the Christmas and Easter period, when prices are even higher.

Keep reading → Places to Visit in Arenal

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

Is Costa Rica Safe?

Yes, traveling to Costa Rica is safe! Costa Ricans are very friendly. However, small thefts and pickpockets can occur at the beaches, national parks, or parking areas.

Take care of your valuables! Always lock your car and keep your belongings in the car boot or your hotel room when parking.

We found driving in Costa Rica safe and easy, so we highly recommend renting a car in Costa Rica.

Avoid walking at night and taking taxis alone, especially in San Jose!

During the rainy season in Costa Rica, roads can be slippery, or there may be animals and potholes on the road. So always drive carefully!

Beware of rip currents!

Don’t forget to buy travel insurance for your Costa Rica Itinerary! We always choose SafetyWing for our travels.

Coatis in Costa Rica

The Ultimate 2-Week Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica

Pura Vida! Welcome to Costa Rica! We hope you had a great flight and are ready to explore Costa Rica.

San Jose is the best place to start your Costa Rica Itinerary, as there are many cheap and direct flights to San Jose. Once you arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport, you can easily rent a car at the airport or pick up your pre-booked car.

During our travels, we always use Discover Cars for car rentals. Because they always offer the best deals and provide free cancellation 48 hours before your reservation.

A standard rental car with full insurance costs around 30-40 USD per day (in the shoulder season).

See also → How to Rent a Car in Costa Rica

Pura Vida, Costa Rica

San Jose Airport

Depending on when you arrive in Costa Rica, you can choose to continue your trip to Puerto Viejo or spend one night in San Jose.

We don’t recommend that you drive at night!

After arrival, you can take an Uber, taxi, bus, or private shuttle to downtown San Jose. The journey time is about 30 minutes.

Book your Minivan here.

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If you want to explore San Jose, add an extra day to your Costa Rica Itinerary.

Where to see sloths in Costa Rica

As our flight arrived in the evening from Mexico to San Jose, we decided to spend the night at the airport and pick up our car the next day.

If you are traveling by car, you should download an offline map and get a local sim card with internet to drive to your destination or hotel without any problems.

There is no SIM card vendor at Juan Santamaria International Airport. But you can get one at any supermarket or phone company in Costa Rica.

Buy an eSIM and data package for Costa Rica.

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We recommend you buy the Movistar SIM card as the internet was excellent during our 2-week Costa Rica Itinerary.

Costa Rica Caribbean cuisine

Where to Stay in San Jose

San Jose has some luxury hotels, but accommodation options are available for all budgets. These are our recommendations.

Best hotels in San Jose, Costa Rica

How to Get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is about 5 hours from San Jose, 20 minutes from Cahuita, and 1 hour from Puerto Limon. You can easily get to Puerto Viejo by shared and private transfer, taxi, bus, or rental car.

We have a detailed post on how to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo with all the information you need.

Puerto Viejo by car

The easiest way to get to Puerto Viejo is by rental car.

From San Jose, depending on traffic (which can be chaotic), you can reach Puerto Viejo in 4.5-5 hours.

You don’t need a 4×4, but a car with a higher ground clearance is worth booking for your Costa Rica road trip.

The road from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is well-maintained and easy to drive.

Keep reading → How to Renting a Car in Costa Rica

Costa Rica by car

Puerto Viejo by public transport

The cheapest way to reach Puerto Viejo is by bus. If you don’t want to rent a car or cannot drive, you can take a MEPE bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo.

The MEPE buses depart from Terminal Atlantico Norte to Puerto Viejo, and the bus ticket costs around 6985 CRC (13 USD).

The Autotransportes MEPE public buses depart every two hours from 6 AM to 4 PM, and the bus journey takes about 5-6 hours.

Once you arrive at the bus station in Puerto Viejo, you can easily catch a tuk tuk to your accommodation.

Alternatively, you can take a shared minivan from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, starting from 50 USD per person.

Book your Minivan here.

Costa Rica Itinerary without car

Day 2-5: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Good morning! It’s time to start your Costa Rica Itinerary! Check out from your accommodation (or leave the airport), have breakfast, pick up your car, and drive to Puerto Viejo.

The road conditions are good, but drive carefully! On the way, have lunch at a local restaurant and try delicious Costa Rican food.

As the journey from San Jose is long, we recommend you spend the first day in Puerto Viejo relaxing.

Recommended Post → Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Punta Uva beach, Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is one of the best places to get the famous Pura Vida feeling and discover the most beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and diverse wildlife of Costa Rica.

Our Costa Rica Itinerary gives you a full day to explore the tropical beaches in Puerto Viejo.

Did you know that Puerto Viejo is one of the best places to see sloths in Costa Rica?

So keep your eyes open while exploring Puerto Viejo and watch for monkeys and sloths in the trees.

Recommended post → Things to Do in Puerto Viejo

Chocolate tour, Puerto Viejo

Over the next 2-days visit Cahuita National Park and Jaguar Rescue Center, explore the town of Puerto Viejo, try some Caribbean cuisine, and join a chocolate making class.

We enjoyed our time in Puerto Viejo, walking the colorful streets, experiencing the laid-back reggae vibe, and seeing beautiful street art.

Puerto Viejo is the best part of every Costa Rica Itinerary, so don’t miss it on your visit.

Read our → Puerto Viejo Guide

Where to Stay in Puerto Viejo

Although Puerto Viejo is a small town, the accommodation options are available for all budgets. You can choose from cheap hostels to mid-range hotels and luxury resorts.

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For those looking for a quiet and calm atmosphere or traveling on a budget, we recommend staying in nearby Cahuita.

Best hotels in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Playa Cocles surf

How to Get from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna

There are several ways to get from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna.

La Fortuna by car

The journey from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to La Fortuna takes around 4.5-5 hours, depending on traffic.

La Fortuna by public transport

The buses depart from the MEPE bus station from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca town center. But the journey between Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna is long, as there is no direct bus connection.

It takes approximately 8-9 hours, and the bus tickets start from 16 USD.

First, you can travel from Puerto Viejo to San Jose (Terminal Atlantico Norte station), then change buses and travel from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna.

Another great way to reach La Fortuna if you don’t have a car is to take a shared shuttle. The journey takes around 5 hours and starts from 88 USD per person.

Book your Minivan here.

Toucan in Costa Rica

Day 6-8: La Fortuna – Popular Destination on your Costa Rica Itinerary

Good morning! Wake up early and travel from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna.

On the way, you can stop at one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, Catarata Del Toro, and then visit Rio Agrio Waterfall.

As you’ll be driving a lot on this day, enjoy the beautiful sunset with dinner after arrival and then relax.

See also → Catarata Del Toro Waterfall

Costa Rica 14 day Itinerary

La Fortuna is the adventure capital of Costa Rica.

Although Puerto Viejo was one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, our itinerary still includes many fantastic places, the best things to do, and some hidden gems.

For the best experience, join a La Fortuna tour, which includes the La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano, and hot springs.

La Fortuna is famous for the scenic landscape of the Arenal Volcano, fantastic attractions, the best hot springs resorts, and outdoor activities.

Read our → La Fortuna Guide

Places to visit in Costa Rica

Explore Arenal sights

Are you ready for one of the highlights of your Costa Rica Itinerary?

Spend your first full day in La Fortuna, visiting the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park and hiking in the Arenal Volcano National Park. Then, enjoy the beautiful hot springs in La Fortuna.

Book your full-day tour, which includes the impressive waterfall, hanging bridges, and Arenal Volcano National Park.

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The free natural hot springs river is located about 15 minutes by car from La Fortuna, right next to the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa.

Start your next morning by exploring La Fortuna Waterfall, then have breakfast at Organico Fortuna.

If the weather allows, take a walk on the Bogarin Trail, stroll around the town and visit the El Salto Rope swing or go ziplining.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Where to Stay in La Fortuna

If you have a car, we suggest you book your hotel outside La Fortuna with a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano.

If you don’t have a rental car or are looking for budget accommodation, you should stay downtown. Because you’ll be close to restaurants and can easily book La Fortuna tours or shuttles to attractions.

Although La Fortuna is a small town, the accommodation options are available for all budgets.

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If you stay at one of the beautiful resorts, you will get free access to the hot springs.

Best hotels in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

How to Get from La Fortuna to Monteverde

Most people arrive in Monteverde from San Jose or La Fortuna. You can easily get to Monteverde by shared and private transfer, Jeep-Boat-Jeep tour, bus, or car.

We have a detailed post on how to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde with all the information you need.

Monteverde by car

If you are driving to Monteverde from La Fortuna, the best roads are Route 142 to Tilaran and then Route 145 to Route 606.

The drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde takes around 3-4 hours, depending on traffic.

Monteverde by public transport

A shuttle minivan from La Fortuna to Monteverde starts from 35 USD. The journey time is 3.5 hours, depending on traffic.

Book your Minivan here.

The cheapest way to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde is by bus, but the travel time is very long as there is no direct bus service.

The journey takes around 8 hours, and the bus fare costs 9 USD. First, you have to travel from La Fortuna to Tilaran and from there to Monteverde.

The most comfortable way to travel between Arenal and Monteverde is to take the Van-Boat-Van transfer. Two daily transfers are available from La Fortuna to Monteverde at 8 AM and 2 PM.

Total travel time is 3.5-4 hours and 36 USD per person for one way.

Book Van-Boat-Van transfer HERE.

Hummingbird in Monteverde

Day 9-10: Monteverde

Good Morning! The next destination on the Costa Rica Itinerary is Santa Elena, Monteverde.

Travel from La Fortuna to Monteverde, and make the most of your trip with a detour to the Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Alternatively, add an extra day to your Costa Rica Itinerary and take a day trip from La Fortuna to Rio Celeste Waterfall. Book your tour here.

Since you will be driving and hiking a lot on this day, after arriving, you should relax and then explore Monteverde the next day.

Recommended post → Visiting Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica

Monteverde is famous for its cloud forests, suspension bridges, diverse wildlife, and adventure activities.

Hike to the waterfalls, visit the beautiful cloud forests, go bird watching, join a night tour, take a coffee tour, or go ziplining.

Book your Monteverde Cloud Forest tour HERE.

It’s good to know that Monteverde is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica, so unexpected rains may occur during the dry season.

We did not have good weather when we were in Monteverde because it rained a lot. The weather is usually colder in Monteverde, so bring a sweater, long trousers, socks, and a light raincoat.

Read our → Monteverde Guide

Where to Stay in Monteverde

If you don’t have a rental car or are looking for budget accommodation, you should stay in Santa Elena downtown.

Best hotels in Monteverde, Costa Rica

How to Get from Monteverde to Uvita

Most people travel from Monteverde to Uvita or Manuel Antonio.

Uvita by car

Uvita is easy to reach by car as the roads are well-maintained and paved, so you don’t need a 4×4.

It takes around 4-5 hours from Monteverde to Uvita.

Uvita by public transport

There is no direct bus between Monteverde and Uvita/Manuel Antonio.

From Santa Elena (Monteverde), take a bus to Puntarenas and then change buses to Quepos.

From Quepos, you can take another local bus or taxi to Uvita. The journey takes 7-8 hours, and the total fare is around 13 USD.

Alternatively, you can take a shared minivan from Monteverde to Uvita, and the ticket costs start from 67 USD.

Book your Minivan here.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Day 11-14: Uvita

Good morning! It’s time to go to the last destination on your Costa Rica Itinerary and travel from Monteverde to Uvita.

On the way, stop at the famous crocodile bridge over the Tarcoles River and visit Jaco.

Once you arrive in Uvita, take a walk around the town and chill out at Playa Hermosa or Dominical Beach. These beaches are perfect for watching a sunset and surfing.

Read our → Uvita Guide

Whale watching in Costa Rica

On your first day in Uvita, visit Marino Ballena National Park. Many tour operators offer whale watching tours in Uvita. But we recommend booking your whale watching tour online.

The Marino Ballena National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, and you can spend a whole day relaxing on the beach, sunbathing, and swimming.

The next day, take a day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park, just 1-hour drive from Uvita. This is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, although it is one of the best places to see wildlife.

Good to know
The Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Tuesdays!

More about Costa Rica → Manuel Antonio

Marino Ballena National Park

On your last day, go chasing waterfalls. Nauyaca Waterfalls is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, which is easily accessible from Dominical, Uvita, and Manuel Antonio.

Book your Nauyaca Waterfalls tour from Uvita.

You can visit two beautiful waterfalls, swim in the natural pools at the bottom, or spend a few refreshing hours.

Read the full post → Visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls

Nauyaca Waterfalls, Costa Rica

Where to Stay in Uvita

Uvita is an emerging tourist destination in Costa Rica. We recommend staying near the Marino Ballena National Park if you don’t have a car.

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You can also stay in Manuel Antonio and Dominical.

Although Uvita is a small town, the accommodation options are available for all budgets. These are our recommendations.

Best hotels in Uvita, Costa Rica

Jaco beach, Costa Rica

Day 15: Leave Costa Rica

We hope you enjoyed your visit to Costa Rica! But it’s time to leave Uvita and drive back to San Jose.

Our Costa Rica Itinerary ends where it began. Go back to Juan Santamaria International Airport and fly home.

It takes about 4-5 hours to get from Uvita to San Jose. Enjoy the diverse landscapes of Costa Rica on your last road trip.

Book your Minivan here.

Good to know
You can easily modify our Costa Rica Itinerary to extend or reduce the days. But most people take a 2-week Costa Rica Itinerary on their first visit.

Best place to see sloths

We hope our two-week Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary will help you plan your next trip. If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know in the comments below.

Travel Resources

Hotels – Booking.com
Car Rentals – Discover Cars
Flights – Skyscanner
Travel Insurance – SafetyWing
Tours & Attractions – GetYourGuide
Bus/Transfer – Bookaway

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