Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary [The Perfect 2024 Guide]


I’ve crafted the ultimate Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary, infused with personal experiences and insider tips. This guide promises to make your 10 day Costa Rica itinerary not just memorable but absolutely epic!

Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary Start

Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

This Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary is all about balance – enough traveling to see many beautiful places but also paced to ensure relaxation and enjoyment. Get ready for an experience that perfectly captures the essence of Costa Rica!

Day 1-2: San José

San José

How to get to San José

To start your 10 Day Itinerary in Costa Rica, typically you will land at Juan Santamaría International Airport, conveniently located near San José. To get to the city center, you can opt for an official airport taxi, which is safe and metered, and will cost you about $30 USD and take about 30 minutes.

I would recommend a much more budget-friendly option – public buses run regularly from the airport to downtown San José, offering a real taste of local life. This will cost you about $2.50 per person and take about 40 minutes.

Click here to check the best flight deals to San José

What to do in San José

San José, the vibrant capital, is often overlooked, but it’s a city brimming with culture and history. Start your adventure at the National Museum of Costa Rica to dive into the country’s rich past. Afterward, stroll through the lively streets to the Central Market – a bustling hub where you can sample local delicacies and shop for unique souvenirs.

For art enthusiasts, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design is a must-visit. As the evening sets in, explore the Barrio Escalante, the gastronomic heart of the city, where you can indulge in an array of international and Costa Rican cuisines.

Accommodation in San José

When it comes to staying in San José, you’re spoiled for choice. For a touch of luxury and history, the Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Curio Collection by Hilton, offers a blend of classic charm and modern amenities, located right in the heart of the city.

If you’re on a budget, Chillout Hostal is a great option, known for its friendly atmosphere and central location, making it easy to explore the city.

Click Here to see other Best Rated and Cheapest Accommodation deals in San José

Day 3-4: Arenal/La Fortuna

Arenal/La Fortuna

How to get to Arenal/La Fortuna

La Fortuna is a must for any Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary. From San José, it is easily accessible. The most common way to travel is by bus, which offers a scenic route through the mountains and takes about 4 to 5 hours. This will cost you about $5 USD per person.

You can also opt for a shared or private shuttle service for a more direct and comfortable journey. This will be much more expensive at around $70 USD.

The third option is to rent a car, which allows you to explore a lot more inbetween destinations. Click Here to see the best car rental deals which include airport pickup and drop off.

What to do in Arenal/La Fortuna

Arenal/La Fortuna is a wonderland for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit, where you can hike to lava trails and enjoy stunning views of the volcano. Don’t miss out on the La Fortuna Waterfall, where a short hike leads you to a breathtaking waterfall perfect for swimming.

For a unique experience, visit the Ecotermales or Tabacon hot springs, where you can unwind in thermal waters surrounded by lush tropical forest. Adventure enthusiasts will love the zip-lining tours, horseback riding, and the thrilling whitewater rafting on the Balsa River. Check out the best tours in the La Fortuna area here!

Accommodation in Arenal/La Fortuna

In Arenal/La Fortuna, there’s an accommodation to fit every budget and preference. For a luxurious stay, the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa offers exquisite rooms with views of the volcano and access to natural hot springs.

If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, consider the Arenal Hostel Resort, known for its friendly atmosphere and excellent location.

Click Here to see the Best Rated and Cheapest Accommodation deals in La Fortuna

Day 5-6: Monteverde


How to get to Monteverde

After your adventures in La Fortuna, getting to Monteverde adds a bit more excitement to your journey. The most popular route is the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” service, which involves a scenic drive to Lake Arenal, a boat ride across the lake, and another drive up to Monteverde. This mode of transportation is not only efficient, taking about 3 hours, but also provides stunning views along the way. This will cost you about $60 USD. Book it Here in Viator to get the best price.

Alternatively, if you have a rental car, you can drive to Monteverde, which allows you to enjoy the beautiful landscapes at your own pace.

What to do in Monteverde

Monteverde, known for its cloud forests, offers a magical experience. A visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a highlight, where you can explore the misty trails and spot an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including the elusive Resplendent Quetzal. A must-see on every Costa Rica 10 day itinerary.

The area is also famous for its canopy tours and zip-lining adventures, providing an exhilarating way to experience the forest. Don’t miss the hanging bridges, which offer a unique perspective on the forest canopy. For a more relaxed activity, visit the Butterfly Gardens or the Orchid Garden to see some of the area’s diverse species. Click Here to see the tours available in Monteverde!

Accommodation in Monteverde

For a luxurious stay, the Monteverde Lodge & Gardens provides elegant rooms with forest views and excellent dining options.

If you’re seeking a more budget-friendly option, the Hostel Cattleya is a great choice, known for its friendly service and comfortable rooms.

For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at the Trapp Family Lodge, the closest hotel to the Monteverde Reserve, which offers cozy accommodations surrounded by nature.

Click Here to see the Best Rated and Cheapest Accommodation deals in Monteverde

Day 7-8: Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio

How to get to Manuel Antonio

To reach Manuel Antonio from Monteverde, the most straightforward option is by bus. This journey takes approximately 4-5 hours and offers beautiful views of the Costa Rican countryside. It will cost about $10 USD.

What to do in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is a stunning combination of beach and rainforest. The main attraction is the Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and diverse wildlife like sloths, monkeys, and myriad bird species. Enjoy a day of sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling at Playa Espadilla or Playa Manuel Antonio. Who is not going to add, ‘hold a sloth’ to their Costa Rica 10 day itinerary?

For adventure lovers, there are opportunities for parasailing, jet skiing, and guided jungle tours. As the day winds down, catch a breathtaking sunset at one of the beachside bars or restaurants. Click Here to see the national park tours available in Manuel Antonio!

Accommodation in Manuel Antonio

Accommodation options in Manuel Antonio range from luxury resorts to cozy beachfront hotels. For a luxurious experience, the Parador Resort & Spa offers stunning ocean views and top-notch amenities.

If you’re looking for something more intimate, La Posada Jungle Bungalows provide a comfortable and authentic stay close to the national park.

For budget travelers, Hostel Plinio offers a friendly, laid-back atmosphere with both dormitory and private rooms.

Click Here to see the Best Rated and Cheapest Accommodation deals in Manuel Antonio

Day 9: Jacó

Jacó - Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

How to get to Jacó

After your adventures in Manuel Antonio, reaching Jacó is a simple and scenic journey. By bus, it’s approximately a 1 to 1.5-hour ride along the beautiful Pacific coastline. This will cost you about $5 USD

For those with a rental car, the drive to Jacó is equally pleasant and offers the flexibility to stop and enjoy the coastal views along the way.

What to do in Jacó

Jacó is a vibrant coastal town known for its excellent surfing, lively beach scene, and nightlife. Spend your day riding the waves at Jacó Beach, a hotspot for surfers of all levels. If you’re new to surfing, numerous surf schools offer lessons. For a change of pace, visit the nearby Carara National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to the scarlet macaw.

As the sun sets, explore the town’s bustling streets, which are lined with a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. Jacó’s nightlife is vibrant and offers a fun way to experience the local culture. Click Here to see the national park, surf school and other tours available in Jacó!

Accommodation in Jacó

To experience a luxurious stay, check out the Croc’s Resort & Casino, which offers high-end amenities and beachfront access.

A more intimate and budget-friendly option is the Hotel Perico Azul is a great choice, known for its friendly atmosphere and close proximity to the beach.

For travelers looking for a hostel experience, Room2Board Hostel and Surf School provide a social and relaxed environment, perfect for meeting fellow travelers and enjoying the surf culture of Jacó.

Click Here to see the Best Rated and Cheapest Accommodation deals in Jacó

Day 10: Return to San José

How to get to San José

As your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary concludes, you’ll make your way back to San José from Jacó. The journey is a comfortable bus or car ride, typically taking about 1.5 to 2 hours. The bus will cost you about 10 USD.

What to do in San José

Upon returning to San José, take this opportunity to relax and soak up your last moments in Costa Rica. If your schedule allows, explore the city’s lively streets one more time. For those last-minute souvenirs, the Central Market is an ideal spot, offering a variety of local crafts and products, perfect for taking a piece of your journey back home.

5 Ways To Save Money On Your Trip To Costa Rica

save money Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

Traveling to Costa Rica can be an unforgettable experience, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are 5 cost-saving tips to help you enjoy your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary without overspending.

Book the cheapest flights to Costa Rica

For the most budget-friendly flights, WayAway is the best platform. They offer a comprehensive search engine that compares prices across various airlines, helping you find the best deals for your travel dates. Click Here to view and book the cheapest flights to Costa Rica.

Purchase the cheapest eSIM to stay connected

Unfortunately, Costa Rica has high internet prices but staying connected is a must. I like to use an eSIM from Airalo. This service offers a range of data plans specifically for Costa Rica, allowing you to enjoy internet access from the moment you land without the high costs of international roaming. Click Here to see the cheapest data plans for Costa Rica.

Purchase the cheapest travel insurance

EKTA offers the most cost-effective travel insurance options for Costa rica. Their plans cover a variety of potential travel issues, from medical emergencies to theift, to trip cancellations, ensuring you’re protected without overspending. Click Here to purchase the cheapest travel insurance options for Costa Rica.

Book tours in advance

Planning your tours ahead of time with platforms like Viator can save you money. Viator offers a wide range of tours and activities in Costa Rica at the best prices. By booking in advance, you not only secure your spot but also take advantage of early-bird discounts and special offers. Click Here to look for tours in each location you plan to visit.

Find the cheapest accommodation in Costa Rica

When it comes to accommodation, platforms like and Hostelworld are your go-to resources. They provide extensive listings of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses across Costa Rica, catering to all budgets. By comparing prices and reading reviews on these platforms, you can find comfortable yet affordable places to stay during your 10 day Costa Rica itinerary. Click Here to see the cheapest and best reviewed accommodation in Cost Rica.

Rent a car in Costa Rica

Renting a car will give your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary a lot more freedom, allowing you to explore more between destinations. It will be a bit more expensive that the cheaper option of taking buses, but you can offset this cost by splitting up with a group of people. Click Here to see the cheapest car rental deals in Costa Rica.

Tips for Your 10 Days in Costa Rica

  • Pack Smart and Light: Costa Rica’s diverse climate means you’ll experience everything from sunny beaches to cool cloud forests. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing and a good rain jacket. Don’t forget your sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat for sun protection.
  • Use Local Currency: While US dollars are widely accepted, it’s often cheaper to pay in the local currency (Costa Rican colón). You’ll get a better deal in smaller establishments and local markets.
  • Learn Basic Spanish: While many Costa Ricans speak English, especially in tourist areas, knowing some basic Spanish phrases will enrich your experience. It’s a sign of respect and can help in more remote areas.
  • Try Local Cuisine: Costa Rican cuisine is delicious and diverse. Don’t miss out on local specialties like gallo pinto (rice and beans), casado (a traditional meal plate), and fresh tropical fruits. Eating at local sodas (small restaurants) is a great way to enjoy authentic food at lower prices.
  • Embrace ‘Pura Vida’: ‘Pura Vida’ is a phrase you’ll hear often – it reflects the Costa Rican way of life, meaning ‘pure life’ or ‘simple life’. Embrace this philosophy during your trip: be patient, stay positive, and enjoy every moment.

The Best Time Of Year To Plan Your 10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary

Best time of year - Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

When planning your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary, the time of year you choose is crucial for the experience you’ll have. Generally, the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. This period offers sunny days and clear skies, perfect for beach activities and exploring the outdoors. However, it’s also the peak tourist season, so expect more crowds and higher prices.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more tranquil experience and don’t mind some rain, the green season (May to November) provides lush landscapes, fewer tourists, and often lower prices. The rain usually comes in short bursts, so you’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities.

Ultimately, the best time depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and budget. Both seasons have their unique charms and advantages!

How Much Money Will Your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary Cost?

Estimating the cost of your Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary depends on various factors including your travel style, accommodation preferences, dining choices, and the activities you plan to indulge in. Here’s a rough breakdown of a luxury, mid-range, and cheap budget to help you plan:


  • Luxury: For high-end hotels or resorts, expect to pay $150 – $300 per night.
  • Mid-Range: Comfortable hotels or B&Bs typically cost $50 – $150 per night.
  • Budget: Hostels and budget accommodations can range from $15 to $50 per night.

Food and Dining

  • Restaurants: Meals at mid-range restaurants can cost $10 – $25 per person.
  • Local Eateries: Eating at local sodas or markets can be as low as $5 – $10 per meal.


  • Car Rentals: Around $30 – $60 per day, excluding gas.
  • Public Transport: Buses are much cheaper, costing a few dollars for intercity trips.

Activities and Tours

  • Guided Tours: Depending on the activity, tours can range from $20 to over $100.
  • National Parks: Entry fees are typically around $10 – $15 per visit.


  • Souvenirs, Tips, and Extras: Budget around $10 – $20 per day.

Total Estimated Cost

  • Luxury Traveler: $2500 – $4000+
  • Mid-Range Traveler: $1000 – $2000
  • Budget Traveler: $500 – $1000

FAQs: Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

Is 10 days enough for Costa Rica?

Yes, 10 days is a good amount of time to explore several key regions of Costa Rica. It allows for a balanced experience, covering major attractions like national parks, beaches, and cultural sites without feeling rushed.

Is Costa Rica Expensive?

Costa Rica’s cost can vary widely based on your travel choices. It’s generally more expensive than other Central American countries but offers a range of options for different budgets. Accommodations, dining, and activities can vary from luxury to budget-friendly, with prices often higher in tourist hotspots.

What part of Costa Rica is best to stay?

The best area depends on your interests. To see beaches and wildlife, the Pacific Coast, including Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste, is great. For rainforests and adventure activities, Arenal and Monteverde are ideal. To experience a more authentic experience, the Caribbean side or the Central Valley would be perfect. Costa is considered safe all over so it is really up to your interests.

What is the cost of living in Costa Rica?

The cost of living in Costa Rica is generally lower than in the US but higher than in many other Central American countries. It varies based on location, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Expats often find housing, healthcare, and local foods quite affordable.

How expensive is Costa Rica compared to the US?

Overall, Costa Rica can be less expensive than the US, particularly in terms of local services, healthcare, and basic commodities. However, imported goods and certain tourist services may be comparably priced or even more expensive than in the US. Take a more detailed look at the cost of living in Costa Rica here.

Conclusion: Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary

As our Costa Rica 10 Day Itinerary comes to a close, it’s clear that this vibrant country offers an abundance of experiences, from lush rainforests and imposing volcanoes to serene beaches and rich cultural landscapes. In just ten days, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty and warm hospitality that define Costa Rica.

This itinerary strikes a balance between adventure and relaxation, allowing you to explore diverse ecosystems and engage in thrilling activities, all while having ample time to unwind and soak in the pura vida lifestyle. Pura vida!

You might also be interested in:
Digital Nomad in Costa Rica: A Complete Guide
13 Best Places to Live in Central America as an Expat

9 Best Non Touristy Places in Costa Rica

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