Visit and Travel in Costa Rica in 2 weeks : Itinerary & Must-See
I am going to present you the so-called “traditional” itinerary for a road trip of 2 weeks to Costa Rica. This tour focuses mainly on the northern and eastern part of the country.
Road trip to visit Costa Rica: itinerary
- Day 1 : Arrival in San Jose
- Days 2-3 : Tortuguero
- Days 4-5 : Puerto Viejo
- Day 6 : Sarapiqui
- Days 7-8 : La Fortuna / Arenal
- Day 9 : Rio Celeste
- Days 10-11 : Rincon de la Vieja
- Days 12-14 : Samara
That’s it for the summary of my trip to Costa Rica organized by the travel agency. They took care of concocting me a tailor-made tour according to my wishes, booking my hotels and activities with good prices and assisting me on the spot. Contact them for a quote with your wishes at [email protected].
↠ DAYS 1, 2 and 3 : San José & Tortuguero
On arrival, I recommend that you do not waste time in San Jose, which is not of interest. If you arrive in the evening, you can book a night in San José to leave the next day for Tortuguero.
For a quiet night with a typical Costa Rican decoration I recommend this hotel.
What to do in Tortuguero?
First of all, the access to Tortuguero is a journey in itself. Indeed, the village of Tortuguero is only accessible by boat. The pier is located 3 hours away by car (or bus) and it will take between 1 and 2 hours by boat depending on the height of the water. The landscapes are incredible, believe me it’s worth it !
Once you arrive, you’ll find yourself in the middle of lush nature with no vehicles. This little paradise reminds me of Holbox in Mexico for those who know – find our Mexico itinerary by clicking here. The village fits into a long piece of land between the Caribbean Sea and a river. Take the time to walk around to soak up the atmosphere and discover its tropical flora and fauna. South of the village, the trail is even wilder.
A boat, canoe or kayak trip on the river is a must to observe many of the animals that cohabit this national park. If you’d like to hire a boat for a day and see some magical scenery, click here.
If you are interested in an excursion to Turtle Island to observe these magnificent marine animals in their natural environment, I invite you to click here.
I would especially recommend kayaking to get away to the quiet of the canals and visit at your own pace. I did the canoeing but it was in a group, I didn’t understand… You will definitely have the chance to cross sloths, monkeys, caimans, iguanas, birds.
Update 2023 :
Fun Fact : The sloth is an emblematic animal of Costa Rica. The country is home to several species of sloth and it’s possible to observe these slow, adorable creatures in their natural habitat🦥.
If you come here during the nesting season, from June to October, you may be lucky enough to witness the nesting of the sea turtles!
Where to stay in Tortuguero?
For 2 nights, I stayed at the Mawamba Lodge, full board. Count around 80€ a night for a superb air-conditioned cottage, with meals. The value for money is very good. The strong points of this lodge: the proximity with the centre of the village in 10 minutes with foot, the proposed activities (exit boat, kayak, canoe…), the excellent food and the swimming pool to be refreshed.
Where to eat in Tortuguero?
I was in full board at Mawamba but I recommend you to try the street food to have a contact with the locals and taste the specialities !
However, for the sunset, I tested a really top address to see the sun going down behind the river and the jungle : El Paso. Small rooftop with correct prices and a calm musical atmosphere.
↠ DAYS 4 and 5: Puerto Viejo
If you’re planning a 10 days itinerary in Costa Rica, I’d recommend skipping the Puerto Viejo stop. The atmosphere is top notch, the beaches are nice but, if you have to make a choice, you’ll save yourself an 8 hours round trip.
What to do in Puerto Viejo during your road trip in Costa Rica?
The village of Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean coast, in the extreme south-east of the country. Here it is the surfers’s haunt and the atmosphere is really nice ! In the evening, the village is very lively and frequented by many young people.
You will find nice beaches south of the village, including Chiquita, and biodiversity inland with beautiful waterfalls on the Bribri side.
How to get to the Volio waterfall?
To reach the Volio waterfall, head towards the village of Bribri and the waterfall of the same name. Shortly before arriving, some children will surely stop you to offer you the parking and guide you! I recommend it. Your car will be safe and you won’t get lost. Moreover, you will help a family in need and it will only cost you 5€. Offer them to drive up to the waterfall if there is not too much water: there are 3 small rivers to cross. 1 or 2 children will guard the vehicle and another will accompany you!
Otherwise, here are the GPS coordinates of the car park near the waterfall. From the car park, go down to reach the river nest. At the river, take the path between the two streams and continue to the waterfall. Quite easy to reach and 15 minutes are enough. Bring hiking boots though and don’t do it barefoot like me.
Where to sleep in Puerto Viejo?
I recommend staying at the Kukula Lodge which is less than 10 minutes south of the village and only a 6 minute walk to Chiquita Beach. You will feel like you are in the middle of the jungle. The lodge was built with respect for the environment and decorated with recycled materials. It is a small hotel with 8 rooms run by a charming Catalan couple : Pepo and Sonia. The setting is incredible, the welcome is really top notch, the breakfast is very good and a swimming pool awaits you.
Where to eat in Puerto Viejo ?
The Salsa Bravo Rasta Bar is a very good address on the beach to have a drink at the end of the day and dinner. The place also turns into a dance bar in the evening.
↠ DAY 6 : Road trip Costa Rica – Sarapiqui
What to do in Sarapiqui ?
Sarapiqui is on the way to the Arenal volcano, which is a must for a 2 week trip to Costa Rica. It may be worthwhile to cut the trip short.
There are many agricultural visits in this region: chocolate, pineapple, heart of palm… I had the chance to discover a pineapple plantation finca (farm). It’s really impressive and beautiful to see.
An hour’s drive from Sarapiqui, you can also admire beautiful blue pools and the “catarata del Toro” waterfall. The access is quite simple but you have to pay about 12€ for the entrance. For the blue pools, here are the GPS coordinates. Just take the stairs down and the only path to the pools.
And if you are fond of discovery and sensation, you can opt for an adventure excursion ! On the program : zip line and rafting with breakfast included 🙂
Where to stay in Sarapiqui?
I stayed at the Reserva Biologica La Tirimbina Hotel. It offers an immersion in the forest just a few meters from the Sarapiqui River. It offers educational trails, a hike on the suspension bridges and the discovery of the secrets of cocoa.
↠ DAYS 7 & 8 of the Costa Rica road trip : La Fortuna – Volcan Arenal
Located in the north of the country, 2.5 hours from San José, the Volcan Arenal National Park is one of the most visited sites in Costa Rica. It is home to many hiking trails with exceptional panoramas, but also many activities.
What to do in La Fortuna during your road trip to Costa Rica?
The Hot Springs
Around the Arenal Volcano there are many hot springs. I highly recommend you to treat yourself to a moment at the Tabacon. It’s not cheap (60/70€ per person with lunch or dinner included) but the experience is unique and the food is good!
For an immersion in the Arenal Volcano National Park, a quad ride is a good alternative. The team is great and the quads are very modern. The excursion was booked through my travel agency, as are all the activities in this guide. I remind you that you can contact them for a customised quote at [email protected]
Sky Adventure Park
The park is located in the middle of nature, near the Arenal volcano and the lake. I had the opportunity to do the zip line (Sky Trek Arenal) and I can only recommend it to you! The ascent is done by cable car with a very nice view on the lake. For the descent, you will have 7 zip lines going up to 750m long and 200m high with a top speed at 70km/h. ⚡️ Sensations guaranteed! Don’t forget your GoPro, you can rent the helmet attachment for an extra 10€.
In the park, you will also find a beautiful 4km hike with suspension bridges ?. You will be in the middle of the rainforest !
☛ Find many activities and book your tickets in advance by clicking here to save money and time.
Where to sleep in Arenal ?
Ideally located and with a beautiful view of the volcano, I recommend the Campo Verde hotel. You will be right next to the quad bike, 10 minutes from the hot springs and 20 minutes from the Sky Adventure Park. Plus, there are hiking trails around the volcano that start from the hotel.
↠ DAY 9 : Rio Celeste
The Rio Celeste is a turquoise blue river located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Its colour is truly exceptional and I highly recommend you visit it during your trip to Costa Rica. If you have the choice, avoid rainy days because the water is not as blue…
The entrance costs 10€ and the walk takes 2 hours round trip. I was unlucky with the weather so I didn’t go all the way. I saw the first waterfall (20 minutes walk) and the bridge (45 minutes walk from the entrance). The path is quite easy but beware: there are quite a few stairs to go down to the waterfall.
Where to sleep around Rio Celeste?
An 8 minute drive from the famous Rio Celeste, I recommend staying at the Celeste Mountain Lodge. The hotel held by French people is in the middle of nature, the welcome is top and the food incredible.
↠ DAYS 10 & 11: Rincon de La Vieja
If you’re travelling to Costa Rica during the rainy season, you’ll be glad to get to Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which is located in one of the driest parts of the country. ☀️
I stayed in a very large hotel with full board offering a lot of activities: horse riding, zip line, rafting, canyoning, hiking… There are also thermal pools, waterfalls and pozas (natural pools). The property of this hotel is huge and you won’t be bored!
Where to stay in Rincon de la Vieja?
To enjoy all the activities (extra) and beautiful spots present in Rincon de la Vieja park, I recommend staying at Hacienda Guachipelin. For an all inclusive hotel, the food is very decent!
↠ DAYS 12 & 13: Road trip Costa Rica and its Pacific Coast – Samara
To end this trip to Costa Rica on a high note, head to the beautiful beaches of the Pacific Coast. ? I stayed in Puerto Carrillo, 5 minutes south of Samara.
What to do in Samara?
I had a crush on Samara! Ok the weather was very favourable and the restaurants on the beach beach must have weighed in the balance.
Even though I ended my stay in relaxation mode, you can keep yourself very busy in Samara. Feel free to rent a canoe, go diving, surfing, yoga or even horseback riding on the beach !
I highly recommend you to go to the beach of Puerto Carrillo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many palm trees on a beach. And the coconuts sold by the street vendors for 0,70€ are really excellent.
Where to stay near Samara for your road trip to Costa Rica?
I slept in the beautiful Nammbu Hotel overlooking the beach in Puerto Carrillo. The rooms are modern and spacious offering a sea view for beautiful sunsets! Also, the breakfast and the pool are really amazing !
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