Two Weeks in Costa Rica: A Travel Itinerary

Costa Rica is a forward moving, eco country, in the southern region of Central America.  You’ll find Costa Rica nestled between Nicaragua and Panama. We spent just over two weeks in Costa Rica and it feels as if we’ve only began to scratch the surface of this amazing country. 

Costa Rica appeals to many travellers, as its offers visitors a variety of activities to appease all tastes.  Costa Rica is home to many jungles, volcanoes, copious amounts of wildlife and jaw dropping beaches along both coasts. 

View of Arenal Volcano from Monteverde

View of Arenal Volcano from Monteverde

During our two weeks in Costa Rica, we split our time between beaches and jungles, with a mix of wildlife.  Our journey consisted of six stops giving us the opportunity see many incredible locations in Costa Rica.  

Two Weeks in Costa Rica: Itinerary Breakdown

Two weeks in Costa Rica isn’t much time at all, but this itinerary should give you an idea of some of the things you can see during your visit.

Alajuela (1 night) —> La Fortuna (3 nights) —> Monteverde (2 nights) —> Santa Teresa (4 nights) —> Montezuma (1 night) —> Manuel Antonio (3 nights) —> Airport

Alajuela (1 Night) & La Fortuna (3 Nights)

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano Hiding Behind the Clouds

How to get to La Fortuna

We didn’t spend much time in Alajuela, but used it as a transportation hub to reach La Fortuna, after landing in San Jose.  Following an evening flight,  we spent a night in Alajuela, only to catch a bus out first thing the next morning.  We bought our bus tickets just a few minutes before departure and waited for the bus reading La Fortuna.  From Alajuela, La Fortuna is only approximately 2.5 hours, but with stops, expect your ride to be a little closer to 4 hours.  Its a very beautiful ride, so sit back and enjoy the view.

Things to do in La Fortuna

Once in La Fortuna, we were ready to start our two weeks in Costa Rica and spent 3 nights.  Here we enjoyed a hostel with a pool and the views in town.  In addition, we visited the natural hot springs, a hidden swimming hole and of course,  the main attraction, Arenal Volcano National Park. 

Chato Crater, Costa Rica

Chato’s Crater and Emerald Water

Arenal Volcano National Park is home to Arenal Volcano and Chato Volcano.  Many visitors flock to Arenal Park to hike Chato Volcano.  You’re able to hike to the top of Chato and then down into its emerald green crater.  This hike can be challenging, but the views are worth it.

Monteverde (2 Nights)

Lush Views in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Lush Views in Monteverde

How to get to Monteverde

Monteverde is on the other side of Arenal Laguna, making for a long drive.  Luckily, for around $25 CAN, you can purchase a boat-taxi and shuttle ticket.  The boat-taxi is very popular and takes travellers across the laguna between the two towns.  The journey across the laguna takes about an hour and saves a long journey by road.  Once across the laguna, shuttle buses are waiting and ready to take you the rest of the way into Monteverde. 

Things to do in Monteverde

Monteverde is a lush, green town situated in the mountains.   On arrival, you’ll quickly notice significantly cooler temperatures. This small town is natures playground, with beautiful hanging bridges, cloud forests, zip-lining and hikes.

Hanging Bridges in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Hanging Bridges in Selvatura Park

We visited Selvatura Park to see the hanging bridges and LOVED it!!  You’re able to walk amongst and above the forest canopy  and take in some amazing jungle views.  Conveniently located near Selvatura Park, lays Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve with some more beautiful hikes.  The hikes and lookout points in this area are incredible, and should not be missed.  Overall, Monteverde is a nice change of scenery and the views in and around town are stunning. 

Nicoya Peninsula and Santa Teresa (4 Nights)

Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

View of the Nicoya Peninsula from the ferry

How to get to Santa Teresa

From Monteverde, we took on a full day of travel (almost 10 hours) crossing the Nicoya Peninsula to reach Santa Teresa.  First we took a bus from Monteverde to Puntarenas.   Purchase your bus ticket ahead of time as the bus terminal isn’t always open during early departures.

This bus drops you off in Puntarenas and the stop is quite a distance away from the ferry terminal.  The walk to the ferry is  a long, hot stretch or a short cab ride, so be prepared.  The ferry then takes you a few beautiful hours across the Nicoya Peninsula. You will be greeted by a number of buses as you exit the ferry.  This bus was extremely full and we had to stand a majority of the way.  We were then dropped off in a little town and had to wait another hour for the next bus to take us the last few hours to Santa Teresa. 

Tip: I’d suggest staying a night in Puntarenas to break up the journey, as it was quite a long day!  After an extremely long expedition, we stayed four nights in Santa Teresa, soaking up some sunshine and enjoying the beaches. 

Things to do in Santa Teresa

Once we finally reached Santa Teresa, we immediately felt at home by the beach.  The beaches here stretch on for kilometre after kilometre, with hardly any people on them.  We came across the odd surfer, sunbather or dog, but for the most part, we had the beach to ourselves.

Sunset in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Sunset in Santa Teresa

In addition to the amazing beaches, Santa Teresa is home to a plethora of monkeys that aren’t shy to make an appearance.  We spotted plenty of monkeys hanging from the trees along the beach and in town.

Lastly, Santa Teresa hosts some of the most stunning sunsets.  Hands down, the sunsets in Santa Teresa were the best ones we seen during our two weeks in Costa Rica.  The contrast between the sky and the ocean make for an incredible experience.  If you’re looking for a chilled out beach destination, Santa Teresa is the place to be.

Montezuma (1 Night)

Beach in Montezuma

Beach in Montezuma

How to get to Montezuma

On our way back across the Nicoya Peninsula, we decided to break up the journey.  We opted to spend a night in Montezuma, a small beach town about an hour from Santa Teresa.  Reaching Montezuma is quite simple.  There is a direct bus that runs from Santa Teresa and takes just over an hour.

Things to do in Montezuma

Montezuma is an incredibly charming beach town that is also home to the Montezuma waterfall.  With only one night here, we visited the waterfall, walked around the “downtown” area and enjoyed the monkeys and beach.  This was a spot that I found I could have spent another day or two exploring.

Manuel Antonio(3 Nights)

Swinging in the Manuel Antonio Jungle

Swinging in the Jungle

How to get to Manuel Antonio

From Montezuma, we splurged and purchased a boat and shuttle service to take us to Manuel Antonio, our last stop before heading home.  The boat picked us up right on the shore of Montezuma and took about an hour to get to Jaco on the other side of the peninsula.  From Jaco, we were met by a shuttle bus that drove us another two hours into Manuel Antonio.  This was a much more expensive route, but also much quicker.  In my opinion, it was worth every penny.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is another one of Costa Rica’s amazing towns that offers visitors a great variety.  Here you will find the well known, Manuel Antonio National Park.  This park is home to many of the classic Central American animals such as monkeys, sloths and toucans.  You can easily spend hours walking around looking at the animals in their natural environment.  In addition to all the wildlife, this park also has some stunning beaches.  This park is a must visit if you’re in the area.  The town of Manuel Antonio is also a popular beach and surf town.  You will find plenty of places to surf or calmer areas of swim.

Getting to the airport

From Manuel Antonio you can easily catch a bus that travels to the airport.  The bus generally leaves a couple times a day and takes around 4 hours, depending on traffic.  The bus we took, dropped us off right outside the airport with no problems.

Have a look at this great list if you’re  wondering what to pack for Costa Rica.

Saying goodbye after two weeks in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa Beach

Beach in Santa Teresa

Our two weeks in Costa Rica gave us our first taste of Central America, and we instantly became hooked.  Between the beaches, jungles, volcanos, animals and culture, this region is a travellers dream.  We loved Costa Rica so much, that it inspired us to visit Belize and Guatemala as well.  Needless to say, we will definitely be back to continue exploring this region!

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6 thoughts on “Two Weeks in Costa Rica: A Travel Itinerary

  1. Christine says:

    Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for sharing about your trip to Costa Rica. I am planning a trip that will follow your itinerary for this winter (end of Nov to just before Christmas). Could you provide a few more details about shuttle busses (website links etc) ? Specifically, what bus you took from Alajuela to La Fortnua and from Manuel Antonio to San Jose (assuming you flew back to Ontario from San Jose).
    We are trying to decide between staying in Santa Teresa or Tamarindo, is there a reason that you picked Santa Teresa? I am finding the bus schedules seem to align a little better with Santa Teresa. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated! – Christine

    • Brittany says:

      Hi Christine, unfortunately I don’t have any links I’m able to provide you, we had the same difficulty prior to our trip as well. What we found worked best is to check at the bus stations in person or ask at your accommodation, sometimes they will be able to provide the schedules. Have an amazing time!!

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