If you only have one week to spend in Costa Rica, you can still get a taste of the beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and rainforest the country has to offer! Costa Rica may look small on a map, but due to poor road conditions it is best to try to limit travel days, and stick to visiting 1-3 towns if you are only there for a 1 week trip. This Costa Rica Itinerary includes a beautiful beach, rainforest, and waterfall. That way you can see 3 completely different aspects of Costa Rica, all in one week.
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Destinations: Monteverde, Rio Celeste, Manuel Antonio
Time: 1 week
Day 1: Fly into San Jose
Most international flights to Costa Rica fly into San Jose, so this is likely where your journey will begin. Depending on the time that you arrive, you can either stay the night in San Jose or depart onwards to Monteverde as soon as you get into Costa Rica. It always takes longer to get around in Costa Rica than you think it will, so it’s probably best to get a hotel/hostel in San Jose, and plan to depart to Monteverde in the early morning.
Day 2: Head to Monteverde
It’s about a 3 hour drive from San Jose to Monteverde, so it’s best to get an early start! Once you arrive and check into your hotel, get settled, you can wander around the town and enjoy all the little shops, and there are plenty of tasty options for dinner.
Day 3: Explore the Cloud Forest
On day 3, you should plan to wake up early and explore the cloud forest. There are two main forests you can visit in Monteverde, including the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Santa Elena Nature Reserve. Each park will take approximately 3-4 hours to explore. This will leave you with plenty of time in the afternoon to go zip lining, take a coffee/chocolate tour, or do one of the many free hikes nearby Monteverde.
Day 4: Rio Celeste: The Turquoise Waterfall
On day 4, you should get a very early start and head over to Rio Celeste. The park is open until 4, but lets the last people in around 2 so try to get to the park around 1 to give yourself a solid 3 hours. After you complete the hike, you can head over to one of the free swimming holes along the river so you can enjoy a dip in the crystal blue waters. Visiting the Rio Celeste Waterfall just might be the best part of your Costa Rica Itinerary! For more information on visiting the Rio Celeste waterfall, check out this in depth guide.
Day 5: Manuel Antonio
Once you check in and get settled at your accommodations, you should head on over to the beach to catch the sunset. The beach at Manuel Antonio is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to in Costa Rica. The water is incredibly clear, and nice to swim in. There are plenty of options for dinner along the hill, my personal favorite was the restaurant at Costa Linda Art Hostel.
Day 6:Manuel Antonio
On day 6 you can check out the Manuel Antiono park. Its full of monkeys, and you can also see sloths, frogs, butterflies, and various other types of birds here!
Day 7: Back to reality!
Plan to get back to the airport early enough to give yourself time to catch your flight. This itinerary is a whirlwind trip, but it really gives you the chance to see beautiful beaches, the cloud forest, and an incredible waterfall. If you prefer a slower pace of travel, then I recommend either cutting out Monteverde, or the Rio Celeste Waterfall to give yourself a little more time to relax and enjoy the beautiful country of Costa Rica!
Also! If you’re wondering what to pack for your trip, definitely check out my Costa Rica Packing Guide.