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3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary: Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary

Manuel Antonio Beach, Quepos, Costa Rica - 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary_ Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary

Want to visit Costa Rica and looking for a 3 week Costa Rica itinerary to guide your whole trip?

Welcome to Costa Rica, a paradise for adventurers, nature lovers, and those seeking the thrill of discovery. Our meticulously crafted 3-week Costa Rica itinerary is your passport to an unforgettable journey through one of the most biodiverse and stunning countries in the world. From the misty cloud forests of Monteverde to the pristine beaches of Manuel Antonio, from the majestic Arenal Volcano to the tranquil waters of the Caribbean coast, this Costa Rica three-week itinerary is designed to showcase the best that Costa Rica has to offer.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, savor the local cuisine, and embark on exhilarating adventures that will take your breath away. Whether you’re zip-lining through the canopy, surfing on the Pacific, or wildlife watching in the dense rainforests, every day promises a new adventure. So pack your bags, bring your sense of wonder, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime in Costa Rica

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For the next section, we’ll outline the first week of the itinerary, focusing on the Central Valley and the Pacific Coast.

Week 1: Central Valley & Pacific Coast Adventure

Day 1-3: San José and Central Valley

  • San José: Start your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary in the vibrant capital. Explore the National Museum of Costa Rica and the Central Market. Day trips to Poás Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens offer a glimpse into the country’s volcanic landscapes and rich biodiversity.
  • Coffee Plantation Tour: A visit to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without experiencing its world-renowned coffee. Join a tour to learn about coffee production and enjoy tastings.

Day 4-6: Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio Beach, Quepos, Costa Rica - 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary_ Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
Manuel Antonio Beach in Quepos – 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary
  • Manuel Antonio National Park: Head to the Pacific Coast to explore one of Costa Rica’s most famous parks. This leg of your Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks promises stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife. Enjoy activities like snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife tours.
  • Surfing in Quepos: Take a surfing lesson in the nearby town of Quepos, a perfect spot for beginners and seasoned surfers alike.

Day 7: Travel to Monteverde

  • Travel Day: Conclude your first week by traveling to Monteverde, preparing for the cloud forest adventures that await. This journey introduces you to the changing landscapes, a highlight of any Costa Rica three-week itinerary.

This section of the itinerary offers a balanced mix of cultural immersion, adventure, and relaxation, showcasing the diversity of experiences available in Costa Rica.

For the second week of the itinerary, we’re focusing on the lush cloud forests of Monteverde, the volcanic landscapes of La Fortuna, and the serene waters of Lake Arenal.

Week 2: Cloud Forests, Volcanoes, and Lake Arenal

Day 8-10: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Hanging Bridges in Cloudforest Costa Rica - 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary_ Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
Hanging Bridges in Cloudforest – Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: A cornerstone of your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary, this area is famous for its biodiversity, suspension bridges, and zip-lining tours. Don’t miss the hummingbird garden for a close encounter with these vibrant birds.
  • Night Walks: Experience the forest’s nocturnal life on a guided night walk, a unique aspect of Costa Rica’s three-week itinerary.

Day 11-13: La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano

Horses near Arenal Volcano Costa Rica - 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary_ Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
Horses near Arenal Volcano Costa Rica | 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary, Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
  • Arenal Volcano National Park: Witness the iconic Arenal Volcano. Hiking, hot springs, and the La Fortuna Waterfall are key highlights, offering a blend of adventure and relaxation perfect for your Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks.
  • Lake Arenal: Spend a day kayaking or windsurfing on Costa Rica’s largest lake, showcasing the country’s natural beauty and the adventurous spirit of a 3-week Costa Rica itinerary.

Day 14: Travel to the Nicoya Peninsula

  • Travel Day: Prepare for the beach leg of your journey by heading to the Nicoya Peninsula. This transition marks the midpoint of your adventure, offering a change of pace and scenery crucial to a comprehensive Costa Rica three-week itinerary.

Week 2 dives deep into the heart of Costa Rica’s natural wonders, from misty cloud forests to volcanic hot springs, ensuring travelers experience the full spectrum of what the country has to offer.

For the final week of our comprehensive 3-week Costa Rica itinerary, we’ll embrace the laid-back beach life on the Nicoya Peninsula and explore the rich biodiversity of the South Pacific coast.

Week 3: Nicoya Peninsula and South Pacific Adventure

Day 15-17: Nicoya Peninsula

  • Santa Teresa and Montezuma: Kick off your beach exploration in Santa Teresa, a surfer’s paradise known for its golden sands and epic waves, essential for any Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks. Montezuma, with its bohemian vibe, offers stunning waterfalls and natural pools, making it a must-visit in your 3 week Costa Rica itinerary.
  • Yoga and Wellness: The Nicoya Peninsula is famed for its yoga retreats and wellness centers, perfect for those seeking relaxation in their Costa Rica three-week itinerary.

Day 18-20: Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park Costa Rica - 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary_ Everything to Know and Do for a Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary
Corcovado National Park Costa Rica, 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary
  • Corcovado National Park: This remote park on the Osa Peninsula is a highlight for wildlife enthusiasts in Costa Rica itineraries. Known as one of the most biodiverse places on earth, it’s a key part of experiencing the natural beauty in a 3-week Costa Rica itinerary.
  • Dolphin and Whale Watching: The South Pacific coast is ideal for spotting dolphins and whales, especially near the Marino Ballena National Park, adding an unforgettable experience to your Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks.

Day 21: Return to San José

  • Travel Back to San José: Conclude your adventure by returning to San José. This day allows for reflection on the journey and preparation for departure, marking the end of an extensive Costa Rica three-week itinerary.

This final week combines relaxation with adventure, offering a balanced conclusion to a 3-week journey through Costa Rica. From the surf-friendly beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula to the unparalleled wildlife viewing in Corcovado, each destination has been carefully selected to enhance the itinerary’s appeal to travelers seeking a comprehensive exploration of Costa Rica.

What to Know Before Visiting Costa Rica

Embarking on a 3-week Costa Rica itinerary offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture of this Central American gem. To ensure a memorable and hassle-free experience, consider these detailed insights:

  • Climate and Weather: Costa Rica’s diverse climate zones mean weather can vary significantly between regions. The dry season (December to April) is ideal for beachgoers and outdoor adventurers, offering sunny days and clear skies. The wet season (May to November) brings lush landscapes and fewer crowds, with afternoon rains common. Tailor your Costa Rica three-week itinerary to the activities you prefer, keeping the seasonal variations in mind.
  • Currency and Payments: The Costa Rican Colón (CRC) is the local currency, with colorful bills reflecting the country’s wildlife. While US dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas, having colones is beneficial for smaller transactions and rural areas. Credit cards are commonly accepted, but it’s wise to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with transactions during your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary.
  • Transportation: Exploring Costa Rica’s vast natural beauty often requires a reliable mode of transportation. For those comfortable with driving, renting a 4×4 is advisable to navigate the country’s varied terrain, from mountainous roads to rural pathways. Consider the insurance options and local driving laws to ensure a safe journey. Public transportation, including buses, is an economical option, though it may limit your flexibility and ability to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • Safety Tips: While Costa Rica is known for its friendly locals and is generally safe for tourists, like any popular destination, it’s important to exercise caution. Keep valuables secure, be mindful of your surroundings, and use reputable tour companies for excursions. Understanding local emergency numbers and basic Spanish phrases for safety can also add an extra layer of security to your trip.
  • Environmental Consciousness: Costa Rica is a world leader in conservation efforts, and visitors are encouraged to respect the environment. This includes adhering to national park guidelines, minimizing plastic use, and supporting eco-friendly accommodations and tours. Integrating sustainable practices into your Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks not only enriches your experience but also contributes to the country’s preservation efforts.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” are known for their warm hospitality and “Pura Vida” (pure life) philosophy. Showing respect and openness to local customs and traditions will enhance your interactions and overall experience. Try local cuisines, engage with locals, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that makes Costa Rica unique.

Preparing for your journey with these insights in mind will ensure a smooth and enriching experience, allowing you to fully embrace the adventures that await in your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary.

Where to Stay: Optimizing Your Stay for a 3-Week Costa Rica Itinerary

For a 3-week Costa Rica itinerary, choosing a few central locations as your bases can be both efficient and convenient, minimizing travel time while maximizing exploration. Here’s how to select your accommodations smartly:

Centralized Accommodation Recommendations

La Fortuna/Arenal: A prime location for those looking to immerse themselves in nature and adventure. With easy access to the Arenal Volcano, hot springs, and numerous waterfalls, La Fortuna offers a variety of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to cozy hostels. It’s an ideal base for the first part of your trip, covering the northern attractions with ease.

  • Luxury: Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa – Offers luxurious accommodations with access to natural hot springs and stunning views of Arenal Volcano. Ideal for those seeking relaxation in a high-end setting.
  • Mid-Range: Arenal Manoa Hotel – A great option for enjoying panoramic views of Arenal Volcano, spacious rooms, and a farm-to-table dining experience, all at a reasonable price.
  • Budget: Selina La Fortuna – Perfect for budget travelers and digital nomads looking for a vibrant community, comfortable yet affordable lodging, and easy access to local attractions.

Monteverde: Perfect for the mid-section of your journey, especially if you’re interested in cloud forests, zip-lining, and experiencing Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity. Monteverde provides a cooler climate and unique lodging options that enhance your connection with nature.

  • Luxury: Hotel Belmar – Offers boutique accommodations with eco-friendly practices, exquisite views, and personalized service for a luxurious stay amidst the cloud forest.
  • Mid-Range: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens – A comfortable and serene setting with lush gardens, offering easy access to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and other local attractions.
  • Budget: Cabinas Vista al Golfo – Provides affordable, cozy rooms with breathtaking views, particularly suitable for backpackers and those looking to explore the cloud forest on a budget.

Manuel Antonio/Quepos: As you move towards the coast, Manuel Antonio is a fantastic base for beach lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. It offers a mix of luxury villas, mid-range hotels, and budget hostels, all within easy reach of the national park, beautiful beaches, and day trips to nearby islands.

  • Luxury: Makanda by the Sea Adults Only– Adult-only resort offering luxury villas and studios with incredible ocean views, private infinity pools, and access to secluded beaches.
  • Mid-Range: La Posada Jungle Bungalows – Located near the entrance of Manuel Antonio National Park, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and easy access to area attractions without breaking the bank.
  • Budget: Hostel Plinio – A popular choice among younger travelers, offering dormitory beds, private rooms, and an on-site pool, all within a short distance to the beaches and national park.

Tamarindo or Santa Teresa: For those ending their Costa Rica three-week itinerary with a focus on surfing and beach time, these towns offer great vibes, beautiful sunsets, and a range of accommodations. They’re also good launching points for day trips to less accessible beaches and national parks.

Considerations for Choosing Your Bases

  • Activity Proximity: Select accommodations that reduce travel time to activities high on your priority list. This approach lets you spend more time enjoying what you love.
  • Amenities: Choose places that offer the comforts and amenities you desire after a day of adventure, whether it’s a spa, a pool, or simply a stunning view.
  • Transportation: Consider the ease of getting to and from your chosen bases. Some areas may offer better access to public transport, rental services, or shuttle operations.

By focusing on strategic locations that allow for exploration of surrounding areas, your guide offers a more relaxed and efficient way to experience Costa Rica. This approach not only makes the itinerary more practical but also enriches the travel experience, allowing for a deeper exploration of each region’s unique offerings.

Weather in Costa Rica

considering the weather is crucial for any travel plan, especially for a destination like Costa Rica where you can experience sunny beaches, rainy cloud forests, and everything in between. Here’s a breakdown of how the itinerary stands up across different weather conditions:

Dry Season (December to April)

  • Advantages: This is the peak tourist season, thanks to the dry, sunny weather that’s ideal for exploring the beaches and outdoor activities like zip-lining, hiking, and wildlife watching. The itinerary is perfectly suited for this season, with many outdoor activities and beach time.
  • Considerations: Some regions, especially the Pacific Coast and lowland areas, can get very hot and dry. Ensure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

Green Season (May to November)

  • Advantages: The green season brings rain, which can be a blessing for certain activities and regions. The rainforests are lush and vibrant, waterfalls are at their most powerful, and the crowds are smaller. Activities in the cloud forests, such as Monteverde, and the rainforests, like those in the Osa Peninsula, can be even more magical during this time.
  • Considerations: The itinerary’s outdoor activities may be affected by rain, especially in the afternoons when showers are more common. Planning activities for the morning and having flexible plans can help. Roads in remote areas may be more challenging to navigate due to mud and occasional flooding.

Regional Considerations

  • Caribbean Coast: This area has a different weather pattern, with September and October being the driest months, which could affect the timing of visiting this region based on the itinerary.
  • Highlands: Cooler temperatures year-round, and the weather can change quickly. It’s always a good idea to have layers and rain gear when exploring these areas.


The itinerary is robust, offering a range of activities across various ecosystems that Costa Rica is famous for. However, to ensure it’s suitable for all weather conditions, flexibility is key. Be prepared to swap outdoor adventures for more sheltered activities on rainy days, such as visiting museums, coffee plantations, or enjoying the amenities of your accommodations.

In summary, while the itinerary provides a fantastic framework for exploring Costa Rica, being mindful of the seasonal variations and being prepared to adjust your plans according to the weather will ensure a more enjoyable experience. Regardless of the season, Costa Rica’s natural beauty and biodiversity offer something special, making it a worthwhile destination year-round.

Getting Around Costa Rica

Navigating Your 3-Week Journey: Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific shores, and its lush interiors, make getting around an integral part of your adventure. Here’s how to traverse this breathtaking country during your Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks.

Rental Cars: For the ultimate flexibility, renting a car is highly recommended. It allows you to explore at your own pace, reach off-the-beaten-path destinations, and tailor your Costa Rica three-week itinerary to your interests. Ensure you’re comfortable with manual transmission and consider a 4×4 for rural areas.

Public Buses: A budget-friendly option, public buses connect major towns and tourist destinations across Costa Rica. While they offer a genuine local experience and are cost-effective, schedules may be less convenient for tight itineraries or remote locations.

Domestic Flights: To maximize your time, consider domestic flights for longer distances. Costa Rica’s local airlines connect key destinations, reducing travel time from hours to minutes. This is especially useful for covering expansive areas quickly during your 3 week Costa Rica itinerary.

Shuttles and Transfers: For those seeking a balance between convenience and cost, shared or private shuttles are available. These services offer door-to-door transport between major tourist spots, combining the ease of a private car with the affordability of public transport.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing: For short distances or when moving within cities like San José, taxis and ride-sharing services provide reliable and safe transportation options. Always confirm the fare before starting your journey.

Tips for Smooth Travels:

  • Book in Advance: Especially during peak seasons, securing your rental car or domestic flights early can save you from last-minute hassles.
  • Stay Informed: Road conditions can vary, especially in the rainy season. Keep updated on local travel advisories.
  • Embrace Local Advice: Locals know best when it comes to navigating tricky routes or finding the quickest way from A to B.

Packing List for Costa Rica

Embarking on a Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks adventure requires careful planning, especially when it comes to packing. Costa Rica’s diverse climates—from tropical beaches to misty cloud forests—demand a versatile packing strategy. Here’s your essential packing list to ensure you’re well-prepared for every adventure.


  • Lightweight, Breathable Clothing: The tropical climate calls for light fabrics. Include long sleeves and pants for sun protection and cooler evenings.
  • Rain Gear: A waterproof jacket or poncho is a must, especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season (May to November).
  • Sturdy Footwear: Waterproof hiking shoes for treks, comfortable sandals for the beach, and closed-toe shoes for cooler areas.
  • Sun Protection: High-SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to shield you from the strong sun.
  • Insect Repellent: A high-quality bug spray is crucial to fend off mosquitoes, particularly in the rainforest and near water bodies.
  • Daypack: For day trips, hikes, and excursions, a comfortable backpack is essential to carry water, snacks, and other necessities.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic use with a refillable bottle. Many places in Costa Rica offer potable tap water.
  • Swimwear and Quick-Dry Towel: With Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and hot springs, these are indispensable.

Additional Items:

  • Snorkel and Mask: For those planning to explore the vibrant underwater life on both coasts.
  • Lightweight Rainforest Gear: Including binoculars for wildlife spotting and a waterproof phone case or camera.
  • Health and Safety: A basic first-aid kit, prescription medications, and copies of important documents.
  • Eco-friendly Toiletries: Biodegradable soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent to minimize your environmental impact.

Travel Tips:

  • Pack Light and Smart: Opt for layers and versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched.
  • Consider the Activities: Tailor your packing list to the adventures planned in your Costa Rica three-week itinerary—from surfing and snorkeling to zip-lining and hiking.
  • Sustainability First: Choose reef-safe sunscreen and eco-friendly products to support Costa Rica’s conservation efforts.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Your Costa Rica Three Week Itinerary

After exploring the rich diversity of Costa Rica, from its lush rainforests and stunning beaches to its vibrant wildlife and friendly communities, it’s clear that this country offers a unique adventure for every traveler. Whether you’ve trekked through the cloud forests of Monteverde, surfed the waves of Tamarindo, or relaxed in the natural hot springs near Arenal Volcano, your 3-week journey through Costa Rica is bound to be an unforgettable experience.


  • Embrace the Pura Vida: Costa Rica’s motto, “Pura Vida” (pure life), is more than a saying; it’s a way of life. Embrace this philosophy during your travels by taking the time to appreciate the natural beauty around you and the warmth of the local people.
  • Sustainable Travel: With Costa Rica being a leader in eco-tourism, consider how you can travel sustainably. Support local businesses, participate in eco-friendly tours, and be mindful of your environmental impact.
  • Adventure and Relaxation: Balance your itinerary between adventure activities and relaxation. Costa Rica’s natural beauty provides the perfect backdrop for both thrilling adventures and peaceful retreats.
  • Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on the local cuisine. From gallo pinto in the morning to casado for lunch, the flavors of Costa Rica are a crucial part of the experience.
  • Travel Insurance: Given the adventurous nature of many Costa Rican activities, ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers activities like zip-lining, surfing, and hiking.

Final Thoughts: This 3-week Costa Rica itinerary has hopefully provided a comprehensive guide to planning your adventure in one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. Each destination offers something unique, and with careful planning, you can experience the best of what Costa Rica has to offer. Remember, the key to a memorable trip is not just in seeing the sights but in immersing yourself in the local culture and environment. Pura Vida!

FAQs on 3 Week Costa Rica Itinerary

Is 3 weeks enough to see Costa Rica?

Yes, 3 weeks is an ideal duration to explore Costa Rica comprehensively. It allows you to experience the country’s diverse ecosystems, from cloud forests and rainforests to beaches and volcanoes, with enough time to enjoy each destination at a relaxed pace.

What is the best time of year to go on a Costa Rica three-week itinerary?

The best time for a Costa Rica three-week itinerary is during the dry season, from December to April. This period offers sunny days and lower rainfall, ideal for outdoor activities and exploration.

Do I need a visa for my Costa Rica itinerary 3 weeks?

Visitors from many countries, including the United States, Canada, and most European nations, do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. However, it’s essential to check the latest visa requirements based on your nationality before planning your trip.

What should I pack for a 3-week trip to Costa Rica?

For a 3-week trip to Costa Rica, pack lightweight, breathable clothing, a good pair of hiking shoes, rain gear, a swimsuit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any necessary medication. Also, don’t forget your camera and binoculars for wildlife spotting.

Is Costa Rica safe for tourists?

Costa Rica is generally safe for tourists, but like any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise common sense. Keep an eye on your belongings, avoid walking alone at night in less populated areas, and use reputable transportation options.

Can I drink tap water in Costa Rica?

In most parts of Costa Rica, tap water is safe to drink. However, if you’re traveling to remote areas, it’s advisable to drink bottled water or purify your water as a precaution.

How do I get around during my Costa Rica three-week itinerary?

Renting a car is the most flexible way to explore Costa Rica at your own pace. Alternatively, domestic flights, buses, and shuttles are available for longer distances between major attractions.

What are the must-visit places in a 3-week Costa Rica itinerary?

Key destinations for a 3-week itinerary include the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park, the Nicoya Peninsula, and Tortuguero National Park.

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