COSTA RICA: A 7 day itinerary

Costa Rica, the land of mountain cloud forests, tropical beaches, friendly people, and coffee. Located at the southern end of Central America, you can enjoy warm, crystal clear Caribbean waters on the eastern coast, and prime surfing in the Pacific waters of the western coast. The capital city of San Jose is the perfect place to start your journey. It’s a cosmopolitan city nestled into the surrounding mountains and some active volcanoes. Thanks to tourism, San Jose has experienced a huge amount of modernization in recent years and is now home to some world class eateries, nightclubs, museums, and nearly everything in between. When picking a place to stay in San Jose, if you want to be near all the action, Barrio Escalante is the neighborhood for you. It’s a posh part of town with some fabulous restaurants, bars and nightclubs, that’s also close to all the museums, parks, and attractions around San Jose. It’s the perfect place for a home base to explore the city.

Getting around Costa Rica can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to driving on unpaved roads. Booking shuttle services between destinations is the safest and easiest way to get around the country. Not only is it cost efficient, especially if you’re with a group, but it allows you to take in the gorgeous scenery and how quickly the topography changes throughout the geographically small country. Tropical Tours Shuttles is a wonderful company that operates throughout the whole of the country.


On your first day in San Jose. Take some time to stroll about the city and tour the various museums, parks, neighborhoods and numerous restaurants and eateries. One of the best snacks for grab & go is an Arepa. Think of it as a sandwich, but the bun is made from maize so it’s got a nice natural sweetness and hearty texture. The fillings are endless and I found myself craving one everyday we were there. Grab one from a local vendor as you meander about San Jose exploring the local vibes.

There’s a restaurant called Garden Bistro that’s an absolutely beautiful restaurant with amazing food and delicious cocktails. The staff was incredibly friendly as well and put up with us taking pictures of everything and cheersing our drinks every five minutes. They had some of the best carajillos we had while in Costa Rica. What is a carajillo you ask? I’m so glad you did, my friend, because it’s one of the best after-dinner cocktails out there and created in beautiful CR so it’s a must try while in the country. The cocktail is a coffee based drink with Licor 43, an orange flavored liqueur, served up in a martini glass and garnished with some roasted espresso beans. Do NOT confuse this cocktail with an espresso martini. While similar, a carajillo is a thousand times better and much more complex in flavor.


San Jose’s location within the country makes it a great base for your explorations. There are numerous day trips available in the area including, but certainly not limited to, waterfall & volcano excursions, jungle trekking, ATV rides, archeological sites, animal sanctuaries, and so much more. While the excursions can be expensive, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the area.

After you’ve spent the day exploring around San Jose. Take the evening and hop around some of the spots in Barrio Escalante. There’s hundreds of little restaurants, bars, eateries, and nightclubs in the area and the later it gets, the better the party becomes. If you’re a beer connoisseur like we are then check out The Beer Factory Inc. The establishment has an awesome vibe and they have a great selection of beers to choose from and some tasty bites before heading out to the next place.


As beautiful and vibrant as San Jose is, nothing can prepare you for the untamed beauty of Monteverde. The shuttle from San Jos into the mountains and arrival in Monteverde takes about 4 hours and takes you along some beautiful coastline and up into some of the densest and wildest jungles I’ve ever seen. The town of Monteverde is compact and highly americanized but offers a variety of stays and eateries ranging from budget friendly to full on luxury. Staying right in the heart of Monteverde will put you around all the action but there’s nothing like renting an airbnb on the edge of the jungle where wake up to the sounds of birds and monkeys.

We opted for a stay at a private residence known as Puma Meraki. A beautiful, whole-home airbnb that’s in one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. It was modern, but still organic and perfectly tied in indoor/outdoor living for a unique stay.


Being that this is your only full day in Monteverde, make the most of it. One of the things that Monteverde is most famous for is the zip line excursion through the cloud forest. We opted for the Sky Adventures park as it’s the longest of the zip line tours in the area and offers additional excursions as well, like the sky bridge walk. If you’re very scared of heights you may want to sit this one out as there are times when you’re hundreds of feet above the forest floor and the only thing holding you up is the harness synched around you.

Believe me when I say that you’re in for the treat of a lifetime exploring these incredible cloud forests. You’ll be surrounded by thousands of different flora and fauna, some of which you’ll be able to have pretty close encounters with and some that you wont even notice are there until you’re right on top of them (did someone say tarantulas?)

Once you’ve had your share of sailing through the cloud forests, make your way back towards the heart of Monteverde but make a pit stop at a coffee plantation called La Casa Del Cafe is a family owned plantation that’s been in business for decades. While this plantation is no longer their main plantation, it’s an incredible glimpse into the world of coffee and the process that goes behind creating some of Costa Rica’s most notable beans. They also process chocolate at this plantation and you have the opportunity to try some cocoa beans throughout every step of the process.


The next morning you’re heading out of Monteverde and into Tamarindo, a nearly three and a half hour drive on a different route through the mountains than you took on the way up. The route takes you through a number of quaint villages and towns before entering the touristy beach areas. Stays in Tamarindo can be expensive but the area is highly walkable and you can find some beautiful stays just off the water’s edge for a very reasonable price. Spend the evening strolling around the many shops and restaurants within the town center, grab some beers from a convenience store, stroll over to the sand and watch the sunset on the beach.


With a whole day to spend at the beach. Take the morning, go a few miles north along the coast and book a horseback riding experience through Pacific Horses. Nicole and her team are incredible and provide an amazing experience no matter your level of riding. For more experienced riders, you’ll gallop along the shore, along some of the most gorgeous beach front resorts in Costa Rica, and through some jungle paths where you’ll have the chance to see iguanas, monkeys, tropical birds, and more.


Depending on what time you leave Tamarindo, you may have the better part of the morning a nice breakfast in town and some last minute moments to soak up the sun. Take the morning and enjoy a relaxing time sitting beneath a palm tree, sipping a cocktail before you have to take off. Important to know is that Tamarindo doesn’t have an international airport. In fact, the airport is more like a landing strip than an actual airport, but it makes commuting to San Jose a breeze and saves you a ton of time, albeit it’s one of the more expensive methods of travel within the country. You MUST book these flights well in advance as there’s only 5 flights between Tamarindo and San Jose daily and the planes can’t hold more than 12 passengers at a time. If you’re scared of flying, you might want to take an alternative route.

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