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Best of Costa Rica: Ultimate 2-week itinerary

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Want to know a little secret? I love living in California and it definitely has its perks but I also love traveling all over the world. To celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary my husband and I wanted to go somewhere on our bucket list. So we decided to spend some time in beautiful Costa Rica. If you’re a nature lover like us, this two-week Costa Rica itinerary is perfect for you!

This Costa Rica itinerary will help guide you on how best to spend two weeks in Costa Rica

In this two-week Costa Rica itinerary, you will be able to go on numerous adventures, see volcanos, soak in thermal pools, visit national parks and even relax at the beach.

We met a few Ticos who let us in on some local secrets so you’ll even get to visit a few parts that are off the beaten track! If you’re not able to take an international trip, then escape to Getaway House which is a perfect little retreat.

Why travel for two weeks in Costa Rica?

What’s truly unique about Costa Rica is that you are surrounded by wildlife and nature. Everywhere you look there’s something unusual, colorful, and mystical.

During our two-week exploration of Costa Rica, we felt like we were in a National Geographic documentary.

Standing on a hanging bridge and looking at the view is a beautiful way to start your two-week Costa Rica itinerary!

Every morning we woke up to the sound of birds and howler monkeys.

Since there’s a lot to cover in a short amount of time, we would both say that two weeks is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the country.

From the incredible volcanoes close to La Fortuna, the wildlife in Monteverde, to the beaches of the Pacific and adventures including zip-lining and river tubing in Rincon de la Vieja, this really is the best way to spend two weeks in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica itinerary: what to expect

Since it was our first time traveling there, we selected to personalize our trip through trip.me which connected us directly to CRS Tours, one of the leading experts in Costa Rica vacations and tour planning.

Pantea Rahimian drinking a fresh fruit smoothie in La Fortuna

Our local Costa Rican travel agent Marco devised the perfect 15-day Costa Rica itinerary. It was exactly the right balance of hiking in the forests, relaxing on beaches, and driving through scenic landscapes.

We saw the beauty of Costa Rica’s waterfalls and volcanoes which left us speechless.

Perhaps you’ll even want to move there permanently after relaxing on the endless palm tree-lined beaches and swimming in the warm turquoise ocean?

Two Weeks In Costa Rica: The Best Costa Rica Itinerary

To design this Costa Rica itinerary, I’ve selected to share the top four places from our wedding anniversary trip and suggest how many days to spend in each place.

Exploring Lake Arenal while driving around La Fortuna

This is a suggested Costa Rica itinerary and you can include additional excursions and places to explore, especially if you have a rental car.

Remember that Costa Rica is known for nature and adventure. If you don’t like being active or want to spend your days soaking in a pool then you may want to reconsider going since this is not that type of trip.

Arrival at Liberia Airport

If you’re spending two weeks in Costa Rica, start your vacation by the beach to get some time to decompress. After battling severe anxiety and burnout from work, this was exactly what I needed.

I’m glad that we decided to have a relaxing beach vacation before going on epic adventures throughout the country.

The fresh fruit smoothies are divine at Hotel El Mangroove, Costa Rica

To begin with, I recommend that you fly into Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós, located in Liberia. This airport is right by the Guanacaste region, known for its splendid beaches and resorts.

In addition, for this Costa Rica itinerary, you will save time and money flying into Liberia since the areas you’re going to be traveling to are within 2-3 hours’ driving distance.

Gulf of Papagayo: 4 days

What’s better than starting your vacation by spending a few days relaxing by the beach and the pool at a gorgeous resort?

Relaxing at the poolside at Hotel El Mangroove, Costa Rica

Since I was feeling overwhelmed before our trip, going to a resort was exactly what was in order since I needed to re-boot my self-care and mental health.

Where to stay in the Gulf of Papagayo

As a result, we opted to stay at a hotel located only 20 minutes from the airport. El Mangroove is a stunning hotel located on the prestigious Gulf of Papagayo on the northern Pacific Coastline of Guanacaste.

What to do in the Gulf of Papagayo

While staying at El Mangroove, you can spend your days lounging in any of their 6 pools, walking on the beach, kayaking, or snorkeling in the ocean.

There’s also a spa with free amenities like a sauna and steam room or you can ride bicycles around the area.

A typical Costa Rican meal

Overall, the hospitality and service are exceptional. We felt nurtured and cared for on a daily basis.

La Fortuna: 3 days

Though I have mixed feelings about the actual city of La Fortuna, I still believe it’s a must-see place on your Costa Rica itinerary.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica – a highlight of any Costa Rica 14 day itinerary

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the peak of the looming 1,670m Arenal Volcano.

Though it’s not an active volcano, watching the steam coming from the top while hiking through Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, will take your breath away.

Where to stay in La Fortuna

To ensure that you don’t miss one of the most impressive sights in the whole country, I recommend staying at Arenal Manoa Resort Hotel and Hot Springs.

2 week Costa Rica itinerary
Arenal Hanging Bridges Park in La Fortuna

The views alone are worth every penny, but you also get to enjoy the thermal pools and generous breakfast buffet.

What to do in La Fortuna

In addition to hiking, you can go on an incredible adventure tour through hanging bridges in the tropical rainforest in Arenal by visiting Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges.

I recommend booking a guided tour on your Costa Rica itinerary. You will learn unusual facts and knowledgeable naturalists will point out critters that are easy to miss.

Arenal Hanging Bridges Park in La Fortuna – a must-visit on your Costa Rica 2-week itinerary

Since you’re near a volcano, you get the benefits of using the thermal pools nearby which are guaranteed to relieve all your stress and revive you.

There are several to choose from, including Tabacon Thermal Spa, Baldi Hot Springs, and Ecotermales Fortuna.

Soak away all your stress at Tabacon Hot Springs at night during your 2 week Costa Rica itinerary

All of these hot springs are popular, especially during high season so make a reservation in advance.

If you have the time, spend a full day at one of these hot springs. Since they are pricey, there are free thermal pools you can go to instead.

Lastly, you must make a day trip to La Fortuna waterfall located in the middle of the jungle. It’s a steep 500 steps down to reach the waterfall which you will have to climb back up!

Catarata La Fortuna, Costa Rica – a fave stop on my Costa Rica travel itinerary

La Fortuna waterfall is 65m high, and the water is cool but completely worth it to swim in.

There’s also a river nearby that you can soak in while looking at the stunning waterfall.

Monteverde: 4 days

Have you heard about Costa Rica’s cloud forests? This was one of our favorite places on our two-week Costa Rica itinerary. Monteverde is a beautiful little gem of a town that you must visit.

Where to stay in Monteverde

Set in the cloud forest, Monteverde Lodge and Gardens is a beautiful escape. You’ll fall asleep listening to the howls of the howler monkeys, croaks of frogs, and bird songs.

The infamous orchid room at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens

The lodge is within walking distance to downtown Monteverde and several local Costa Rican restaurants.

Sunset from Monteverde Lodge and Gardens, Monteverde, Costa Rica

All of the rooms offer uninterrupted views of the surrounding forest and there’s even a heated pool to soak in after your hiking adventures.

What to do in Monteverde

As I previously mentioned, Monteverde has some of the country’s most unique scenery and biodiversity.

To get the full experience, go to Sky Adventures Park where you can walk on the Sky Walk (six hanging suspension bridges). There’s also the Sky Tram – gondolas that glide right through the stunning scenery.

Skytram in Monteverde Cloud Forest – a must-visit on your Costa Rica 2-week itinerary

While walking across the bridges, you’ll feel firsthand what it’s like to be submerged in the low-hanging mist and clouds within the lush forest.

There you can spot all the animals you’d dream of seeing in Costa Rica including toucans, sloths, monkeys, lizards, iguanas, snakes, giant crickets, leaf cutter ants, and more.

Skybridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest – a must-visit on your Costa Rica 2-week itinerary

Zipling in Monteverde

Monteverde is also the birthplace of zip lining. If you’ve never gone zip lining and are afraid of heights, this is NOT the first place to try it.

However, if you’re ready for an adrenaline rush, spend a day on Sky Trek, taking on the longest zip lines in Central America.

Walking through the cloud forest on the hanging suspension bridges during a torrential downpour was extremely fun and you’ll no doubt want to include it in your Costa Rica two-week itinerary.

Hiking and discovering beautiful waterfalls at El Tigrewaterfalls, Monteverde

Another well-kept secret in Monteverde is El Tigre Waterfalls.

This is an extraordinary hike with a well-marked trail where you will pass through 4 big waterfalls and 9 bridges (hanging bridges and natural tree bridges).

Horseback riding in Monteverde is one of my favorite activities on my Costa Rica travel itinerary

At the end of the trail, you will ride horses back up to the main lodge where you will be served a delicious Costa Rican lunch.

Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja: 4 days

To wrap up our trip, we headed back to Liberia and went to Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja. If you are in the Guanacaste region, this is a short day trip and a wonderful place to explore nature.

Where to stay in Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is another spot I would say is a little on the secret side.

This area is not experiencing the mass tourism of Arenal and Monteverde and is a great place to escape the crowds if you’re trying to experience the best of Costa Rica in two weeks.

What’s truly remarkable about staying at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is that your stay includes access to all of the waterfalls, rivers, ponds, hot springs, mud baths, and nature trails you can dream of.

Soaking in Rio Negro hot springs after an adventurous day ziplining, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, Costa Rica

The breakfast buffet is divine and they have multiple restaurants on-site to try.

If you only have one week in Costa Rica, then head over to this little gem. This is the place where you can combine both your relaxation and adventure needs all under one roof!

You won’t even need to rent a car because they have a free airport shuttle to pick you up and a shuttle service throughout the property.

What to do in Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja

While nearby Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja is a beautiful place to go hiking and exploring. I recommend just enjoying everything on-site at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.

Their adventure center is your one-stop-shop for the best tours and activities that Costa Rica has to offer.

Pantea Rahimian

Take control. Feel better.

Start your Self-care Journey.

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Since we were on our 10-year wedding anniversary trip, we decided to take things up a few notches with an adrenaline-fuelled one-day adventure pass.

There are four main activities during this day of adventure.

Rio Negro mudbaths, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – must-do if you’re traveling around Costa Rica in 2 weeks

One-day adventure pass at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

You will start on horseback towards the Rio Negro River where you’ll be tubing down class III rapids. Afterward, you’ll have a delicious lunch at Hacienda Guachipelin Restaurant before you go on a zip line tour where you’ll be rappelling through the Rio Blanco Canyon.

You’ll end your day relaxing at Rio Negro hot springs. Here you’ll have access to six volcano-heated thermal pools, and a mud bath.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – another recommendation if you’re traveling around Costa Rica in 2 weeks

If you’re going to make a day trip to the area, then select this package because it’s worth every penny!

No doubt you’ll be visiting a few waterfalls during your two weeks in Costa Rica. At 25 meters Catarata Oropendola is one of Costa Rica’s most impressive. The water is crystal clear and worth being brave and jumping into it.

Catarata Oropendola – a great addition to your 2 week Costa Rica itinerary

At the end of your daily adventures, head to the Rio Negro hot springs and mud baths. The thermal waters flow naturally from the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and the soothing mineral waters are naturally warm.

To cool off, you rotate between soaking in a hot spring and taking a dip in the cool river. It’s a great place to unwind after your outdoor adventures.

Locals only secret Pozas Los Coyotes

Another local secret place we discovered during our trip was Pozas Los Coyotes. We were the only tourists surrounded by a handful of Costa Ricans.

Exploring the waterfalls in Pozas Los Coyotes, Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

It’s a short drive from the hotel, inexpensive, and off the beaten path so it’s worth a day trip. Plan on taking colones only for your admission (we paid 4000 colónes which is roughly $6) and includes parking.

There’s a stunning waterfall and two rivers that you can swim in. The water is turquoise and unusually beautiful. Bring a picnic lunch, water, and a sense of adventure.

What to pack for your Costa Rica trip?

The best advice I can give you is to pack light and casual. Since you’re in a tropical climate, it’s typically warm and humid. If you go to Monteverde, it rains daily and is cooler so pack a raincoat and long pants.

Here’s the best Costa Rica packing list I found!

Take hiking boots, sneakers, and water shoes to keep your feet safe and secure.

Lastly, if you want to make your trip meaningful, get in contact with Pack for a Purpose. My husband and I brought much-needed school supplies as part of our two-week in Costa Rica itinerary.

Wrap-up

There is a popular saying in Costa Rica, Pura Vida which translates to “pure life” or “simple life.” It reflects that Costa Ricans are happy and full of life.

In fact, a recent Gallup Poll found that Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries in the world.

To be honest, I’m not surprised.

After our two weeks in Costa Rica, I am seriously considering a permanent move to the country in the nearby future.

In the meantime, I hope these suggestions help with planning your two weeks in Costa Rica itinerary. If you’re short on time, then head directly to Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin which has everything in one central place.

Though we did not get a chance to go this time, our travel agent recommended Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero, and Corcovado.

Perhaps you can add them to your Costa Rica itinerary?

If you’ve been to Costa Rica, what places would you recommend for folks to check out? Are there any local gems you found that you want to suggest? Please share your stories and comments below.

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Pantea Rahimian

Take control. Feel better.

Start your Self-care Journey.

Take control.
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Start your
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