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5-Day Itinerary of Costa Rica

Posted March 3, 2022 in Destination - Last updated November 7, 2023

Lush forests, volcanos, tropical beaches, and delectable coffee are some of the highlights of Costa Rica. Costa Rica has many hidden wonders, from suspension bridges in rainforests and hot springs to quiet beaches. Costa Rica’s rainforests, lakes, waterfalls, national parks, and coffee plantations will mesmerize you. Thanks to the stunning array of beaches, beach lovers have plenty to see and do.

Affordable hotels, delicious food, and vibrant towns are the other USPs of this delightful country.

The sprawling Monteverde Biological Reserve, home to over 400 bird species, hundreds of plants, and mammals, offers unforgettable experiences. The 5-day itinerary covers the best of Costa Rica, right from the Arenal National Park, La Fortuna Waterfall, Monteverde, Papagayo Peninsula, and San Jose.

Key attractions you will see in this 5-day itinerary:

  • La Fortuna
  • Titokú Hot Springs
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Arenal National Park
  • Mistico Hanging Bridges
  • Monteverde cloud forest
  • Santa Elena
  • Papagayo Peninsula
  • San Jose

How much will the 5-day Costa Rica cost you?

A 5-day trip to Costa Rica can cost between $650 and $1,000 per person in mid-priced hotels. You may have to set aside a higher amount if you prefer luxurious stay options and customized trips.

The 5-day itinerary to explore the hidden treasures of Costa Rica

Day 1: La Fortuna

Arrive in Liberia, Costa Rica, and check into your hotel. After lunch, hop onto a rental car to take the scenic route to La Fortuna in the Arenal region. Marvel at the amazing grasslands and the rainforest during this three-hour ride. You can also see volcano peaks at a distance. Next, drive past Lake Arenal, the largest lake in the country. Gaze at the stunning Arenal Volcano as you reach La Fortuna. Stay overnight at La Fortuna.

You can head to Titokú Hot Springs to unwind in one of the several hot springs pools and watch the sunset over the volcano.

Day 2: Arenal National Park and Volcano

After a delicious breakfast, explore the area around the magnificent Arenal Volcano. One of the most visited wonders here is the La Fortuna Waterfall, which cascades 70 meters into a stunning jade-colored pool. To access this, walk down a 500-step staircase in the rainforest.

Explore the well-maintained trails around the volcano before heading to the Arenal National Park. Some scenic trails to explore here include Sendero Colada 1968, El Ceibo trail, Tucanes, and Coladas de Lava.

One of the must-see attractions nearby is the Mistico Hanging Bridges. Take a guided tour to enjoy the beautiful environment.

Day 3: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Today, wake up early and travel to the awe-inspiring Monteverde Cloud Forest. The journey is as fascinating as the destination! First, you need to go by road, take a boat across Arenal Lake, and travel again on the road to reach Monteverde. Costa Rica’s mountainous region is known for its cloud forest ecosystem, diverse wildlife, and abundant adventure options, including zip-lining and hiking. You have an entire day to enjoy the hidden wonders of Monteverde. Here are some options:

  • Walk across the multiple suspension bridges that dot Monteverde above the canopy of trees
  • Enjoy spotting and photographing birds and animals. You might get to spot the aptly named “Resplendent Quetzal,” a colorful native bird.
  • Explore Sky Adventures Park, an amusement park.
  • Try zip-lining across the cloud forest or ‘sky tram’ gondola to get a panoramic perspective.
  • Visit the Monteverde butterfly garden

In the evening, soak in the vibrant vibes of the nearby charming town, Santa Elena. Enjoy the world-famous coffee and cheese in one of the delightful cafes. Stay overnight at Monteverde.

Day 4: Papagayo Peninsula

Wake up to the delicious aroma of Costa Rican coffee and finish a scrumptious breakfast. Once ready, set off to the Papagayo Peninsula, just about a 2-hour drive from Monteverde. The Papagayo Peninsula is located on the north coast of Costa Rica. The small peninsula offers much, from beaches and water activities to zip-lining excursions.

  • Explore the beaches by kayak. One of the most beautiful beaches to see is Playa Nacascolo. Other nearby beaches include Conchal Beach, Ocotal Beach, and Playa Flamingo.
  • Enjoy water activities, including swimming, scuba diving, paddleboarding, or surfing on the beach.
  • Visit the stunning Arnold Palmer golf course.

Alternatively, you can head to Rio Celeste within Tenorio Volcano National Park, just a 2-hour drive from the Papagayo Peninsula.

The Celeste River will dazzle you with its turquoise color and waterfall. Explore the hot springs near the river. There are many other adventures to take part in within the national park. Stay overnight at the Papagayo Peninsula.

Day 5. Head to San Jose

Drive to San Jose, and if you have time, explore the historic neighborhoods and buildings in the capital city. It’s time to head back home with wonderful memories imprinted in your mind.


You can explore different Costa Rica itineraries if this doesn’t sound quite right and plan your trip through this one or one of the others.

Travel planning is a bit hectic, but with some help, it can be a walk in the park. A top trip planner like Travel-Wise can help you with all your travel needs and make your vacation memorable.

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