With so many things to do and places to see in Costa Rica, it can be extremely difficult to narrow it all down. Do you want adventure? Are you looking to just lay on the beach? Or do you want to explore?
This little country in Central America packs a punch when it comes to all of those things and future travelers can end up spending hours on the Internet scouring the best information to plan the perfect trip.
Not everyone has the privilege or opportunity to backpack through a country for a long period of time and it can take what feels like forever to plan the perfect itinerary, especially if you’re here only for a week and want to see the best of the country.
So to help make your planning easier, here is a one week itinerary that takes you to several of the best sites in Costa Rica: national parks, cloud forest and beaches.
Have more time in Costa Rica? Check out the Costa Rica Monkey Tours 11 days Coast to Coast tour!
One Week Costa Rica Itinerary
We did this one week itinerary Costa Rica itinerary with a tour company who put it together. You can watch our video of the tour here. See the places we go, all the activities we do, the hotels we stayed at and the beach we visited!
Want to read about it? The whole itinerary is below and you can skip to a certain day to read more about it.
- Day 1 – Welcome to Costa Rica
- Day 2 – Rincon de la Vieja National Park: Guachipelin Combo Tour
- Day 3 – Monteverde Cloud Forest
- Day 4 – Palo Verde National Park
- Days 5-8 – Playa Samara
Map of destinations in this one week Costa Rica itinerary.
Day 1 is mostly a rest day but if you land in the morning, you can grab a cab and explore Liberia or relax at the hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Inn Liberia Airport Hotel via complimentary shuttle.
After breakfast we headed off for our first day of adventure at Hacienda Guachipelin. This exciting day consists of a full day of fun ziplining, horseback riding, white water tubing, and waterfalls.
This canopy tour has 12 zipline cables and there’s also an optional part where you can rappel down into a canyon, rock climb up and then tarzan swing over.
After ziplining, we went down to the stables to horseback ride to our next activity: white water tubing. During our horseback ride, we stopped briefly at a small waterfall.
Then we went white water tubing down a 2.5 kilometer long river with small rapids, so you spin and turn in your tube all while in the middle of the beautiful Costa Rican forest.
When we reached the end of the river, we loaded back into the truck to have lunch at the restaurant, buffet style with typical food with salad and dessert. At this point our guide decided to take us to our hotel for the night so we can enjoy the hot springs and hot baths there.
We stayed at Hotel Borinquen Mountain Resort in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park with villas and bungalows, each offering exquisite views in a rustic setting.
Hotel Borinquen has their own spa, mud baths, hot springs and pool so we ventured down there in the evening before dinner to enjoy the natural hot springs and slather mud on ourselves.
After a buffet breakfast, we set off for Monteverde, arriving at the Sky Tram and Sky Walk about 3 hours later. We went on a walk through the five hanging bridges and saw birds and snakes with the help of our guide.
Monteverde is one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica with dense, lush forest filled with all sorts of wildlife. After our walk we boarded Sky Tram to ride to the top of the cloud forest where we got an amazing birds eye view. On a clear day you could see Arenal Volcano on one side and the ocean on the other.
Read more about the Sky Trek, Walk and Tram in Monteverde.
We headed to our next hotel, Hotel El Establo which we absolutely loved. This beautiful hotel has gorgeous views of the cloud forest and our room had two floors with big windows, a balcony, a large bathroom, a sitting area upstairs and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in.
With the rest of the evening to ourselves, we wandered into town to eat at one of our favorite sodas and enjoyed the fresh cloud forest weather.
After a buffet breakfast, we headed back to Guanacaste to go wildlife watching at the famous Palo Verde National Park. This river is one of the most sacred ecosystems in the country as it houses hundreds of animals.
We saw howler and white face monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, migratory birds and bats. After the boat ride we enjoyed a hearty traditional lunch and went to Playa Samara to enjoy the beaches for our last few days.
Playa Samara did not disappoint. It’s not your typical white sand beach but the sunsets are what make this beach spectacular. We were granted with a stunning pink and red sunset that took over the entire sky and shore.
We stayed at Hotel Villas Playa Samara which is a resort style hotel with a big pool, restaurant and various bungalows and villas. We stayed in a modern villa with a spacious room, outside patio area and very nicely decorated bathroom.
The next morning we enjoyed another tasty breakfast buffet and relaxed at the pool. After lunch we signed up for the kayak tour that took us to a nearby island to go snorkeling.
The next two days of the trip are at Playa Samara and you can sign up to do other tours, explore the town or the nearby beaches. Samara is a beautiful beach that has plenty to do such as horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, stand up paddling boarding, jet skiing and swimming, perfect way to end your Costa Rica trip!
Tips for this one week Costa Rica itinerary
- This itinerary requires renting a car or hiring a shuttle since you’re moving to a new destination every day except when you get to Playa Samara. Taking the bus would take too long and since you only have 1 week, you want to maximize your time. This also allows you to stop at various points of interests and enjoy the sights. Get our 10-25% car rental discount here.
- Monteverde is a lot cooler than the rest of the destinations so make sure to bring long pants and a jacket.
- For your beach days, you don’t have to stay in Playa Samara. There are a handful of beach towns in Guanacaste such as Tamarindo, Santa Teresa/Mal Pais and Nosara.
Want more ideas? Check out this Central and South Pacific 1 week Costa Rica itinerary!
Staying for more than a week in Costa Rica? Check these articles out!
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We were sponsored by Costa Rica Monkey Tours and as always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.