17 days in Costa Rica & Panama Itinerary

17 days in Costa Rica & Panama Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Central America itinerary planner
Make it your trip
Fly
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive
2
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive
3
Vara Blanca, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive
4
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 1 night
Drive
5
Jaco, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Monteverde, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Fly
7
Panama City, Panama
— 5 nights
Fly

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La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica — 4 nights

Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
Get some cultural insight at ChocoMuseo La Fortuna and Onirica Art Gallery. Take a break from the city and head to Tabacon Hot Springs and Canyoning & Rappelling Tours. There's much more to do: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, witness a stunning natural landmark at Ecotermales Fortuna, tour the pleasant surroundings at Bogarin Trail, and push the limits with an extreme tour.

To see maps, ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos journey planner.

London, UK to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 14.5-hour flight. The time zone difference moving from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) to Central Standard Time (CST) is minus 6 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Wed) so you can go by car to Tortuguero.
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Parks · Nature · Tours · Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 17 — 21:

Tortuguero, Costa Rica — 1 night

One of Costa Rica's least accessible destinations, Tortuguero sits within an eponymous national park and remains accessible only by plane or boat.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Thu): explore the wealth of natural beauty at Tortuguero National Park.

For maps, ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, use the Tortuguero travel app.

You can drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Tortuguero in 3.5 hours. Other options are to take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In December, daytime highs in Tortuguero are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 22nd (Thu) to allow time to drive to Vara Blanca.
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Nature · Parks
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 22:
Highlights from your trip

Vara Blanca, Costa Rica — 1 night

A vacation in Vara Blanca, located in the heart of Costa Rica, offers excellent access to a number of attractions across the area.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Fri): take in the dramatic scenery at Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz.

To see where to stay, maps, ratings, and more tourist information, use the Vara Blanca driving holiday planning website.

Traveling by car from Tortuguero to Vara Blanca takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry, bus, and taxi; or do a combination of ferry, bus, and taxi. On the 23rd (Fri), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to Manuel Antonio.
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Nature · Parks
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 23:
Highlights from your trip

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica — 1 night

The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
On the 24th (Sat), enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio and then get the lay of the land with Walking tours.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, reviews, and tourist information, go to the Manuel Antonio trip maker.

You can drive from Vara Blanca to Manuel Antonio in 4 hours. Other options are to do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Sat) to allow time to drive to Jaco.
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Beaches · Parks · Outdoors · Tours
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 24:

Jaco, Costa Rica — 2 nights

A seaside resort town with plenty of entertaining distractions along its attractive coastline, Jaco has long been a major tourist destination on the central Pacific coast.
On the 25th (Sun), kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks and then let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour. On the next day, skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour and then enjoy the sand and surf at Jaco Beach.

To see maps, where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, use the Jaco online trip planner.

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to Jaco takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Mon) so you can drive to Monteverde.
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Outdoors · Tours · Adventure · Beaches
Side Trip
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 26:

Monteverde, Costa Rica — 2 nights

Monteverde is all about natural attractions, not surprising for an eco-tourism hotspot known for its cloud forests and rich diversity of animal life.
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Tue): stroll through Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Ranario Monteverde Frog Pond. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 28th (Wed): appreciate the extensive heritage of Ecological Sanctuary and then relax and rejuvenate at Monteverde Massage Center.

Before you visit Monteverde, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.

Traveling by car from Jaco to Monteverde takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. In December in Monteverde, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 32°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 28th (Wed) so you can catch the flight to Panama City.
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Parks · Wildlife · Historic Sites · Spas
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 28:

Panama City, Panama — 5 nights

Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Get a sense of the local culture at Casco Viejo and Panama La Vieja. The adventure continues: explore the wealth of natural beauty at Soberania National Park, take a stroll through Cinta Costera, don't miss a visit to Panama Canal, and get engrossed in the history at Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama.

For maps, other places to visit, traveler tips, and more tourist information, go to the Panama City trip maker.

You can fly from Monteverde to Panama City in 4.5 hours. Other options are to fly; or drive; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. The time zone difference moving from Central Standard Time (CST) to Eastern Standard Time (EST) is 1 hour. Expect slightly colder evenings in Panama City when traveling from Monteverde in December, with lows around 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Mon) so you can fly back home.
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Historic Sites · Nature · Parks · Neighborhoods
Find places to stay Dec 28 — Jan 2:

Costa Rica travel guide

4.4
Beaches · Nature & Parks · Zipline
Tiny in terms of land area, Costa Rica is astoundingly diverse when it comes to culture and natural attractions. In a country called "Rich Coast", it's no surprise most Costa Rica vacations dedicate at least a few days to picturesque Pacific and Caribbean beaches, ideal for water sports and relaxation. Few small countries offer such a range of landscapes, allowing tourists to observe towering volcanoes while soaking away their worries in a hot spring, or hike into dense rainforests in the morning and surf at a modern resort in the afternoon. A trip to Costa Rica also lets you discover pristine national parks, ensuring plenty of chances to view wildlife from the comfort of eco-friendly lodges packed with amenities even ardent nature lovers secretly desire.
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Panama travel guide

4.2
Landmarks · Historic Walking Areas · Shopping Malls
With a lively banking sector and a booming tourism industry, Panama remains one of the most powerful nations in the Americas, though it's also one of the smallest by land area. The country boasts coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so it's not surprising most Panama holidays include some form of seaside entertainment. With outstanding beaches all over the country, it's easy to find an ideal spot to swim, snorkel, dive, fish, sail, or simply kick back on the sand with a few cold drinks. The country's best-known landmark and one of the world's most significant shipping routes, Panama Canal tops most tourist itineraries--many choose to see this engineering wonder by traveling the length of it by train.
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