Take The Whole Family on a Week-Long Adventure in Unspoiled (and unforgettable) Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a natural paradise boasting luscious green jungles, pristine beaches, and even a few active volcanoes. While the country itself may be small, the possibilities and experiences here are endless. Here is a great 7-day itinerary, Costa Rica.
A week in Costa Rica is the chance to enjoy equal parts relaxation and excitement on your family vacation. From rainforest tours to days at the beach, there is something for everyone in this Central American country.
It is the perfect destination for an international family-friendly vacation. You’ll find that this 7 day itinerary includes a diverse range of family activities in Costa Rica. Let’s get started!
Where to Stay in Costa Rica?
Due to the different regions of Costa Rica offering a variety of experiences, this 7-day itinerary includes overnight stays in three major cities: La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio.
Here are my hotel recommendations for these three Costa Rican cities.
- La Fortuna (nights 1 and 2) – Volcano Lodge Hotel and Thermal Experience
- Monteverde (nights 3 and 4) – El Establo Mountain Hotel
- Manuel Antonio (nights 5 and 6) – La Posada Private Jungle Bungalows
How to Get Around Costa Rica?
Renting a car is the best way to get around Costa Rica with a family. This can be easily arranged at the major airports in Costa Rica (Liberia and San Jose) and will allow you to travel on your own schedule and time frame.
Be cautious when driving around Costa Rica. These roads aren’t for the faint of heart! Many of them don’t have shoulders, the lanes are close together, bridges are one lane, and there aren’t many street lights.
The traffic rules and expectations are also very different than those in other parts of the world. Read up on all the local traffic laws and make sure that you have insurance that will cover any mishaps while driving in and around Costa Rica.
Another great way to get around the country is to let someone else take you! There are many taxis and private car companies that run regularly all over the country.
When participating in a group tour, many of the tour operators will arrange pick-up and drop-off from your hotel to ease the worry of figuring out transportation.
Talk with your tours in advance to set this up, prearrange travel with a company, or talk to the front desk at your hotel to arrange a taxi when you are there.
Day 1: La Fortuna
There are two major airports that tourists use to fly in and out of Costa Rica, Liberia and San Jose. For this specific 7-day itinerary for Costa Rica, you will want to utilize the San Jose International Airport as your home base.
Once you fly into the San Jose airport, either rent a car or connect with a prearranged transportation service in order to head to your first location of La Fortuna.
The drive from San Jose to La Fortuna will take you about two and a half hours through rich landscapes and exciting scenery. This scenic drive through stunning scenery will be a great start to your time in Costa Rica.
Once you arrive in La Fortuna, check in with your hotel before heading out to explore the area.
Costa Rica is a hotspot for ecotourism, and La Fortuna is the headquarters of many outdoor adventures. Depending on what time of day you’re able to arrive, you’ll have several different options for afternoon activities in this area.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Located about 15 minutes from downtown La Fortuna, this 200-foot waterfall cascades into the deep river below.
It offers an excellent swimming hole for families. It is also a picture-perfect moment for a family photo!
Relax in a Hot Spring
There are dozens of hot springs that are open to the public in this area. Throw on your swimsuit and relax in one of these natural hot tubs!
Go for a Hike
The area surrounding La Fortuna is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream location. Hike through the jungle canopies and along the forest floors.
Take in the vibrant greenery and flowers that are so common in this area as you work your way through.
Explore the Town
While the city of La Fortuna may be small, it offers a unique culture and scenery for those wishing to walk around. Check out the local shops and food carts as you become one with the local atmosphere.
Dinner at Restaurante Cafe Pizza Mediterraneo
Snag a bite to eat and check out a twist on a beloved classic by trying a Costa Rican pizza at Restaurante Cafe Pizza Mediterraneo. Enjoy the family atmosphere complete with a kid’s play place and a slide to entertain the little ones in between chowing down on a few slices!
Day 2: Arenal Volcano National Park and Don Olivo Chocolate Plantation
Enjoy breakfast at Cafeto Chill Out before loading up the car to head to the main attraction that is located in La Fortuna.
You will want to make sure that everyone in your party wears closed-toed shoes. Remember, you’ll be exploring the wilderness.
Arenal Volcano National Park
The biggest draw to the La Fortuna region is the majestic Arenal Volcano. It is situated within a national park that is about 15 minutes away by car from downtown.
The wildlife and greenery make this one of the most diverse national parks in the world. Scramble over dried lava, see the volcano, and walk through a forest of 500-year-old trees.
Walking along the hanging bridges through the forest canopy is another must while visiting!
The Don Olivo Chocolate Plantation
Visit the Don Olivo Chocolate Plantation for a tour through Costa Rica’s rich history with the cacao bean and sugar cane industry.
Learn about the history of the farm itself, how the crops are harvested, and even try tasting the different fruits and chocolates for yourself. This is a great family activity as it offers children a hands-on experience with the biodiversity and farming lifestyle that makes up much of Costa Rica!
Dinner at Restaurant Don Rufino
Head back into La Fortuna to freshen up from your earlier outdoor adventures before going to dinner.
Known as a local favorite, the Don Rufino Restaurant beautifully mixes Latin American dishes with worldwide flavors and spices.
It is highly recommended with an excellent menu, and it’s a great dinner spot to take the whole family!
Day 3 Itinerary
Stop for a bite to eat at the local Soda Mima Restuarant before hitting the road! From La Fortuna, you will drive one and a half hours northwest to Tenorio.
Work your way through the winding roads to yet another volcano that has a few interesting natural gems surrounding it.
Tenorio Volcano National Park
Spend some of your time in the morning exploring the youngest national park in Costa Rica. The Tenorio Volcano National Park is also home to the famous Rio Celeste.
This bright blue river winds through the park and is easily accessible from Sendero Río Celeste, a family-friendly hiking trail.
Traverse over hanging bridges and through the emerald forests to the highlight at the end of the trail: a crystal waterfall. This finale is backdropped by the active Tenorio Volcano.
It makes for a perfect family photo to commemorate your time in Costa Rica!
Drive to Monteverde
Once you have oohed and ahhed at the incredible waters of the Rio Celeste, load up the car again to head to your next destination city of Monteverde.
This journey will take you a little less than three hours, but it will be bumpy and windy. Be prepared to take the roads a little slower than normal to make sure you arrive safe and sound!
Once you get there, check in to your hotel before heading into downtown for dinner at the local favorite of The Green Restaurant. Serving an assortment of casual Latin American dishes, it is a great restaurant for kids and adults alike!
Day 4 Itinerary
Start the fourth day of your 7 day Costa Rica itinerary when you grab a quick bite to eat at Orchid Coffee in downtown Monteverde before getting ready for an exhilarating day that will take you from the forest floor to the top of the jungle canopy.
See an entirely new side of Costa Rica from 400 feet up in the air!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Zip Line Tour
Costa Rica is famous for its extravagant zip lines that connect all throughout the jungles of this region. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Zip Line Tour is one of the most famous zip lines in all of Costa Rica and it is not hard to figure out why.
Zoom through the emerald green forests as you navigate from platform to platform all while being up to 450 feet in the air! This zip line is one of the largest and longest treks available.
It is backed by a number of safety features, so no need to worry. The whole family will enjoy the Costa Rican scenery from this jungle-gym in the sky!
Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
After finishing up the zip line tour, spend the afternoon exploring the preserve by going on some nature walks and animal scouting tours.
This is a great way to see the area that you just experienced from the sky, but now from the ground. Many different animals and plants live in this biological reserve. It is a great way to connect with the natural landscape of Costa Rica.
Dinner at the Treehouse Restaurant
After returning to your hotel in Monteverde to freshen up from your high-flying morning adventure, step outside to enjoy what the city of Monteverde has to offer. Located in downtown Monteverde, the Treehouse Restaurant lets you eat in an actual treehouse!
Built around an impressive ficus tree, this unique atmosphere intertwines with the large branches of the tree. Enjoy a meal of traditional Latin American cuisine with a twist. This is a restaurant experience like no other!
Day 5 Itinerary
Grab a final bite to eat in Monteverde by having breakfast at Celajes Restaurant Monteverde. Afterward, load up the car for a three-hour drive to the most famous beach region in all of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio.
This area of Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination known for its wildlife reserves and pristine beach resorts. Check in to your hotel, grab your beach gear, and head towards the water to relax. You are on vacation after all!
Experience the true Pura Vida lifestyle while exploring the sands of the Playa Biesanz beach. It is second only to the Manuel Antonio beach that you will enjoy on day 6.
Rent a chair to relax in while you listen to the crash of the ocean waves along the light gray beach. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at surfing, this is an excellent place to try.
There are beach equipment rentals all along the shore along with locals willing to offer lessons. Take the day to relax on the beach since the last few days have been go go go!
Dinner at Buena Vista Beach Club Bar and Grill
Eat your dinner right on the beach at the Buena Vista Beach Club Bar and Grill. With tables and chairs located only 100 feet from the water, you can enjoy your meal while listening to the crashing waves of the ocean.
The great local service will perfectly top off the whole experience!
Day 6 Itinerary
Stop for breakfast at El Patio de Café Milagro to fuel up for the day. From there, head to the Manuel Antonio National Park for a day of fun in the sun!
Manuel Antonio National Park
Plan to spend the entire day wandering through the Manuel Antonio National Park. This tropical paradise is the jewel of Costa Rica that will spark both the adventure and relaxation within you.
Established in 1972, this national park contains a combination of jungles, beaches, and coral reefs. Relax on one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world (Playa Manuel Antonio), explore the winding trails throughout the park that will take you by beautiful scenery, and interact with the local animals like sloths, iguanas, and monkeys!
The Manuel Antonio National Park is open for visitors to explore independently or with a tour guide. These 2 or 3-hour tours are a great way to introduce yourself to the park with an educated guide who will take you to all of the major locations within the park. After the tour, you can choose to stay in the park and explore to your heart’s content!
Travel Note: The park is open every day of the year from 7 AM to 4 PM, except it is closed every Monday.
Day 7 Itinerary
On the final day of your 7-day itinerary in Costa Rica, grab your last meal in Manuel Antonio at Emilio’s Cafe before hopping in the car to travel back to San Jose.
This journey of about three hours will conveniently place you within an easy range to get to the airport for whenever your flight may be.
Explore San Jose
Spend the time you have left in Costa Rica exploring the capital city of San Jose. This city is rich with history and culture, offering a wide variety of unique food and dining options!
Colorful buildings stretch in every direction that are dotted with many street art displays. Get lost on the streets or head for one of the following attractions to get a taste of the unique San Jose lifestyle.
- Walk Central Avenue: Central Avenue is the downtown street of San Jose that is filled with street performers and locals alike. Stroll from one end to the other as you take in the lifestyle and culture of this area.
- Costa Rica National Theater: Tour this stunning work of architecture as you learn about the building’s long history and even stay to watch a live performance!
- San Jose Central Market: Want to snack on some more tropical fruit or grab a last-minute souvenir? The Central Market is the place to go! Filled with local shopping stalls and food carts, you will want to make sure to set away some time for this one!
- Museums: San Jose is home to several top-notch museums where you can learn about the history and culture of Costa Rica. From the Children’s Museum to the National History Museum, there is a perfect museum for your family while spending time in San Jose.
Depart for the San Jose Airport
Grab a final bite to eat in San Jose at the hip Café de Los Deseos restaurant before heading back to the airport in order to catch your flight home.
We hope that this 7-day Costa Rica itinerary helped you navigate the best attractions in this amazing destination with your family.