Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary: The Complete Travel Guide Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary: The Complete Travel Guide

Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary: The Complete Travel Guide

Costa Rica: a place where “Pura Vida” is not just an expression but a way of life. Every day is filled with beautiful moments, whether it’s a barefoot walk on the beach or the sound of the red-eyed tree frog in the rainforest. Three weeks is the ideal time to absorb the Costa Rican way of life and enjoy all the top things to do. Use this Costa Rica 3-week itinerary to plan your route around the country’s waterfalls, volcanoes, national reserves, and beautiful beaches. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

Ultimate Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary

Costa Rica is known worldwide for its incredible conservation and protection of wildlife. The locals have great respect for the animals and sea life, and seeing exotic creatures close to the towns and villages is a completely normal part of daily life. The government policies reflect this, with strict rules that prohibit building on/near the beaches and laws that work to protect endangered species and natural habitats.

sloth costa rica

Because of this, the landscapes in Costa Rica are spectacular. You can drive along the roads, spotting sloths among the trees, or fall asleep to the sounds of howler monkeys in the rainforest canopy. Magical!

travel costa rica map

Day 1: San Jose (Arrival)

Arrive in the capital of Costa Rica on day 1, a bustling city surrounded by luscious green nature. Because of all the fantastic places to see on your 3-week itinerary in Costa Rica, we advise staying only a night in San Jose to rest after your flight and prep for the journey ahead. It’s not the prettiest city in the world, but if you have a bit of time, consider visiting some of the beautiful gardens in the city or join a food tour to learn more about typical Costa Rican dishes.

san jose costa rica 3 week travel itinerary

There’s also great nightlife in San Jose if you want to find some music before you head out into the city’s remote nature. 

Where to stay in San Jose

The neighborhood of Amón in San Jose has some nice buildings to see and restaurants to visit, like Cafe Rojo and De Acá.

bar costa rica

Day 2: San Jose to Puerto Viejo

Let the road trip begin! Rent a car in San Jose and start the 4-hour journey to Puerto Viejo. If you’re unable to rent a car, don’t worry, as plenty of tour buses leave from San Jose, offering to take you to your destination.

For the most cost-effective option, jump on one of the local public buses. It may take longer, but it’s cheap and will give you a good insight into Costa Rican life.

costa rica 3 week travel itinerary puerto viejo beach

How to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo

By Car:

Puerto Viejo is about 4 hours drive from San Jose on good roads. Because of this, you don’t necessarily need a car with high clearance from the ground (or a 4×4), although you might want one for other destinations in Costa Rica. 

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Costa Rica 3 week itinerary road trip 4x4

By Bus or Shuttle:

The public buses (MEPE) leave from San Jose to Puerto Viejo about five times a day and take roughly 4.5 hours. It’s the cheapest way to travel, with tickets starting from around 10 USD. If you want to be picked up from your hotel, and have a slightly more comfortable journey, opt for a shared shuttle with other travelers. The price starts from around 50 USD and takes approximately 5 hours; it’s a bit longer because of hotel pickups.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary nauyaca waterfalls

Where to Stay in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo has a lively atmosphere throughout the day and night. If you don’t mind a bit of noise and music, stay in the center of town, close to all the amenities. If you want more of a tranquil experience, choose accommodation along the coast between Playa Cocles or Manzanillo.

Day 3 – 5: Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is the gem of the Caribbean coast and a favorite among those travelers looking for laidback vibes. The locals are extremely friendly, there’s a beautiful Rastafarian community, and everyday life feels like a vacation. 

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary road trip

There are not many things to do in Puerto Viejo, but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found; the beaches are beautiful, white, sandy, and palm-tree-lined, and there are loads of outdoor activities from cycling to surfing. Puerto Viejo is also home to the fascinating Jaguar Rescue Centre, which plays an integral part in the rescue and rehabilitation of the area’s wildlife (spoiler: there are no actual jaguars here!).

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary puerto viejo punta uva beach

Day 6: Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero

Head north up the coast to beautiful Tortuguero, a lovely village at the heart of the famous Tortuguero national park. This is one of the most remote parts of the trip, where accommodation sits on an isolated sand bar strip, and boats are used to reach the national park.  

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary night walk Tortuguero

Alternative Route

If you’re not interested in visiting Tortuguero National Park, you can drive directly from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna. However, it’s a long drive, so it’s worth breaking up the journey with a stop at the waterfalls of Bajos del Toro on your way. Be aware that you’ll need a car with some clearance from the ground as the road can be bumpy here. 

If Tortuguero doesn’t suit you for some other reason, you can also visit Corcovado National Park near Uvita!

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Costa Rica 3 week itinerary Bajos del Toro waterfalls

How to get from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero

By Car:

The drive from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero takes around 4.5 hours. You’ll travel on the main highway the whole way, so there’s no need to hire a 4×4. 

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Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary: The Complete Travel Guide

Please note that you can only enter Tortuguero national park by boat or light aircraft. You’ll need to drive to La Pavona, where you can park your car in a guarded place for 10 USD per day. From here, jump on a boat and sail an hour along the river, spotting caymans and crocodiles!

boat tortuguero costa rica

By Bus or Shuttle:

We recommend joining an organized tour to Tortuguero if you don’t have a car. There are plenty leaving Puerto Viejo, including your transportation and a 1 or 2-day tour of the national park. If you travel by public bus take the bus to Cariari where you change to La Pavona.

Where to Stay in Tortuguero

For easy access to all the village’s amenities, stay in Tortuguero itself. However, if you want a really unique experience, you can stay on one of the nearby islands, where you’ll have to travel by water taxi. Staying in one of these jungle lodges is a truly memorable experience!

Day 7: Tortuguero

Tortuguero means ‘place of turtles’, and that’s exactly what you’ll find; a place where turtles nest, and you can watch baby turtles hatch and enter the ocean for the first time. 

The primary hatching season is July to October, but there are plenty of other things to see and do in Tortuguero outside of these months. One of the main activities is a night walk in the Tortuguero Nature Reserve, where a guide will take you by boat into the depths of the rainforest. Under the cover of darkness, you’ll be able to see rare and beautiful wildlife, like the red-eyed tree frog.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary Tortuguero

Day 8: Tortuguero to La Fortuna

Now the volcanic part of your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary begins! Try and get an early start so you can arrive in beautiful La Fortuna in time for lunch and a quick dip in La Fortuna waterfall or the pools under the El Salto rope swing. Alternatively, head straight for the warm hot springs of La Fortuna—the very thing that makes the town so famous!

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary la fortuna el salto

How to get from Tortuguero to La Fortuna

By Car: 

The drive from Tortuguero to La Fortuna is around 3 hours on a good road, so you won’t require a 4×4 or any clearance from the ground. We recommend renting a car if you can, as once you’re in La Fortuna, there aren’t many transport options and the sights are very remote. 

road trip Costa Rica 3 week itinerary

By Bus or Shuttle:

The only feasible option for public transport is an organized shuttle bus from Tortuguero to La Fortuna. These leave daily and often include the boat crossing as well. Tickets range from 60 – 70 USD per person, and the transfer takes about 5 hours.

Where to Stay in La Fortuna

We recommend staying at one of the hotels with the hot springs attached, as staying the night doesn’t cost much more than the day pass. Plus, you’ll get the springs included as part of the package. There are some beautiful resorts (and campsites) to stay in, like the Tabacon Resort. Here are all your hotel options.

Day 9 of your 3 weeks in Costa Rica: La Fortuna

Enjoy your first full day in La Fortuna, a stunning natural area home to the Arenal Volcano, geothermal springs, and the famous Mistico Hanging Bridges. There are many hikes to enjoy in the Arenal National Park, so choose from one of the many trails that hug the volcano.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary la fortuna Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

Wardens also patrol the area and monitor the volcanic activity, so it’s not dangerous for visitors. This is good to know, particularly as this is the most active volcano in Costa Rica!

Spend your afternoon relaxing in one of the many hot springs on offer. Many of these are attached to hotels, where you’ll need to buy a pass to enter. For those on a budget, there are some great free springs too.

La fortuna costa rica Arenal Lake

Day 10: La Fortuna to Monteverde

This might just be one of the best journeys on your whole Costa Rica 3-week itinerary! Discover an extraordinary road that circles around the great Arenal Lake—sitting in the shadow of the volcano—and ends in green and luscious Monteverde.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary hanging bridges costa rica la fortuna

On your way, stop at Mistico Hanging Bridges, which are about a 30-minute drive from La Fortuna. These adrenaline-pumping bridges stand at the height of 45 meters above the rainforest, giving you unparalleled views over the rainforest treetops, the volcano, and the opportunity to spot some elusive Costa Rican wildlife.

How to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde

By Car: 

The drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde may seem close on the map, but it will take 3 hours because of Lake Arenal. The views are incredible though, so you won’t want to rush this journey. Leave some time to take photos and stop at the Mistico Hanging Bridges! 

The road is good all the way to Monteverde, so you won’t need a 4×4. However, you might want a car with a bit of clearance from the ground once you arrive in Monteverde, as the roads are older. 

costa rica 3 week road trip

By Bus or Shuttle:

Buses leave from La Fortuna to Monteverde, but they take around 7-8 hours and are not particularly comfortable. Alternatively, you could join a shared shuttle bus that is shorter and will pick you up from your hotel (cost around 50-60 USD). Many shuttles will include a boat ride across Arenal Lake as part of the transfer (see below).

Note: If you choose to travel by bus or shuttle, you won’t have the flexibility of being able to visit the Mistico Hanging Bridges.

By Boat

Small boats cross Lake Arenal, but they don’t take transport. If you are traveling without transportation, this can be a good option to get to Monteverde. Alternatively, if you’re traveling by shuttle, check the details as they often include a boat transfer as part of the journey. It takes around 2 – 2.5 hours, and you’ll enjoy a trip across the lake with beautiful views of the volcano; it’s a unique way to travel! Prices start from 25 USD.

Where to Stay in Monteverde

To really appreciate the beauty of Monteverde, stay close to the forest. Alternatively, base yourself in Santa Elena (the main village of the area), which gives you more options in terms of shops and places to eat. If you don’t have a car, it’s best to base yourself in Santa Elena. See all your hotel options here.

Day 11: Monteverde

Monteverde, meaning green mountain, lives up to its name. Nature is incredible here, thriving in the cloud forest landscapes. Cloud forests are rare and unique, only making up 1% of all forests worldwide. They get their name from the high altitude, which causes the low-lying cloud to creep between the trees. Walking in this environment is truly an experience like no other! 

Join a tour to learn more about the animals in the forest or take part in another adventurous activity like canyoning or ziplining.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary monteverde colibri

Day 12: Monteverde to Santa Teresa

Time to head further south to the surfing hotspot of Santa Teresa! This remote part of Costa Rica is not only famous for its waves but its wild palm-tree-lined beaches and bohemian village. It sits on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, which curves around to the west of Monteverde, giving you the option to cut out part of the journey by leaving the land and crossing the sea! If you have time, Santa Teresa is a must-do on your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary.

travel guide Costa Rica 3 week itinerary

How to get from Monteverde to Santa Teresa

By Car: 

Drive 1.5 hours south to the coastal town of Puntarenas. From here, go on the car ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya, which takes about 1 hour. You’ll arrive in Paquera, and it takes another 1.5 hours to reach Santa Teresa. In total, it’s about 4-5 hours to make the whole journey. 

costa rica ferry

Alternatively, you can drive the whole journey on land, which is roughly the same amount of time (but you’ll spend longer in the car). Plus, the experience of the boat is really worthwhile for a different way to travel!

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Although some of the roads to Santa Teresa are unpaved, they are in good condition, so you won’t need a 4×4. However, we definitely recommend renting a car with more clearance from the ground for this part of Costa Rica.

travel guide Costa Rica 3 week itinerary horse riding

By Bus or Shuttle:

The public bus + ferry is definitely the cheapest way to travel to Santa Teresa, but it does take quite a long time (5-7 hours). When you get off the ferry at Paquera, take the bus to Cobano and change bus to Mal Pais (a town 15 minutes from Santa Teresa).

Shuttles are available throughout the day but pre-booking them is recommended. Costs for a trip, including the ferry, should be between 60 – 85 USD.

3 weeks costa rice travel route santa teresa

Where to Stay in Santa Teresa

Stay at the main areas: Playa Carmen or Playa Santa Teresa. Both areas have great restaurants, lovely beaches, and lots going on. Playa Santa Teresa is the place to be if you want to surf while on your trip. 

Day 13 – 15: Santa Teresa

After your busy few weeks in the wilderness and nature of Costa Rica, relax and unwind for a few days in the coastal paradise of Santa Teresa. Here, your Costa Rican dreams come to life as you go galloping down open beaches on horseback, listen to live music around the campfire at night, and practice yoga on the beach. It’s the perfect place to slow down, appreciate the ocean, and enjoy the bohemian vibes of the village.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary surfing santa teresa

Day 16: Santa Teresa to Manuel Antonio

Soak up the last rays of Santa Teresa life before heading on your way to Manuel Antonio, one of the most untouched beach towns on your Costa Rica 3-week itinerary. Not only is it home to pristine white sand beaches, but it has one of the world’s best national parks (Manuel Antonio National Park). Spend a few days walking along the nature reserve trails, spotting rare and beautiful wildlife, and watching iguanas roam freely on empty beaches.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary Manuel Antonio Beach

How to get from Santa Teresa to Manuel Antonio

By Car: 

The drive is around 6 hours (including the ferry from Paquera back to Puntarenas) on paved roads so you won’t need a 4×4. Break up the journey by making a quick stop at the famous Crocodile Bridge, where you have a good chance of spotting crocodiles. However, please do not buy any meat from the sellers because this interferes with the crocodile’s natural feeding habits. According to Costa Rican Law, you are prohibited from feeding wildlife.

camping tips costa rica

By Bus:

Buses leave from Mal Pais to Cobana, where you’ll need to change buses to take you to the ferry at Paquera. You’ll need to get off the bus to take the ferry to Puntarenas. Once you’re there, plenty of buses leave for Quepos of Manuel Antonio. The total journey time is around 8 hours.

By Shuttle Bus/Water Taxi:

Although the public bus is the cheapest option, many people opt for a shared shuttle bus for ease, as they’ll generally collect you from your hotel and drop you off at your chosen destination. It also saves changing buses. Shared shuttle bus tickets from Santa Teresa to Manuel Antonio cost between 60-100 USD.

Where to Stay in Manuel Antonio

The closer your accommodation is to Manuel Antonio National Park, the more expensive it gets. Therefore, we recommend staying between Quepos and the national park if you have your transport. (See all your hotel options here)

Day 17: Manuel Antonio

Spend your first full day in Manuel Antonio National Park, famed for its incredible biodiversity! Although it’s one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, it’s still home to many beautiful walking trails and hundreds of different species of animals. Buy a ticket to enter the park and join a tour to learn more about the beautiful animals that call the park home, from macaws and squirrel monkeys to iguanas and sloths. 

At the edge of the national park, you’ll find Manuel Antonio Beach. This beach feels like paradise; it’s so beautiful that many people buy a national park ticket just to visit for the day. Because these beaches are protected, they’re pristine, with the whitest sand and bluest water.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary manuel antonio Espadilla Beach

If you have time on your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary, make sure to also check out Espadilla South Beach on the other side of the water.

iguana costa rica

Day 18: Manuel Antonio to Uvita

On day 18 of this Costa Rica travel guide, head for the backpacker town of Uvita, famous for its interesting beaches and whale watching.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary whale watching

On your way to Uvita, stop at Nauyaca Waterfalls. The entire journey from Manuel Antonio to Uvita takes 1 hour but add an extra 30 minutes to the trip to visit the waterfalls. Wander the trail to Nauyaca Waterfalls, where you’ll find your very own jungle book scene! You can spend an afternoon here, looking at the two mighty falls and swimming in the natural pools below. 

Once you check into your hotel in Uvita, head to Uvita beach or Gusto Italian, where you can watch a beautiful sunset. Go horseriding on the beach; the perfect activity for sundown. 

nauyaca waterfall costa rica salt in our hair

How to get from Manuel Antonio to Uvita

By car: 

The journey from Manuel Antonio to Uvita is very straightforward, directly on the highway and taking only 1-1.5 hours. However, if you want to visit Nauyaca Waterfalls, add an extra 30 minutes to your journey time.

By bus or shuttle:

If you’re traveling by public transport, you will not be able to make a stop at Nauyaca Waterfalls. However, they are just a short journey from Uvita and can be visited on a day trip; plenty of tour companies leave from Uvita or Manuel Antonio for the falls. 

Buses leave from Quepos (near Uvita) around 4 times a day and take approximately 2 hours, costing around 5 USD. You can take regular public buses to Quepos (from Manuel Antonio), which take about 30 minutes.

travel guide Costa Rica 3 week itinerary road trip

A shuttle bus is a more comfortable option that allows you to be collected directly from your hotel in Manuel Antonio, saving you the trip to Quepos. It’s a bit faster, taking 1.5 hours and costing around 40 USD per person.

Where to Stay in Uvita

Uvita town is split up into two parts: the main town near the beach and the upper town across the highway toward Uvita Waterfall. When staying in the main town, hotels are more expensive, but you’re always walking distance from the beach and mostly surrounded by lush greenery. Alternatively, camp at one of the nearby sites or go glamping!

Day 19 – 20: Uvita

Uvita has it all: beautiful beaches with very few crowds, fantastic nature reserves, waterfalls, and amazing wildlife. It has a backpacker vibe that gives it a fun, youthful atmosphere (it also hosts a few festivals in the summer).

If you’re visiting during January – March or July – October, you’ll have the chance to see humpback whales in the wild, as this is the primary whale watching season. As a happy coincidence, there is also a beautiful part of the beach called Marino Ballena (whale tail). At low tide, this sand passage is created in the shape of a whale’s tail, which is a beautiful thing to see on your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary. 

Costa Rica 3 week travel guide uvita Marino Ballena National Park

Another top thing to do in Uvita is a mangrove tour, where a guide will point out tropical birds, crocodiles, and turtles in the protected wetlands. Mangroves are also vital for the environment; they protect the shoreline, prevent erosion, and act as a habitat for many animals.

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary mangrove tour

Day 21: Drive Back to San Jose (Departure)

After an amazing 3 weeks in Costa Rica, it’s time to say goodbye to this beautiful country, taking all the fantastic memories of your adventure with you. On the last day of your 3-week Costa Rica itinerary, make your way back to SJO airport (a 3.5-hour drive from Uvita). Alternatively, if you have a flight late in the day, you could visit one more waterfall (like La Paz, which is an hour north of the city).

Costa Rica 3 week itinerary sunset palm tree

How to Visit Costa Rica in 3 Weeks

Costa Rica has unlimited treasures that could take months to explore. However, 3 weeks is a perfect amount of time to see some of the greatest highlights and really get to know the culture of Costa Rica. This Costa Rica travel guide provides various activities, destinations, and transportation options.

Getting to Costa Rica

There are two international airports in Costa Rica: San Jose International Airport and Roberts International airport in Liberia. Most international flights arrive in San Jose, where this Costa Rica travel guide starts. (Find the best flights here)

Find flights ✈️

If you do fly to Liberia instead of San Jose, you can still do this Costa Rica 3-week itinerary. However, the drive from Liberia to your first stop (Puerto Viejo) is around 8 hours, which is quite long. Instead, consider stopping at San Jose on the way to break up the journey, as there are lots of incredible natural sights to see just outside the city. 

Tip: You can also cross borders from Panama or Nicaragua if you’re already in one of these countries.

Getting Around Costa Rica

By Car

The easiest way, by far, to get around Costa Rica is with a rental car. You’ll get the freedom to stop anywhere you like, at your own pace, which gives you the flexibility to complete your Costa Rica 3-week itinerary. It’s also far more comfortable than traveling by public bus (especially as on some routes you’ll have to change). 

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Driving in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a reputation for having some pretty dangerous and bumpy roads. However, these days, that’s not the case at all! Now you’ll find well-paved routes in good condition for all types of vehicles. The only unpaved road you might encounter on your Costa Rica itinerary is if you take the wrong road from La Fortuna to Monteverde. Because of this, always use the Waze app in Costa Rica to find the right roads.

Costa Rica 3 week road trip itinerary
Do I need a 4×4 in Costa Rica?

In the past, You might have needed a 4×4 to drive in Costa Rica. However, nowadays, if you follow the main roads, you no longer need a 4×4. However, to avoid any pothole damage, we recommend renting a car with some clearance from the ground. 

Renting a 4×4 can be helpful in the rainy season when unpaved roads can get very muddy, especially if you’re planning to travel to more remote areas.

By Jeep with Tent or Campervan

For an unforgettable adventure, rent a 4×4 jeep in Costa Rica! This is the most incredible experience, as you sleep under the stars, move from place to place, and find some gorgeous hidden spots. 

camping on the beach costa rica

Best of all, renting a 4×4 jeep at Nomad America gives you the option to drive through national parks and cross rivers in Corcovado and Guanacaste areas. Although the rental price might seem expensive, it’s worth remembering that this is your accommodation, transport, and kitchen all in one. Because of this, your trip might actually end up cheaper, especially for a 3 week Costa Rica itinerary. 

camping in costa rica road trip itinerary

By Bus

Traveling by local buses in Costa Rica is the cheapest way to get around, and many services are traveling to major destinations all over the country. However, it will take quite a bit longer. This is because the bus routes avoid highways and make stops instead of traveling direct.

Additionally, some routes will require changes, for example, the route from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna. If you travel by bus, you also won’t have the flexibility to make stops at more off-the-beaten-track destinations like Nauyaca Waterfalls.

By Shuttle

Shuttles (12-seaters vans) are convenient to travel door to door in Costa Rica. These shuttles can be booked in advance, and it is recommended to do so, especially during the high season. We didn’t book in advance for our trip, which left us with no other option than to take an expensive taxi ride.

Our Favorite Costa Rica Accommodation

There are many fantastic options when it comes to accommodation in Costa Rica. It might be camping on the edges of the rainforest, a beach bungalow, an artsy boutique hotel, or a backpackers hostel. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Costa Rica. Below are our favorites for each destination on this Costa Rica 3-week itinerary.

best accommodation costa rica 3 week itinerary

How Much Do 3 Weeks in Costa Rica Cost?

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world! Because of this, it’s an extremely popular destination. Its popularity has seen it become more expensive in recent years, and it’s often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Central America’.   

Costs of Traveling in Costa Rica

Travel on a budget in Costa Rica, from $300 − $1410 USD weekly per person, mid-range $720 − $1950 USD, and high-end from $1960 − $2650 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

wise card

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica for 3 Weeks

The best time to travel to Costa Rica is from mid-December to April. This is the time with the most sunshine (between 15-30 degrees) and dry days (although you might experience a small rain shower in the afternoon). Because of the weather, this is the most popular season to visit Costa Rica, making it busy and expensive. 

Also see: Best Time to visit Costa Rica

The end of April to November is the rainy season, with the most rain in October. However, don’t let this affect your choice as it never rains for long (only a few short rain showers each day). The rain also makes nature incredibly luscious! In addition, this period is much cheaper; you could even save a third of your total budget by traveling during this time.

Do I Need a Visa for 3 Weeks in Costa Rica?

Most passport holders do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica. However, you will need a valid passport and an onward plane ticket to prove that you will exit Costa Rica within 90 days.

Is Costa Rica Safe?

Costa Rica is very safe for tourists, with some of the friendliest locals globally. It also has the lowest rate of violent crimes in Central America. However, like most countries in Latin America, it does have a few problems with drug trafficking, poverty, and pickpockets. Always keep your belongings within eyesight and exercise caution. This way, you’re unlikely to experience any issues.

Travel Insurance Costa Rica

Even if you’re only traveling in Costa Rica for 3 weeks, we recommend purchasing single-trip travel insurance. Although the country itself is safe, there is potential for accidents – for example, an injury after surfing, a canceled flight, or lost baggage.

Costa Rica Entry Requirements: Covid-19

At the moment, you need to complete this health form within 72 hours before you enter Costa Rica. However, you do not need to be vaccinated and do not require a negative PCR test. Despite this regulation, if you are not vaccinated, you will need to purchase a travel policy for your 3 weeks in Costa Rica. Be aware that the policy should cover up to 50,000 USD of medical expenses and 2,000 USD of accommodation expenses. (Read the specifics here)

What to Pack for a Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary

Costa Rica is an incredibly diverse country with differing scenery, wildlife, and micro-climates. Because of this, the weather can change from a sunny 30 degrees to a rainy 18 degrees within a few hours. As such, we recommend taking layers and clothing that is quick-dry. 

Costa Rica Packing List

  • Take layers – Layers of clothing are essential to add or remove items when the temperature changes.
  • Quick-dry clothing – You can be sure to have a little bit of rain during your trip to Costa Rica. Take clothing made of fabrics that dry quickly because items take very long to dry due to the humidity.
  • Microfiber towel – Like quick-dry clothing, it’s beneficial to take microfiber towels as they dry much faster and are incredibly lightweight.
  • Waterproof backpack – Keep your valuables dry in a waterproof backpack or a rain cover that comes with your bag. 
  • Raincoat – The final item for rain is a waterproof jacket/raincoat. Some can also be easily folded into a package that you can take anywhere.
  • Hat – Luckily, there are also a lot of sunny moments, so always take a hat/cap. 
  • Long socks & trousers – You might also want to take long socks & trousers for some hikes, night walks, or evenings outside to cover your legs and prevent mosquito bites.
  • Suitable footwear – Good walking shoes/sneakers/sandals is an absolute must. Hikes can be somewhat challenging with muddy or rocky paths. It’s not wise to wear flip-flops here. 
  • Earplugs – Your nights can be disturbed by animal sounds, music, or the sound of the waves when camping in Costa Rica. Earplugs save you from having a sleepless night! 
  • Camera – Capture memories of your 3 weeks in Costa Rica with a waterproof camera like a GoPro, or get good protection gear for your camera so you won’t have problems if it rains unexpectedly. 
  • Power bank – For long hikes, power outages, or moments in the jungle, it’s helpful to have a power bank to recharge your phone (get one here).
sustainable travel shampoo bar

Packing Sustainable Items

  • Insect repellent – Bring an insect repellent but get a non-toxic product to prevent harming nature or animals.
  • Sunscreen – An obvious addition to that is also sunscreen. We recommend a product without toxic ingredients so it doesn’t harm the environment. (Read about alternative sunscreens here)
  • Refillable water bottle – Water is drinkable from the tap in almost all of Costa Rica except in secluded locations like Tortuguero. No need to buy plastic bottles; refill instead!
  • Stainless steel straw – Coconuts are available everywhere in Costa Rica. Carry a stainless steel straw with you and avoid plastic or single-use straws. Pro-tip: With stainless steel, you can scrape out the delicious inside of the coconut too.
sustainable travel reusable water bottle
Blog comments (4)

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  • Anna

    Hi, just wondering what time of year you visited please? Looking at visiting in August.

    • Salt in our Hair

      Our visit was in November until January. August is great timing for wildlife and should be okay weather. Enjoy!

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