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.
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!
Looking for a shorter itinerary? Read our 7-day itinerary or 2-week Costa Rica itinerary
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.
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.
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.
How to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
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.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Costa Rica, we recommend using Sunny Cars because all insurances needed are included in the price displayed on their website. No hidden costs.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
Click here to discover the waterfalls of Bajos del Toro!
If Tortuguero doesn’t suit you for some other reason, you can also visit Corcovado National Park near Uvita!
How to get from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero
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.
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!
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.
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!
How to get from Tortuguero to La Fortuna
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.
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.
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.
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.
On your way, stop at Mistico Hanging Bridges, which are about a 30-minutes 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.
Visit the majestic Rio Celeste Waterfalls which is a small detour on the way from La Fortuna to Monteverde. Please note that road 143 from Lake Arenal towards Rio Celeste is not good for car that are low to the ground.
How to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to get from Monteverde to Santa Teresa
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read about the best beaches in Costa Rica.
How to get from Santa Teresa to Manuel Antonio
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.
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.
Tip: If your bus only goes to Quepos, you can take the local bus to Manuel Antonio, which is only about 10 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read more about Nauyaca Waterfalls
How to get from Manuel Antonio to Uvita
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.
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.
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.
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).
If you need a hotel close to the airport, stay at Alajuela instead of San Jose.
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)
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
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).
Be aware that car rental prices can double in the high season.
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.
Tip: Some locals work as parking attendants and may walk up to you and ask for a very small payment to watch your car. This is a good service in general—just make sure they’re not overcharging you. You can ask your accommodation for the average rate to expect in the area.
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.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Costa Rica, we recommend using Sunny Cars because all insurances needed are included in the price displayed on their website. No hidden costs.
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.
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.
Read: Camping in Costa Rica
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.
Tip: bus timetables often change, so check times in advance.
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.
- San Jose: Casa 69, Grano de Oro Hotel, and Escalante Hostel
- Puerto Viejo: Le Cameleon, Shawandha Lodge, and Pagalu Hostel
- Tortuguero: Mawamba Lodge and All Rankins Lodge
- La Fortuna: Casa Luna, Sangregado Lodge, and Poshpacker Hostel
- Monteverde: Los Pinos Lodge, Chira Glamping, and Outbox Hostel
- Santa Teresa: Lua Villas, Somos
- Manuel Antonio: The Falls Hotel and Teva Hostel
- Uvita: Seren Glamping, Karandi Hostel, and Uvita Paradise
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’.
Expenses for a Costa Rica 3-Week Itinerary
A 3-week Costa Rica itinerary will cost you anywhere between 3000 – 4000 USD. For example, this includes going out for lunch and dinner, accommodation, attraction tickets, and your rental car. However, if you travel with two or more people, you can split accommodation and transport costs.
- Hotel: 50 – 150 USD / night
- Hostel: 10 – 180 USD / night
- Price per meal: 15 – 30 USD
- Entrances: 125 – 250 USD / week
- Transport: 600 – 1000 USD / week
Budget tip! The currency in Costa Rica is Colones. Save on exchange fees by converting your own local currency to Colones with a Wise card. You can use this card to withdraw Colones from the ATM in Costa Rica or pay by card at most shops. Some restaurants charge USD by default, but it will significantly affect the total bill if you ask them to charge Colones. Get a Wise card here; it’s free!
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.
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.
Tip: Puerto Viejo and Tortuguero are on the Caribbean coast and have slightly different seasons. August to October are generally dry, unlike other parts of Costa Rica.
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.
Travel insurance takes the hassle out of unforeseen incidents. Because of this, we use HeyMondo for all of our trips. They also have 24/7 doctors available in their app for all of your questions.
Find travel insurance that suits your trip here. (You get an exclusive 5% discount as Salt in our Hair reader)
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).
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.
When you purchase something through our links we earn a small fee. However, you still pay the same. Win-win!
- Find Hotels via Booking.com
- Find a Rental Car via Sunny Cars
- Find Flights to Costa Rica via Skyscanner
- Get a Travel Insurance via Heymondo
- Book Tours & Attractions via Viator
- Book a Bus/Train/Transfer via 12Go
Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.
This is brilliant – thank you!
If we were looking to pretty much replicate and could only afford card hire for say 1 week, or maybe 2, would you recommend it for a particular stretch?
Thanks for any advice!! :)
Hi Char, you’re welcome! So La Fortuna, Monteverde, Santa Teresa, Manuel Antonio, and Puerto Viejo are the ‘easiest’ to get to without a car. So if you like to add Corcovado or Tortuguero National Park, it’s best to have a car for that part. Hope that helps!