'Life in Costa Rica'

What makes this trip special?

Costa Rica's capital city

Costa Rica's capital city

San Jose

San Jose is worth spending time in to enjoy a slice of real everyday Costa Rican life outside of the tourist centres. Aside from the impressive Jade Museum and Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, there are some pretty tree-lined squares, parks and buildings of interest, together with an up-and-coming foodie/cultural scene.

Agriculture, archeology and an active volcano

Agriculture, archeology and an active volcano


Watched over by the Turrialba volcano, this quiet farming region is an interesting place to spend a few days. Nearby Guayabo National Park is home to 3,000 year old ruins. For adventure-seekers, enjoy mountain biking or raft some of the best white-water in the country. CATIE, a world-renowned centre for research into tropical crops is good for a spot of birding or walking.

River adventure to the Yorkin community

River adventure to the Yorkin community

Bribri community

A fascinating and rewarding insight into the life of the Bribri indigenous peoples who live along the Yorkin river bordering Panama. Travel by dugout canoe to their remote village, where you will learn about their crafts and customs and enjoy a typical lunch.

Jungle at the beach

Jungle at the beach

Puerto Viejo and Cahuita

Caribbean beaches backed by forest reserves in Costa Rica's peaceful southeastern tip, near the Panama border. Aside from relaxing on the beach or surfing, hire bicycles, snorkel on coral reefs or visit fascinating local indigenous and Caribbean communities

Lush lowland rainforest

Lush lowland rainforest


At the foot of the mountains, where the rainforest is at its lushest, Sarapiqui is home to a myriad of flora and fauna and is a must-see destination for birdwatchers and natural history enthusiasts.

World renowned rainforest research centre

World renowned rainforest research centre

OTS La Selva

OTS La Selva is widely recognised as one of the world's leading centres for the study of lowland tropical rainforest, with trails and excellent naturalist guides

Coffee, agriculture and rural life

Coffee, agriculture and rural life

'Chayote Country'

This agricultural region of Costa Rica produces some of the finest coffee in the world. Visit local plantations to learn about the processes involved in turning bean to cup. Experience Costa Rica's rich rural traditions and enjoy a slice of real local life - perhaps visit the town of Sarchí, home to intricately painted ox carts or Naranjo farmers market and enjoy lunch in a local café.

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'Life in Costa Rica' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 San José
  • 2 San José
  • 3 Turrialba
  • 4 Turrialba
  • 5 Turrialba
  • 6 Playa Chiquita
  • 7 Playa Chiquita
  • 8 Playa Chiquita
  • 9 Playa Chiquita
  • 10 Sarapiqui
  • 11 Sarapiqui
  • 12 Sarapiqui
  • 13 Naranjo
  • 14 Naranjo
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Life in Costa Rica'


San José

You are met on arrival at the airport and driven to your chosen hotel in downtown San José where you stay for 2 nights.


Discover some of San José’s long-established neighbourhoods through their local stories and special foods. This morning your bilingual guide will share the best anecdotes of the city’s history and local everyday life on a walking tour through the neighbourhoods of Amón, Aranjuez, Otoya and Escalante, stopping along the way to try local dishes and snacks, coffee and liqueurs.



Travelling to the farming valley of Turrialba you stay for 3 nights, arriving in time to start exploring.


Today you are taken on a guided walking tour of CATIE, a world centre for the study of tropical plants, fruit trees, coffee and cacao. You visit its plantation and botanical gardens–also popular with toucans, oropendolas, butterflies and lizards.


Free day in Turrialba with time for active options payable locally such as rafting, horse-riding, mountain biking, and zip-lining to country walks–or just relax!


Southern Caribbean

Onwards to the southern Caribbean coast near the border with Panama to stay 4 nights at a lodge in rainforest between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo a short walk back from Playa Chiquita.


A wonderful day, visiting the Bribri indigenous community in their Yorkin reserve. You travel by dugout canoe down the Yorkin River, the natural border between Costa Rica and Panama, to their village set in grounds planted with cocoa and banana, where your village guide takes you on a nearby trail learning about the community’s way of life before enjoying a Bribri style lunch. We may be able to arrange for you to spend a night at the community’s guest house rather than returning to your lodge.


This morning visit a local home in Puerto Viejo where you help to prepare simple but delicious dishes using local produce, perhaps with patacones (fried plantain), or rice and beans, and local fruits. Enjoy the food you helped prepare while the conversations turn to their culture and traditions.


A day free to relax on a pristine local beach. Local options include a boat tour to see tucuxi dolphin, an animal rescue centre, and a very special Kekoldi indigenous community.

DAY 10


Travel north to the lowland rainforests of Sarapiquí for a 3 night stay. In the evening take a night walk into La Tirimbina reserve to spot nocturnal species.

DAY 11

Visit La Tirimbina on a special chocolate tour that covers the production process and a tasting of the different flavours produced locally. The rest of the day is free to relax or take local excursions such as a safari river float or a nature walk on rainforest trails.

DAY 12

You visit OTS La Selva, one of the world’s most important centres for tropical rainforest research with a 3900 acre reserve of hugely biodiverse forest. Toucans, parrots, trogons, hummingbirds, monkeys, peccaries, agoutis, and coatis are seen frequently.

DAY 13

Chayote Country

Today travel into the mountains to ‘Chayote Country’ near Naranjo, a region where coffee, agriculture and rural life take centre stage. Stay for 2 nights.

DAY 14

The small town of Naranjo is ringed by haciendas that produce some of the finest coffee in the world. Your day begins at a growers’ cooperative to see how the best coffee is made at international scale, with an informal tasting session. After a country style lunch in the town’s market you visit the home of ‘Don’ Carlos a respected artisanal coffee grower. He and his family welcome occasional visitors to their beautifully landscaped private gardens and for a chat over a cup of their exquisite coffee. Intricately-painted farm carts created in the nearby town of Sarchí are proudly shown off in rural fiestas and whenever this region’s rich rural traditions are put on display.

DAY 15

Travel to San José airport for your flight home.

Guide prices for 'Life in Costa Rica'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide price
Mid-range hotels, selfdrive (Tucson) 2 people sharing £2,045 £2,150
Mid-range hotels, selfdrive (Tucson) 2 people sharing £2,045 £2,150
Mid-range hotels, private transfers 2 people sharing £2,065 £2,115
Mid-range hotels, private transfers 2 people sharing £2,065 £2,115
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Costa Rica
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • all accommodation
  • excursions as indicated
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Life in Costa Rica'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'Life in Costa Rica'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
2 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
3 Turrialba 25°C rainfall 178mm
4 Turrialba 25°C rainfall 178mm
5 Turrialba 25°C rainfall 178mm
6 Playa Chiquita 30°C rainfall 213mm
7 Playa Chiquita 30°C rainfall 213mm
8 Playa Chiquita 30°C rainfall 213mm
9 Playa Chiquita 30°C rainfall 213mm
10 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
11 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
12 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
13 Naranjo 24°C rainfall 41mm
14 Naranjo 24°C rainfall 41mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Life in Costa Rica'

Days 1 - 2


San Jose

Average rating 4.4 (77 ratings)

Hotel Presidente is located in the heart of downtown San José, on the corner of Central Avenue Boulevard and 7th Street, just 20 minutes from the San Jose international airport. Each of the 80 guest rooms split between standard and superior rooms and suites have either two queen-sized beds or a king-sized bed, A/C, wireless internet, hair-dryers, mini-fridge, 32" cable LCD T.V, safe. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, honesty bar in reception, spa services, 24/7 gym, casino, concierge service, computer for guest use, rooftop bar and terrace with panoramic city views.

Days 3 - 5

Casa Turire


Average rating 5.0 (5 ratings)

Casa Turire resembles a colonial plantation home. It is situated at the edge of a reservoir in the Turrialba valley. It offers guests 12 deluxe rooms and 4 suites, direct dial telephone service as well as cable TV, free wifi, hair dryer, private bathroom with hot water, laundry services, ceiling fans, coffee machines and private balcony.

Facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant serving Costa Rican/international fusion dishes using local produce, bar, pool table area, gift shop. There is a 3km on-site walking trail, stables, bikes for hire. The front desk can help arrange activities in the  surrounding area including coffee plantation tours, birdwatching with local guides, visit to the CATIE centre

Casa Turire
Days 6 - 9

Namuwoki Lodge


Average rating 4.5 (2 ratings)

Namuwoki Lodge is a small, simple lodge near Playa Chiquita on Costa Rica's southern Caribbean coast.

The lodge is set in the rainforest 250m walk from Playa Chiquita beach. There are seven bungalows sleeping 2 to 5 people. Each terrace has a porch, hammocks, private bathroom with hot water, fridge, hair-dryer.

Facilities include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, small handicraft shop and a restaurant specialising in grilled meats and fish.

Namuwoki Lodge
Days 10 - 12

Sarapiquis Lodge (Centro Neotropico)


Average rating 4.1 (62 ratings)

Inspired by local native construction techniques, this nature lodge has four massive circular 'palenques' each with a tremendously high traditional thatched roof of palm leaves.

Three of the palenques contain the 24 guest bedrooms, all with private bathroom, fan and covered terrace (no A/C). The decor is one of stylish earth tones, natural limestone, and antique or artisan-made furniture.

The fourth palenque has the reception, restaurant, bar, photo gallery, gift shop and conference centre.

This is a peaceful place to stay, close to nature, with no TVs in the rooms. There is an attractive free-form swimming pool overlooking the forest, a small botanical garden and an interesting small museum on site focusing on rainforest ecology and indigenous and prehispanic history.

Sarapiquis Lodge (Centro Neotropico)
Days 13 - 14

Chayote Lodge

Llano Bonito

Average rating 4.8 (4 ratings)

Chayote Lodge is one of our favourite properties in Costa Rica. It is a well-run boutique-style hotel, newly built, set in the small mountain village of Llano Bonito, a 50 minute drive from Costa Rica's main international airport outside San Jose.

Chayote Lodge offers its guests the opportunity to experience the local culture and nature of this lovely region of Costa Rica. Local coffee, agriculture and rural life are artfully reflected in the lodge buildings and furnishings. 'Chayote' means squash, which grows in abundance in the area. Guest bungalows have been built to resemble coffee receiving stations or 'recibidores'.

The lodge's accommodation is very comfortable and stylish. Each of the 12 spacious 'recibidor' suites have private balconies with stunning views over the Central Valley and with artwork and furniture designed by local artisans. They are equipped with king-sized beds and private bathrooms. There is a sofa in each suite.

The lodge's restaurant and bar is called 'Quelites'. It serves fresh, locally-grown, seasonal produce, including palmito cheese (a Costa Rican favourite), the local varieties of 'chayote' squash in season, and local coffee.

A good range of tours is offered from the lodge with its own naturalist local guide, including visiting a coffee plantation, cooking with locals, visiting the nearby towns of Zarcero and Naranjo or further afield to Poas and Irazu volcanoes, plus waterfall hikes and zip-lining. There is good birdwatching around the lodge; guided birding here or further afield can be arranged.




Chayote Lodge
Recibidor suite