'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica'

What makes this trip special?

Dramatic volcano

Dramatic volcano

Poas Volcano

Striking conical-shaped volcano with a vast crater and sulphorous hot aquamarine crater lake within close proximity to San Jose's central valley.

Costa Rica's most active volcano

Costa Rica's most active volcano


Arenal's perfect cone rises above lowlands, spewing smoke and steam, lava and boulders in its active phases. Make sure you visit the hot springs and explore the 'hanging bridges' through the forest. The area has good options for walkers and there's lots to do for adventurous families.

Forest in the clouds

Forest in the clouds


The cool, misty mountain village of Monteverde is the most famous and commercial cloud forest in Costa Rica. Plenty of places to stay and things to see and do from nature walks to high-adrenalin zip-lines

Stunning rainforest backed beaches

Stunning rainforest backed beaches

Manuel Antonio National Park

Perhaps the most beautiful coastal scenery in all Costa Rica - emerald green wildlife-laden rainforest tumbling onto white-sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters - what's not to love!

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 San José
  • 2 Arenal
  • 3 Monteverde
  • 4 Monteverde
  • 5 Monteverde
  • 6 Carara
  • 7 Manuel Antonio
  • 8 Manuel Antonio
  • 9 Manuel Antonio
  • 10 Alajuela
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica'


San José

arrive San José.


Poas Volcano

Visit Poás Volcano then to La Fortuna for 1 night near Arenal Volcano, perhaps visit hot springs this evening.



North shore of Lake Arenal via Tilarán to Monteverde 3 nights.


Free at Monteverde e.g. cloud forest walk, canopy tour.


Free at Monteverde e.g. cloud forest walk, canopy tour.



Drive to mid-Pacific area, 1 night at Carara / Jacó.


Manuel Antonio/ Quepos

Visit Carara NP and/or Jacó beach, continue to Manuel Antonio/Quepos 3 nights.


Free at Quepos e.g. beaches and jungle of Manuel Antonio NP.


Free at Quepos e.g. beaches and jungle of Manuel Antonio NP.

DAY 10

San Jose

Drive back to San José or Alajuela for final night.

DAY 11

Drop car at airport, fly home.

Guide prices for 'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide Price 2 people sharing £1,075 £1,175
Prices are per person and include:
  • all other travel in Costa Rica
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • rental car with unlimited mileage and fully comprehensive insurance (details on request)
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 'Route 1: Classic 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.

Average customer rating 95%


Turtle watching, the canopy walk in Arenal, racoons at Manuel Antonio, the Hummingbird gallery, the hot springs and WIFI at all the hotels was popular with our teenagers!


All round natural beauty and landscapes - perfectly enhanced by knowledgeable guides with a passion for conservation.

Seasonal information for 'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
2 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
3 Monteverde 24°C rainfall 141mm
4 Monteverde 24°C rainfall 141mm
5 Monteverde 24°C rainfall 141mm
6 Carara 32°C rainfall 8mm
7 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
8 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
9 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
10 Alajuela 26°C rainfall 21mm

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 'Route 1: Classic Costa Rica'

Day 1

Country Inn & Suites

San Jose

The Country Inn & Suites (formerly known as Residencias de Golf) is a 10 minute drive from the International Airport and 15 minutes from the centre of San Jose.

It has 102 rooms, including standard/double rooms and suites. The suites also have a kitchenette.

The hotel's restaurant ‘Mambi’ specialises in Italian and international cuisine. Other hotel services include a jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna, fitness room, 14 tennis courts, cots without charge, postal service, medical service, and tourist information.

Country Inn & Suites
Day 2

Volcano Lodge & Gardens


Average rating 4.5 (140 ratings)

This motel style lodge is located between La Fortuna and Arenal Lake, with a super view of Arenal Volcano. Rooms are spacious with two double beds and a private bathroom, hot water, a/c and picture windows to the volcano. Each room also has a private terrace for volcano viewing and enjoying the very attractively landscaped gardens which come alive with tropical birds in the early morning. There is a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and the restaurant offers a variety of local and international meals. There are also hotsprings on site making this a pleasant place to relax during any free time Arenal.

Volcano Lodge & Gardens
Days 3 - 5

Trapp Family Lodge


Average rating 4.1 (69 ratings)

Trapp Family Lodge is the closest hotel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Each room has a private bathroom and private balcony. The superior rooms are located in the main building which also houses the bar and restaurant. The newer, upper-range 'Mountain Suites' are located in the garden a short distance from the main building. The lodge offers guided tours and is in easy walking distance from the Hummingbird Gallery. As it is a little isolated from the rest of the village, if you don't wish to dine in the hotel you will probably want to order a taxi or drive - or pack a torch for the walk!

Trapp Family Lodge
Outside the lodge
Day 6

Villa Lapas (Rainforest Resort)

nr Carara

A very popular birders lodge due to its unique location adjacent to the Carara Reserve and productive natural history viewing opportunities in its grounds. The lodge has 30 bedrooms set amid a private reserve of secondary forest. All rooms are in need of renovation but all have private bathrooms with hot water, a/c and fan.  Most guests stay on a full board basis with meals served cafeteria style. There are trails, a swimming pool, canopy walk and zip line in the grounds. Although the facilities are in want of an up-grade its location is the winning aspect. This area is one of the few places in Costa Rica where Scarlet Macaw can be seen at dusk and dawn flying from their roosts to the forest to feed and back again.

Villa Lapas (Rainforest Resort)
Hotel grounds
Days 7 - 9

Hotel Espadilla

Manuel Antonio

Average rating 4.3 (52 ratings)

A mid-range hotel at beach level, located a 2 minute walk from the main Espadilla beach and a short distance from the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. The two story hotel building has comfortable rooms with A/C, some also with a kitchenette and mini-fridge. The on-site restaurant serves local and international cuisine. There is also a swimming pool, pool-side bar, tennis courts and hiking trails through the neighbouring biological reserve.

Hotel Espadilla
Day 10

El Rodeo Country Inn


El Rodeo Country Inn is a good, mid-range hotel set back from a main road in a quiet suburban area, located just 10 minutes from San Jose airport and 15 minutes from downtown San Jose. The 29 well appointed rooms have hardwood floors and wood furnishings and are fully-equipped with cable TV, A/C, direct dial telephone, safe private bathrooms with hot water and bathtub, coffee maker and hair-dryer. Some rooms have a balcony and all have a garden view. Facilities include a swimming pool and jacuzzi, tennis court, wireless internet. The hotel is connected to a steak house, which is very popular with the locals (please note there are very limited vegetarian options at the steak house). The steakhouse closes at 4pm on Sundays but the hotel bar can prepare snacks or help you call out for a pizza.

El Rodeo Country Inn