Insider's Guide to San Jose

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

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  • Location:San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Duration:8 days (approx.)

8-Day Best of Northwest Costa Rica from San Jose: Arenal Volcano National Park, Alajuela and Guanacaste

Discover the best of northwest Costa Rica on this 8-day tour including Arenal Volcano National Park, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and Vida Aventura Nature Park in Guanacaste. Visit some of the most popular destinations and explore the wonders of nature in this small country inhabited by approximately six percent of the world’s biodiversity. You’ll see Arenal Volcano as you relax in a thermal hot spring, enjoy a floating safari through a tropical rainforest, go horseback riding and try a mud bath – with two days to relax at your leisure or continue adventuring with multiple options.


  • 8-day guided tour of northwest Costa Rica from San Jose
  • Admire the active volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal)
  • Relax in thermal hot springs at Baldi resort
  • Take a boat through Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
  • Ride a zipline and go horseback riding through Vida Aventura Nature Park in Guanacaste
  • 7 nights of accommodation, transportation and entrance fees included

What You Can Expect

8-Day Best of Northwest Costa Rica from San Jose: Arenal Volcano National Park, Alajuela and Guanacaste

Arenal Volcano

With seven nights of accommodation in your choice of 3.5-star or 4-star hotels and transportation between all sites, this tour is a great way to experience Costa Rica’s highlights!


Day 1: San Jose
After your arrival at the San Jose airport, you’ll be greeted by your driver and transferred to your selected hotel. Your guide will review the itinerary with the group and answer any questions or concerns regarding your 8-day tour.

Overnight: Country Inn and Suites or Studio Hotel (or similar) in San Jose

Day 2: San Jose – La Fortuna (L, D)
Head north to explore the impressive Arenal Volcano, stopping first in the town of Sarchí, known for its family-operated woodworking factories and artisan craftsmanship. Choose from more than 200 stores to see the wooden bowls, rocking chairs and traditional carretas – elaborately painted oxcarts that once carried coffee from the highlands to the coastal port.

Next, travel past cattle ranches and diverse plantations growing agricultural products and ornamental plants. When you arrive in La Fortuna, enjoy lunch in a cozy restaurant right in front of Arenal Volcano, affording excellent views of this natural phenomenon that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

In the afternoon, unwind in one of the best thermal baths in the area at Baldi Hot Springs resort, with optional massage or other treatment (own expense; reserved in advance). Later, savor dinner while admiring another magnificent view of the active volcano and be on the lookout for explosions of incandescent light. Afterward, relax at your hotel.

Overnight: Arenal Paraiso Hotel or Mountain Paradise Hotel (or similar) in La Fortuna

Day 3: La Fortuna (L)
Get ready for your adventure at Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, considered one of the most biologically diverse in Costa Rica! Begin your journey in the village of Los Chiles, a border town just two miles (4 km) from Nicaragua.

From here, embark on a 4-hour floating safari along the Rio Frío through tropical rain forest and pastures until you arrive at the marsh, Lago Caño Negro. Within the refuge, view a variety of resident and migratory birds plus iguanas, sloths, turtles, caimans and three different species of monkeys.

Your cruise will end in the afternoon, and you’ll have the rest of the evening to do as you wish in La Fortuna.

Overnight: Arenal Paraiso Hotel or Mountain Paradise Hotel (or similar) in La Fortuna

Day 4: La Fortuna – Tamarindo (B)
Start your day with breakfast, and then take a 3-hour trip to Guanacaste, a province known for its beaches and its dry tropical forest. Along the way, take in the amazing views and learn about the history of the local towns from your knowledgeable guide.

Overnight: Tamarindo Diria Hotel or Cala Luna Hotel (or similar) in Guanacaste

Day 5: Guanacaste (L)
Head to Vida Aventura Nature Park, located in the Guanacaste mountain range, for a full day of ziplining and horseback riding, as well as relaxing in hot springs and a mud bath! When you arrive, put on a harness and get trained on riding the zipline. Then, take off through the canyon and soar around the forest canopy along seven cables.

After you’ve landed, mount a horse for a ride over hillside trails, learning about the diverse flora and fauna as you cross streams and pastures. Keep an eye out for two active volcanoes, Rincon de la Vieja and Miravalles, and admire the spectacular panoramic views along the way.

When you’ve completed the horseback ride, enjoy a typical Costa Rican lunch. Then, soak in a thermal mud bath and hot spring in gorgeous surroundings. Lather soft volcanic mud on your skin and dip into a geothermal pool to washing it away, soothing any sore muscles as you relax.

Overnight: Tamarindo Diria Hotel or Cala Luna Hotel (or similar) in Guanacaste

Day 6-7: Guanacaste
Enjoy two days of free time, either exploring Guanacaste at your leisure or enjoying optional tours (own expense), including Palo Verde National Park, a city tour of Liberia, a 1-day tour to Nicaragua or the Sky Walk at Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Overnight: Tamarindo Diria Hotel or Cala Luna Hotel (or similar) in Guanacaste

Day 8: Tamarindo – Liberia
You will be picked up at the lobby of your hotel and transferred you to Liberia International Airport (LIR) for your departing flight.

Note: If you would like to end your tour in San Jose, a private transfer can be arranged and be paid on the day of travel (approx. USD $205 per person)

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended December 2014

We had an amazing time. The local your company was extremely responsible and prompt. The activities were exciting and varied. The hotels were comfortable and clean. We are so glad we took this trip and our experience with Viator continues to be very favorable.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2014

We had the best vacation! I highly recommend this trip! 8 days and we saw and did it all.

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Tour code: 5766SJ8DAY


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