Fancy taking a memorable road trip through Costa Rica? We show you how!
Top Road Trips:
A compact country that’s easy to navigate and brimming with exceptional attractions, Costa Rica is full of truly EPIC road trips. Within merely an hour of exiting the capital’s international airport, you could be exploring some of the world’s most astonishing natural landscapes, discovering cloud forests, tropical rain forests, stunning volcanoes and countless valleys brimming with rivers, waterfalls and wildlife. For the adventurous traveler, one doesn’t mind going way off the beaten path, Costa Rica is a gem. A rewarding, exhilarating and unforgettable treasure. And the best part of it all is that whether you’re a self-drive vacation novice or expert, you’ll find a Costa Rica road trip that’s perfectly suited to your set skills and adventurous spirit.
For ease of planning, we’ve combined our favorite of Costa Rica’s Most Memorable Road Trips starting from San Jose, the capital. Although there is a slight chance you will arrive at the northern airport in Liberia, chances are higher you will land in the capital. Once you circle the most enticing spots on a map, you’ll get a good idea of how to combine the different destinations to create one continuous, awe-inspiring road trip through the whole country, if time allows and you so wish.
Please do note that drive times reflect time spent behind the wheel. Combine these memorable Costa Rica road trips with plenty of rest stops, lunch stops and overnight stays for a most rewarding travel experience.
San Jose to Arenal Volcano National Park, 90 miles, 3.5 hours
The most iconic destination in Costa Ria is reached after just a couple of hours’ drive from the capital, San Jose. Whilst there are plenty of curves and a bit of traffic to negotiate out of the city, the road trip is spectacular and a wonderful introduction not only to the country itself but also to the driving conditions and overall appeal of overland travel here. Arenal is stupendous and the whole region brimming with fantastic adventure sports like white water rafting, trekking, horseriding, kayaking and so much more. A 3-day stay would be ideal here if you have the time.
San Jose to Monteverde, 87 miles, 4 hours
The drive to the northern ethereal cloud forests of Monteverde is outstanding, as the road kisses the western coastline before ascending up into the clouds. Costa Rica’s most unique and spellbinding destination comprises virgin forests literally set on a bed of clouds, with dense wilderness and spectacular viewpoints making it difficult to stay focused on the actual driving. Take breaks, stop at every turn and soak up the magnificent scenery. With a bevy of activities on offer, with special focus on hiking, canopy tours, ziplining and hanging bridges, you’ll certainly be enticed to stay here for a couple of days, especially if you choose to spend a night on the cost in Punta Arenas.
San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park, 85 miles, 5 hours
Take the road south of the San Jose and immerse yourself in the splendid wilderness of the Manuel Antonio National Park, by taking the long way down that cuts through the Quetzales National Park. This route may be longer than the alternative (it will see you emerge in Dominical on the coast before heading north but will grant an array of landscape vistas. Plenty of mountains curves on this route suit the experienced self-drive traveler but with plenty of time for multiple stops this memorable Costa Rica road trip is just sensational. Besides the road trip itself, the route ends in the country’s most celebrated national park. A wonderland of dense forests literally cascading onto stupendous beaches. A most fitting destination, we say!
San Jose to Tamarindo, 160 miles, 4.5hrs
Gained your confidence on the road? Then why not tackle a cross-country drive that’ll see you first head to the coast in Punta Arenas, head northwest and into the Nicoya Peninsula, finally across to Tamarindo. This Pacific coast destination is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destination so it offers a plethora of options, from accommodation to dining, activities and extras. Great shopping, plenty of yoga retreats, fine dining, excellent resorts and a myriad of sea sports are just the start. The wonderful beaches of Tamarindo are a sight to behold, especially if you stretch this road trip to a few days, spending time in the mountains first. Combine this with a visit to Monteverde and it will be a most memorable Costa Rica road trip indeed.
Self-drive road trips are indeed phenomenal but they aren’t for everyone. That’s why we offer an exhilarating collection of adventure vacations in Costa Rica that’ll see you explore the country’s best regions AND have an absolute blast along the way. Prefer us to be in charge of the driving? No problem! Contact us for more info and let us plan your own memorable Costa Rica road trip, with us at the wheel.