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A Week in...

A Week in Costa Rica: San José, Arenal & Guanacaste

8 days |  10 days with Guanacaste Coast extension
8 days |  10 days with Guanacaste Coast extension
Group size1535 travelers

4.4 star rating

Physical activity
OverviewItineraryDates & pricesReviewsTraveler photosHotels, flights & FAQ
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Discover the essence of la pura vida lifestyle.

Did you know that 26% of the land in Costa Rica is made up of protected parks, reserves, and preserves? The country’s love of and dedication to nature means there is no shortage of monkeys, sloths, and birds to see! Spend one week in Costa Rica spotting all the animals while getting a taste of picture-perfect landscapes, from the misty rainforests of Arenal to the beachy paradise of Guanacaste.

Your tour package includes

  • 7 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 3 dinners with beer or wine
  • 1 tasting
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Included highlights

  • Plaza de la Cultura
  • Coffee farm & tasting
  • La Paz Waterfall
  • Arenal Volcano National Park hike
  • Palo Verde National Park wildlife cruise
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Start planning today

An expert specializing in tours of this region is here to help.

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Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
San José2 nights
Day 1: Arrival in San José
Included meal: Light dinner

Welcome to Costa Rica! Settle in to your hotel and enjoy an included dinner.

Please note: Travelers arriving at the hotel late this evening will have an informal dinner.

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of San José
Included meals: Breakfast, Welcome dinner

Explore Costa Rica’s capital city alongside your Tour Director.

  • See La Sabana Metropolitan Park, the National Stadium, and the Rohrmoser residential area
  • Stop at the Plaza de la Cultura, site of many performances and celebrations, and admire the National Theater of Costa Rica
  • Pass Bella Vista Fortress, home of the National Museum, and learn about the city’s pre-Columbian history
  • Marvel at the steel exterior of the Edifico Metálico, a century-old building prefabricated in Belgium, and admire the historic streets of Barrio Amón

Enjoy a free afternoon in San José or add an excursion.

Later, get to know your group at a welcome dinner.

Cartago & Irazú Volcano National Park with Lunch

From $75 per person

Arenal Region3 nights
Day 3: Arenal Region via coffee farm
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting, Lunch

En route to the lush rainforest of the Arenal region, visit a coffee plantation to learn how the country produces some of the world’s best coffee beans.

  • Tour the family-owned coffee estate to learn how coffee seeds grow into beans and become the flavorful drink in your cup
  • Learn how the estate protects and preserves the biodiversity of the area
  • See the traditional ways of cultivating coffee and sample a few varieties

Sit down for an included lunch at a local restaurant in the Fraijanes region. Then, make a photo stop at the mighty La Paz Waterfall in La Fortuna.

Enjoy a free evening in the Arenal region or add an excursion.

Arenal Hot Springs & Dinner

From $95 per person

Day 4: Hiking tour of Arenal Volcano National Park
Included meal: Breakfast

Hike through Arenal Volcano National Park with your Tour Director.

  • View the mile-high volcano, a near-perfect conical shape that emerges from the Sierra de Tilarán mountain range
  • Keep watch for wildlife like capuchin monkeys, coati, and over 500 species of birds that call the park home

Please note: Travelers should be able to hike around two miles over uneven terrain and hardened lava.

Spend a free afternoon in the Arenal region or add an excursion.

Costa Rican Farm Tour with Lunch

From $69 per person

Day 5: Free day in the Arenal Region
Included meal: Breakfast

Spend a free day in the Arenal region or add excursions.

Arenal Rainforest Skywalk

From $65 per person

Kayaking in Arenal Volcano National Park

From $39 per person

Guanacaste Coast2 nights
Day 6: Guanacaste Coast via Palo Verde wildlife cruise
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Travel north along a scenic route to the coastal province of Guanacaste. Along the way, stop in Palo Verde National Park.

  • Join a naturalist guide for a riverboat tour of the wetlands
  • Look for crocodiles, roseate spoonbills, and other animals as you float down the Tempisque River
  • Enjoy an included homemade lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the river

Settle in to your hotel on the Guanacaste coast, a mecca for surfers, hikers, and sunbathers that’s home to some of Costa Rica’s most sought-after beaches and landscapes.

Day 7: Free day on the Guanacaste Coast
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Spend a free day relaxing along the Guanacaste coast or add an excursion.

This evening, celebrate your trip with your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner.

Guanacaste Sailing & Snorkeling with Lunch

From $115 per person

Flight Home
Day 8: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Liberia airport for your flight home or extend your stay in Guanacaste.

Extension to Guanacaste Coast
With a wonderfully dry climate, the Guanacaste coast boasts miles of white sand coastline, as well as rugged mountain ranges and volcanic peaks. Extend your stay to get to the heart of local culture on guided tours, while enjoying plenty of time to spot wildlife and relax on the beach.
Guanacaste Coast2 nights
Day 8: Sightseeing tour of Santa Cruz & Guaitil
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Join a local guide for a tour of two historic communities in the area—Santa Cruz and Guaitil.

  • Visit the town of Santa Cruz, which is known for its many traditional art forms including marimba playing
  • Learn about the culture of the fiestas, rodeos, and festivals that have made this small town famous across the country
  • Head to Guaitil to take part in a Chorotega-style pottery workshop
  • Learn how the indigenous Chorotega people make this type of clay pottery using generations-old techniques
  • Visit a local market before sitting down for an included lunch at a local restaurant
Day 9: Free day on the Guanacaste Coast
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Spend a free day relaxing by the pool and beach, or exploring the Guanacaste coast.

Tonight, sit down for an included dinner.

Flight Home
Day 10: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Liberia airport for your flight home.

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4.4 star rating

Overall rating 4.4 out of 5

Based on 41 authentic traveler reviews
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    5.0 star rating

    7/9/23 by 2nd-time traveler Anonymous

    4.0 star rating

    Costa Rica in June
    6/11/23 by 1st-time traveler Christy

    We had a great time overall and I would highly recommend group travel with EF tours. Our guide Porforio could not have been better. He took pride in us having a great experience. The accommodations and restaurant choices were top notch. We thoroughly enjoyed all the excursions, the hot-springs ex...

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    3.0 star rating

    6/11/23 by 1st-time traveler Ricardo

    The tour was good overall. I would of preferred spending less time on the bus which was kind of small. The first location was near the city, second location had the better food, and third location had the best hotel accommodations. If we could of stayed in one central location would of been great.

    Show more reviews

    Traveler photos

    Hotels, flights & FAQ

    Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.


    We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
    Holiday Inn San José-Aurola
    Holiday Inn San José-Aurola

    This centrally located hotel is steps away from San José center in Costa Rica. Guests enjoy an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and casino. Nearb...

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    Lomas del Volcan
    Lomas del Volcan

    This mountain hotel is located at the foothills of Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. Guests enjoy individual cabins with private terrace, an outdoor pool,...

    Read more +
    Wyndham Tamarindo
    Wyndham Tamarindo

    This serene hotel is located perched on a hillside of Tamarindo on the Guanacaste coast. Guests enjoy sweeping ocean views, outdoor infinity pool, a l...

    Read more +


    Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
    Add our airfare package and you'll get:
    • Round-trip flight for your tour
    • Airport transfers at your destination
    • A great price locked in today
    • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
    • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
    • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
    • Find out more about flights


    Print FAQ
    Passport, visa & entry requirements
    • In order to enter Costa Rica, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
    • We recommend having at least one blank passport page for entry stamps.
    • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
    • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact your destination country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
    • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code COR.
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    Tour pacing & mobility
    • You will walk for at least 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including paved roads, unpaved trails, and muddy paths, with some hills.
    • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
    • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of boats.
    • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
    • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
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    Transportation & arrival information
    • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in San José and depart from Liberia. A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.
    • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours for an additional cost.
    • A river cruise in Palo Verde National Park is included in the price of your tour.
    • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.
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    Baggage allowance
    • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
    • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights, which may include on-tour flights in addition to your round-trip flights to and from tour. Please note that your included on-tour flights may have more restrictive baggage limits.
    • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
    • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
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    Clothing & packing tips
    • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Comfortable, casual clothing and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are a must for sightseeing.
    • A lightweight jacket is recommended, as the temperatures will change with the elevation throughout your tour.
    • A sun hat, sunglasses, and rain gear will help you stay comfortable in all types of weather. You may also wish to pack a swimsuit.
    • A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road.
    • Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery.
    • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
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    • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at
    • Take proper care with sun exposure, as the sun can be especially strong in some of the regions on this tour.
    • There are inherent risks associated with snorkeling and other water sports, particularly for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Discuss your planned activities with your doctor or healthcare provider for the best advice on participation.
    • Drink bottled water only. Refrain from ingesting tap water, including when brushing your teeth.
    • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
    • Travelers prone to seasickness should note that this tour includes boat rides.
    • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
    • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.
    • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code COR.
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    • Costa Rican cuisine is based on staples like rice, black beans, and corn with beef, chicken, or fish. Fresh, locally grown fruit includes bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and avocados. Traditional desserts include custards, puddings, and simple cakes. Locally grown coffee is served strong and black, but hot milk is often available if you ask.
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    Electricity & air conditioning
    • Costa Rica operates on 120 volts and uses Types A or B plugs. As these are the same as the plugs used in the U.S. and Canada, a voltage adapter is not needed.
    • The strength of the air conditioning in some hotels in this region may not be as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
    • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
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    • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. In more remote locations, internet access may be limited and is not guaranteed.
    • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches
    • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
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    Time zones
    • Costa Rica is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and one hour behind Eastern Time (ET). Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
    • When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 11am in Costa Rica from November through March and 10am from April through October.
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    • You will use the Costa Rican colón on tour.
    • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
    • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
    • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.
    • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
    • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
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    • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency or USD. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
    • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $8USD to $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD per person per day for your driver.
    • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD per local guide.
    • Tips can only be paid in cash.
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    Purchasing excursions on tour
    • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.
    • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa, or MasterCard as payment for excursions.
    • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged.
    • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.
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