(2021) Costa Rica Itinerary: 15 Days In Costa Rica; Sample Itineraries, How Many Places To Visit, How Many Activities To Do, And More!

Last updated on February 21st, 2021 at 09:08 am EST

Latest posts by Nikki Solano (see all)
The article below is the first part of a five-part series about Costa Rica itineraries. Information is divided across five pages:

Costa Rica Itinerary: 5 days in Costa Rica (4 nights)
Costa Rica Itinerary: 8 days in Costa Rica (7 nights)
Costa Rica Itinerary: 10 days in Costa Rica (9 nights)
Costa Rica Itinerary: 12 days in Costa Rica (11 nights)
Costa Rica Itinerary: 15 days in Costa Rica (14 nights)

Get the Costa Rica info you need by browsing our article’s TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Costa Rica vacation planning

Vacations in Costa Rica are as unique as the travelers who take them. Money, interest, previous travel experience, ability, endurance, and patience are a few of the factors that help shape a trip itinerary but time is the most telling. How you should plan and execute your Costa Rica experience is a question best answered by the number of days and nights you wish to spend in the country.

The good news is, despite popular belief, you don’t need anyone to plan your Costa Rica trip for you. If you know the number of days and nights you’re able to travel to Costa Rica for, you can quickly and easily create your own Costa Rica itinerary. Of course, as always, we’re here to help guide you through this process. In particular, the article below will teach you how to plan a trip/itinerary for 15 days in Costa Rica.

Do you have 15 days in Costa Rica or are you considering a 15-day trip to Costa Rica? Here’s who we think you are.

At the risk of making general assumptions about Costa Rica travelers, our years of working for Costa Rica’s tourism industry have shown us patterns in Costa Rica itinerary planning; specifically, patterns across the types of travelers who vacation in Costa Rica, and patterns in the number of days they visit. If you identify with a type of traveler listed below or with any of the wants/desires listed below, a 15-day vacation to Costa Rica may be right for you.

People who choose to vacation in Costa Rica for 15 days tend to be the following:

  • Students/student groups that travel during summer vacation
  • Couples who plan to get married (and subsequently, honeymoon) in Costa Rica
  • Older travelers who are considering a move to Costa Rica, either immediately or post-retirement
  • Backpackers traveling throughout Central America (i.e., who visit Costa Rica from Nicaragua or Panama)

People who choose to vacation in Costa Rica for 15 days tend to want the following:

Either/or…

  1. A wide variety of Costa Rican destinations that include multiple adventure destinations and/or beach destinations.
  2. An mix of accommodation types, whereby much of the trip is spent exploring Costa Rica (and staying in hotels), with part of the trip spent at an all-inclusive resort (with few or no day tours taken to/from the resort and other areas of the country).

Travelers who vacation in Costa Rica for 15 days also typically want…

  • A nice balance of travel time between destinations and time spent at each destination
  • A nice balance of travel to Costa Rica’s most raved about destinations, sites, and attractions, as well as travel to less touristy and more remote locations
  • A variety of experiences, including things to do in Costa Rica, things to see in Costa Rica, and things to learn in Costa Rica
  • To participate in Costa Rica’s most popular tours and activities
  • To participate in unique and specialized experiences of personal interest
  • To have opportunities for downtime throughout the vacation

With 15 days in Costa Rica, here’s how many places you should visit

In our related blog posts Costa Rica Itinerary: 8 Days In Costa Rica and Costa Rica Itinerary: 10 Days In Costa Rica our recommendations were clear: visit two destinations and three destinations, respectively. In contrast, our related blog post Costa Rica Itinerary: 12 Days In Costa Rica explained that our recommendation was divided between visiting three or four destinations. With respect to a 15-day vacation in Costa Rica, we highly recommend that you choose four destinations to visit during your trip in addition to the region that contains the airport you plan to fly into and out of.

Why choosing four destinations is best

Unless you plan to fly to Costa Rica incredibly early in the morning and depart from Costa Rica incredibly late in the evening, international travel will likely eat up most of the first and last days of your vacation. Though there may be time to fit in an activity on these days, the information provided below errs on the side of caution and assumes that Day #1 and Day #15 are lost itinerary days.

Let’s assume that a 15-day trip to Costa Rica provides 13 full days to explore the country (i.e., Day #2, Day #3, Day #4, Day #5, Day #6, Day #7, Day #8, Day #9, Day #10, Day #11, Day #12, Day #13, and Day #14). While you could spend all 13 days in one place, such as an all-inclusive resort or a health retreat, visiting four destinations is most rewarding. Doing so will provide you with an opportunity to combine time spent relaxing, time spent exploring nature, and time spent experiencing some of Costa Rica’s most thrilling adventures. If desired, you could also spend your days participating in more time-demanding activities, such as Spanish classes, dance classes, cooking classes, scuba diving courses, volunteer stints, and homestay programs; shopping and exploring city centers; or simply enjoying longer downtime periods between activities.

To confirm, 15 days in Costa Rica is enough time for you to a) travel between the airport and Destination #1, b) travel between Destination #1 and Destination #2, c) travel between Destination #2 and Destination #3, d) travel between Destination #3 and Destination #4, and e) travel between Destination #4 and the airport. With this itinerary plan, you’ll also have enough time to make stops along the way during cross-destination travel (if desired), to check-in/check-out at multiple hotels, to participate in tours and activities of interest, to take road trips (in a rental car), and to go beach-hopping (in a rental car or taxi).

Can/should I add in a fifth destination?

Yes, a fifth destination can be added to a 15-day Costa Rica itinerary, and yes, we have recommended doing so in a limited number of cases. Since adding a fifth destination will cause the vacation to feel more rushed and provide less time overall for tour/activity participation and/or rest, we would only suggest doing so to travellers who have an important reason for making the addition; if you are such a traveller, you should also have an unwavering energy to explore and patience for increased travel time added to your trip.

Can/should I stick with only three destinations?

Though doing so will significantly limit the number of experiences you’ll be able to have in Costa Rica, yes, certainly, you can visit only three destinations over the course of a 15-day trip. It should be noted, however, that with only three destinations to explore over the 13 full days you’ll have in the country, you may find your time at any one of the destinations difficult to fill.

Suggested itinerary / itineraries for a 15-day trip to Costa Rica

If you’re in the process of planning a 15-day vacation to Costa Rica, aim to build an itinerary that mirrors one of the itineraries below.

Note: The itineraries below can be adjusted to fit your preferred travel arrangements (i.e., rental car delivery/pick-up time, domestic flight departure time, private transfer service pick-up time, or shuttle service departure time).

Note: If your tour/activity interests require you to spend more or less time at Destination #1, Destination #2, Destination #3, or Destination #4, the number of days/nights spent at each can be adjusted.

15-day itinerary #1: If you want to spend the first night near the airport

  • 15-day itinerary #1 summary: 1 night in the airport region, 3 nights at Destination #1, 3 nights at Destination #2, 3 nights at Destination #3, and 4 nights at Destination #4
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight from home to Costa Rica arrives into the airport region late in the day on Day #1 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to schedule an overnight stay in the airport region for your first night in the country)
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight back home from Costa Rica departs late in the day on Day #15 (our recommendation also assumes that your flight departs late enough in the day to travel between Destination #4 and the airport on your last day in the country)
14-Night / 15-Day Costa Rica Itinerary #1:

Day #1: Arrival into Costa Rica, overnight in the airport region
Day #2: Morning travel to Destination #1, afternoon exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #3: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #4: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #5: Morning travel to Destination #2, afternoon exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #6: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #7: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #8: Morning travel to Destination #3, afternoon exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #9: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #10: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #11: Morning travel to Destination #4, afternoon exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #12: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #13: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #14: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #15: Morning travel to the airport region, departure from Costa Rica

15-day itinerary #2: If you want to spend the last night near the airport

  • 15-day itinerary #2 summary: 3 nights at Destination #1, 3 nights at Destination #2, 3 nights at Destination #3, 4 nights at Destination #4, and 1 night in the airport region
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight from home to Costa Rica arrives into the airport region early in the day on Day #1 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to travel between the airport region and Destination #1 for your first night in the country)
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight back home from Costa Rica departs early in the day on Day #15 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to schedule an overnight stay in the airport region for your last night in the country)
14-Night / 15-Day Costa Rica Itinerary #2:

Day #1: Arrival into Costa Rica, afternoon travel to Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #2: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #3: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #4: Morning exploration of Destination #1, afternoon travel to Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #5: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #6: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #7: Morning exploration of Destination #2, afternoon travel to Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #8: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #9: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #10: Morning exploration of Destination #3, afternoon travel to Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #11: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #12: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #13: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #14: Morning exploration of Destination #4, afternoon travel to the airport region, overnight in the airport region
Day #15: Departure from Costa Rica

15-day itinerary #3: If you want to spend both the first night and the last night near the airport

  • 15-day itinerary #3 summary: 1 night in the airport region, 3 nights at Destination #1, 3 nights at Destination #2, 3 nights at Destination #3, 3 nights at Destination #4, and 1 night in the airport region
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight from home to Costa Rica arrives into the airport region late in the day on Day #1 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to schedule an overnight stay in the airport region for your first night in the country)
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight back home from Costa Rica departs early in the day on Day #15 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to schedule an overnight stay in the airport region for your last night in the country)
14-Night / 15-Day Costa Rica Itinerary #3:

Day #1: Arrival into Costa Rica, overnight in the airport region
Day #2: Morning travel to Destination #1, afternoon exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #3: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #4: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #5: Morning travel to Destination #2, afternoon exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #6: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #7: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #8: Morning travel to Destination #3, afternoon exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #9: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #10: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #11: Morning travel to Destination #4, afternoon exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #12: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #13: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #14: Morning exploration of Destination #4, afternoon travel to the airport region, overnight in the airport region
Day #15: Departure from Costa Rica

15-day itinerary #4: If you want to spend both the first night and the last night near the airport

  • 15-day itinerary #4 summary: 4 nights at Destination #1, 3 nights at Destination #2, 3 nights at Destination #3, and 4 nights at Destination #4
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight from home to Costa Rica arrives into the airport region early in the day on Day #1 (our recommendation also assumes that you would prefer to travel between the airport region and Destination #1 for your first night in the country)
  • The below itinerary recommendation assumes that your flight back home from Costa Rica departs late in the day on Day #15 (our recommendation also assumes that your flight departs late enough in the day to travel between Destination #4 and the airport on your last day in the country)
14-Night / 15-Day Costa Rica Itinerary #4:

Day #1: Arrival into Costa Rica, afternoon travel to Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #2: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #3: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #4: Full-day exploration of Destination #1, overnight at Destination #1
Day #5: Morning travel to Destination #2, afternoon exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #6: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #7: Full-day exploration of Destination #2, overnight at Destination #2
Day #8: Morning travel to Destination #3, afternoon exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #9: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #10: Full-day exploration of Destination #3, overnight at Destination #3
Day #11: Morning travel to Destination #4, afternoon exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #12: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #13: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #14: Full-day exploration of Destination #4, overnight at Destination #4
Day #15: Morning travel to the airport region, departure from Costa Rica

As a side note, if you’re wondering which specific destinations in Costa Rica you should choose (i.e., which areas should be Destination #1, Destination #2, Destination #3, and Destination #4)…

Don’t miss our related blog post:

Where To Go In Costa Rica: Determining The Best Places To Visit During Your Trip

Why spending 15 days in Costa Rica might be the best option for you

A 15-day vacation in Costa Rica is the trip that not everyone can afford to have

Though 8-day vacations to Costa Rica tend to be the most popular (many travelers can only miss work for one week or two weekends and one workweek), some travelers are able to travel for longer. If this is true for you, and your travel availability and budget will allow you to vacation in Costa Rica for approximately two weeks, go ahead and treat yourself to that extended stay, even if the majority of visitors can’t afford the same.

A 15-day vacation in Costa Rica offers the utmost flexibility and balance between adventure/exploration and beach/relaxation

By visiting four destinations in Costa Rica over 15 days, you won’t just get to see a variety of places that differ geographically but also places that differ across demographics, ecosystems, foods, attractions, and other experiences. You can see the Caribbean and Pacific coasts; the Nicoya and Osa peninsulas; and San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, and other inland destinations along the way. You can hike in the rainforest, zipline through the cloud forest, relax on beaches, float through canals or mangroves, relax in volcanic hot springs, take a sunset cruise, and so much more in a single trip. Costa Rica provides all of these experiences (and countless others), and a 15-day itinerary that includes visits to four unique destinations will help you cross plenty off your bucket list.

A 15-day vacation in Costa Rica allows enough time to take in many of Costa Rica’s highlights, plus additional tours/activities of interest

Are you asking yourself, “Is 15 days in Costa Rica enough time?” If so, you’ve joined the club; this is one of the most popular questions we receive from travelers. To it we could respond, “Is 15 days in Costa Rica enough time… for what?” Is 15 days enough time to get a good sense of what Costa Rica is all about? Yes!

With 15 days to spend in Costa Rica, we recommend participating in no less than 10 tours/activities and no more than 25-27 tours/activities. The chart below provides a breakdown of this range according to the itineraries already discussed above.

Itinerary option #1 and #2 (see above) A total of 11 full days of exploration time (2.5 days at Destination #1, 2.5 days at Destination #2, 2.5 days at Destination #3, and 3.5 days at Destination #4) is available. Aim to select no more than 26 experiences for an adventure-filled trip (i.e., 11 full-day activities, 22 half-day activities, or 22+ activities via the use of combo tours), or less for a more relaxing vacation.
Itinerary option #3 (see above) A total of 10.5 full days of exploration time (2.5 days at Destination #1, 2.5 days at Destination #2, 2.5 days at Destination #3, and 3 days at Destination #4) is available. Aim to select no more than 25 experiences for an adventure-filled trip (i.e., 10 full-day activities, 21 half-day activities, or 21+ activities via the use of combo tours), or less for a more relaxing vacation.
Itinerary options #4 (see above) A total of 11.5 full days of exploration time (3 days at Destination #1, 2.5 days at Destination #2, 2.5 days at Destination #3, and 3.5 days at Destination #4) is available. Aim to select no more than 27 experiences for an adventure-filled trip (i.e., 11 full-day activities, 23 half-day activities, or 23+ activities via the use of combo tours), or less for a more relaxing vacation.

A 15-day vacation in Costa Rica warrants either a personal car rental or reliance on other modes of transportation; the decision is yours!

Some travelers ask us whether they should rent a car for a 15-day trip to Costa Rica or whether they can get by without one. The short answer to both inquires is “Yes” but to elaborate, renting a car has its advantages, mainly complete flexibility with respect to routes taken, departure times, and stops made along the way. Also, it’s worth noting that some car rental agencies (including the company we discuss in our related blog post This Is The Costa Rica Car Rental Agency We Rent Cars Through) offer every 7th or 8th rental day for free, so having a car for two weeks (or longer) can provide some monetary savings. If you don’t want to rent a car for your trip, fortunately, 15-day vacations do provide enough time to comfortably move between four destinations while using other modes of transportation. This means that you can rely on services like shared shuttles, city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours, domestic flights, and public transportation to get around, assuming you don’t mind adhering to preset departure times.

Don’t miss our related blog posts:

Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Tours To Travel Between Destinations

Costa Rica Transportation: 12 Ways To Get Around Costa Rica

Renting A Car In Costa Rica: Should You Do It?

A 15-day vacation in Costa Rica provides opportunities to reschedule missed activities due to unforeseen circumstances

Two things you can’t account for when forming a trip itinerary are surprises and spontaneity. What if a member of your travel group gets sick? What if severe rain or wind causes tour delays or cancellations? What if a national holiday, street protest, vehicle malfunction, construction project, or natural disaster rewrites your travel plans? Though you can’t plan for unforeseen occurrences, you can recognize one truth: the more time you have to spend in the country, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to adjust your travel plans when problems arise, allowing you to not miss out on key experiences. In other words, the greater number of days you plan to explore Costa Rica, the better your chances of squeezing sweet lemonade out of sour lemons you encounter along the journey. 🙂

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: How do you plan to spend 15 days in Costa Rica?

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Costa Rica Itinerary: 15 Days In Costa Rica; Sample Itineraries, How Many Places To Visit, How Many Activities To Do, And More!

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Costa Rica Itinerary: 15 Days In Costa Rica; Sample Itineraries, How Many Places To Visit, How Many Activities To Do, And More!

Description

What you need to know about spending 15 days in Costa Rica; Costa Rica vacation itineraries and destination/tour/activity scheduling advice.

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Nikki Solano

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The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog

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