See Arenal Volcano, Colonial-Era Cities, and More on Self-Guided Costa Rican Tour
Though small, Costa Rica is more biodiverse than countries 10 times its size. Its terrain ranges from open savannas to lofty cloud forests set on the slopes of volcanoes. With this eight-day, seven-night vacation from TravelByJen.com, you’ll explore this spectacular landscape via rental car. The trip includes accommodations in three different locations—Arenal Volcano, the historic city of Liberia, and the capital, San José. With the included roundtrip airfare, you can depart in May from Orlando International Airport (MCO), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, or Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Washington, DC.
Though this trip is entirely self-guided, there are optional tours that you can sign up for, including volcano hikes and canopy tours.
Until very recently, Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano. It’s dormant now, but the surrounding region is no less stunning, with fertile rainforests, whitewater rapids for kayaking, and a lake with watersports. If you want to see the local wildlife, join a day tour to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. The dense jungle houses monkeys, sloths, and various tropical birds that can be viewed from a boat on a trip through the refuge. The nearly 200-foot La Fortuna Waterfall features a popular swimming hole, while additional attractions include ATV rides and horseback riding.
Accommodations: Three-night stay at Volcano Lodge & Gardens
Founded in 1769, Liberia is one of Costa Rica’s most interesting historic cities, thanks to its collection of old adobe homes and aged structures made of white volcanic rock. You can see the old city jail, which is still in use, and a colonial-era town hall at the plaza. As the provincial capital, Liberia is also a good hub for exploring Guanacaste, a large province with a number of diverse attractions that include bird watching, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, and mountain lake windsurfing. You’ll want to spend some time in Santa Rosa National Park, where you’ll find pristine beaches and the country’s largest tropical dry forest.
Accommodations: Three-night all-inclusive stay at Allegro Papagayo
The nation’s capital, San José, sits in the heart of the country in a lush upland basin surrounded by mountains. Its central location makes it a good base for exploring the countryside, though there’s plenty to do in the city as well. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is a highlight, showcasing an impressive collection of artifacts, including a life-size, gold-adorned statue of a cacique, or chieftain. You can also see a collection of old coins in the neighboring Numismatic Museum.
Accommodations: One-night stay at Hotel Presidente San José
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