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Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

Ghent, Belgium
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Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

Hi all

Due to limited time (and budget) I'm considering a trip to Costa Rica for only 9 days (7 full days, arrtiving in the evening and depart in the early morning).

Before planning my itinerary one question - Is this worth the flight from Europe if I have only 7 days? I mostly want to visit Costa Rica for its nature, maybe one day surfing but that is definitely not the purpose of my visit. I want to stay in hostels at night, my budget for activities (including park fees, buses, etc.) is around 300 US dollars.

I am reading a lot to decide where to go, but there is just too much information. Maybe you guys can help me out. Do you think this itinerary is possible? costarica.com/itineraries/8-day-backpackers/

Thanks in advance!

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1. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

That itinerary is certainly possible - and a good one. Although there's no need to go into San Jose. The airport is actually in Alajuela and there is lodging of all sorts and all prices 15 minutes or less from the airport. You can easily get the bus to Puntarenas from there. The bus prices will be a little higher than quoted.

Whether it is worth the effort and the money to spend 7 days in Costa Rica is really up to you.

Another possibility: Arrive SJO, bus to San Jose where you spend the night, bus to Arenal for a few days and then bus or shared van shuttle to Cahuita or Puerto Viejo and return.

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2. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

Yes, the itinerary in the link is doable, in fact, it is an interesting itinerary for whoever is into surfing.

While local bus transport is relatively cheap, park entrance fee is 10 US$. So, with 300US$ (i presume that is for whole week) you will be able to do some hiking in the NP, but not much surfing or any other paid activity, like renting an ATV while in Montezuma/Mal Pais/Santa Teresa.

As a fellow traveller from Europe, I would never go for only 7 full days. But YMMV.

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Santa Teresa
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Ghent, Belgium
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3. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

The $300 is excluding hostels and food ofcourse. And I miss calculated (€ -> $ not 1:1), it is actually around $400 US. It is maybe possible to extend my stay by 4 days, giving me 11 full days there.

My budget for 11 days is $1000, including food, hostels and activities. Do you guys think this is possible or should I stick to the 7 days plan for +- the same budget?

Big thanks already for your time and effort :-)

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4. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

One thousand US dollars for 11 days is very possible.

That's $90 a day, more or less, and that will be fine. You can stay in hostels or small "cabinas" and either do some cooking or eat local "sodas." Some hostels will include a small breakfast in their price. This will leave quite a bit left over for excursions. Figure $30 a day for lodging and food. Some days might be a little less - but this is a good figure to use. Dorm rooms are typically $5-$7. You can shop at local supermarkets and sometimes at a farmer's market for decent prices of food.

Use the public bus for transportation (typically $10 or less for most destinations) and supplement that with the shared van shuttle where the public bus is just too difficult.

For excursions - it's probably best to ask at your lodging for some help with that. In La Fortuna, you can walk around town and visit the kiosks and offices of tour agencies and often find good discounts.

For instance --if you are going to the National Park, ($10 entrance fee unless you are a student and then you get a discount), you can take the bus that goes from La Fortuna to Tilaran and get off at the road that goes to the Park and walk the rest of the way, saving a $20 or so taxi ride. If you can find someone else at the hostel that wants to go, you could share a taxi.

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5. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

Well, 11 full days is much more interesting. And 1000 US$ will give you plenty of activities if going frugal on room (hostels), food (soda) and transport (bus). You should add Arenal to your posted itinerary. Out of curiosity, how much will be your flight, and which airline?

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Arenal Lodge
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Ghent, Belgium
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6. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

Hi

Still haven't made up my mind, but I'll probably go for the 11 days and add Arenal to my itinerary. Thanks for the help so far!

As I mentioned before I am tight on budget (student), so the only reason I am going is because of the cheap flights. The flight for 7 full days was only €350 departing from Madrid. The 11 full days flight is €450.

The airline is American Airlines, not the best aircraft, but it will do :-)

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Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
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La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
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7. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

If you can afford it, Jan, the 11-day option would be much better. American Airlines is no Lufthansa, but still OK. Just a long flight, that's for sure.

The good news is that if you bring your student ID, you can get a significant discount at National Parks and some other excursions. That will help.

Think about it a bit and when you have more questions, let us know.

8. Re: Limited time in Costa Rica - What to do?

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