In 2-3 days
Fly into the capital San Jose and make a bee-line for Santa Elena. Spend a day exploring the charming village and use it as a base to hit the Monteverde cloudforest, spending one day walking and the next zip-lining around the tree tops. With such a short amount of time, this is the best bet for sampling Costa Rica’s top nature attraction in just a few days.
In a week
After exploring Monteverde, take a jeep and boat journey to La Fortuna. Here, you can climb the nearby volcano, Arenal, and ease your aches and pains away afterwards with a soak in hot springs. Alternatively, make a dash to the Nicoya Peninsula, visiting world-famous beaches and surf meccas like Tamarindo and Playa Hermosa.
In two weeks +
After hitting Monteverde and the Nicoya region, head south to the sublime and enchanting Manuel Antonio National Park. From there, dash across to the Caribbean side and get to know Limon for a few days.
After Limon, get off the beaten track and head north to Tortuguero. Referred to as Costa Rica’s Amazon, the town is extremely remote, occupying a narrow strip of land between a canal and the ocean in the country’s north-east. The only way to get there is a lengthy boat journey that winds up through chocolate-coloured canals surrounded on both sides by dense jungle. The small town plays hosts to tourists who come to watch four different species of turtles clamber up the beach to lay eggs.