Epic One Week Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary

Costa Rica is a country full of amazing landscapes and some epic adventures. One of the best ways to get a small taste of everything is to rent a car in Costa Rica and head off on a road trip. That is exactly what we did on our recent trip in Costa Rica.

Skype challenged us to use $10 Skype Credit to plan and share our ultimate one week in Costa Rica. We used our Skype Credit to help plan the trip and call Costa Rica from the USA to make sure we got a room with an epic view. Along the way, we may have gotten lost a few times but thankfully with Skype Credit, we were able to call our friends back in the USA who could help with their fluent Spanish! Here’s a quick recap video of our one week in Costa Rica.

This was our third time in Costa Rica so we wanted to check out some of the best places in Costa Rica and visit a few places we’d never been to. We started our time in the north of the country playing around in the jungle and the cloud forest. From there we made our way to Lake Arenal and the giant volcano. We had nearly perfect weather to see the volcano before heading to the Caribbean beaches. To finish up our trip we spent the last night in the mountain town of La Paz to chase a few last Costa Rican waterfalls.

San Jose

Almost all trips to Costa Rica start in San Jose, the capital city. For us, it’s just a get in and get out kind of city. When booking our flights we opted for the early morning flight that had us arrive before noon. We don’t recommend arriving after dark and renting a car planning on driving out of San Jose.

When booking our rental car online the prices from the San Jose airport were $0 some maybe $1, which we knew was too good to be true. We used Skype Credit to call the local San Jose office to confirm the prices and if any extra insurance was needed. Calling Costa Rica from the USA cost us less than $.07 per minute. From our phone call, we confirmed that it was actually just $1 per day – but there is mandatory third party insurance of $27 a day. The phone call saved us another headache (and a bunch of money) because we found out we also needed to bring documentation from our credit company showing CDW coverage for car rentals, otherwise, we would have to take that as well.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Our first stop on our Costa Rica road trip was Monteverde, which is 3.5 hours from San Jose high up in the mountains. We had never been to Monteverde before but once we saw pictures of the cloud forest and hanging bridges we instantly made it part of our one week in Costa Rica. We opted against the traditional hotel and instead stayed in a really cool treehouse. We had to meet the owner in town to the keys, we used Skype Credit to call his cell once we were in town to meet up.

The next morning we woke up early to get into the cloud forest right away so that we could take some epic shots on the hanging bridge. To our surprise, we only came across a handful of other tourists the entire day. Traveling during the rainy season in Costa Rica has its perks. We noticed on day 1 & 2 that the rain started usually right after 2 pm, so we made sure to plan our day around the rain.

We spent two nights in Monteverde on our trip and we think that just about right. There aren’t a ton of things to do in Monteverde but due to the drive times and rain, it wouldn’t be worth it for only one night.

Highlights in Monteverde – Monteverde Cloud Forest & Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

Arenal

After our time in Monteverde, we made our way to Arenal, Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. It was a gorgeous, but bumpy ride (think gravel road with lots of potholes). It’s about a 4-hour drive depending on how many times you stop for photos or get stuck behind slow trucks. We had a gorgeous clear day and were able to see Arenal in its entirety all the way to its perfect cone top. This was our second time in Arenal, on our first trip we ziplined, did the boat tour, stayed in an Arenal hot spring hotel.

On this trip, we had our eyes on La Fortuna Waterfall.  We stayed at a place that was a quick 5-minute drive to the entrance. By the time we arrived the rain had arrived so we set our alarms to make sure we were the first guests to enter the next day.

It’s a hike down to the waterfall, 500 steps down and 500 steps up. The steps are totally worth it, we’ve chased many waterfalls over the years, but La Fortuna waterfalls is hands down one of the prettiest we’ve ever seen. Thankfully we had the whole waterfalls to ourselves for about 10 minutes (perks of getting there early).

We only spent one night in Arenal on this trip but suggest 2-3 nights for those traveling to Costa Rica for the first time and have their hearts set on all the things to do in Arenal.

Highlights in Arenal – Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, La Fortuna Waterfall, Ziplining, and a ton more activities are available in Arenal.

Puerto Viejo

After our fill of mountains, volcanoes, and rainforests we headed to the beach. When most people think of Costa Rica beaches they think Pacific Coastal towns, which are great but we love the little beach towns on the Caribbean. We set off on our 5-hour road trip to Puerto Viejo which is full of cute little beaches all with different characteristics.

Some beaches are black sand, some are yellow sand, some like Playa Cocles are good for surfing. If you want to escape, go to Playa Uva and have the beach to yourself. If you’re lucky you may even see sea turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean like we did! Complete Puerto Viejo guide. We stayed in Playa Cocles which is just outside of the Puerto Viejo town but close to our favorite beach Playa Uva.

This was our third visit to Puerto Viejo and typically we just explore the beaches but we recently saw a nearby waterfall on our friends Instagram. So we set off to find it, it’s not a known tourist spot so asking how to get there was impossible. We knew we were on the right track but couldn’t figure out exactly which house to go to. We used Skype Credit to call our friend to get directions and a few minutes later we were at the right spot and our $0.23 call lead us right to the waterfall.

We suggest 3 nights in Puerto Viejo, it’s the perfect place to relax after spending a few nights up exploring the jungle. We think a week here would be too much and there are so many amazing places in Costa Rica you’d be missing out on.

Best Beaches in Puerto Viejo: Playa Uva, Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra, Playa Grande – See full list of beaches

La Paz

We were looking for a hotel that was closer to San Jose as our flight home was the next morning and Puerto Viejo was 5 hours away from the airport. When chatting with our friends who had just taken a Costa Rica honeymoon they told us about La Paz and this gorgeous hotel right on the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. La Paz was only an hour from the airport, so it was the perfect place to spend our last night on our one week in Costa Rica. Before leaving for the trip we quickly rang up the hotel with Skype Credit to ensure they had availability for a room with an epic view and to confirm our room rate included entrance to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

La Paz was much more than we expected. The waterfall and the gardens made us feel like we were in the middle of a Jurassic Park set – it’s surreal back there. La Paz was easily our favorite place in Costa Rica and we know on our next trip back we’ll be back and probably for longer.

We suggest staying 2 nights at the lodge in the Waterfalls Gardens, the grounds and scenery are out of this world. This way you’ll have enough time to check out the nearby Poas Volcano.

Things To Do In La Paz – La Paz Waterfall, Poas Volcano, coffee fields


Why use Skype Credit While Traveling?

When you think of Skype you instantly think video calls, which it is and video calls are amazing but Skype has so many features on top of that. One of the many services we love is Skype Credit, which basically works like a calling card but much much cheaper and easier to operate. Since we are always traveling it’s a must to be able to make cheap international calls.

On our recent trip to Costa Rica, we used Skype Credit not only while we were traveling in Costa Rica to call back to the USA, but also while we were at home planning the trip to call hotels. Here’s everything you need to know about Skype Credit and what makes it the best and cheapest way to make international calls. 

What Is Skype Credit?

Skype Credit is basically like a calling card, do those even exist anymore? You can use Skype Credit to call anywhere in the world both landlines & mobiles and even send text messages.

How much does Skype Credit cost?

The cost of Skype Credit varies based on where you are calling and if it is a landline or a mobile phone. Rates are per minute and are very affordable. Click here to check how cheap international calls with Skype Credit are. 

How To Use Skype Credit?

You can purchase Skype Credit right on the Skype app. You need to purchase Skype Credit in increments of $4.99 on mobile or $10 or $25 on a desktop. Once you run out of credit just top up. If you find yourself using it often you might want to sign up for the auto-recharge so once your balance drops below $2 it tops up with your set amount. On our one week Costa Rican road trip we used less than $10 of Skype Credit.

How we Use Skype Credit

I love being able to call my Grandmother who is in a nursing home back in Wisconsin. She doesn’t have a computer or cell phone, and being able to call her from the beach anywhere in the world whenever I want for only 2.3 cents a minute is priceless. Every time I call her she is in disbelief that I am calling her from halfway around the world, she always says “It sounds like your right next to me.”

We’ve also found ourselves in the need of calling our local bank or credit cards after having some issues. Hopefully, you’ll never run into any banking issues while traveling but if you do Skype Credit is the best and cheapest way to call back home to deal with any such issues.

Using Skype Credit To Plan A Trip

When picking out accommodation or renting a car sometimes you just want to call them yourself. But you don’t because who knows what calling Costa Rica from your cell or home phone will cost a ton of money. On our recent trip to Costa Rica, we called a hotel to confirm we would get a specific room with a view and it only costs 6.9 cents per minute using Skype Credit. We booked our car on Rentalcars.com they had the best price and free cancelation, click here to check rates. We the used our Skype Credit to call the local car rental company to confirm what paperwork we needed to bring to show insurance proof. If we hadn’t done this we would have had to take out their extra insurance at an additional $35 a day. That would cost us way more than that $1 phone call using Skype Credit. 

How to Use Skype Credit While Traveling

Whenever you are connected to Wifi or have data coverage just launch the Skype App and make a call. From the beach, a boat, in the middle of the rainforest, where ever there is service.

Have you used Skype Credit while traveling?

This is a Skype sponsored post but all opinions are our own. We have been using and paying for Skype calling features daily ever since we started traveling full time in 2013 and truly believe in the products.

This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure

14 thoughts on “Epic One Week Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary”

  1. Hi there! This looks amazing! I’m a female traveler, just turned 30, and looking to visit Costa Rica! Would you recommend this road trip for someone traveling alone? Or do you think, from what you’ve experienced, it’s best to join a tour if I’m traveling solo?

    • Well that depends how good you are at driving in foreign countries and navigating. I personally would be fine with it as a female but I am good driver and can make my way around good and I know some Spanish. Driving in Costa Rica is relatively easy. I would def suggest getting a local SIM card so that you have driving directions all the time. I wouldn’t drive at night too much some of the roads aren’t the best up in the mountains. Safe travels to Costa Rica.

  2. I am planning a one week trip with my two daughters (aged 15 and 12). Do you think it is safe for me (44 year old female) to rent a car to boot us around for the week? I have fluent Spanish as well, which I imagine will come in handy. Thanks!

    • I would not see an issue. I would avoid driving around San Jose extensively, and do most of your long drives during the day (mostly for road safety and not getting lost, more than crime). I would give that same advice to a male drive as well. With normal precautions, you should have a great trip driving around Costa Rica. Safe Travels!

  3. This is really making me miss Costa Rica. We had a very similar itinerary when we visited a few years ago and I am happy we made it to Puerto Viejo which people often overlook.

  4. We stayed in Costa Rica for 10 days and had a very similar itinerary. In retrospect we definitely should have rented a car! Love this post it is making me miss this beautiful country

    • The more time you can spend in Costa Rica the better. You could easily turn this one week in Costa Rica itinerary into two weeks and just take your time in the cities. How did you do this trip without a car?

  5. I really enjoyed reading this as I went to Costa Rica back in March and it was great to read about it from someone else’s perspective.. Thanks for sharing!

    • Where did you all go in Costa Rica? We too like reading about others trips to places so we can add some new destinations to our radar. We only spend one week in Costa Rica this trip but last time we were there for 2 weeks.

Leave a Comment