Costa Rica Itinerary from Liberia Airport

If you’re flying into Liberia Airport, you can visit some great destinations in Costa Rica. In this post, we’ll share a seven-day itinerary that will take you to some of the country’s top attractions. From vibrant tropical rainforest with exotic birds and animals to relaxing beach time, this one-week itinerary gives a taste of what makes this small Central American country unique.

We’ll also suggest some variations for those who have more time or are looking to go off-the-beaten path.

Costa Rica Itinerary from Liberia Airport

Itinerary Overview

This itinerary has you flying into Liberia Guanacaste Airport (LIR), Costa Rica’s smaller international airport located in northwestern Costa Rica.

From Liberia, you’ll head inland to the rainforest-filled Northern Highlands about 2.5 hours away. Here, you’ll get to see the iconic Arenal Volcano, enjoy nature, and have plenty of adventures.

Thick rainforest Arenal Volcano
The rainforest-covered La Fortuna/Arenal area

You’ll then travel to the coast for some beach time along the shimmering Pacific Ocean. This will be your longest drive at about 3 hours.

Guanacaste has some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches so it will be well worth it. This region is also not far from Liberia, so you will be close to the airport for the end of your stay.

Beach Northern Guanacaste
One of Guanacaste’s many beautiful beaches

Days 1-4: Arrive in Liberia. Head to La Fortuna/Arenal.

First Night

If your flight arrives in Liberia in the morning or early afternoon, you can travel to La Fortuna the same day. The trip takes about 2.5 hours so works whether you’re renting a car or planning to shuttle.

Road Lake Arenal
Part of the route from LIR to La Fortuna

We don’t recommend driving long distances in the dark. So if you’re arriving later in the afternoon or evening, you have a couple of options.

You could flip the itinerary to start at the beach (closer to the airport), then end in La Fortuna.

Or, if you’d like to keep the beach for last, you could stay in a hotel near the airport and head to La Fortuna the next morning. There aren’t many options for hotels near LIR, but the Hilton Garden Inn is a good one.

La Fortuna/Arenal Overview

La Fortuna is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. Even with its growing popularity, we still love it and recommend it regularly to our readers and clients who we help with trip planning.

La Fortuna has a small, but busy, downtown with several shops and restaurants. Just outside this main area you’ll find tranquil rainforest and cascading waterfalls and rivers, with a few farm fields in between.

central park La Fortuna
Charming park in downtown La Fortuna

The town is spread out so it’s easy to stay outside the busy tourist areas. Not only that, but it has great accommodation options.

Vacation rentals are abundant on sites like Airbnb and VRBO and are some of the most affordable in Costa Rica.

For hotels, you’ll find over 200 in and around La Fortuna. These are mostly smaller and locally owned. Options range from luxurious boutique hotels with elaborate hot springs to budget-friendly cabins and rooms. For more information, check out our post, La Fortuna Hotel Guide.

Volcano View Arenal Kioro
Gorgeous volcano view from a hotel in La Fortuna

To get around, we recommend a rental car in La Fortuna since the area is more spread out. To save 10%, check out our Rental Car Discount.

Activities in La Fortuna/Arenal

La Fortuna has a plethora of activities that offer something for everyone. Since there isn’t as much to do at the beach, we recommend making the most of your time. Here is an overview of what’s available.

At the top of most travelers’ lists is a hike near the base of Arenal Volcano. Although no longer erupting, it’s still amazing to see Arenal up close and walk the old lava rocks.

Other fun activities are zip lining and hanging bridges. The facilities in this area are some of the best in all of Costa Rica.

Sky Adventures Hanging Bridge
Hanging bridge at Sky Adventures in Arenal

La Fortuna is also wonderful for wildlife viewing. River float tours, sloth tours, night tours, and hikes at nature reserves are all great ways to see animals and birds.

If you’re craving something high adrenalin, canyoning/waterfall rappelling and whitewater rafting are two popular choices.

For lots more information on visiting La Fortuna, read our full destination guide or check out some of our favorite tours.

River Float Upper Tenorio
Wildlife watching on a river float tour

Days 5-7: Beach Time in Guanacaste


After four nights in La Fortuna, you’ll travel to Guanacaste. This region is unique because many of the beaches are calm coves and good for swimming. There are also surfing beaches, if that’s on your list.

While much of Guanacaste Province is within a reasonable 1-2 hour drive from Liberia Airport, in this itinerary, we’ll focus on northern Guanacaste.

Playa Hermosa is a small, charming beach town in northern Guanacaste. At about three hours from La Fortuna and only 30 minutes from Liberia Airport, it’s a great choice to limit travel time.

View Playa Hermosa Guanacaste
Aerial view of Playa Hermosa during rainy season. Note that in dry season, the jungle isn’t as lush.

If you’d prefer a larger town with more amenities, check out Playas del Coco just minutes south of Hermosa. Or Tamarindo, Guanacaste’s biggest and most popular beach town. Tamarindo is about four hours from La Fortuna and 1.25 hours from Liberia.

What to Expect in Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is a small beach community with a main area backing the sand. Along its few roads and in the surrounding hills, you’ll find a handful of restaurants, small hotels, and modern condos. The beach itself is a wide cove, perfect for finding your own spot on the sand.

Beach restaurant Playa Hermosa
Beachfront dining in Playa Hermosa

Just 10 minutes away is Playas del Coco. Coco has many more restaurants, bars, amenities, and accommodations within walking distance to its dark gray sand beach.

Tip: You probably don’t need a car for your time in Playa Hermosa if you don’t want one. The beach is close and it’s easy to walk or taxi to get around. Some condos also offer golf cart rentals. You could drop off your rental car in La Fortuna, then take a shuttle to Playa Hermosa and the airport. Feel free to contact us through our Shuttle Booking page if you’d like any help with the arrangements. We work with excellent, reputable transportation companies.

Activities in Playa Hermosa

Of course, the main draw in Playa Hermosa is its gorgeous beach. You can explore the turquoise waters by kayak or jet ski or just take in the view from under the palms.

Playa Hermosa Wide Cove
Calm water at Playa Hermosa’s main beach

For activities, catamaran or sailing tours are a great option in Guanacaste. These leave from Playas del Coco and take you up the coast for some great views and snorkeling. Sunsets can be amazing!

Playa Hermosa doesn’t have much else for activities locally, but day trips to places like Rincon de la Vieja (national park with volcanic features), Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, and Palo Verde (boat tour to see wildlife) are all possible.

Day 8: Fly Back Home

After three days oceanside, you’ll travel back to Liberia Airport (30 minutes) to head home.

Have More Time or Want to Go Off-the-Beaten Path?

If you have more than seven nights, we’d recommend adding a destination or two to the itinerary. A few nights in either Bijagua or Monteverde would make for a great loop.

Bijagua is a rural town brimming with jungle about 1.5 hours from La Fortuna. It’s starting to get busier due to its proximity to the bright blue Rio Celeste Waterfall, but remains a charming, quaint destination. Bijagua is a great spot for those looking for a more authentic travel experience. Check out our full post on Bijagua for more details.

Rio Celeste
The unforgettable Rio Celeste Waterfall near Bijagua

The Monteverde cloud forest is also well worth a stop for two or three nights.

This ecotourism destination in the high-elevation mountains is about 3.5 hours from La Fortuna along bumpy dirt roads. Although remote, it is well developed for tourism with tons of options for lodging and restaurants. Monteverde is primarily a nature destination. The most popular things to do are hanging bridges, hiking, night tours, birdwatching, and coffee tours.


We hope that this Costa Rica itinerary for flying in and out of Liberia Airport has gotten you excited for your trip. If you’re looking for more tips and information, here are some helpful articles to jumpstart your planning:

First-Time Visit to Costa Rica: Why You Should Go, What to Expect & Tips to Plan – Climate, safety, best times to visit, and lots more. Check out this article for an overview about the country.

Traveling to Costa Rica: The Basics – Gives practical information about visas and entry, currency/money, getting around, drinking water, etc.

Family Travel – Tips for traveling with kids based on our own experience living in Costa Rica with our two boys.


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