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How can I combine Costa Rica with Nicaragua?

When you visit another country, a big part of the costs of our vacation is flight tickets. Sometimes we want to get the most of that investment, so why not getting to know more than just one country? So if you are planning to visit Costa Rica, you might be thinking about visiting at least one of the two neighbouring countries, Panama and Nicaragua. In this blog, I would like to give you some ideas about how to connect Costa Rica with Nicaragua to get the most out of your vacation.

Luckily, nowadays Costa Rica is greatly connected with flights to other parts of the world like Canada, the United States, and Europe. Therefore, a good alternative to combine both countries could be an itinerary arriving and leaving the Airport in San José, Costa Rica, including some days during the trip to Nicaragua. 

First of all, I would like to answer some doubts you might have since you probably have heard that Nicaragua has been through a difficult time since April 2018.

Is it safe to travel to Nicaragua?

After the protest of the citizens of Nicaragua against the government in April 2018 and the recent political situation in Nicaragua, it is normal to wonder whether it is safe or not to visit Nicaragua. This is an interesting topic because it might look unsafe, but the truth is that now it is safe to travel to Nicaragua. During your trip, a road might be closed because of protests, for example, but that doesn’t mean that your life would be in danger.

It is admirable to see how the tourism sector of this beautiful country is developing since more and more tourists are interested in visiting Nicaragua.

Why combining Costa Rica with Nicaragua?

Compared to Nicaragua, there are not that many colonial architectural attractions in Costa Rica. For this reason, combining both countries is simply perfect because you get the chance to get to know the tropical nature and also admire the cultural wealth of both countries.

Granada Catedral Nicaragua c

Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua

Also, it is perfect for anyone who loves volcanoes and gastronomy, since in both counties you will see many volcanoes, as well as traditional plates.

Comida Nicaragua Vigoron c

What is the best way to visit Nicaragua?

To travel to Nicaragua, you could do a tour with a private guide who will explain to you all the details that you need to know during your vacation, or you could rent a car and discover the main touristic destination at your tempo, making stops wherever you wish.

Itinerary examples

To give you a little orientation about what you should visit and in which order I recommend you to do it, I will give you some ideas for itineraries that you could do. So let’s start!

The best of Costa Rica and Nicaragua (16 days/ 15 nights)

For this itinerary, you have to arrive and leave from the airport of San José, Costa Rica, and spend the first night in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and then 2 night in Monteverde, one of the most visited tourist destinations, where we find the beautiful and magical cloud forest.

Monteverde LodgeGardens c

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens, Costa Rica

After visiting this beautiful place, you could visit the region of Rincón de la Vieja, a volcanic complex of the northern Costa Rican mountain range and one of the most beautiful volcanoes in this country. Even though it is not possible to hike to the crater due to its recent volcanic activity, it is possible to walk along the hiking trails to admire the activity of this majestic volcano in the mud pailas or visit the waterfalls in this area.

Las Pailas Rincon de la Vieja c

Las Pailas, Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica

After spending time at Rincón de la Vieja, you will drive to the beautiful colonial city of Granada, which houses great historical and cultural wealth, and also colonial and neoclassical architecture. From Granada, it is possible to visit surprising places like the Isletas de Granada, the natural reserve of the Mombacho Volcano or the National Park of the Masaya Volcano.

Granada carruaje c

Granada, Nicaragua

After enjoying Granada, you can spend two nights at Isla Ometepe, an island that impresses everyone, since the main attraction are two imposing volcanoes that are part of a great volcanic complex of this beautiful country. You can also take a relaxing bath in the thermal waters as a part of the activities you can do at this place.

Ometepe Maderas Volcan Nicaragua c

Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

After you enjoyed Nicaragua and its nice people, you can continue towards La Fortuna, Costa Rica, for two nights (it is a long day of driving, but it is worth it). La Fortuna is the most visited destination in this country and home to the imposing Arenal Volcano. The area offers many adventurous and cultural activities, but you can also just enjoy the thermal waters. And to end this trip in the best way you can imagine, you can finish it with three nights at the paradisiacal beaches of the South Caribbean in Costa Rica, for example in Cahuita or Puerto Viejo, from where it is possible to visit the beautiful Cahuita National Park. Or you can just enjoy the relaxing environment that dominated the Caribbean coasts in the countries of Central America. 

Puerto Viejo de Limon c

Puerto Viejo de Limón, Costa Rica

I always recommend spending the last night in San José, so it is not that stressful to drive back to the capital and take a flight back home the same day.

Nature and beaches (16 days/ 15 nights)

Even though Nicaragua doesn’t count on a direct flight from Europe, many local airlines arrive in Managua. For the next itinerary, I suggest flying into San José, Costa Rica and take the flight back from the capital of Nicaragua.

As in the last suggestion, I recommend spending the first night in San José and from there, you can spend the next two nights in Tortuguero, the perfect destination to start your trip, due to the complex operation, including transportation, a local guide, meals, and activities. This allows the visitor a great start, and it is also important to mention that it is possible to see a great number of animals like birds, iguanas, monkeys, crocodiles, sloths, among others.

Tortuguero basiliscus c

Basiliscus in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

After Tortuguero, I recommend you to drive to La Fortuna for two nights and then go for a little bit of sun and beach. I recommend you to add three nights at any beach in the North Pacific, getting to know the province of Guanacaste, where you can enjoy the best and most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Some of my favourites are Nosara, San Juanillo, Guiones, and Sámara, because there is not that much tourism.

Now, after relaxing a little bit, the adventure continues in Granada, Nicaragua, where I recommend you to stay for two nights, and then going to Matagalpa, to the Natural Reserve Salva Negra, where the cloud forest dominates, which is characteristic for the heights of the mountains of Matagalpa. Here you can enjoy activities in nature, hiking trails and bird watching. They also do coffee tours on the property.

Matagalpa Selva Negra Lodge c

Matagalpa Selva Negra Lodge

After two days in nature, I suggest going to San Juan del Sur and stay at least three nights. Even though going back to the south of Nicaragua might feel like repeating the way, it is worth it, since San Juan del Sur is one of the best beach destinations in Nicaragua. And it is not just San Juan del Sur, but also its surroundings, where you can find beaches that are listed as the most beautiful beaches on the coast of Nicaragua, for example, Playa Maderas, Playa el Coco, Playa Hermosa, among others.

PlayaSanJuandelSur Nicaragua c

Playa San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

At the end of the road, you can take a taxi to the hotel in Managua.

There is so much to discover in both countries, and I think it was not possible to include everything in these two itineraries, for example, featured places like the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, or paradisaical places like the Islas Maíz in Nicaragua. I could not include them, but if you wish so, we can help you to extend the trip so you can visit those places. If you have questions, feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., it would be a pleasure to help you.

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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany
  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
  • Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
  • Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
  • Marine & Bruno, France

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
  • Ronald, Germany

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
  • Kathrin, Germany

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin, Germany
  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne, Switzerland
  • Tanja, Germany

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja, Germany
  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
  • Thieme Family, Germany

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
  • Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
  • Denise & Alain, Switzerland

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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