Best of Guatemala & Costa Rica (ILC)

12 Day Package from Antigua to San Jose

Discover volcanoes, rainforests, and ancient Mayan sites, starting with one of the Americas’ oldest and most beautiful cities, Antigua—Guatemala’s former 16th-century capital. Amid its pastel buildings, cobblestone streets, and three volcanoes surrounding the city, your Local Host will share private tours of Antigua’s Spanish-Colonial architecture and ruins of the churches and monasteries destroyed by the earthquake of 1776. Visit the highland town of Chichicastenango. In the whitewashed town, visit the open-air Indian market, and witness ancient Mayan ceremonies in the Church of Santo Tomás. Continue to Lake Atitlán to visit the village of Santiago Atitlán. Meet the Tzutuhil people who continue traditions of their indigenous Guatemalan ancestors. Take a city tour of Guatemala City, then fly to San José, Costa Rica for the next part of your Central America adventure.

In La Fortuna, explore the Arenal Volcano area with a 2-night stay. Visit the famed Tabacón Hot Springs in the lush, tropical forest here. Options during your time here include a Naturalist-guided tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a network of suspension bridges and platforms built in the cloud forest. Or, river rafting, horseback riding, and cave spelunking may also catch your interest in exploring this incredible part of the world. Transfer to Monteverde with a short boat ride across Arenal Lake, and travel to Monteverde Cloud Forest—home to thousands of plant, animal, and bird species. Explore the cloud forest at dusk with an expert naturalist guide to spot fascinating nocturnal wildlife. Spend a day of leisure to explore Monteverde. Perhaps visit Santa Elena Cloud forest with its misty sanctuary of mosses, ferns, and flowers; or visit a local family farm to learn about sugar cane, coffee, and Tilapia farming. It’s an unforgettable Central American Monograms vacation to discover incredible nature and native people.


Insider Benefits

Monograms is all about connecting you to your destination with unmatched insider guidance and support to make travel a pleasure. With a team of local experts in each destination, your Monograms vacation includes local assistance and tips that only a local would know. In addition to an expertly-planned vacation with great hotels and included sightseeing, Monograms means you'll get the VIP treatment from a team of local insiders who help you put your signature on your vacation.

Airport Arrival

Monograms greets you like a VIP when you arrive at your destination (Yes, that's your name on the welcome board!). You'll feel at ease in an instant.

Hotel Transfer

Forget the stress of finding your way to your hotel. As our guest, we'll whisk you off with a friendly Monograms-operated transfer, which is included when you purchase your flights from Monograms.

Hotel Check-In

Once you arrive at your hotel, your own Monograms Local Host® is there to greet you, help you get checked in, and share lots of destination insights with you to get your vacation started.

Sightseeing

Get an insider's look at the must-see sights with the insight and knowledge of an expert Monograms Local Guide. Delight in the stares of regular tourists as they slide you past the line and right into the doorway with VIP access.

Free Time

Your Monograms Local Host® can provide tips and suggestions and even help you book activities & excursions to make the most of your time at your destination, helping you drink in the local culture in just your style.

Dining

What better restaurant recommendations can you find than from a local who knows? From haute cuisine to hidden cafes, from street food to Michelin Stars, your Local Host® can give you the inside scoop on finding your favorite fare.

City Connections

When your vacation includes traveling from one city to another, we'll get you to your train or plane, stress free with door-to-gate service. Your local Monograms team awaits your arrival at your next destination.

Activities & Excursions

Monograms offers a range of amazing experiences you can add to your trip, vetted by our team and perfectly coordinated with your Monograms package. Add them before you leave or on trip with the help of your Local Host®.

Airport Departure

Parting is such sweet sorrow. When you've explored all that you can explore and it's time to head home, your Local Host® will ensure a smooth departure, on time and on point, stress-free.

Your Local Host

What is the Role of a Local Host?

Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Antigua. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host about Antigua and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Antigua insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.

Local Host Recommendations

Meet One of Your Local Hosts

Sergio

My name is Sergio. Raised in La Antigua Guatemala, I studied Central American History at the University. Because I was born in a Mayan community, my major area of interest and study was mostly all of the Maya Culture. I keep particular emphasis on the importance of the diversity of Mayan languages and cultural linguistics of Guatemala. I love being a tour guide and opening up the world of Mayan culture to new visitors of my precious home country.

Guides


In Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala City, and San José

Meals


Buffet breakfast daily; 1 three-course dinner

Day-By-Day 2020

With Monograms, we handle the details so you can focus on the sights, experience new cultures and new destinations. From arranging the right hotels and seamless transportation to providing your own Local Host® and included sightseeing, we've thought of-and included-everything you need in an all-in-one package.

Select a Departure Date for Itinerary and Available Excursions:
DAY
1
ARRIVE IN GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA–ANTIGUA

17-Jul-2020

Welcome to Antigua, Guatemala’s capital from 1543 until a devastating earthquake in 1776 when it was moved to Guatemala City. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua is one of the Americas’ oldest and most beautiful cities, with pastel-colored buildings, wide cobblestone streets, and a beautiful natural setting ringed by three volcanoes.

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
2
ANTIGUA

18-Jul-2020

This morning, our PRIVATE TOUR of this magnificent highlands city, known for its 16th-century Spanish Colonial architecture, includes lively Plaza Mayor, flanked by the impressive Catedral de San José and Palace of the Capitanes Generales. See the ruins of churches and monasteries, some with hidden underground passages destroyed by the earthquake of 1776, and take a tour of a JADE FACTORY. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
3
ANTIGUA–CHICHICASTENANGO–LAKE ATITLÁN

19-Jul-2020

Today, with your Local Host, reach the whitewashed highland town of Chichicastenango to visit the colorful, open-air INDIAN MARKET, where hundreds of Indians from the surrounding countryside gather to barter their goods and products. Also, visit the Catholic CHURCH OF SANTO TOMÁS to witness ancient Mayan ceremonies that have long been practiced there. Continue to the shores of Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and indigenous villages. Lake Atitlán is the ideal place to come in contact with native Guatemalans. Twelve Indian villages surround the lake, and their inhabitants are descendants from the great Quiché, Cackchiquel, and Tzutuhil Nations. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
4
LAKE ATITLÁN

20-Jul-2020

This morning, CRUISE across Lake Atitlán to visit the Indian village of SANTIAGO ATITLÁN, and meet the Tzutuhil people, one of Guatemala’s indigenous tribes. This afternoon is free to explore on your own. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
5
LAKE ATITLÁN–GUATEMALA CITY

21-Jul-2020

Head back to Guatemala City for your included CITY TOUR. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
6
GUATEMALA CITY–SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA

22-Jul-2020

Today, fly to San José, Costa Rica and transfer to your hotel. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
7
SAN JOSÉ–ARENAL

23-Jul-2020

This morning, transfer to the town of La Fortuna in the Arenal Volcano area, where you will stay two nights. This afternoon, visit the famous TABACÓN HOT SPRINGS and take a dip in the natural springs and pools of mineral waters surrounded by lush, tropical forest. Enjoy dinner at the hot springs. (B,D)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
8
ARENAL

24-Jul-2020

Today is at your leisure to explore on your own. Perhaps visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a network of suspension bridges, platforms, and trails built in the cloud forest. From here, explore the forest canopy with a bird’s-eye view, giving you a different perspective of the forest’s wildlife. Alternatively, you may choose a rafting adventure, horseback riding, or spelunking in nearby Venado Caves. (B)

Excursions Available:

Horseback Ride to La Fortuna Waterfall

Price: Starting From: $122/person

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Horseback Ride to La Fortuna Waterfall

This tour begins with a horseback ride through the beautiful countryside of San Carlos Valley with stunning views of the Arenal Volcano. Next take a short walk to La Fortuna Waterfall where you can swim in the natural pool.

Ecoglide Arenal Park

Price: Starting From: $79/person

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Ecoglide Arenal Park

Arenal Ecoglide Park is one of Costa Rica's newest adventure parks featuring a canopy tour built to highest safety standards. The canopy tour not only offers you a great zipline adventure but also an opportunity to observe all the animal life in its natural habitat.

Peñas Blancas Safari Paddle Trip

Price: Starting From: $86/person

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Peñas Blancas Safari Paddle Trip

Enjoy the sights and the sounds of the rain forest and experience its peacefulness while paddling the Penas Blancas River.

Arenal Hanging Bridges

Price: Starting From: $94/person

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Arenal Hanging Bridges

Along this guided naturalist walk, you will walk along 15 different bridges suspended in the rain forest canopy. Take in the sites from an unrivaled perspective, showing you the fascinating and colorful Tropical Rain Forest world.

Adventure at Sky Tram & Sky Trek

Price: Starting From: $147/person

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Adventure at Sky Tram & Sky Trek

Located in a unique area between the rain forest of the Arenal Reserve and the Monteverde Cloud Forest, on this tour you will experience full adrenaline and the most spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano & Lake from the aerial Sky Tram and the Sky Trek zip lines.

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DAY
9
ARENAL–MONTEVERDE

25-Jul-2020

This morning, your transfer begins with a short BOAT RIDE across Arenal Lake to admire different species of birds that visit and call the area home. Continue through incredible mountain scenery and the MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST, home to over 3,000 plant species, approximately 120 mammal species, 400 bird species, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. This evening, venture into Monteverde’s Cloud Forest just before nightfall with an expert Naturalist for a GUIDED NATURE WALK to search for the jungle’s nocturnal creatures, like sloths, foxes, agoutis, frogs, and many more! (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
10
MONTEVERDE

26-Jul-2020

Enjoy a day to do as you please. Maybe wake up early and visit Santa Elena Cloud Forest to best experience the animals in their natural forest habitats. Discover this misty and surreal wildlife sanctuary full of mosses, ferns, flowers, and other indigenous plant life. Also, notice how the combination of climatic and geographic factors create temperature and humidity gradients, changing dramatically over just a short distance, or you could visit a local family’s farm to learn about sugar cane, coffee, and tilapia farming. (B)

Excursions Available:

Cultural Farm Tour

Price: Starting From: $50/person

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Cultural Farm Tour

Take a guided tour of a family-run farm and learn all about the traditional methods of production of typical Costa Rican exports including sugarcane, coffee, bananas, arracache (a local legume), avocado, and macadamia nuts.

Sky Tram & Sky Trek

Price: Starting From: $145/person

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Sky Tram & Sky Trek

Appreciate the nature of the tropical cloud forest, which encompasses 2 different activities - Sky Tram & Sky Trek. Begin with a ride on the Sky Tram through the cloud forest that brings you to the Sky Trek, a thrilling zip line course.

Sky Walk Tour

Price: Starting From: $78/person

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Sky Walk Tour

The Sky Walk Tour is a guided tour that combines trails and suspension bridges with lengths of over 984 feet and heights above the canopy of Monteverde Cloud Forest. The tour gives you the opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area, accompanied by a specialized guide.

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike

Price: Starting From: $127/person

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Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve Hike

Take a naturalist-guided tour of The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, home to howler and white-faced monkeys, the three-wattled bellbird, keel-billed toucan, bare-necked umbrella bird, the gorgeous quetzal, and much more!

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DAY
11
MONTEVERDE–SAN JOSÉ

27-Jul-2020

Return to San José today. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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DAY
12
SAN JOSÉ

28-Jul-2020

Your vacation ends after breakfast this morning. (B)

Your Local Host will be available to provide you with recommendations while on vacation to help you make the most out of your free time.

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Transportation

From City-to-City

When your vacation includes traveling from one city to another, your local Monograms team makes it an absolute breeze! We'll get to your train or plane, stress free and on time with door-to-gate service. And your local Monograms team awaits your arrival as soon as you pull into your next destination.


As outlined in the day-by-day itinerary and private airport transfers to/from intra-vacation flights; intra-vacation flights not included

Hotels

Monograms offers an impressive choice of hotels pre-selected for their location, amenities and service. When booking your package check to see what other hotels are available for your dates. Some hotels may not be available for this package.

*You may need to zoom the map out to see all available hotels.

Other Hotel Options

Insider

Antigua
Guatemala City
San Jose

Antigua

Casa Santo Domingo

The Casa Santo Domingo isn’t only one of Antigua’s best hotels, but it offers a magical combination of interesting gardens and museums. You could easily spend a day exploring the many facets of the museum circuit, a gem and great source of pride for Antigua.

ChocoMuseo

This is a must when visiting Antigua. Learn about the history of cacao, the cacao tree and cacao in Guatemala. ChocoMuseo has its own artisanal chocolate factory, which makes chocolate from organic Guatemalan cacao beans. It also offers chocolate workshops so you can make your own chocolate – it’s a fun and unique experience!

Cathedral de Santiago

The Cathedral de Santiago is a must see during the day or at night – or possibly both. Its façade is stunning with the sun up or down, but the best part of the Cathedral are the ruins, displaying collapsed walls, broken columns, fallen arches, and a crypt. It’s a strangely beautiful experience.

Tostaduria Antigua

If you’re a coffee lover, you must stop at Tostaduria and buy some coffee beans to bring home. Locals and travelers alike have been raving about the quality of the beans here for years – you can relive your Guatemala visit every time you drink a cup back home.

Guatemala City

Mercado Central

A seemingly endless maze of underground passages is home to the Mercado Central, where handicrafts from the highlands are hawked from overstocked stalls. The leather goods, wooden masks, and woolen blankets found here are often cheaper than other markets. It’s a wild and bustling market so be sure to watch your belongings. A lot of fun!

Palacio Nacional de la Cultura

The grandiose National Palace was built between 1937 and 1943 to satisfy the monumental ego of President Jorge Ubico Castañeda. It once held the offices of the president and his ministers, but now many of its 320 rooms house a collection of paintings and sculptures by well-known Guatemalan artists from the colonial period to the present. The palace's ornate stairways and stained-glass windows are a pleasant contrast to the bustle of the city.

Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena

Arguably the city's best museum, the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, focuses on textiles of Guatemala's indigenous community with an impressive array of handwoven fabrics from 120 highland villages, some of which date from the 19th century. It provides you with a good background in the regional differences among textiles before you head out to Guatemala’s country. You'll also find sculptures, photographs, paintings, and interactive weaving displays.

San Jose

Meet Jorge Avila, one of your Local Hosts in San Jose, Costa RicaMonograms provides travellers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to San José, Costa Rica. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about San José and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local San José and Costa Rica insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.

Meet a Local Host® in Costa Rica

My name is Jorge Avila from Costa Rica, I’m a general naturalist tour guide licensed by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. I really love my job because I can share with all visitors the exuberant flora and fauna of my beautiful country, I enjoy walking and spotting all kinds of animals such as monkeys, sloths and especially birds, as well as talking about plants, trees, flowers and orchids. I also love when people ask about our typical phrase "Pura Vida" and I can explain to them that this is everything in Costa Rica. It is the way to say "very nice", "beautiful", and "OK"!! I like when people come to Costa Rica looking to learn about our efforts for conservation and our culture and I can be part of these memorable experiences that I'm sure they will share with their families and friends when they return to their countries. I have one of the best jobs in the world.

Costa Rican Art Museum

Created just twenty years ago as the place for art lovers to see contemporary Costa Rican painting and sculpture, this museum offers modern art in every medium imaginable.

Costa Rican National Museum

Located in the old Bellavista Fortress, the National Museum houses Costa Rica's past surrounded by bullet-riddled stone walls. The National Museum is situated on 17th Street, between Central and Second Avenues, on the Cuesta de Moras. It is adjacent to the Plaza de la Democracia. The National Museum offers a brief overview of the country's history, beginning with pre-Columbian artifacts, travelling through the time of the conquistadors, and gradually merging into the present. A small butterfly museum rounds out the collection.

Gold Museum

Located beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, this museum is home to the most valuable collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world. More than 2,600 gold artifacts are on exhibit, as well as a history of Costa Rica's currency and a collection of rare coins and bills.

Jade Museum

It's not all jade, though the beautiful green stone takes center stage at the aptly-named museum. In addition to pre-Columbian jade jewelry, carved artifacts and display objects, you will find ceramics, precious stones and gold miniatures from different cultural areas of Costa Rica.

National Children's Museum

Learning is fun at this interactive museum, where kids play with hands-on exhibits that focus on science and technology, as well as traditional culture, art and literature of Costa Rica.

Museo de Jade

You’ll find the largest collection of American jade in this black glass building. You’ll also enjoy panoramic views of the city on the 11th floor of this stunning structure.

Museo de Oro Banco Central (Gold Museum)

For an experience that’s truly “golden,” don’t miss the Gold Museum. Housed beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, this underground museum has more than 2,000 pre-Columbian gold objects on display.

Spirogyra Butterfly Garden

If you’re looking for a brief respite from sightseeing, nothing is more soothing than this butterfly garden in the heart of the city. Learn about native species and enjoy a pick-me-up in the coffee shop.

Lukas

Costa Ricans eat black beans at almost every meal, including breakfast. For a taste of native cuisine, head to Lukas for the black bean soup or the Gallo Pinto, a dish made of black beans, rice, and usually accompanied by fresh eggs, cheese, and fried plantain.

La Luz

Regional cuisine with an adventurous twist is served at La Luz. The menu features fresh local ingredients prepared with ethnic influences. The beef tenderloin in strawberry-balsamic reduction is one of its most popular dishes.

Boutique Annemarie

This 2-story specialty shop in the Hotel Don Carlos carries a selection of jewelry, books, art, leather goods, and local crafts that you’ll find nowhere else. You may go in seeking souvenirs for others, but you’ll walk out with treasures for yourself.

Café Rica

This isn’t a café but a Costa Rican coffee liqueur that makes for an excellent souvenir. For the best prices, skip the boutiques and head straight to a local grocery store.

Club Twister

San José is disco central and this club is where the locals go for hot Latin and international music. The dance floors are large and the drinks flow freely.

Shakespeare Bar

For a quieter evening, try the Shakespeare Bar. Live blues, soul, and jazz provide the perfect backdrop at a place where you can sit back with friends, order a drink, and enjoy the atmosphere.

Central Market

Probably Costa’s Rica’s most authentic market, the San José Central Market features more than 350 booths selling everything imaginable, from spices and fish to hammocks and flowers. Open daily, it is located on Central Avenue in the heart of the city.

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* The “Starting at” or listed price is based on the lowest price available to book. Price is per person based on twin occupancy and any applicable port charges, non-commissionable taxes and fees and intra-vacation flight are included in the price shown. Any included overnight stay in Canada, applicable GST/HST is also included in the price shown. International airfare, however, is not included. If price is crossed out, the new price shown includes a limited time promotional offer(s). Please review current promotions or deals for additional information.