18 Exciting Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica in 2023

view of La Fortuna Costa Rica and Arenal Volcano

La Fortuna, Costa Rica is the adventure capital of the country. With an abundance of amazing things to do in La Fortuna including epic waterfalls, volcano treks, hanging bridges and thermal hot springs, I guarantee, you will never want to leave. Plus, the stunning La Fortuna hotels and hot springs resorts are something to write home about.

During my two weeks in the Arenal Volcano region, I did all of the top things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

I stood in front of the thunderous La Fortuna waterfall, strolled across the Mistico hanging bridges, indulged in a few of the best hot springs in Costa Rica like Tabacon, day tripped to the stunningly blue Rio Celeste waterfall, hiked in the Arenal Volcano National Park and spotted the cutest Costa Rica sloths

And, of course, I spoiled myself with delicious chocolate on the top chocolate tour in Costa Rica. I have to say, La Fortuna is rich with amazing activities. For all of you adrenaline-loving folks, the best canyoning, white water rafting and ziplining in the country can be found here, too.

Tabacon Hot Springs in Costa Rica La Fortuna
Tabacon Hot Springs

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With the town of La Fortuna at its core, you can find beautiful resorts and fincas all over the countryside of the Arenal Volcano region. Some of the top La Fortuna hotels and Arenal hotels will come with their very own hot springs.

I mean, how amazing is that. After a long day of activities, you can soak the day away in a bubbling thermal pool.

This La Fortuna Costa Rica travel guide includes how to get there, how to get around, top La Fortuna tours, where to eat in La Fortuna, things to do in La Fortuna and the best La Fortuna hotels (plus heaps more!).

things to do in La Fortuna
Costa Rica Sloth

La Fortuna: Quick Guide

Planning a trip to La Fortuna, Costa Rica? Here are the best resources for La Fortuna and Arenal, plus top La Fortuna Costa Rica tours and La Fortuna hotels. Happy travels!

Best Things to Do in La Fortuna,
Costa Rica

A few of the top Costa Rica attractions can be found in La Fortuna and the surrounding Arenal Volcano region. 

Top things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica and top things to do in Arenal Costa Rica are one and the same. My favourite activities in the region were La Fortuna waterfall, Arenal Volcano hike, Mistico hanging bridges and a day trip to Rio Celeste waterfall

I’ve outlined all the top La Fortuna activities, including free things to do in La Fortuna, for your browsing pleasure. 

Here is a list of top La Fortuna things to do:

1. La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall Costa Rica
From the viewpoint at La Fortuna waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall Costa Rica (otherwise known as Catarata La Fortuna in Spanish) is located a 10 minute drive outside of La Fortuna town. The La Fortuna waterfall hike consists of 530 paved steps down to the falls, with a butterfly garden, orchid garden and on-site restaurant (opens at 9AM). 

Read the Complete Guide to La Fortuna Waterfall

Note, you cannot swim in the pool directly in front of the La Fortuna Costa Rica waterfall, rather you can swim in a lagoon a short 30 second walk down river.

La Fortuna Waterfall Hours | 7AM – 5PM Daily
La Fortuna Waterfall Price | $18USD per Adult (Free for Children under 8)

WHERE | La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall Skip The Line Entrance Ticket

2. El Salto Rope Swing

free things to do in La Fortuna

One of the top free things to do in La Fortuna, the El Salto Rope Swing is located at the junction of the main road that heads towards La Fortuna Waterfall (great to combine these two La Fortuna activities!). 

El Salto La Fortuna consists of one epic rope swing over a large deep lagoon that is situated at the base of a small, wide, yet powerful El Salto waterfall. You can also jump from the cliffs surrounding the lagoon. The water is crisp and refreshing.

Read the Full Guide to El Salto Costa Rica

You can find parking along the main road of El Salto La Fortuna. Make sure to roll up windows, lock doors and leave no valuables behind. 

WHERE | El Salto Rope Swing + Waterfall, La Fortuna

3. Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges La Fortuna

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges in Costa Rica

Mistico Hanging Bridges Arenal is located a 30-minute drive west of La Fortuna town and is a great la Fortuna things to do combined with an Arenal Volcano hike or the aforementioned La Fortuna waterfall. 

Full Guide on Mistico Hanging Bridges

The park at Mistico Costa Rica is nestled into the Arenal jungle with breathtaking views of Arenal Volcano from its starting point. Make your way through several hanging bridges (some of the top hanging bridges in Costa Rica!) and witness life, including flora and fauna, amongst the jungle. 

Mistico Hanging Bridges Natural History Walk

On my visit to these epic Costa Rica hanging bridges, I witnessed the most stunning pair of motmots, several cute white-nosed Coatimundi (pizote), a small viper snake, and so much beautiful flora and fauna.

I recommend getting to the Mistico park at opening to enjoy the trails and wildlife to yourself.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Opening Hours | 6AM – 4PM Daily

WHERE | Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

4. La Fortuna Hot Springs

best hot springs in Costa Rica
EcoTermales Hot Springs

The La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano region contains 12 swimmable hot springs in Costa Rica. When it comes to choosing what hot spring in Costa Rica La Fortuna you would like to spend the morning or afternoon in, I have a few recommendations below based on your priorities and budget. 

Some Arenal hot springs provide luxury spas, swim-up bars or amusement parks for kids. 

Arenal Volcano + Hot Springs Tour

All 12 hot springs derive their thermal therapeutic waters directly from Arenal Volcano and provide a luxurious and pampering experience no matter which you choose. 

Indulging and relaxing in a La Fortuna hot springs is an absolute must while in the area and can be great after a hike around Arenal Volcano, like the recommended tour below.

Luxury La Fortuna Hot Springs: Tabacon

Tabacon hot springs Costa Rica

The best natural hot springs in Costa Rica, in my humble opinion, is the Tabacon Hot Springs located at the world-class Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. As one of the most luxurious La Fortuna hot springs, it offers a swim-up cocktail bar, multiple waterfalls and rivers to choose from, cool-off pools, canopied sun beds, a fine dining restaurant and indoor cocktail lounge

What I really loved about Tabacon hot springs Costa Rica is there were so many opportunities for privacy throughout the property. Therefore, I would highly recommend it for couples, honeymooners and people seeking peace and quiet.

Tabacon Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall + Hanging Bridges Combo Tour

You can purchase a Tabacon hot springs day pass on site that includes access to the majority of the hot springs facilities (besides the guest-only area), locker, towel and delicious 3 course al-a-carte lunch or dinner. 

TIP | Wearing water shoes is strongly recommended. I personally wear these water shoes.

WHERE | Tabacon Hot Springs

Read my guide on visiting the Tabacon Hot Springs

Mid-range La Fortuna Hot Springs: EcoTermales

La Fortuna hot springs

At a mid-range price point, EcoTermales La Fortuna offers natural and man-made pools of differing temperatures and depths. With plenty of opportunity to grab a cocktail at the bar and lounge on the sunbeds, you will definitely experience a few hours of relaxation here. 

Read Eco Termales Hot Springs for First Timers

Do note, for families, there isn’t much for kids to do here, although when I visited there were definitely a few kids enjoying the shallow, cooler pool. 

A day pass to Ecotermales Costa Rica comes with a buffet lunch, although its nothing to write home about.

Eco Termales Hot Springs Admission Ticket

Family Friendly La Fortuna Hot Springs: Baldi Hot Springs

Baldi Hot Springs is the most family friendly hot springs in La Fortuna and the Arenal region. Baldi is located on a large property with 25 thermal pools, jacuzzis and saunas, restaurants and bars on offer. 

What makes it the most family-friendly Arenal hot springs is its addition of a kid’s play zone (Baldi Kids) with a plethora of interactive activities. 

Baldi Hot Springs Costa Rica is best for families, and large groups of people.

Baldi Hot Springs Day Pass with Lunch or Dinner

Free La Fortuna Hot Springs: Public Tabacon Hot Springs

hot springs in Costa Rica
Free Public Hot Springs downriver of Tabacon

At the top of the best free things to do in La Fortuna, is the public hot springs located just downstream from the famous Tabacon Hot Springs.

As part of the same thermal river, you can park your car on the side of the road, climb down a few rocks by the bridge and enjoy a free hot springs experience. Make sure to bring water shoes!

The free hot springs La Fortuna has to offer is great combined with a hike around Arenal Volcano, like in the below recommended guided tour.

Arenal Volcano + Hot Springs Tour

5. Arenal Volcano Hike

Lake Arenal La Fortuna Costa Rica
Hiking the Sendero Las Coladas

As a dominant feature of the Arenal region and an epic backdrop to La Fortuna town, a hike around Arenal Volcano is a top La Fortuna Costa Rica activity. There are a couple of hikes to choose from in Arenal Volcano National Park that will take you through forest and lava fields, ending with epic views of Arenal Volcano itself. 

Main Sector of Arenal Volcano National Park

Choose from the Arenal 1968 Trail (3 miles / 4.7km) that will take you past a small lagoon and up to an epic viewpoint of the Volcano with medium difficulty trails. Or, Sendero Las Coladas (meaning Flows Trail), an easy difficulty loop of 2.5 miles (4km) up to an Arenal Volcano mirador.

Half-Day Arenal Volcano Hike

La Peninsula Sector of Arenal Volcano National Park

You can also choose to explore the less frequented Peninsula sector of Arenal Volcano National Park. The Arenal Volcano hiking trail is an easy 0.8miles (1.3km) from the Visitor’s Centre and takes you by a couple of Lake Arenal viewpoints, including a tower you can climb to see epic views over the region and volcano. End the hike at a viewing platform located right on the lake.

I saw plenty of white-nosed Coatimundi, and a variety of interesting birds including the rare white eagle along the peninsula trail!

Lake Arenal La Fortuna Costa Rica
The Peninsula Sector has nice views of Lake Arenal

TIP | Check the La Fortuna weather forecast before hiking. I’d hate for you to miss the view of Arenal Volcano at the end of your hike like I did (it rained the entire time). The best way to avoid ruining one of your Arenal volcano hikes is to start your hike right at sunrise, as it’s common for the sky to clear for the first hour of sunlight every day.

6. Day Trip to Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste Waterfall
Viewpoint of Rio Celeste waterfall

One of my favourite things to do in Arenal was a day trip to Rio Celeste and its bright blue Rio Celeste waterfall. Located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, about a 1.5 hour drive northwest from La Fortuna Costa Rica, I highly recommend scheduling a full day for this experience.

Rio Celeste Costa Rica is comprised of a hiking trail, river, the famous Rio Celeste waterfalls, bright blue lagoon, and bubbling thermal waters. There is a lot to see and explore here. Even though my entire trip to Rio Celeste waterfall Costa Rica was dampened by constant rainfall, it was still a memory I’ll cherish forever (muddy shoes and all).

Visiting Rio Celeste: Complete Guide

TIP | Single-use plastics are not allowed in the park, make sure to bring a reusable water bottle. This purifying water bottle is my favourite!

Rio Celeste Opening Hours | 8AM – 2PM Daily
Rio Celeste Entrance Fee | $13.50 USD per person
Best Rio Celeste Tour | Full-Day Rio Celeste Tour

Experience Rio Celeste on Horseback

7. Spotting Costa Rica Sloths

best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica Sloths
Costa Rica Sloth

You can’t visit Costa Rica and not see a few cute and cuddly sloths. This La Fortuna sloth tour will take you to a multiple viewing spots for the best chance to witness sloths in their natural habitat.

On this 3-4 hour tour you also have a chance to see monkeys, toucans, frogs and more. You will be provided binoculars for your viewing pleasure.

Sloth Tour La Fortuna

Alternatively, you can choose to do a walk through Bogarin Sloth Trail La Fortuna.

8. Chocolate Tour in Costa Rica La Fortuna

chocolate tour in Costa Rica La Fortuna
Chocolate Pod

Y’all, Costa Rica has some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten in my life. No joke. As a religious chocolate snob, that is no easy testimonial. I even opted to take two different chocolate tours in la Fortuna while there for two weeks, I couldn’t get enough. 

What’s great about taking a La Fortuna chocolate tour is the educational information about the growth, culture and business of chocolate making in Costa Rica. You won’t find locals eating anything less than 80% dark chocolate, which can be a bit bitter for western palettes, but you definitely need to try it at least once in your life.

The Best Chocolate Tour in Costa Rica is right here in La Fortuna

I loved that they tour the plantation, then make chocolate the traditional Costa Rican way. You can then add ingredients to satisfy your cravings. I loved the sea salt and vanilla dark chocolate combo.

I can recommend the purely chocolate Rainforest Chocolate Tour or the combination coffee/chocolate tour through the North Fields Specialty Tour. Both chocolate tour La Fortuna options were top-notch.

Rainforest Chocolate Tour (top pick!)
Eden Chocolate Tour
Don Olivo Chocolate Tour

9. Coffee Tour La Fortuna

Although coffee isn’t grown in the Arenal region (mainly in the neighbouring Central Valley), coffee still happens to be one of Costa Rica’s main exports. Get educated about the process with the coffee and chocolate tour from North Fields as they show you the traditional way to grow, harvest and process the Costa Rican coffee bean. 

Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed medium roast and dark roast coffee and try a few variations of decadent dark chocolate.

North Fields Coffee + Chocolate Tour

10. La Fortuna Cooking Classes in Costa Rica

Join a local Costan Rican chef for a hands-on experience cooking some of the country’s top specialties including ceviche, patacones, chayote picadillo, and encrusted fish all while sipping on a mojito. Enjoy a three-course meal at the finale of your Costa Rica cooking class.

3-Course La Fortuna Cooking Class

Always wanted to learn how to make classic tortillas? This Tortilla Making Cooking Class is your chance!

11. Canyoning in Costa Rica La Fortuna

As the Arenal region’s most popular La Fortuna canyoning tour, the Pure Trek canyoning + waterfall repelling adventure is an absolute must when visiting La Fortuna Costa Rica. Buckle up and repel down four waterfalls and one rock wall. Lunch included. What’s great, is no previous canyoning or repelling experience is necessary, the guides are really great and encouraging.

If you identify as an adrenaline seeker, or even if you don’t, this canyoning adventure will be a highlight of your trip to Costa Rica. You might even see a monkey, sloth or toucan!

TIP | Wear clothes and shoes that can get soaked and don’t bring your camera for photos unless you have a waterproof case.

La Fortuna Canyoning + Waterfall Repelling Tour

12. White Water Rafting La Fortuna

white water rafting La Fortuna travel guide

Take an hour’s drive through picturesque countryside to reach the thundering rapids of either Balsa River, Sarapique River or Toro River for an epic La Fortuna white water rafting adventure. 

Whether you choose the class 2-3 or class 3-4 tour, you will enjoy a Costa Rican lunch, snacks and beverages along the way. Of course, all rafting gear is provided on the tour. 

White Water Rafting + Wildlife Adventure (Class 2-3) 

  • Balsa River rapids
  • 6 hour duration
  • Starts at 10:30AM

Full-Day White Water Rafting + Zip Line Experience (Class 2-3) 

  • Balsa River rapids
  • 9 hour duration
  • Starts at 7:30AM
  • Includes Zip-lining adventure

Full-Day White Water Rafting Adventure (Class 3-4) 

  • Rio Sarapiqui or Rio Toro rapids
  • 8 hour duration
  • Starts at 8:30AM
  • Optional one-way transfer to San Jose

13. ATV Tour

Hop on your own ATV and zoom through the trails of the Arenal rainforest for a mud-splattering, fun 2 hour ride. If you are new to driving an ATV, don’t fret, your guide on this La Fortuna ATV tour will give you a thorough lesson before the ride on a local Costa Rican farm. You can have the option to book as a couple (riding one ATV) as a solo driver. 

You can also opt to take part in a pampering mud mask facial.

Arenal Volcano ATV Experience

14. La Fortuna Zip Line Tour

zip lining La Fortuna travel guide
Zip Lining in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Zip over the iconic bright blue La Fortuna waterfall and through the lush La Fortuna rainforest on this epic zipline adventure. Spend 2.5 hours at the Arenal Mundo Aventura Park ending your adrenaline-rushing excursion with a wind down at the Maleku Cultural Rescue Centre.

Ziplining is one of the most popular things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica, and very family friendly!

La Fortuna Zip Line Adventure

15. Horseback Riding

Tour through the epic landscapes of Arenal Volcano and the surrounding rainforest on the back of a majestic horse. Enjoy the Mistico hanging bridges park and trails of a private natural reserve. Spot Costa Rican animals, birds and plant life on your 2.5 hour horseback riding La Fortuna tour.

You can choose to be picked up from your hotel, or if you have a rental car, you can purchase the tour without transportation. 

Arenal Volcano Horseback Ride

16. Wildlife Safari Float

La Fortuna things to do

Take a 3.5 hour exploratory cruise down the ​​Penas Blancas on this scenic and serene float safari. Listen to commentary from your naturalist guide and spot quintessential Costa Rican wildlife like monkeys, iguanas, turtles, toucans and a plethora of birdlife. 

End the safari float excursion at a local farm tasting homemade local snacks, all washed down with a hot cup of world renowned Costa Rican coffee, made traditionally from a ‘sock’. 

Wildlife Safari Float Tour

17. Kayak or Paddle Board on Lake Arenal

Experience the stunning views of Arenal Volcano from the waters of Lake Arenal. After a quick lesson on how to use a stand-up paddleboard, you will explore along the shores of Lake Arenal on a 2-5km (1.2-3 miles) paddle, depending on your proficiency.

Take part in challenges along the way and learn extensively about the area and the lake. 

Choose between a kayak (single or tandem) and a paddle board.

Lake Arenal Kayak or Paddle Board Tour

18. La Fortuna Spa Massage

You’ve been canyoning, repelling, white water rafting through the Arenal region, and now it’s time to relax. Enjoy a massage and spa treatment at Spa Bamboo Massages

I loved the aromatherapy massage and facial combo performed in the charming and private backyard setting of a Costa Rican home.

Best La Fortuna Costa Rica Tours

best things to do in La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall

Some of the best Costa Rica excursions can be found in the Arenal region surrounding the town of La Fortuna. The top two La Fortuna tours include an easy hike around Arenal Volcano National Park, and a stop at La Fortuna waterfall

Then, you can choose from additional activities like  Mistico hanging bridges, visiting one of the many amazing hot springs in Costa Rica (most located here, like Tabacon) or choose to take a Costa Rica sloths tour or chocolate tour.  

A day trip to Rio Celeste waterfall is also a must thing to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica. 

Top Picks for La Fortuna Tours
Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall + Hot Springs Tour
La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano Hike + Hanging Bridges Tour
Canyoning + Waterfall Repelling Tour

Other Cool Things to Do in La Fortuna
Full-Day Rio Celeste Tour
Sloth Tour La Fortuna
Rainforest Chocolate Tour

Toucan in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Toucan in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Where is La Fortuna Costa Rica?

La Fortuna town and Arenal Volcano National Park (including Lake Arenal) are located in the verdant jungle of the northern Alajuela Province. La Fortuna San Carlos can be reached within 3 hours of the major airports of San Jose and Liberia in Costa Rica.

Click on the La Fortuna map below to interact with Google Maps.

Map of Costa Rica La Fortuna
The Alajuela Province of Costa Rica
Map of La Fortuna Costa Rica
La Fortuna Town in Arenal Region / Alajuela Province, Costa Rica

About La Fortuna Town + Arenal Volcano National Park

Upon starting my research about things to do in La Fortuna, confusion set in. How is La Fortuna or Arenal different? I saw so many interchangeable references. So, to set things straight, La Fortuna is the main town of the Arenal region. 

The Arenal region includes Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal and La Fortuna town. La Fortuna town acts as a great base to explore all of the top things to do in Arenal. All in all, there isn’t much to do in terms of activities in downtown La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

If you have a rental car (which I highly recommend you do!) it’s also a nice experience to book a few nights at a hot springs resort in the rural areas of the region. 

About Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volano National Park La Fortuna Costa Rica
Dormant Arenal Volcano

Sitting prominently in the region, the symmetrically beautiful Arenal Volcano is a top attraction for visitors to La Fortuna Costa Rica, with many hiking its surrounds. Until October 2010, the stratovolcano spewed lava and rocks, much to the enjoyment of onlookers.

My mom still talks about standing on the side of the road enjoying a Costan Rican beer and witnessing its magnificence.

Today, Arenal Volcano sleeps. But, that doesn’t take away from its magic, with many of the top things to do in La Fortuna and Arenal National Park Costa Rica centred around its immense grandeur, like the many luxurious thermal hot springs.

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Lake Arenal

Situated at the base of Arenal Volcano and straddling the line between Alajuela and Guanacaste provinces, Lake Arenal in Costa Rica is the largest land-locked body of water in the country.

Growing in size due to hydroelectric dams constructed in 1979, Arenal Lake is now an important source of electric energy for Costa Rica, contributing an astonishing 12%.

WIth a strong dependable wind, Lake Arenal Costa Rica provides consistent conditions for great windsurfing amongst other activities like fishing, boating and kayaking. The Lake spans 33 square miles (85 square kilometres) and a depth of 200 feet. 

Town of La Fortuna, Costa Rica

views of Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna Costa Rica
La Fortuna town with an epic backdrop

wIth Arenal Volcano as its backdrop, the once sleepy farming town of La Fortuna Costa Rica is now the beating heart of adventure for the entire country of Costa Rica. With one main drag and a small enchanting park at its centre, La Fortuna boasts 16,000 residents. 

The town itself swells with tourism during the high season months of December-April and acts as the main base for people visiting the Arenal region. 

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Rio Celeste Waterfall Arenal
Bridge over Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park

Neighbouring the north of Arenal Volcano National Park is Tenorio Volcano National Park. Made famous for its alluring bright blue Rio Celeste waterfall, the park can be reached from La Fortuna on an epic day trip.

The National Park is located at the northernmost end of Alajuela Province.

Best La Fortuna Hotels in Costa Rica

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

Okay, let’s take a look at where to stay in La Fortuna Costa Rica. The town of La Fortuna is the best base for your adventures around the Arenal region, but you can also book La Fortuna hotels with hot springs in the outskirts of town nestled in the jungle. 

Most hotel La Fortuna options and Arenal hotels include spacious suites, some with shared pools and volcano views and great amenities. You can definitely find the comforts of home in most of the La Fortuna Costa Rica hotels. 

The Best La Fortuna Hotels: A Detailed Guide

There is definitely something for everyone here, on any budget. Popular La Fortuna hostels like Selina and Arenal Poshpacker offer more economical and social La Fortuna lodging. You can also find some really great options for family-friendly La Fortuna resorts.

If you are of the more adventurous persuasion, camping La Fortuna is also common.

Here are my top recommendations for the best hotels in La Fortuna Costa Rica and the entire Arenal Volcano region:

Luxury La Fortuna Hotels

The Springs Resort & Spa via Booking.com

The Springs Resort and Spa Costa Rica

Features: Arenal Volcano views, natural hot springs, adventure centre

Best For: Families, groups

Distance from Town: 20-minute drive

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa via Booking

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

Features: Arenal Volcano views, natural hot spring, luxury spa, fine dining

Best For: Couples, honeymooners

Distance from Town: 15 minute drive

Nayara Springs – Adults Only via Booking.com

Nayara Springs – Adults Only

Features: Adult-only resort, private in-suite thermal pool, private terrace

Best For: Couples

Distance from Town: 15 minute drive

Mid-range Hotels in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Arenal Obseratory Lodge & Spa via Booking.com

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Features: Arenal volcano views, two-bedroom suites, on-site swimming pool and lake

Best For: Families, groups

Distance from Town: 35 minute drive

Volcano Lodge, Hotel & Thermal Experience via Booking.com

Volcano Lodge, Hotel & Thermal Experience

Features: Shared + private pool, small on-site thermal pool, great breakfast

Best For: Families, groups

Distance from Town: 10 minute drive

Budget La Fortuna Costa Rica Hotels

Selina La Fortuna via Booking.com

Selina La Fortuna Hostel

Features: Downtown location, shared pool, activities

Best For: Friends, groups, solo travellers

Condo’s Vista Al Volcan via Booking.com

Condo’s Vista Al Volcan Suites

Features: Arenal Volcano views, quiet downtown location, family-run apartment-style suites (I stayed here and loved it)

Best For: Families, groups, couples

How to Get to La Fortuna Costa Rica

best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Fruit Stand in La Fortuna Town

You’ve made a great choice in visiting La Fortuna Costa Rica. Now, how do you get there? For most of your travels throughout Costa Rica, I highly recommend a rental car (did I say highly?). 

I use and recommend Discover Cars. If a rental car or flight isn’t in your future, I’ve outlined other more economical ways to get to La Fortuna below, including public bus, shuttle, and boat.

Arriving in La Fortuna Costa Rica from San Jose International Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport(LIR) is most common, but I’ve also provided information on how to get to La Fortuna from other popular towns in Costa Rica like Monteverde and Tamarindo, so the research is done for you.

How to Get From San Jose to
La Fortuna

How to Get to La Fortuna Costa Rica
The La Fortuna Costa Rica rainforest

Distance from San Jose Costa Rica to La Fortuna

BY ROAD | ~120km (75 miles): 2.5-3 hours driving by rental car, shuttle or bus

BY AIR | ~30 min (direct flight)

READ MORE | How to Get from San Jose to La Fortuna: Full Guide

Flights to La Fortuna Costa Rica from San Jose Airport (SJO)

If you land at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) and you aren’t picking up a rental car or don’t want to fuss around with bus routes, you can fly direct to La Fortuna town. La Fortuna has its own small local airport that accepts flights from Sansa Airlines once a day.

A San Jose La Fortuna flight takes 30 minutes.

San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

Car Rental in Costa Rica San Jose Airport

For convenience’s sake, you can pick up your rental car at the San Jose International Airport, but there are a couple of important things to note. 

First, all rental car companies in Costa Rica are located away from the airport property requiring you to either take a shuttle (sometimes provided by your car rental company) or grab a taxi.

Second, because you are technically picking your car up at the airport, you will be charged an airport tax of 13% on the total of your Costa Rica car rental duration. 

I personally use and recommend booking through Discover Cars. Whether you are looking for a budget Costa Rica car rental or looking to rent a 4×4 in Costa Rica, this platform has you covered. 

What’s great about Discover Cars is they compare local, national and international rental companies to give you the best price. Plus, they give you full insurance coverage for only $7USD a day (30% lower than booking directly with the local company). 

Driving in Costa Rica

Generally speaking, driving in Costa Rica is quite safe. The roads to most of the main tourist towns are well maintained and do not require a 4×4 vehicle. I can recommend renting a car in Costa Rica with high clearance and AWD.

Places like Santa Teresa, Nosara and even Monteverde, all located in the Guanacaste and Puntarenas Provinces, may require 4×4 at some points in the road. Each of these destinations has large portions of gravelly dirt roads.

Driving in Costa Rica at night is not something I recommend unless you are very used to driving in the country. Street lighting is intermittent and not guaranteed, and during the rainy season of May-October, you can expect the roads to be slick and a bit dangerous.

Shuttle from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

A shuttle from San Jose to La Fortuna can be booked in advance for a smooth transition from the San Jose Airport to your La Fortuna hotel or your Arenal hotel. This shuttle to La Fortuna is private, giving you plenty of space to sit back and relax after a long flight.

La Fortuna Costa Rica Coffee Tour
Roasting Costa Rica Coffee

Buses from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

If you are arriving at the San Jose International Airport, you can take a quick 7-minute taxi to the town of Alajuela’s North Bus Station and hop on a public bus to La Fortuna from here. 

If you are travelling through Costa Rica already, you can find a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna from Terminal 7-10 in central downtown San Jose. The bus station has a few buses leaving between 6:30AM and just before noon that head towards La Fortuna. 

You can buy the bus ticket at the station for around $5-10 USD. Do note, that most public buses in Costa Rica including a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna,  do not offer air conditioning so make sure to arrive early (30-45minutes early) and snatch that coveted seat by the window. 

san jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

Best Costa Rica Tours from San Jose to La Fortuna

If you are staying in San Jose and want to take a day trip to La Fortuna rather than fussing over booking a La Fortuna hotel, you can plan a guided day tour

The most popular day trips from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica include some time at Arenal Volcano and soaking in hot springs. Depending on your priorities, choose from the two highly recommended day trips below.

Each tour is 14 hours in length so make sure to get a good sleep beforehand. You are in for an epic day filled with the top things to do in La Fortuna!

Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch + Dinner from San Jose (top pick!)

  • Drive San Jose to La Fortuna Scenic Route
  • Costa Rica Coffee Tour
  • La Paz Waterfall
  • San Fernando Waterfall Look-out Point
  • Hummingbird Gallery
  • Traditional Costa Rican snacks
  • Iguana Centre
  • Sloths in the Wild
  • Ziplining through Arenal Jungle
  • Rapelling over Arenal River
  • Paradise Hot Springs

Arenal Volcano Full-Day Experience from San Jose (without Ziplining/Rapelling)

From Liberia to La Fortuna

restaurants in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Restaurant in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Landing at Liberia Airport is another common way to enter Costa Rica. Firstly, I recommend renting a car in Costa Rica for your travels, especially around the La Fortuna area because attractions are relatively far apart. 

But, if that’s not an option for you, you can reach La Fortuna by booking a private shuttle from Liberia Airport to La Fortuna. Alternatively, if you are on a budget, you can take the 4 public buses from Liberia Airport > Liberia City Centre > Canas > Tilaran > La Fortuna. Costing about $10USD in total and taking 6 hours.

From Monteverde to La Fortuna

Monteverde Cloud Forest

If you are already travelling in Costa Rica, it’s likely you will find yourself in the hilltop adventure region of Monteverde. 

If you are venturing to La Fortuna next, the best way to get from Monteverde to La Fortuna is via a boat transfer, commonly called Jeep/boat/jeep. 

Read the Full Guide on How to Get from La Fortuna to Monteverde

The company will pick you up at your Monteverde hotel, load you in a van with fellow travellers, drive a couple of hours and drop you off at a small passenger boat that will take you across the scenic Lake Arenal. From here, take a short van trip to your La Fortuna hotel. 

Some of the best views I experienced in my two months spent in Costa Rica, were on this van/boat/van transfer from Monteverde to Arenal region.

Boat Transfer from Monteverde to La Fortuna

How to Get Around in Costa Rica
La Fortuna

Best Way to Get Around La Fortuna + Arenal Costa Rica

Yes, the town of La Fortuna Costa Rica can be travelled by foot with a walk of about 15 minutes getting you from end to end of town. But, it’s important to note that most La Fortuna activities are not located within the town. For this reason, I recommend renting a car in Costa Rica La Fortuna. 

Transportation in La Fortuna Costa Rica

The public transportation in La Fortuna is also known to be slow and doesn’t service all of the areas you may be planning to explore, including the cool things to do in La Fortuna like the La Fortuna waterfall and Arenal hot springs. 

Take an official red taxi in La Fortuna

Alternatively, you can grab a red taxi or Uber, which is available in La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano region.

TIP | If taking a taxi, make sure to ask for the meter to be turned on. It is required by Costa Rican law that taxis use the metre. If they refuse, don’t get in.

Best Time to Visit La Fortuna
Costa Rica

The cloud slowly moving in to cover Arenal Volcano

Like most places in Costa Rica, the best time to visit La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park is in the dry season of December-April.

Because La Fortuna is centred in verdant rainforests, the surroundings remain green throughout the year, adding to the beauty of your trip. La Fortuna and Arenal are one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica and can be visited year-round, though. 

Visiting La Fortuna Costa Rica in November is the sweet spot. The wet season is over, the sun is shining and the jungle is lush. Plus, the high season of December-April hasn’t started yet, giving you more choices in terms of La Fortuna hotels at better prices. 

September and October are the wettest months.

La Fortuna Weather

Here comes the rain!

Disclaimer: La Fortuna Costa Rica weather can only be characterized as unpredictable all year round. So, no matter when you plan to visit La Fortuna and the Arenal region, you can expect days of bright sun and clear skies and days of socked in clouds and rain.

This is the nature of a living, breathing rainforest and what makes this region so special.

Temperatures during the dry and wet season in La Fortuna remain pretty consistent averaging 80°F (27°C)

Dry Season (December-April)

Weather in La Fortuna Costa Rica in the dry season from December-April offers mainly sunny days with moody cloudy moments in the afternoon where the cloud will sink in and blanket Arenal Volcano for a few hours at a time with scattered showers. 

Unfortunately, it’s very hard to predict what weather you will receive along your Costa Rica itinerary, but know that most La Fortuna activities will not be spoiled by rain and a few clouds. 

la fortuna weather costa rica
El Salto Rope Swing & Lagoon in La Fortuna

Wet Season (April-October)

La Fortuna Costa Rica weather in the wet season can be quite muggy and gloomy. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t exclude it if you happen to be visiting Costa Rica during the wet season.

You can still soak in thermal hot springs, hike around Arenal Volcano or day trip to Rio Celeste (albeit a bit muddy), and stroll through the Mistico Hanging Bridges.

Travel Insurance for La Fortuna

La Fortuna Costa Rica is known for adrenaline-packed adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.

Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!

I used HeyMondo insurance on my trip to Costa Rica and can recommend it.

What’s great about HeyMondo:

  • No out-of-pocket fees
  • 24/7 doctors available through their handy app to answer all of your questions
  • Covers travellers from any country in the world
  • Offers short-term, long-term and multi-trip annual plans (I recommend single-trip insurance for Costa Rica)
  • Covers trip cancellation – very useful these days!

>>> Find the perfect travel insurance for you. (and get an exclusive 5% discount for being my reader!)

How Many Days in La Fortuna
Costa Rica

Rio Celeste Costa Rica
Rio Celeste

Gosh, there is much to do in La Fortuna and the Arenal region of Costa Rica, you could spend a couple of weeks here and not be bored (that’s what I did!) So, the longer you can stay in La Fortuna, the better.

If you are travelling to Costa Rica during your 10-day or 14-day holiday, make sure to spend a solid 2-3 full days in La Fortuna Costa Rica. 

I’ve included a sample 3 day La Fortuna itinerary below leaving evenings open for whatever suits your fancy. Note, that most of what I suggest in this La Fortuna Costa Rica itinerary below are organized and guided day tours for visitors without cars.

If you have a rental car, you can follow the itinerary with the added flexibility of your own transportation.

A Simple 3 Days in Costa Rica La Fortuna Itinerary:

Day 1 in La Fortuna, Costa Rica:

La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano + Hanging Bridges Tour

Day 2 in La Fortuna, Costa Rica:

Day 3 in La Fortuna, Costa Rica:

NOTE | If you only have 2 days in La Fortuna Costa Rica, you can choose to forgo the day trip to Rio Celeste waterfall

I took every single one of these day trips and recommend them all. Spending two weeks in La Fortuna, I was able to experience most of the top attractions in the region and these experiences were the highlights for me.

Budget for Costa Rica La Fortuna

Costa Rica La Fortuna town
La Fortuna Costa Rica town centre

Costa Rica is known for being a relatively expensive country. Why? There are several reasons. With a relatively stable government (rare for Central America), Costa Rica enjoys higher quality labour laws, a better national health system and generally speaking, higher quality of life. 

It’s important to note, that Costa Rica’s top earning economy is tourism, and the majority of that tourism comes from the USA. Given that, the government decided to price tourism related amenities closer to American prices. 

Also, the government puts a lot of money into preserving the biodiversity of Costa Rica, making the rainforests in Costa Rica some of the best maintained in Central America. 

You most definitely can do Costa Rica on a budget, just make sure you have extra time built into your Costa Rica itinerary to deal with multiple bus transfers.

Costa Rica uses both the Costa Rican Colones (CRC) and the American Dollar (USD).

Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (for Couple)

*excludes international flights

  • La Fortuna Hotel: ~$70-90USD Nightly
  • La Fortuna Car Rental: ~75 USD Daily
  • La Fortuna Tours: ~$100 USD Daily per Person
  • La Fortuna Food: $30 USD Daily per Person

Total Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (for Couple): ~$405 USD Daily Budget (or $200 USD excluding day tours)

Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (for Family of 4) 

*excludes international flights

  • La Fortuna Hotel: ~$120 USD Nightly
  • La Fortuna Car Rental: ~75 USD Daily
  • La Fortuna Tours: ~$100 USD Daily per Person
  • La Fortuna Food: $30 USD Daily per Person

Total Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (For Family of 4): ~$715 USD Daily Budget (or $315 USD excluding day tours)

Best Restaurants in La Fortuna
Costa Rica

food in La Fortuna Costa Rica Arenal
Lunch at Mercadito Arenal

La Fortuna restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and cater to most dietary needs. Whether you are toting along a full family, here on a honeymoon with your partner, or backpacking with a group of friends, La Fortuna restaurants have something for you.

Depending on your preferences, you can enjoy a healthy salad bowl at Organico Fortuna, dig into a local casado at Soda La Hormiga, scoop up a smoothie bowl from Jungle Bowls or cut into some amazing steak at Don Rufino Fine Dining. For variety, head to the artisanal food court at Mercadito Arenal.

Read the full guide on Best Restaurants in La Fortuna

La Fortuna Costa Rica Packing List

Generally speaking, the dress code in Costa Rica is comfortable and casual. In La Fortuna, with its humid rainforest climate, I would recommend clothing that is quick-dry or moisture-wicking. 

I lived in athletic shorts, a cotton tank top and light linen cover up most of my trip in Costa Rica, but especially in La Fortuna. You also couldn’t find me without a trusty ball cap to keep the sun off my head. Even when it’s cloudy, you can still be affected by UV.

A packing list for Costa Rica also always includes mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

TIP | Don’t wear flip flops in La Fortuna. A solid waterproof hiking shoe will do the best along volcano hikes and waterfall climbs

VIFUUR Water Sports Unisex Shoes Black - 12.5-13 W US/ 11-11.5 M US (44-45)

WATER SHOES | I used my water shoes to climb around waterfalls, and natural hot springs. They are particularly grippy and come in so many sizes and colours. Good for the whole fam!

Teva Women's Tirra Sandal,Black/Grey,9 M US

HIKING SANDALS | I lived in a solid pair of hiking sandals for the entirety of my trip in Costa Rica. These sandals have great grip and strap you in so your foot doesn’t move around. Plus, they look cute, in my opinion.

Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket, Black, Medium

RAIN JACKET | Because Costa Rica is covered in rainforest, that means the weather can be pretty unpredictable. Make sure to bring a hooded rain jacket with you that can pack up small in your day bag just in case. I definitely used mine.

ZOMAKE Lightweight Hiking Backpack Water Resistant,20L Packable Daypack Foldable Small Backpack for Travel

WATER RESISTANT DAYPACK | Costa Rica is a wealth of adventure and with that comes multiple day trips or days spent in and out of your rental car. Make sure to have a water resistant daypack that can carry your water bottle, snacks, mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

LARQ Bottle Movement PureVis - Lightweight Self-Cleaning and Non-Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with UV Water Sanitizer, 32oz, White/Pebble

PURIFYING REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | I travel full time, so I’ve seen the devastation single-use plastic can have on our environment. Once I purchased this purifying reusable water bottle, I never looked back. It’s super stylish and you can recharge it through USB!

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel,Blue,24 X 48 Inches

MICROFIBRE TOWEL | Costa Rica is humid, so a normal cotton towel will take forever to dry. Let’s try to avoid that moldy towel smell. For those day trips to waterfalls, hot springs, rivers and beach, make sure to carry along a microfibre quick-drying towel.

JOTO Waterproof Case Universal Phone Holder Pouch, Underwater Cellphone Dry Bag Compatible with iPhone 13 Pro 12 11 Pro Max XS XR X 8 7 6S, Galaxy S21 S20 S10 Note Pixel Up to 7.0" -2 Pack,Black

WATERPROOF PHONE CASE | Plan on repelling or canyoning down a waterfall? Snapping pics in the hot springs? You will need a good waterproof phone case.

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Sports & Active Use - Water Resistant Sun Cream –UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan, Reef Friendly Sun Lotion, 6oz

SUNSCREEN | Y’all, the sun is HOT in Costa Rica as the country is located close to the equator. Make sure to throw on some sunscreen even if it’s cloudy out. That’s what it gets you. There are some great reef-safe sunscreens out there nowadays, so let’s protect our ocean life!

Natrapel 12-Hour Insect Repellent, 6 oz. Eco-Spray Picaridin Bug Spray – Family Insect Repellent for Mosquitoes, Ticks, & More, Black (0006-6878)

MOSQUITO REPELLENT | Yup, there are mosquitos in the rainforest, who would have thunk. I like to use a more natural mosquito repellent.

wildlife in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Blue Jeans Frog in Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

La Fortuna Costa Rica
Practical Information

Suite-style accommodations with a kitchenette in La Fortuna Costa Rica are common for longer-term travellers. If you find yourself in need of some light groceries (don’t forget to indulge in Costa Rican fruit!), or some cash to have on hand, I have you covered. 

I used all of the following La Fortuna amenities more than twice while in the town and can recommend them.

Cash | ATM at Banco Nacional
Fruits + Vegetables| Sarchisenos Fruit Stand 
Groceries | Super Rosvil Grocery Store

La Fortuna or Monteverde

Best things to do in La Fortuna
Along the roadside in Monteverde

Researching where to go and stay can be a little overwhelming, especially when you only have 7 or 10 days in Costa Rica. La Fortuna and Monteverde may seem a bit similar from the outside, both are adventure centres, both have zip lining and hanging bridges.

But, here are the main differences to make your choice between Monteverde or Arenal La Fortuna easier (if you really have to choose):

La Fortuna, Costa Rica (Arenal Region)

  • More mammal sightings (sloths, white-nosed Coatimundi)
  • Hot springs
  • More activities (ilke waterfalls)
  • More diverse food options
  • More lodging options including luxury resorts Doesn’t require a 4×4 vehicle
  • Easy to get to from the airport
  • Flat landscape
  • More touristy
  • More expensive

Monteverde, Costa Rica

  • Less touristy
  • Cheaper
  • Hiking through cloud forests
  • Better birdwatching
  • Better night walks
  • Better zip-lining
  • 4×4 vehicle required
  • Limited accommodation options
  • Limited food options
  • More difficult to get to from the airport
  • Hilly landscape (could also be a pro)

Where to Next After La Fortuna
Costa Rica?

Generally speaking, La Fortuna is either the first or last stop on your Costa Rica itinerary. Depending on your timeline, most visitors to Costa Rica move on to Monteverde, Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio or Santa Teresa

If it’s your last stop, I’ve outlined how to get from La Fortuna to San Jose Airport, for your convenience. 

Of course, if you’ve decided on a rental car for the duration of your trip, you can simply jump in your car, roll down the windows and enjoy the beautiful scenery along your drive.

La Fortuna to San Jose

Street in Costa Rica La Fortuna

Flight from La Fortuna to San Jose Airport

You can book a flight through Sansa Airlines departing once daily. The flight is direct and takes 30 minutes.

Check out the complete guide on how to get from La Fortuna to San Jose

Private Shuttle from La Fortuna to San Jose

A private shuttle is a great way to get from your hotel in La Fortuna to either the San Jose Airport or San Jose hotel of your choosing. The journey takes 2.5-3 hours along a scenic road. Do note, that the road has a view S-turns, so if you are a person who gets car sick, make sure to take the front seat. 

Check Prices of Private Shuttle from La Fortuna to San Jose

Shared Shuttle from La Fortuna to San Jose

You can also snag a seat on a the shared shuttle going to and from La Fortuna to San Jose. There are multiple companies providing this service, Tropical Tours is the most popular.

Bus Stop in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Bus Station in La Fortuna

Bus from La Fortuna to San Jose (downtown)

There are multiple indirect busses and one direct bus running daily from La Fortuna to San Jose. All buses depart from the La Fortuna bus terminal. You can purchase tickets at the bus station, just make sure to arrive 30-45 minutes early to make sure you get on. 

The only direct bus from La Fortuna to San Jose is 2:45PM, takes 4 hours and arrives at Terminal 7-10 in San Jose by 6:45PM. 

La Fortuna to Monteverde

The absolute best way to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde is by a van/boat/van transfer

Read the detailed guide on how to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde

If you aren’t driving your rental car, you can take a transfer that will pick you up at your La Fortuna hotel, drive you in a van (with other travelers) to a boat on Lake Arenal. Take a scenic trip across the lake, ending on the other side with another van trip through the mountains surrounding Monteverde. 

A great way to experience the Costa Rican countryside!

Boat Transfer from La Fortuna to Monteverde

La Fortuna to Tamarindo

La Fortuna Costa Rica

Private Transport from La Fortuna to Tamarindo

The best way to get from La Fortuna to Tamarindo is by private transport. This family run transfer service will have you from La Fortuna hotel to Tamarindo hotel in less than 4 hours. 

Private Shuttle from La Fortuna to Tamarindo

If you are on a budget, catch the public bus from the La Fortuna bus station, then transfer each time at Tilaran, Canas, and Liberia to reach the Tamarindo bus station in approximately 8 hours.

La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio

The cheapest way to get from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio is by bus.  You can take the bus from the La Fortuna bus station heading towards San Ramon. From here, board the bus to Puntarenas, and then transfer to Quepos. Your fifth bus (only a 15 minute bus ride) will take you from Quepos to Manuel Antonio. 

The journey will take around 9 hours and cost approximately $13-15 USD.

The best way to get from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio is via rental car or shuttle transfer. The journey takes 4.5-5 hours.

La Fortuna to Santa Teresa

La Fortuna Costa Rica

Travelling by bus from La Fortuna to Santa Teresa will require several legs. Firstly, a bus from La Fortuna to San Jose, spending 1 night in San Jose city, and then another bus ride, ferry ride and bus ride to Santa Teresa. 

Alternatively, you can take a shared or private shuttle bus from La Fortuna to Santa Teresa Beach that will leave at 8AM and arrive by 2PM.

Read the full Santa Teresa Costa Rica Travel Guide

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