9 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

9 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

9 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica, so you can’t miss it on your Costa Rica itinerary.

Wondering what to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica?

Hike around the Arenal Volcano, visit the epic waterfalls, enjoy the hot springs, explore the wildlife or go ziplining.

This ultimate guide to visiting La Fortuna includes how to get there, where to stay, and the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.


Where is La Fortuna de San Carlos

La Fortuna, also known as La Fortuna de San Carlos, is a charming little town in the province of Alajuela, in central Costa Rica.

La Fortuna is famous for the scenic landscape of the Arenal Volcano, fantastic attractions, and outdoor activities.

Where is La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Best Time to Visit La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The tropical weather makes La Fortuna lush and green all year round, the perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

The best time to visit La Fortuna is during the dry season, which runs from December to April.

If you want to enjoy outdoor activities and make the most of your trip to Costa Rica, visit La Fortuna in the dry season.

When to go to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

But these months are the busiest time to visit Costa Rica, so we suggest booking tours and accommodation in advance!

It’s good to know that La Fortuna is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica, the weather is always humid, and even in the dry months, there can be unexpected rains.

So bring quick-drying clothes, hiking shoes or sandals, a light raincoat, mosquito repellent spray, and sunscreen.

The rainy season in La Fortuna is from May to November, with the wettest months usually September and October.

La Fortuna’s rainy season has high humidity, heavy rainfall, and cooler temperatures.

However, it is a good time for those who want to avoid crowds and are looking for a budget price.

How to Get to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The nearest airport to La Fortuna is Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San José, which is about 2.5 hours away.

Another nearby airport is Liberia Guanacaste International Airport (LIR), 3 hour drive from La Fortuna.

Once you arrive in San José, there are several ways to get to La Fortuna, such as a shared and private transfer, taxi, bus, or car.

There are some direct domestic flights from San José to La Fortuna, but this is the most expensive way to get there.

La Fortuna Itinerary

The best way to get from San José to La Fortuna is by car.

You can easily rent a car at San José Airport. The roads are in good condition and don’t need for 4×4 to visit La Fortuna.

You can also travel by public bus or take a transfer to reach La Fortuna.

How to Get to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The public bus is the cheapest way to travel from San José to La Fortuna for just 5 USD.

But there is one daily direct bus from San José to La Fortuna. The bus departs from Terminal 7-10 in San José city center and is usually not air-conditioned.

Alternatively, travel from San José to Ciudad Quesada and then take another bus to La Fortuna. The journey time by bus is 4-6 hours, depending on traffic and the number of stops.

La Fortuna bus schedule

How to Get Around La Fortuna

You can easily stroll around La Fortuna, and we highly recommend discovering the Parque de La Fortuna, buying some souvenirs, and eating in trendy restaurants.

If you want to explore the La Fortuna surrounding without a car, it is good to know that public transport is not good.

How to get around La Fortuna

You can get to nearby attractions by taxi or Uber.

For farther places, you can book a transfer or join a group tour, which includes a hotel pick-up and drop-off.

Another popular way to get around La Fortuna is to rent a scooter for 24 hours for 35 USD.

Best time to visit La Fortuna

Some sights are far away, so renting a car is the best way to explore La Fortuna’s best places.

You’ll usually always find parking spaces in La Fortuna, but these are not so safe, so don’t leave any valuables in your car!

If you arrive by car in La Fortuna, book accommodation with free parking.

Getting around La Fortuna

Is La Fortuna safe?

Yes, La Fortuna is one of the safest and most popular destinations in Costa Rica. La Fortuna is just 2.5 hours from the capital of Costa Rica, San José, so well worth a visit.

But we recommend always locking your car and don’t leave any valuables in the vehicle.

Best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

1. Visit La Fortuna Waterfall

One of the best things to do in La Fortuna is to visit the impressive La Fortuna waterfall.

The 70-meter-high waterfall is located just an 8-minute drive from the town center.

The La Fortuna waterfall is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica and a breathtaking experience on your La Fortuna itinerary.

La Fortuna waterfall opening hours

La Fortuna Waterfall is open every day from 7 AM to 5 PM, and the entrance fee is 18 USD per person.

Once you arrive, you can start the easy hike to the waterfall.

The trail is well-maintained, with more than 500 steps leading down, and the walk takes 15-20 minutes.

La Fortuna waterfall is the perfect place to take a refreshing swim and spend a few relaxing hours.

La Fortuna waterfall tour

2. Explore the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

Are you looking for an exciting experience in La Fortuna, Costa Rica? Take a walk above the forest at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, just a 30-minute drive from La Fortuna.

The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is open daily from 6 AM to 4.30 PM.

You can visit Mistico Hanging Bridges Park self-guided or with a guided tour.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
How to get to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park entrance fee is 27 USD (+2 USD for online purchases).

Good to know
Booking reservations are required! You can buy your ticket quickly and safely through the Mistico Park website.

The tour takes about 2.5 hours at a comfortable pace and with photography.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park price

Along the way, you can see a waterfall and many animals, such as monkeys, toucans, and sloths, or enjoy a fantastic view of the volcano.

The trail is about 3.2 km long, and you can walk across 16 bridges, including 6 suspension bridges.

Food is not allowed in the park, so we recommend leaving snacks in the car.

Toucan in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Don’t forget to wear closed shoes as this is a requirement for visiting the park!

Arrive in the morning as you can avoid the crowds and the temperature is pleasant for a walk! In the morning hours will probably see many animals as the park is still quiet.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges entrance fee

3. Enjoy hot springs in La Fortuna

Due to natural volcanic activity, the most popular spa destination in Costa Rica is La Fortuna. So one of the best activities in Arenal, La Fortuna area is to spend a few relaxing hours in the hot springs.

Most hot springs in La Fortuna are located in the resorts and outside the town.

So if you want to visit the hot springs, you will need to buy a day pass or stay in one of the resorts.

There are hot springs for all budgets in La Fortuna, or you can enjoy a free natural hot springs river.

See also  → Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo

La Fortuna hot springs, Costa Rica

Best hot springs in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

  • Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa
  • Baldi Hot Springs Resort Hotel & Spa
  • The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal
  • EcoTermales Hot Springs at Arenal Volcano
  • Paradise Hot Springs
  • Titokú Hot Springs
  • Hotel Los Lagos Spa & Resort
  • Kalambu Hot Springs

Tabacon Hot Springs

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa is one of the most visited places in La Fortuna. Here you can get some beautiful shots and enjoy the hot springs.

We found it to be overpriced. But if you want to visit Tabacon Resort, we recommend you buy your ticket in advance!

Tabacon hot springs day tickets start at 89 USD per person, with half-day tickets starting at 75 USD.

The price usually includes lunch or dinner, drinks, and access to changing rooms, lockers, and bathrooms.

Tabacon hot springs, La Fortuna

Free Natural Hot Springs River

The free hot springs are popular with tourists and locals, so they are always crowded. The free natural hot springs river is located about 15 minutes by car from La Fortuna, right next to the Tabacon Resort.

There are no changing rooms at the free hot springs, so it is recommended to arrive in your swimsuit.

Always keep an eye on your valuables, as small thefts may happen!

Bring some cold beers or snacks and enjoy the hot springs.

There is no designated parking, but you can park on the side of the road for about 3.000 colones (CRC). Then walk down the short trail through the forest to find the free hot spring river.

Although the free hot spring at La Fortuna is not as impressive as the Cascate del Mulino (Terme di Saturnia) in Tuscany, it is well worth a visit.

La Fortuna hot springs free

4. Hike in Arenal Volcano National Park

The Arenal Volcano is one of the most famous volcanoes in Costa Rica and a must-see in La Fortuna.

There are many different trails available in the Arenal Volcano National Park, where you can hike for a few hours or spend a whole day.

Although the Arenal Volcano is active, it is safe to visit!

Arenal Volcano National Park Hike

It is not possible to hike to the top of the Arenal Volcano.

The Arenal Volcano National Park is a popular hiking destination, just 30 minutes from the town of La Fortuna.

We did the Arenal 1968 route. On the 1968 tour, you can choose between two routes.

Before you start the hike, you have to pay an entrance fee of 19 USD per person.

Arenal 1968 tour

We chose the longer trail, the signs were easy to follow, and our hike took about 3 hours.

During the tour, we passed through the lava field, enjoyed the stunning views, had a picnic by the lake, and watched some wildlife.

The Arenal 1968 route was easy to complete. But we have seen some people find it difficult to tour in the heat, so we recommend hiking in the morning!

Bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent spray.

Arenal Volcano National Park

5. Day trip to the Tenorio Volcano National Park

One of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica is the Rio Celeste, which is located about 1.5 hours from La Fortuna in the Tenorio Volcano National Park.

You can visit Rio Celeste waterfall without a car, join a guided tour or book a private transfer. But the best way to get to Tenorio Volcano National Park is to drive your own rental car.

The entrance fee to Tenorio Volcano National Park is 12 USD and can only be paid by card.

Tenorio Volcano National Park entrance fee

Bring enough water in your refillable water bottle!

Tenorio Volcano National Park is open daily from 8 AM to 4 PM, with the last entry at 2 PM.

The hike is moderate but can be very slippery, so wear hiking shoes or boots, comfortable clothes, and a raincoat.

Always be ready for photography! Because when we hiked to the waterfall, a coati family ran across the road in front of us.

Coatis in Costa Rica

6. Take a walk along the Bogarin Trail

There are many places to see sloths in La Fortuna, but if you want more chances, you should visit the Bogarin Trail.

You can walk the Bogarin Trail route self-guided or join a guided tour.

On a group tour, you can get information about the animals, and the leader will show you animals you may not have noticed.

Another best place to see sloths Puerto Viejo

Bogarin Trail, Costa Rica

The Bogarin Trail is open every day from 7 AM to 3 PM.

The Bogarin Trail is a flat trail of about 2.5 km, which makes it an ideal activity for families and couples in La Fortuna.

The entrance fee to the Bogarin Trail is 15 USD for adults, or you can join a group or private guided tour, which costs around 35-60 USD.

You can also do a night tour at the Bogarin Trail, which is a fantastic experience in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Bogarin trail in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

7. Visit El Salto Rope Swing

Are you looking for free things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica? Then visit the El Salto rope swing, which is free to visit.

At the El Salto rope swing, you can jump into the turquoise, refreshing water.

However, the swell can be strong, so only jump in if you can swim well!

Watch the locals and see where you can safely jump in and come out of the water.

El Salto’s rope swing is about a 15-minute walk or a fast drive from the city center, and parking is free at the bridge.

Good to know
Some parking guards may ask you for money because they watch your car.

El Salto Rope Swing, La Fortuna

8. Join an adventure activity

Most people call La Fortuna the “adventure capital” of Costa Rica because all outdoor activities are available here.

Go ziplining over the jungle, take horseback riding, join a canyoning tour, or go white-water rafting and tubing.

If you’re looking for the best zipline experience in Arenal, choose Sky Adventures.

You can zipline through the jungle for 84 USD per person.

You can visit Lake Arenal and enjoy water activities such as boat tours, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding.

9. Make your own chocolate in La Fortuna

If you’re a chocolate lover or looking for family activities in La Fortuna, you must go on a fantastic chocolate tour.

You can’t leave Costa Rica without taking a chocolate experience. After Puerto Viejo, the second best place to make your own chocolate is in La Fortuna.

Recommended Post → Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo

La fortuna chocolate tour

Join a chocolate tour, and learn how they grow cocoa beans, let the beans dry, and finally process them to make chocolate.

After that, make your own chocolate and taste it with different flavors such as banana, ginger, and lime.

Cocoa bean in Costa Rica

You can choose from several coffee and chocolate tours in the La Fortuna area. But we suggest joining the Rainforest chocolate tour.

Rainforest’s chocolate tours cost 28 USD for adults and 20 USD for children.

As the tours don’t depart at all hours, we recommend that you book your chocolate tours in advance through the Rainforest Chocolate Tour website.

Costa Rica best chocolate tour

Where to Eat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Wondering where to eat in La Fortuna? In La Fortuna, you can find many local (soda) restaurants, vegan options, healthy foods, or trendy restaurants with all budgets.

Good to know
Tap water in La Fortuna is safe to drink.

Where to Eat in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

These are our recommendations in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Best restaurants in La Fortuna

  • Organico Fortuna (Best healthy breakfast place)
  • El Jardín de Frida (Vegan foods)
  • Jungle Bowls (Delicious smoothie bowls)
  • Yellow Bark (Tasty hamburgers)
  • Lava Lounge Bar & Grill (Cold drinks and delicious food)
  • Chifa La Familia Feliz (Peruvian, Chinese meal)
  • Soda la Hormiga (Cheap Costa Rican food)
Best restaurants in La Fortuna

Where to Stay in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

We recommend staying in La Fortuna for at least 3-4 days to allow enough time to visit the best places in La Fortuna.

When you have a car, we suggest you book your hotel outside La Fortuna with a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano.

If you don’t have a rental car or are looking for budget accommodation, you should stay downtown. Because you’ll be close to restaurants and can easily book tours or shuttles to attractions.

Organico La Fortuna

If you stay at one of the hot spring resorts, you will get free access to the hot springs.

Although La Fortuna is a small town, the accommodation options are available for all budgets.

Best hotels in La Fortuna

  • Luxury: Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa I Nayara Gardens
  • Mid-Range: Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
  • Budget: Arenal Hostel Resort
Where to Stay in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

We hope our list of the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, will inspire you to visit the beautiful town.
If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know in the comments below.


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