things to do in la fortuna

5 Unique Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2023)

La Fortuna is a small town in northern Costa Rica, known for being close to the Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Beyond lava and ash, La Fortuna also serves as a gateway to some fantastic natural attractions and outdoor activities.

Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, wildlife, or culture, La Fortuna almost definitely has something for you.

Here are 5 unique things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Top 5 things to do in La Fortuna

From hiking the base of the Arenal Volcano to soaking in thermal hot springs, here are the best things to do in La Fortuna.

1. Hike Around Arenal Volcano National Park

No trip to La Fortuna is complete without witnessing the grand Arenal Volcano. Hiking around its base and marveling at its enormous stature from different angles is the best way to experience it.

There are several trails catering to various fitness levels and time constraints, such as:

  • The Mirador Trail: Offers a viewpoint to see both Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.
  • The Lava Flow Trail: Follows a 1992 lava flow path and provides stunning views of the volcano.
  • The Peninsula Trail: Loops around the Lake Arenal peninsula, offering panoramic lake and volcano views.

Ensure you wear comfy shoes, bring water and snacks, apply sunscreen and insect repellent, and check the weather before going.

TOP TIP: The park entrance fee is $15 USD per person.

2. Soak in Hot Springs

hot springs costa rica

Nothing beats soaking in hot springs after a long day hiking around Arenal Volcano National Park.

La Fortuna offers hot spring options found at luxurious resorts with manicured gardens and pools to rustic thermal pools surrounded by jungle.

Some of my favorite hot springs in La Fortuna are:

  • Baldi Hot Springs: A large complex with 25 pools of different temperatures, water slides, bars, restaurants, and spa services.
  • Eco Termales Hot Springs: A smaller, more intimate resort with 6 pools of varying temperatures, a waterfall pool, a cold pool, and a restaurant serving traditional Costa Rican food.
  • Free Public Hot Springs: Located next to the Tabocan hot springs, you can access the same water completely for free! Just get a local taxi to drop you at the bridge and walk down.

Prices for a full-day package usually range from $30 USD to $85 USD per person, depending on whether meals or other services are included.

3. Explore La Fortuna Waterfall

For a refreshing dip in clear water, visit the stunning La Fortuna Waterfall, which cascades 200 feet (60 meters) into a pool below

Reach the waterfall by car or horseback, then hike down about 500 steps.

You can swim, take photos, or admire nature’s beauty, but be cautious around the waterfall’s edge.

TOP TIP: The entrance fee is $18 USD per person.

4. Visit Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

Experience La Fortuna’s rainforest beauty by visiting Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, a private reserve with 16 bridges spanning 2 miles (3 kilometers) of trails.

Walk above the canopy and see the forest from a different perspective, and spot various plants and animals.

You can visit on your own or join a guided tour.

TOP TIP: The park is open daily, and the entrance fee is $26 USD per person.

5. Go Whitewater Rafting At Rio Balsa

white water rafting

For adrenaline-pumping fun, try whitewater rafting at Rio Balsa. The river has class II-III rapids suitable for beginners and intermediate rafters.

Along the way, enjoy beautiful scenery and wildlife. Several companies offer whitewater rafting tours, usually including transportation, equipment, guides, lunch, and photos.

TOP TIP: Tours last about 4 hours and cost around $65 USD per person.

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What is The Best Thing to Do In La Fortuna?

In my humble opinion, the absolute best thing you can do in La Fortuna is… everything!

It’s a place where there is so much to do, that it would be a crime to pick just one thing. Embrace the spirit of Costa Rica’s Pura Vida lifestyle and try a few things outside of your comfort zone.

It’s an old travel cliche, but there is truly something new for everyone in La Fortuna.

My La Fortuna Vlog from 2021

Top Travel Tips For La Fortuna

To make the most of your visit to La Fortuna, keep these tips in mind:

  • Best time to visit: The dry season (December-April) is the best time to visit La Fortuna, as there is less rain and better visibility of Arenal Volcano. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and larger crowds.
  • Learn some Spanish: While many locals speak English, learning a few basic Spanish phrases will make your interactions smoother and more enjoyable.
  • Pack for the weather: La Fortuna’s climate can be unpredictable, with frequent rain and sudden temperature changes. Bring a rain jacket, an umbrella, and layers to adapt to varying conditions.
  • Respect the environment: Costa Rica is known for its eco-friendliness and commitment to preserving its natural resources. Do your part by not littering, recycling when possible, and respecting the wildlife and their habitats.
  • Don’t forget insect repellent: La Fortuna is in a tropical rainforest, and mosquitoes can be prevalent. Apply insect repellent to avoid bites and potential diseases.
  • Try local cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to try delicious Costa Rican dishes, such as gallo pinto (rice and beans), casado (rice, beans, meat, and vegetables), and ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice).
  • Use local transportation: La Fortuna has public buses and shared shuttles to nearby attractions. They are more affordable than taxis and private shuttles, and you’ll have a more authentic experience.
  • Get travel insurance: To protect yourself from unexpected events such as illness, injury, or theft, consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip.
  • Visit lesser-known attractions: La Fortuna has many lesser-known attractions worth exploring, such as the Venado Caves, El Salto swimming hole, and Los Chorros Waterfall.
  • Be prepared for tipping: While tipping is not mandatory in Costa Rica, it is customary to tip tour guides, drivers, and restaurant servers for good service. A 10% tip is usually appropriate.

With these tips in mind, you’re all set to have an unforgettable adventure in La Fortuna, Costa Rica!

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How Do I Get to La Fortuna?

Options include bus, car, shuttle, or plane. Buses are the cheapest, taking about 4 hours from San Jose and costing around $5 USD per person.

Renting a car from San Jose or Liberia airports provides flexibility and freedom.

Check out Discover Cars to find the best rental deal.

The quickest option is flying, taking about 20 minutes from San Jose and costing around $100 USD per person. Popular airlines include Sansa Airlines and Skyway CR.

READ MORE: What’s the Cost of Costa Rica? (Our Budgeting Guide)

how to get to la fortuna

Where Should I stay in La Fortuna?

There are plenty of accommodation options in La Fortuna, ranging from budget hostels to luxury resorts.

Some of our top recommendations are:

Arenal Backpackers Resort

Ideal for backpackers looking to socialize and enjoy a pool, bar, restaurant, and hammocks.

It has dorms and private rooms with AC, hot water, and free breakfast.

Prices start from $15 USD per night.

Arenal Springs Resort

A beautiful resort with spacious rooms featuring balconies overlooking Arenal Volcano.

It also has hot springs pools, a spa, a yoga studio, a restaurant, and a bar.

Prices start from $150 USD per night.

Nayara Gardens

One of the most luxurious resorts in La Fortuna, with stunning bungalows featuring jacuzzis and outdoor showers surrounded by tropical gardens.

It also has hot springs pools, a spa, a gym, a wine bar, a sushi bar, a restaurant, and a coffee bar.

Prices start from $400 USD per night.

Thinking of staying longer? Check out our Costa Rica Digital Nomad Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is La Fortuna safe for tourists?

Yes, La Fortuna is generally safe for tourists, but use common sense and take standard precautions, like you would anywhere else.

What currency do they use in La Fortuna?

Costa Rican colón (CRC) is the local currency, but US dollars are widely accepted. Just don’t expect to pay with a $100 bill at the local fruit stand!

Is English spoken in La Fortuna?

Many locals speak English, particularly in the tourism industry, but learning a few Spanish phrases will always be appreciated.

Are there ATMs in La Fortuna?

Si, señor! You’ll find ATMs in town, but it’s wise to have some cash on hand for smaller vendors and remote areas.

What’s the best way to get around La Fortuna?

Public buses, shared shuttles, and rental cars are popular options. Hitching a ride on a volcano-bound sloth is, unfortunately, not an option.

Is the tap water safe to drink in La Fortuna?

Yes, tap water is generally safe to drink, but if in doubt, stick to bottled water. Your stomach will thank you later.

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