La Fortuna is a small town in northwest Costa Rica that sits at the base of Arenal volcano and is surrounded by lush jungle. It is the perfect place for nature lovers to explore the waterfalls, hot springs and nature parks in the direct area. Your days here will be packed with epic adventures. Hiking over the hanging bridges and lava fields, spotting many exotic animals, swimming underneath a beautiful waterfall or flying over the treetops with zip lining. La Fortuna has loads of activities to offer for young and old. Read in this complete guide about all the best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica.
How to get to La Fortuna Costa Rica
La Fortuna is a three hour drive by car from the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. It is highly recommended to rent a car in Costa Rica so you can explore the beautiful country and everything it has to offer.
If you want to travel by public bus, then you’ll have the option to take the direct bus going from San Jose to La Fortuna. Go to Terminal 7-10 and make sure to buy your tickets on time.
From Liberia Airport it is also a three hour drive. If you want to, you can perfectly combine this route with a stop at Rio Celeste waterfall along the way.
Best time to visit La Fortuna Costa Rica
The best time to visit La Fortuna is in the dry season that runs from December through April. However, if you visit in the shoulder season that runs from April through August, you will have a chance of fewer crowds and lower prices for accommodations. However it can rain more often during these months. This also has its benefits because rainy season, also known as green season in Costa Rica, results in beautiful lush rainforest.
Keep in mind that Arenal volcano usually shows itself more often in the dry season when there are fewer clouds and rainy days.
Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica
With its beautiful lush rainforest, volcanic landscapes, roaring waterfalls and hotspring rivers, there are many varied things to do in La Fortuna. This destination is where you will experience the typical Costa Rican adventures. Whether you go as couple, solo adventure traveler or visit Costa Rica with the whole family, there is something to do for everyone. You can book the different activities with guided tours by the many tour operators in La Fortuna to save you the hassle of finding exact locations and learn about the nature. Below our pick of the 10 best things to do in La Fortuna.
Explore the lava fields of Arenal volcano
There are several hiking trails that can give you a beautiful perspective on Arenal volcano in La Fortuna. You will go through rainforest, walk over the lava fields from previous eruptions and pass some incredible vantage point of Arenal volcano. You can choose from the hiking trails in Arenal volcano National Park, Arenal Observatory trails, Arenal 1968 trails and Los Tucanes Arenal volcano hike. They all provide a slightly different experience but will show you the main points of interest such as rainforest, wildlife and beautiful vantage points on Arenal volcano.
Arenal hanging bridges
There are a two hanging bridges parks in and near La Fortuna. The Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges and Arenal Sky Adventures park. However the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges has a total of 16 bridges while the Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Arenal Sky Adventures park only has 5 bridges. So there is an obvious difference in experiencing the parks. If you are looking for a quick visit because you’re short in time, then the Sky Walk Hanging Bridges are an option. But if you want to explore the rainforest longer then the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges park is your choice.
La Fortuna waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica. The 75 meters (246 feet) high waterfall comes straight out of the jungle and drops down into a bright blue pool. To get down to the base of the waterfall, you have to conquer approximately 530 steps. The trails are well maintained and there are benches to rest along the way. Definitely a must do in La Fortuna! The entrance fee for La Fortuna waterfall is $18 per person for adults and for children it is $5. Opening times are from 7 AM to 5 PM and the last entry is at 4 PM.
Read in our complete guide about La Fortuna waterfall
Relax at hot springs La Fortuna
The hotsprings in La Fortuna are one of the main draws to this area. It is the perfect way to unwind and rejuvenate your body with hot mineral baths after a day of exploring in La Fortuna. Thanks to the volcanic activity, there are many different hot springs to experience throughout the Arenal area. A few of the most well known hotels that have hot springs are Baldi Hot Springs, Arenal hot springs resort and Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa. These are some of the unique places to stay in Costa Rica if you want to combine luxury and adventure.
If you are not a guest from the hotel you will have to buy a day pass to enjoy the hot springs. But, for the budget traveler there is also a free hot spring river in La Fortuna. You will find it on Google Maps under ‘Free Natural Hotspring River’. You only have to pay a parking fee and then you can enjoy the warm river for as long as you want!
Hike up to the summit of Arenal volcano
If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience hiking up an active volcano before sunrise, then consider hiking to the summit of the 1633 meters high Arenal volcano. But keep in mind that if you decide to do this adventure, it’s 100% your own risk. Officially hiking up to the summit of Arenal volcano is considered being illegal. However when we were in La Fortuna we got asked so many times by guides if we wanted to hike Arenal volcano. So we did. Disclaimer. We are experienced hikers and have hiked volcanos before. If you consider yourself fit, and you want to go on this epic adventure hiking to the summit of Arenal volcano… then go for it! If you want the contact details of our guide up Arenal volcano, then send us an email or DM on Instagram.
Go zip lining with one of the canopy tours
Some of the most adrenaline pumping activities you can do in La Fortuna is zip lining above the tree tops of the rainforest. Many of the tour packages include zip lining together with other outdoor activities in their Adventure Course. This course combines more than 10 activities of adventure such as ability and challenges like high ropes course, zip lines, canyoning, rappelling, Tarzan swing and much more. This is definitely a fun experience for those who like to get the adrenaline pumping through their bodies while enjoying the beautiful rainforest of La Fortuna. The zip lines in La Fortuna are definitely some of the best ziplines in the Americas and a must visit when you’re here.
Go on a horseback riding tour
Another fun thing to do in La Fortuna is horse back riding. From the back of a horse you can see the beautiful landscape from a different vantage point and you won’t get as tired as with hiking. Some of the horseback riding tours include a visit to La Fortuna waterfall and others can be booked including zip lining, the hot springs and more. Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park for example also offers the option for horseback riding.
Explore Lake Arenal
On a sunny day it is highly recommended to head out to Arenal lake. Located just about 15 kilometres outside from La Fortuna town, Lake Arenal is Costa Rica’s largest lake with the perfect water sports activities. Here you can rent a kayak and stand up paddle board to explore the lake with the fantastic backdrop of Arenal volcano. But also a tour on an airboat or cycling along Lake Arenal is highly recommended.
A safari float is a great way to explore the jungle of La Fortuna from the river. You can choose to do this guided tour after dark so you can see the nocturnal wildlife. Try the Peñas Blancas Nocturnal Safari Float for example that takes you deep into the jungle. During the tour you can spot all sorts of monkeys, frogs, sloths, iguanas, turtles and maybe even crocodiles! No, you don’t have to bring swimwear for this adventure!
Water rafting in La Fortuna
Water rafting in La Fortuna is another adrenaline filled adventure. There are a few rivers near La Fortuna that have great circumstances for white water rafting. Most of the guided water rafting tours include swimming and refreshments. You can choose the level of rafting yourself as there are different rivers with different challenging or less challenging classes. Water rafting also highly depends on the season. The rainfall influences the water height in the rivers. And besides that, the weather forecast in general influences if the tour can continue or not.
Awesome tours in La Fortuna Costa Rica
If you want to explore the best of La Fortuna it is highly recommended to book your tours in advance. Because of the popularity of La Fortuna it is likely that tours sell out. So don’t wait with booking until you get to La Fortuna. Choose your favorite tours here and secure your booking! All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Complete tour of 4 best La Fortuna activities: hike at the base of Arenal volcano, Arenal Hanging bridges, waterfall and hot springs. This tour shows you the best of La Fortuna. Explore the volcano lava fields, Arenal Hanging bridges, cool off at La Fortuna waterfall and relax in the hot springs.
- La Fortuna waterfall, Arenal volcano and Hanging Bridges Combo tour. Experience the best of La Fortuna in this full day trip with 3 amazing activities. Hike through the rainforest of Arenal volcano, cool off at La Fortuna waterfall and hike the 15 suspension bridges of Arenal Hanging Bridges park.
- Mistico Hanging Bridges tour. Explore the rainforest of La Fortuna and hike across the 6 hanging bridges in Mistico park. Enjoy the views on Arenal volcano and learn more about the flora and fauna from your naturalist guide.
- Horse riding, hiking, waterfalls, zip lining and canyoneering in one day adventure. For some of the best, adventurous activities in La Fortuna, book this complete tour including lunch.
- Rio Celeste full-day tour from La Fortuna. Experience the natural beauty of Tenorio National Park and see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica. Rio Celeste waterfall is famous for it’s incredible blue water, you have to see it yourself to believe it!
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica.
For more Costa Rica travel guides, have a look at our other Costa Rica travel blogs.