The town of La Fortuna is as enchanting as the natural wonders that surround it. This quaint town exudes an atmosphere of warmth and tranquillity that instantly makes visitors feel at home. Here, you can explore some of the iconic natural attractions in Costa Rica, and more. Read our guide on the best things to do in La Fortuna and beyond (plus an itinerary to help you plan your trip)!
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Things to do in La Fortuna in 3 days: La Fortuna Itinerary & travel guide
Nestled at the base of the awe-inspiring Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna town is a vibrant, tropical paradise teeming with rich biodiversity. Here, you can immerse yourself in the wonders of nature, as you traverse through dense rainforests, relax in tranquil hot springs, or marvel at the myriad of exotic animals in their natural habitat.
La Fortuna is not just a place, but an experience that captures the very essence of ‘Pura Vida’ – the pure life. Whether you’re an intrepid adventurer or a serene nature lover, La Fortuna awaits with open arms to offer you an unforgettable Costa Rican getaway.
It is the perfect town to keep as a base to explore more of the area. We will share a 3 day La Fortuna itinerary suggestion below so that you can make the most of your trip!
Where is La Fortuna located?
La Fortuna is located in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica, in the province of Alajuela. This enchanting town is situated just east of Lake Arenal and directly beneath the imposing Arenal Volcano, its most famous and breathtaking landmark.
Its unique location, surrounded by dense rainforests and diverse ecosystems, places it right at the heart of Costa Rica’s natural beauty. Its close proximity to the capital city of San José, about a three-hour drive, makes it a convenient and popular destination for both locals and international travelers.
You can easily pick up a rental car from the San Jose Airport, and make La Fortuna a base to explore the natural attractions from your Costa Rica itinerary!
Where to stay in La Fortuna (town)?
When visiting La Fortuna, you’ll find a wide array of accommodations to choose from, catering to every preference and budget.
- Casa Luna Hotel & Spa: If you prefer a cozy, home-like atmosphere, Casa Luna Hotel & Spa offers charming accommodations set amidst beautiful gardens, along with a full-service spa and restaurant serving delicious Costa Rican cuisine. They offer an outdoor pool, free wifi, parking, and breakfast!
- Volcano Lodge & Springs: Located only a 10-minute walk from Arenal Natura Ecological Park, the Volcano Lodge & Springs offers gorgeous views of Chato Volcano. They have all the modern amenities onsite and offer free breakfast too!
- Hotel Secreto la Fortuna: For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Hotel Secreto la Fortuna. With its lush gardens and a swimming pool, this hostel provides a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.
- For a unique experience, try Nayara Tented Camp, a luxury camping experience that allows guests to connect with nature without sacrificing comfort. Each tented suite boasts a plunge pool fed by natural hot springs and panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano.
17 Things to do in La Fortuna town and nearby
From its breathtaking mountaintops and lush rainforests to its diverse wildlife, this vibrant region offers an incredible range of things to explore.
Here are the best things to do in La Fortuna.
1. Enjoy views of Arenal Volcano
The Arenal Volcano, a striking symbol of La Fortuna, is a must-see for any visitor. Standing at a formidable height of 1,633 meters, it is one of the most impressive active volcanoes in the world.
Up until 2010, the Arenal Volcano was known for its regular eruptions, which created a mesmerizing spectacle of glowing lava spewing into the night sky.
Even in its current dormant state, the volcano’s imposing silhouette against the sky is a sight to behold.
Hiking trails around the volcano offer guests the opportunity to explore the lush surrounding rainforest, replete with a diverse range of flora and fauna. As you journey along the trails, you’ll encounter a variety of wildlife, from colorful toucans and parrots to capuchin monkeys.
Note: You can’t actually climb to the summit of Arenal Volcano. It’s been made illegal due to it being too dangerous.
While the Arenal Volcano is a stunning sight to see from afar, it also offers an exciting adventure for the more intrepid.
There are guided tours available that can take you closer to the volcano, where you can witness the remnants of its previous eruptions and learn about its geology and the ecology of the surrounding area.
Engaging in a day of exploration around the Arenal Volcano will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the awe-inspiring power of nature.
If you prefer you can also enjoy incredible views of Arenal volcano while horseback riding!
Keep in mind that you can visit the trails without a guide. Just grab a trail map from the ranger station and remember to follow and stay within the well-maintained trails. The entry ticket to the park is $15 USD per person.
The Arenal Volcano is not just an iconic landmark of La Fortuna, but also a testament to Costa Rica’s geothermal might and rich biodiversity.
2. Hike and see the La Fortuna waterfall
When in La Fortuna, don’t miss a chance to visit the magnificent waterfall. The waterfall cascades 70 meters into an emerald blue lagoon, creating an idyllic setting for visitors to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica.
The stunning La Fortuna Waterfall is located just a few kilometers from town. The surrounding jungle offers plenty of activities for the more adventurous.
Hiking trails take visitors through the lush rainforest and across hanging bridges, offering spectacular views of the jungle canopy below.
For those seeking a more intense experience, rappelling and canyoning are also available for the ultimate adrenaline rush (more on that later).
During your visit, you can also explore the surrounding lush rainforest and spot many unique species of animals.
Top activity: La Fortuna for a Half-Day Waterfall Tour with Lunch
3. Go white-water rafting on La Fortuna’s rivers
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, then white-water rafting on the La Fortuna rivers will be perfect for you.
With experienced guides to help you navigate the rapids, this is a great way to explore the region and get your blood pumping!
Here are some of the top guided tours to book:
4. Hit the Sloth Watching Trail in La Fortuna
For the nature-loving adventurers, a visit to the famed Sloth Watching Trail in La Fortuna is a must.
Here, you can observe these adorable animals in their natural habitat as they swing from tree to tree. With its lush vegetation and stunning views of Arenal Volcano, this trail is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Top tour: Book this sloth watching tour
5. Visit Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
The Mistico Hanging Bridges Park in La Fortuna is a must-visit for any nature enthusiast. We highly recommend this park especially if you are not into hiking or traveling with young children and prefer to use well-manicured trails to soak in the views of the wonderful rainforest.
As the name suggests you will be walking across hanging bridges, but there is more you can visit butterfly gardens, night tours, horse riding, bird watching, and more.
You can also join guided tours for the following,
- Arenal Bird Watching Tour
- Natural History Guided Tour
- Mistico Night Walk
- Twilight Walk
- And a combination of all the above or a few
All of these torus offer an incredible opportunity to explore the surrounding jungle in even greater detail. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of lush greenery and will have the chance to spot a variety of exotic birds, butterflies, and other creatures.
For a self -guided tour the entry fee for the park is 28 USD. Here you can check the 15 bridges (6 of them are hanging bridges). With this ticket, you can walk on the six hanging bridges suspended over the rainforest canopy giving you a rare bird’s eye view of the area’s incredible wildlife.
6. Go canyoning
Are you prepared for an exhilarating adventure? Embark on a canyoning tour where you’ll navigate down the enchanting rivers and majestic waterfalls of La Fortuna, including the opportunity for breathtaking cliff jumps.
Canyoning is an unforgettable way to explore the beauty of Costa Rica while challenging yourself with thrilling activities.
Step out of your comfort zone and conquer your fear of heights, as you rappel down a waterfall and plunge into icy streams. Not only will this be a memorable and exciting experience, but you’ll be surrounded by some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes.
Top tour: Canyoneering adventure from La Fortuna
7. Go kayaking, paddleboarding, or windsurfing at Lake Arenal
Experience the beauty of Lake Arenal from a unique perspective by kayaking, paddleboarding, or windsurfing on its shimmering surface.
You can enjoy breathtaking views of the Arenal Volcano and nearby landscapes as you explore this serene body of water.
On a guided tour, you’ll be able to take in the sights and learn about the local wildlife—including hundreds of species of birds—as you glide across the lake.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at navigating some of the area’s rapids or challenging yourself with a white-water rafting excursion.
8. Enjoy the El Salto rope swing and waterfall
Dare to inject a dose of thrill into your trip with a visit to El Salto Rope Swing and Waterfalls. This hidden gem allows you to embrace your inner child and thrill-seeker.
The El Salto Rope Swing is situated approximately 1.6 km (around 1 mile) south of downtown La Fortuna, precisely beneath a bridge along Road 702.
Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty, and no changing rooms (recommend wearing your swimwear underneath your clothes, and be very careful as you enjoy the swing or dive).
With a sturdy rope attached to a tree, you get the chance to swing off a cliff and plunge into the cool, refreshing waters below. The adrenaline rush is complemented by the mesmerizing sight of the waterfall cascading down a rugged rock face into a crystal-clear pool.
You can also enjoy a leisurely swim in the natural pool, relax on the banks, or explore the jungle trails nearby. This secret spot offers an authentic Costa Rican adventure that combines excitement with natural beauty, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
9. Spend the day relaxing in one of La Fortuna’s hot springs
La Fortuna is widely acclaimed for its mesmerizing hot springs. These alluring attractions are naturally heated by the geothermal activity of the majestic Arenal Volcano, creating a truly unique experience for visitors.
Immerse yourself in these therapeutic waters, allowing their soothing embrace to relax and revitalize your body and mind.
Within the vicinity of La Fortuna, there are several locations that offer hot springs experiences, each with its own special charm and features.
Popular hot springs include:
One of the most well-known and amazing spots is Ecotermales Fortuna, where you can indulge in the healing powers of the hot springs while surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and a tranquil ambiance.
Take a leisurely dip in the warm waters, letting the stresses of everyday life melt away as you bask in the natural beauty of your surroundings
Baldi Hot Springs
Baldi Hot Springs is renowned for being the largest hot springs resort in the world. With 25 thermal water pools surrounded by lush tropical gardens, it’s a paradise for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.
The water in these pools is heated by the geothermal activity of Arenal Volcano, offering therapeutic benefits to bathers.
Along with its spectacular hot springs, Baldi also offers luxurious spa services, fine dining options, and comfortable accommodations, making it a perfect destination for a rejuvenating retreat.
Free Hot Springs
A visit to La Fortuna wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the naturally occurring free hot springs. These hot springs, tucked away in the heart of the jungle, offer visitors a chance to relax in warm, therapeutic waters while being enveloped by the tranquillity of nature.
Although they are not official hot springs as tourist attraction, it offers an opportunity to check the geothermal power of the Arenal Volcano for cheap. The waters are heated naturally, providing a soothing retreat.
Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa
For a more luxurious hot spring experience, visit Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa. This five-star resort is nestled at the base of the Arenal Volcano and boasts a network of naturally heated rivers and waterfalls running through a lush rainforest reserve.
The resort offers a variety of thermal pools with different temperatures, allowing guests to find their perfect comfort level.
In addition to its world-class hot springs, Tabacon also offers a full-service spa where you can indulge in a variety of treatments, including volcanic mud wraps and massages by thermal pools and hot tubs.
Photo credit – Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa
10. Explore Catarata del toro waterfall
Catarata del Toro, also known as the Bull’s Waterfall, is another magnificent natural spectacle in Costa Rica that is worth a visit.
Nestled in the heart of a private reserve in the central mountains of the Alajuela province, this stunning waterfall plunges a dramatic 300 feet into an extinct volcanic crater.
The surrounding cloud forest teems with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, making the hike to the waterfall a fascinating journey.
The waterfall’s name, Catarata del Toro, reflects its impressive power and beauty, resembling a raging bull.
Be prepared for a somewhat challenging hike down several hundred steps, but rest assured, the sight that awaits you at the bottom is well worth the effort.
After your visit, you can rest and enjoy the breathtaking views.
11. Visit the stunning turquoise Rio Celeste waterfall
The Rio Celeste Waterfall is yet another must-see natural wonder in Costa Rica.
Tucked away in the lush wilderness of Tenorio Volcano National Park, the waterfall is famous for its strikingly turquoise waters, the color of which is the result of a unique chemical reaction between volcanic minerals.
The waterfall’s vibrant hue, against the backdrop of the verdant forest, creates an ethereal landscape that seems like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.
A hike through a tropical rainforest leads you to this hidden paradise. As you traverse the well-maintained trail, you may spot a variety of wildlife such as monkeys, exotic birds, and even the rare tapir.
Eventually, the path opens up to a viewpoint offering a spellbinding view of the waterfall. Rain or shine, the sight of the azure blue water cascading into the pool below is a breathtaking spectacle that leaves visitors in awe.
Upon reaching the base, you can enjoy a peaceful moment by the water’s edge, soaking up the picturesque scenery.
Before setting out on your journey to Rio Celeste, remember to wear comfortable shoes for the hike and bring a camera to capture the stunning waterfall.
Top Tours: Hiking adventures to Rio Celeste
12. Spend the day at Kalambu Hot Springs Waterpark
Elevate your Costa Rican experience by spending a day at Kalambu Hot Springs Waterpark, a fun-filled destination suitable for all ages.
Located just a short drive from La Fortuna, Kalambu combines the excitement of a waterpark with the natural warmth of hot springs.
Experience the thrill of speeding down one of the park’s large water slides or the exhilaration of crossing the interactive play area’s bridges, tunnels, and tipping buckets.
For a more relaxed experience, unwind in the soothing warmth of the hot springs or float along the lazy river, all while taking in the splendour of the Arenal Volcano in the backdrop.
The park also features a restaurant where you can savour a variety of local and international cuisines.
Crafted with an aim to blend recreation and relaxation, a visit to Kalambu Hot Springs Waterpark guarantees an unforgettable day of fun and rejuvenation.
13. Venture Into the Ancient Venado Caves
Unveil the mysteries of history with a visit to the 6 million-year-old Venado Caves. Situated about a 45 minute drive from La Fortuna, the caves offer a unique adventure that takes you deep into the heart of the Earth.
Formed by tectonic shifting and carved by an underground river, the caves are home to a fascinating array of geological formations.
As you traverse the intricate labyrinth of limestone chambers, you’ll be greeted with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, subterranean rivers, and intriguing fossils.
You might even encounter the caves’ inhabitants, such as bats, spiders, and crabs. Despite the potentially eerie atmosphere, there’s something undeniably enchanting about exploring this hidden underworld.
You can embark on a half day guided tour to make the most of your visit. Experienced guides will not only lead you safely through the caves but also share captivating stories about the caves’ formation and history.
Ensure to wear sturdy footwear and comfortable attire that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy. While the Venado Caves might not be for the faint-hearted, they certainly offer an unforgettable adventure for those willing to step out of their comfort zone.
14. Zipline through the jungle canopy
For adrenaline seekers and nature enthusiasts, ziplining through the jungle canopy is a must-do activity when visiting Costa Rica. This exhilarating adventure offers a unique perspective on the country’s stunning landscapes, allowing you to soar high above the forest floor and take in panoramic views of the verdant jungle, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.
Numerous zipline tours are available, each offering its own unique experiences. Some include a series of high-speed zip lines, while others combine ziplining with other activities such as rappelling and Tarzan swing.
You might start with a hike through the jungle to the first platform, where experienced guides will provide a safety briefing and equipment check.
From there, you are all set to zip from one platform to another, gliding through the jungle canopy with the wind in your hair and the thrilling sensation of freedom.
Remember to pack your sense of adventure and a sturdy pair of shoes. Safety is a top priority in all reputable zipline tours, so rest assured that you’ll be in good hands.
15. Enjoy an ATV tour in La Fortuna
For an exhilarating blend of adventure and nature, embark on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) tour in La Fortuna, a thriving tourist hub renowned for its stunning landscape and the iconic Arenal Volcano.
Typically, an ATV tour kicks off with a brief safety demonstration and equipment fitting to ensure a comfortable and secure ride.
Once you’re geared up, you’ll mount your ATV and set off on a thrilling journey, manoeuvring through rugged terrains, lush plantations, and verdant tropical rainforests.
The trails offer a blend of mud, dirt, and river crossings, adding to the excitement of the ride.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano, cascading waterfalls, and the diverse Costa Rican wildlife.
These tours provide an excellent opportunity to explore the picturesque terrain of La Fortuna at your own pace, while also injecting a dose of adrenaline into your Costa Rican adventure. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes – you’re likely to get muddy on this exciting escapade!
16. Wander around the town of La Fortuna
La Fortuna town, sat in the shadow of the mighty Arenal Volcano, is not to be missed! This charming town is known for its welcoming atmosphere, colourful streets, and a plethora of activities that cater to all interests.
Walk around the friendly lanes, where you can indulge in local cuisine at family-run ‘sodas’, sip on some of the country’s finest coffee in cosy cafés, or shop for souvenirs in artisanal boutiques.
The central park, with its iconic church, offers the perfect spot for relaxation and people-watching.
As you wander, you might also find yourself drawn into a spontaneous salsa dance or a friendly game of soccer with the locals.
La Fortuna is more than just a starting point for adventure; it’s a place where travellers can immerse themselves in the culture, cuisine, and community spirit of Costa Rica.
17. Visit coffee and chocolate making workshops
One of Costa Rica’s hidden gems is its thriving coffee and chocolate culture. A visit to the lush plantations is an absolute must for any foodie or culture enthusiast.
Here, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn about the journey of coffee and cacao beans from plant to cup and bar.
Join one of the many coffee tours available where you will walk through the aromatic coffee plantations, learn about the harvesting process, and witness the transformation of the coffee cherries during roasting.
An experienced guide will explain the nuances of coffee tasting and even allow you to indulge in a fresh brew made from beans picked at the plantation.
Similarly, a visit to a chocolate workshop in Costa Rica is a delight for all senses. Here, you’ll learn about the history of chocolate, how the cacao tree fruits are transformed into the chocolate we know and love, and the significant role of cacao in Costa Rica’s cultural heritage.
After a tour of the cacao plantation, you’ll have hands-on experience grinding cacao beans and making traditional chocolate drinks. The highlight of the tour, of course, is sampling the rich, decadent chocolate crafted right there on the premises.
- From La Fortuna: Coffee and Chocolate Farm Tour with Tasting
- Nature Safari Float + Chocolate Tour
- La Fortuna: Rainforest Chocolate Tour
- La Fortuna: Coffee and Chocolate Farm Tour
Whether you’re a coffee lover, a chocolate aficionado, or simply curious about the natural and cultural wealth of Costa Rica, exploring these workshops will deepen your appreciation for these beloved products and the artistry involved in their creation.
La Fortuna Itinerary 3 days
Embarking on a three-day journey in La Fortuna promises an unforgettable blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.
Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time in this vibrant Costa Rican town.
Day 1: Exploring the Town of La Fortuna
Kickstart your adventure with a leisurely exploration of La Fortuna’s downtown area. Taste the local cuisine at a traditional ‘soda’, followed by a cup of Costa Rica’s finest coffee at a local café.
Spend your afternoon souvenir hunting in artisanal boutiques and relaxing in the central park. As the day winds down, enjoy a picturesque sunset from the town square, with the mighty Arenal Volcano providing a breathtaking backdrop.
Day 2: Adventure in Nature guided hikes in and around the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall
Day two is all about immersing yourself in the stunning natural landscapes that surround La Fortuna.
Start your day with a hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the volcano and the lush jungle.
In the afternoon, visit the majestic La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can cool off with a refreshing swim.
You can also book a full day guided tour that includes a short hike to the volcano area, waterfalls and the Hanging Bridges Park.
Day 3: Thrills and Chills
On your final day, get your adrenaline pumping with a white-water rafting adventure on the Rio Balsa, or experience the thrill of canyoning down a waterfall (Lost Canyon on a half day tour).
After a day full of excitement, wind down by soaking in one of the many thermal hot springs in the area.
This three-day itinerary offers just a glimpse of what La Fortuna has to offer. With its blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and thrilling adventures, this charming town is sure to leave you with lasting memories of your Costa Rican journey.
Is La Fortuna worth visiting?
Yes, La Fortuna is absolutely worth visiting. It is the perfect place to make your base and then explore all the natural wonders of Costa Rica. From volcano views, hot springs to adrenaline rush activities to bird watching and cultural interactions this town is a must add to your itinerary.
La Fortuna is famous for its spectacular natural beauty and the multitude of outdoor activities it offers. Its most iconic landmark is the Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world until 2010.
The volcano’s near perfect cone shape towers over the surrounding rainforest, creating a breathtaking and unforgettable landscape.
The stunning La Fortuna Waterfall, with its 70-metre cascade into a bright blue pool, is another must-see attraction. The town is also renowned for its hot springs, which are heated naturally by the geothermal activity of the Arenal Volcano.
Visitors from around the world come to bask in these therapeutic waters while surrounded by the lush Costa Rican rainforest. Its rich biodiversity is another reason for La Fortuna’s fame. From howler monkeys and sloths to hundreds of bird species, the opportunity to witness such wildlife up close is a major draw for nature enthusiasts.
Lastly, the town of La Fortuna itself, with its warm and welcoming community, local craft markets, and delicious Costa Rican cuisine, adds to the overall charm and allure of this popular destination.
As I reflect on my time in La Fortuna, I can’t help but feel a sense of fulfilment and awe. From the thrill of ziplining through the jungle canopy, immersing myself in the vibrant local culture, to my indulgence in the rich flavours of Costa Rican coffee and chocolate, every moment was filled with discovery and delight.
The adrenaline rush from the ATV tour coupled with the serenity of the natural hot springs provided a perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.
The welcoming spirit of the locals and the captivating natural beauty left a lasting impact on me. La Fortuna, with its staggering diversity of experiences and its breathtaking landscape, truly captured my heart.
I enjoyed my trip to La Fortuna and I am sure you will LOVE it too!