Travel Tips

Top Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

In La Fortuna, Costa Rica, adventure and tranquility are equally at home under the shadow of Arenal Volcano. If you’re searching for things to do in this dynamic town, you’ve come to the right place. This article cuts straight to the chase, providing you with a curated list of exhilarating hikes, soothing hot springs, and other memorable attractions – all of which are great “things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica.” Let’s embark on a journey to explore La Fortuna’s diverse offerings without any fluff.

La Fortuna Overview of Activities and Things to Do

  • Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit for hikers and nature lovers, featuring a variety of trails, historic lava fields, and the impressive Arenal Volcano.
  • La Fortuna Waterfall and numerous hot springs offer refreshing experiences to either soak in after a hike or swim under a 70-meter cascade.
  • For thrill-seekers, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges and white-water rafting provide unique ways to explore the stunning landscapes and challenge yourself.

Exploring Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park with lush greenery and the towering volcano

Arenal Volcano National Park majestically graces the heart of La Fortuna, a jewel of Central America’s ecological crown. Encompassing over 12,000 hectares of lush rainforest, the park is a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Visitors are greeted with a stunning tableau of Arenal Volcano, stretching upwards to touch the sky as it stands sentinel over the surrounding jungle.

The park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of activities to keep the adrenaline pumping. Some of the activities you can enjoy at the park include:

  • Hiking on rugged trails that crisscross through lava fields
  • Exploring the volcano’s rich biodiversity
  • Taking guided tours to delve deeper into the park’s volcanic history

Every moment here is a brush with nature’s grandeur, and every step on the Arenal 1968 Volcano trails is an enlightening experience.

Hiking the Trails

Arenal Volcano National Park presents a multitude of hiking trails for the trailblazers., each with its unique brand of adventure. Take the Los Heliconias trail, for instance. Beginning at the park’s ranger station, this well-loved trail culminates in a glorious lookout point, offering sweeping vistas of Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, and past lava flows.

If you prefer a less strenuous experience, the Las Coladas trail is your best bet. Winding around the base of Arenal Volcano, this trail offers views of historic lava fields from the 1992 eruption, while the connecting Los Tucanes trail offers additional vistas and avian sightseeing opportunities.

For the truly adventurous, the Cerro Chato’s challenging trails ascend to its crater, rewarding the intrepid with an extraordinary view of an emerald green lagoon.

Volcanic Wonders

Beyond lush rainforests and stunning vistas, Arenal Volcano National Park embodies Costa Rica’s fiery geological past.; it’s a living testament to Costa Rica’s fiery geological past. The park’s volcanic wonders, notably the historic lava fields, serve as fascinating reminders of nature’s raw power and the dynamic earth beneath our feet. A stroll along the Las Coladas trail offers a close-up view of these lava fields, remnants of the 1992 eruption that forever changed the Arenal landscape.

The Arenal Volcano, the star of the park, is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Dominating the skyline, this stratovolcano is a constant reminder of the earth’s tumultuous inner workings. Although the volcano has been in a resting phase since 2010, it continues to be a captivating symbol of nature’s untamed majesty.

Yet, the park’s volcanic wonders are not limited to the Arenal Volcano and its lava fields. For those willing to acquire a day pass, the Arenal Observatory Lodge extends access to other demanding hikes such as the Lava Trail and Laguna Volcán Chato, unveiling spectacles of nature’s fiery artistry and the true scope of volcanic power.

Captivating Cascades: La Fortuna Waterfall

Breathtaking view of La Fortuna Waterfall surrounded by lush rainforest

Transitioning from fiery volcanic landscapes, we dive into the captivating realm of La Fortuna’s cascades. The star attraction? La Fortuna Waterfall. Boasting a magnificent 70-meter drop into a jade-colored pool, this waterfall offers both a dramatic visual spectacle and a refreshing swimming opportunity.

The waterfall is well-facilitated, with a trail lined with concrete stairs and handrails guiding visitors to its base. However, don’t forget to wear non-slippery footwear to navigate the slippery rainforest path safely. And for the adventurous, there’s an alternative way to experience La Fortuna Waterfall—via horseback ride! This includes a scenic trail by the river canyon and time to swim at the falls, offering an adventurous twist to your waterfall exploration.

Soaking in Serenity: Hot Springs Galore

Having hiked the trails and admired the cascades, we now turn our attention to La Fortuna’s serene hot springs. Ranging from luxurious resorts to natural, budget-friendly options, these geothermal havens offer the perfect antidote to your adventure-filled days.

Indulge in Luxury

For those seeking a blend of relaxation and opulence, La Fortuna’s luxury hot spring resorts are just the ticket. Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa and The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal are leading destinations for visitors seeking a pampering experience in the warmth of geothermal waters at the base of Arenal Volcano.

Each resort offers unique elements to enhance your luxury soak. Tabacon, for instance, is committed to eco-friendliness and carbon neutrality, while Baldi Hot Springs Hotel offers a range of thermal pools complemented by stunning volcano views. Whether it’s serene adult-focused pools or family-friendly outings with a buffet, these resorts cater to all tastes and preferences, ensuring a truly indulgent experience.

Embrace Nature’s Spa

If you crave a more natural soak, fear not! La Fortuna also offers free and budget-friendly hot springs for those seeking a serene spa-like ambiance amidst nature. Right across from the Tabacon resort, the Free Natural Hot Springs River offers a natural bathing experience without any cost.

For a laid-back atmosphere, Los Laureles is a budget-friendly hot spring option where guests can bring their own food. And despite being an unpaid attraction, the Free Natural Hot Springs River maintains cleanliness and provides an experience that competes with nearby more expensive options.

Adventure on High: Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges with wildlife and lush canopy

Ascending from the soothing embrace of hot springs, we elevate our adventure! Welcome to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, where you can traverse the rainforest canopy, spotting wildlife and enjoying stunning views. This park features a trail that spans 3.1 kilometers (1.9 miles) and offers a unique opportunity to explore a tropical rainforest across hanging bridges and experience the thrill of the el salto rope swing.

Early morning visitors to the park have a higher chance of encountering wildlife such as coatis, spider monkeys, hummingbirds, sloths, howler monkeys, tarantulas, and various birds. And to enhance your adventure, guided tours offer educational insights into the ecosystem, increasing wildlife spotting chances, and ensuring safety from potential hazards.

The Rush of Rapids: White Water Rafting

Exciting white water rafting adventure with lush greenery and rapids

Are you prepared for an adrenaline-charged experience? Then strap on a helmet and life jacket, and prepare to navigate the thrilling rapids of La Fortuna’s rivers. White water rafting here is an experience like no other, offering a perfect balance of adrenaline and serenity. Imagine navigating through challenging rapids one minute and enjoying calmer moments amidst stunning natural surroundings the next.

Rest assured, safety is a priority during these exhilarating excursions. La Fortuna tour operators:

  • Equip rafters with helmets and life jackets
  • Provide pre-trip safety briefings that cover paddling techniques and emergency procedures
  • Have professional guides trained in first aid and river rescue

Saddle Up: Horseback Riding Escapades

Horseback riding through the scenic landscapes of La Fortuna

Exploring La Fortuna’s landscapes on horseback offers a uniquely exhilarating experience. Whether you’re riding through primary and secondary rainforests, along private trails with exclusive views, or across hilltop pastures, each trail offers a different perspective of the Arenal Volcano and the rich natural surroundings of La Fortuna.

And don’t worry if you’ve never ridden before. Horseback riding excursions cater to all levels of experience, ensuring everyone from beginners to experienced riders can safely enjoy the activity. Some horseback adventures even offer a cultural dimension, allowing riders to visit local farms and immerse themselves in the rural Costa Rican lifestyle.

Sweet Delights: Chocolate Tours

La Fortuna offers immersive chocolate tours that take you through the entire process of chocolate making, including:

  • Growing cacao
  • Learning about its cultivation
  • Grinding beans
  • Creating your own chocolate creations

Imagine the aroma of fresh cacao as you learn about its cultivation, the joy of grinding beans, and the satisfaction of creating your own chocolate masterpiece.

These tours are not just about the making of chocolate; they’re an exploration of its historical and cultural significance. Learn about the medicinal uses of cacao and its role in various South and Central American cultures. And for those who prefer to sit back and enjoy the sweet delights, the Don Olivo Chocolate Tour offers samples of fruits, cocoa nibs, hot chocolate, and coffee.

Azure Adventures at Rio Celeste

Shifting from the sweet delights of chocolate, we immerse ourselves in the mesmerizing beauty of Rio Celeste. Known for its vibrant blue waters, this river offers a visual spectacle that’s truly a feast for the eyes. Located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, the river’s unique color is the result of a natural phenomenon that occurs when minerals in the water reflect sunlight.

But the allure of Rio Celeste is not just its striking blue hue. The river is also surrounded by lush rainforest, offering stunning vistas and diverse wildlife. Whether you choose to hike or embark on a horseback riding adventure, this azure wonder promises an unforgettable journey into nature’s stunning canvas.

Night Prowlers: Rainforest After Dark

As darkness engulfs the rainforest with the setting sun, La Fortuna unveils a whole new nocturnal world. This is when the nocturnal creatures of the rainforest come alive, offering a unique wildlife spotting opportunity that’s as exhilarating as it is enlightening. The Arenal Oasis night tour is one such experience, offering a guided excursion along flat trails, complete with flashlights and a certified naturalist guide.

Whether it’s the fluttering bats, stealthy alligators, or wise old owls, the night comes alive with creatures you’d rarely see in daylight. Walking through the rainforest after dark, with only the beam of your flashlight to guide you, is an adventure that will get your heart racing while expanding your understanding of nature’s nocturnal wonders.

Culinary Quests: Local Eats and Treats

Following all those adventures in Costa Rica La Fortuna, you are sure to have worked up an appetite. And luckily, La Fortuna caters to a wide range of palates. From hearty pizzas at Luigi’s Pizza to upscale dining at Don Rufino’s and Jalapas Restaurant, the town offers a culinary scene as diverse as its landscapes. And if you’re craving an authentic taste of Costa Rica, there’s no better place than Soda La Hormiga, known for its super cheap menu and traditional dishes.

And what’s a trip to Costa Rica without trying a Copos snow cone from a local vendor? This sweet treat is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, offering a refreshing respite from the tropical heat. So whether you’re a foodie or just a hungry traveler, you’re sure to find something to tantalize your taste buds in La Fortuna.

Navigating La Fortuna: Transportation Insights

A variety of transportation options make navigating around La Fortuna effortless. Renting a car provides the most flexibility and convenience, allowing you to explore the region at your own pace. However, driving conditions can be challenging, and it is advised to drive during daylight hours. The journey from either San Jose or Liberia airport takes about three and a half hours.

If you’d rather avoid the hassle of driving, taxis are readily available for transportation. Official taxis in La Fortuna are red with a yellow triangle displaying the license number, and they use a regulated meter to determine fares. For airport transfers, visitors should look for the official orange taxis lined up at the exits when arriving at San Jose Airport or Liberia International Airport.

When to Wander: Optimal Times for Visiting La Fortuna

Having covered what to do and how to navigate La Fortuna, it’s time to discuss the optimal times to visit. The most popular time to visit La Fortuna is from mid-December through April, during the dry season. This is when the weather is more predictable, making it ideal for various outdoor activities. Plus, the high season temperatures generally reach the mid-80s F (30°C), providing warmth without excessive heat for most outdoor explorations.

However, if you prefer fewer crowds and cheaper prices, consider visiting during the low season from May through November. While you may have to contend with some rain, the waterfalls and rivers are more dramatic during this time. Plus, specific attractions like Rio Celeste are best experienced in the dry season, especially on a clear day with a clear forecast, to fully appreciate its vibrant blue color.

Accommodation for All: Where to Stay in La Fortuna

Given its myriad of attractions, you’ll likely spend a few days in La Fortuna. And when it comes to accommodations, this vibrant town has something for everyone. From budget hostels to luxurious resorts, you’ll find a range of lodging options that cater to various preferences and budgets.

Budget-conscious travelers can enjoy affordable accommodations like Relax Termalitas Hot Springs Hotel, Los Laureles Hot Springs, and various hostels offering dormitory prices as low as €6.46 per night. For those seeking a touch of luxury, upscale venues such as Chachagua Rainforest Hotel offer amenities like on-site hot springs, spas, and panoramic volcano views. And for those who prioritize ecological sustainability, La Fortuna also offers a host of eco-lodges, perfect for immersing yourself in nature.

Summary

From hiking on volcanic trails and swimming in emerald pools to exploring the rainforest canopy and soaking in geothermal hot springs, La Fortuna offers an adventure for every kind of traveler. Its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and cultural experiences create a destination that’s as diverse as it is beautiful. So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or a foodie, La Fortuna awaits with an unforgettable Costa Rican adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is La Fortuna Costa Rica worth visiting?

La Fortuna Costa Rica is definitely worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty, including the iconic Arenal Volcano and the surrounding area, which offers a variety of outdoor activities and adventure.

How many days do I need in La Fortuna?

You’ll need at least 3-4 days in La Fortuna to fully experience the hot springs, Arenal hike, waterfalls, and wildlife-watching. Consider spending longer if you enjoy active breaks.

Is 2 days enough in La Fortuna?

Yes, 2 days is enough to enjoy La Fortuna, but if you can, I recommend spending three or four days to fully experience all the fun activities and sights it has to offer. Enjoy your trip!

How to spend 3 days in La Fortuna Costa Rica?

You can spend 3 days in La Fortuna by enjoying activities like visiting the Arenal Volcano, hiking to see the La Fortuna waterfall, going white-water rafting, and exploring the Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. Have fun!

What is the best time to visit La Fortuna, Costa Rica?

The best time to visit La Fortuna, Costa Rica is from mid-December through April, during the dry season when you can enjoy pleasant weather. The low season from May through November offers cheaper prices and more dramatic natural scenery with waterfalls and rivers.

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About 

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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