Ultimate Guide to Visiting La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna, nestled in Costa Rica’s Northern Highlands, offers a tapestry of thrilling outdoor escapades, breathtaking landscapes, rejuvenating hot springs, cozy accommodations, and awe-inspiring vistas of volcanoes and rainforests. It’s no wonder that La Fortuna stands out as a premier destination, catering to a diverse range of travelers—from first-timers and families to couples, budget-conscious explorers, and even those returning for more.

For those venturing to La Fortuna, our guide serves as your compass, aiding in crafting an unforgettable itinerary in this exhilarating hub of Costa Rican adventure!


What You Need to Know Before You Visit La Fortuna


Before embarking on your journey to La Fortuna, it’s essential to equip yourself with key insights that will enhance your experience:


Geographical Location:

La Fortuna is situated in the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica, boasting a picturesque backdrop of volcanoes and lush rainforests.



Expect a tropical climate characterized by warm temperatures year-round, with occasional rain showers, especially during the rainy season from May to November.


Currency and Exchange Rate:

Costa Rica’s currency is the colón (CRC), but U.S. dollars (USD) are widely accepted. It’s advisable to check the current exchange rate for accurate conversions.



Various transportation options are available, including arrival by air at nearby airports, rental cars for flexibility, public buses for budget-conscious travelers, and even scenic boat rides for a unique experience.


Accommodation Options:

Choose from a diverse array of accommodations, from cozy hotels and luxurious resorts to spacious condos and rental apartments, catering to different preferences and budgets.


Dining and Cuisine:

La Fortuna boasts a vibrant culinary scene, offering a fusion of flavors, including traditional Costa Rican dishes, international cuisine, and fresh seafood delicacies. Indulge in local specialties such as casado and gallo pinto for an authentic taste of the region.


Language Considerations:

Spanish is the primary language spoken in Costa Rica, but English is widely understood, particularly in tourist areas. Learning a few basic Spanish phrases can enhance your interactions with locals.


Nearest Attractions and Activities:

Explore the wonders of La Fortuna, including the iconic Arenal Volcano, majestic waterfalls like La Fortuna Waterfall, and thrilling adventure sports such as ziplining, rafting, and hiking through the rainforest.


Emergency Contacts and Services:

Familiarize yourself with emergency contact information, including local hospitals, police stations, and embassy or consulate details for foreign visitors, ensuring peace of mind during your stay.


Unforgettable Experiences: Activities to Enjoy in La Fortuna, Costa Rica


La Fortuna is an ideal launching pad for exploring the natural wonders of the Arenal area. Renowned for its adventure offerings and wellness retreats, here are some handpicked activities to immerse yourself in while in La Fortuna:



Delve into the heart of the rainforest with an exhilarating canyoning experience. Rappel down cascading waterfalls for an adrenaline rush amidst lush greenery, perfect for thrill-seekers seeking an unforgettable adventure.


Hanging Bridges Hike:

Embark on a scenic hike through Mistico Hanging Bridges, a private reserve near Lake Arenal. Traverse suspension bridges nestled amidst the rainforest canopy, offering panoramic vistas and prime wildlife-spotting opportunities.


La Fortuna Waterfall:

Just a short distance from downtown, the emerald-green La Fortuna Waterfall beckons with its refreshing waters, ideal for a cooling swim. Explore the natural beauty of this cascading wonder and discover nearby gems like El Salto for a more secluded experience.


Hot Springs:

Indulge in the therapeutic delights of La Fortuna’s hot springs, fueled by the natural warmth of the Tabacon River. Luxuriate in renowned resorts such as Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, The Springs Resort & Spa, and Baldi Hot Springs Hotel. Opt for the tranquility of free natural riverside spots.


Arenal Kioro Hot Springs:

For a lavish hot spring retreat, consider Arenal Kioro, renowned for its abundant amenities and serene ambiance. Discounted passes offer an exclusive experience in Costa Rica’s lush surroundings.


Sloth Walk:

Embark on a guided sloth tour to encounter these charming creatures in their natural habitat. With knowledgeable guides, explore the Arenal area’s biodiversity for an enriching wildlife experience.



Pamper yourself amidst La Fortuna’s natural splendor with rejuvenating spa treatments. Luxurious hotel spas offer indulgent services such as massages, facials, and body wraps, providing a serene escape with stunning rainforest vistas. Alternatively, explore local spas for affordable options and seasonal promotions, ensuring a blissful retreat for body and soul.


Volcano Hike:

Go on an exhilarating journey to conquer the renowned Arenal Volcano—Trek through verdant rainforest trails, immersing yourself in the breathtaking scenery and rich biodiversity. Ascend to the summit for panoramic vistas, where the rugged beauty of Costa Rica unfolds before you.


Horseback Riding:

Saddle up for a serene horseback riding adventure through the picturesque countryside surrounding La Fortuna. Wind your way along tranquil trails, taking in the idyllic landscapes and peaceful ambiance. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, horseback riding offers a quiet escape into nature.


El Salto Rope Swing:

Seek thrills and excitement with a visit to the renowned El Salto Rope Swing. Swing out over the refreshing waters of the Fortuna River, surrounded by lush greenery and natural beauty. Whether craving adventure or seeking to cool off, the rope swing promises an exhilarating experience for all.



Embark on an unforgettable tubing adventure down the gentle rapids of the Fortuna River. Drift along the pristine waters, soaking in the serene beauty of the rainforest surroundings. With every twist and turn, tubing offers a relaxing yet exhilarating journey through La Fortuna’s natural wonders.


Wildlife Safari:

Join a wildlife safari through the lush rainforests surrounding La Fortuna. Led by expert guides, venture deep into the wilderness, searching for elusive creatures such as monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds. With each step revealing new wonders, a wildlife safari promises an unforgettable exploration of Costa Rica’s biodiversity.


Rainforest Night Tour:

On a rainforest night tour, experience the enchanting world of Costa Rica’s nocturnal wildlife. Venture into the darkness with knowledgeable guides equipped with flashlights to uncover the jungle’s hidden treasures. From colorful frogs to elusive mammals, the rainforest comes alive after dark, offering a magical and immersive experience.



Go on a thrilling whitewater rafting expedition along the exhilarating rapids of the Fortuna River. Navigate through challenging twists and turns, surrounded by the stunning rainforest scenery. With experienced guides at the helm, rafting promises an adrenaline-pumping adventure through La Fortuna’s natural wonders.


Safari Boat:

Set sail on a tranquil safari boat tour along the serene waters of Lake Arenal. Glide beneath the shadow of the majestic Arenal Volcano, soaking in the breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding landscapes. With wildlife spotting and relaxation opportunities, a safari boat tour offers a peaceful yet captivating exploration of La Fortuna’s beauty.


Incredible Things To Do In La Fortuna


La Fortuna Waterfall:

Just a short distance from town, La Fortuna Waterfall beckons travelers and locals, offering a refreshing escape amidst its awe-inspiring natural pools. Embark on a scenic hike of approximately 30 minutes, navigating down steep stairs (approximately 600 in total) that wind through the verdant greenery of the rainforest. 

Arriving at the base unveils the majestic sight of the waterfall cascading from a towering height of 70 meters into the tranquil natural pool below. Discover all there is to know about the captivating allure of La Fortuna Waterfall right here.

Upon reaching the base, you can take a refreshing swim beneath the cascading waters. The robust current near the falls is worth noting, so exercise caution. For a more leisurely swim, downstream offers calmer waters.


Opening Times and Entrance Fee:

La Fortuna Waterfall welcomes visitors from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the admission fee is 18 USD per person. This fee covers parking, access to restroom facilities, dining options, and the enchanting orchid garden. Rest assured, your contribution goes towards enhancing park infrastructure and supporting environmental conservation efforts.


El Salto Rope Swing

True to its name (Salto means ‘jump’ in Spanish), the El Salto rope swing beckons adventurers to plunge into the crystalline blue waters below. This picturesque spot is nestled conveniently beside the town’s bridge and offers an exhilarating experience. Grab onto the swing, feel the rush as you propel yourself from the rocks, and plunge into the refreshing pool. It’s an idyllic oasis for cooling off and immersing yourself in nature’s embrace while basking on the sun-kissed rocks.

During weekends, the area buzzes with local activity as residents showcase their acrobatic prowess, executing backflips and daring tricks from the swings. Even better, entry to the El Salto rope swing and waterfall is entirely complimentary, allowing visitors to enjoy this natural wonder without any cost.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Exploring the national park housing the renowned Arenal Volcano is an absolute must-do when in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. This geological marvel is the country’s most active volcano, continuously emitting lava since its dramatic eruption in 1968. Rest assured, vigilant park rangers diligently monitor volcanic activity, ensuring visitor safety by closing any unprotected sections. Located approximately 30 minutes from La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano National Park offers an ideal setting for immersive hikes, providing a deeper insight into Costa Rica’s renowned biodiversity. (Entrance fee: 17 USD)

The Arenal 1968 Route beckons:

Venture towards the Arenal 1968 park sector, where two distinct paths await your exploration (additional trail networks are dispersed throughout the park). Meandering through the verdant rainforest, follow signage guiding you on a two-hour trek toward the volcano’s vantage point.

En route, marvel as the lush rainforest gradually transitions into a stark, black volcanic landscape, culminating in one of the most breathtaking viewpoints. Here, witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the volcano, shrouded in wisps of clouds cascading down its peak and enveloping the verdant rainforest below. On the opposite side, catch a glimpse of the serene Arenal Lake!

Should hunger strike, a convenient café awaits at the trail’s end, offering a selection of snacks and beverages. Alternatively, stay hydrated during your journey with water refill stations conveniently positioned along the route—don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle for the hike.

Hot Springs, La Fortuna

In La Fortuna, an active volcano ignites a wealth of geothermal activity, making it a hotspot for hot springs enthusiasts. These natural wonders, with temperatures ranging from a soothing 35 to 38 degrees Celsius, offer a therapeutic retreat amidst stunning surroundings.

Free Hot Springs:

La Fortuna offers free hot springs near Tabacon Resort for travelers seeking budget-friendly options. While lacking amenities such as changing rooms and bathrooms, these springs provide a more rustic and authentic experience. Expect crowds, but relish the opportunity to mingle with locals and fellow travelers amidst the natural beauty.

Paid Hot Springs:

For those willing to splurge, a visit to Tabacon Resort promises an unforgettable experience. Nestled amid lush tropical greenery, Tabacon boasts a series of tiered pools adorned with waterfalls, offering a tranquil oasis. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, from hummingbirds to iguanas, adding to the enchanting ambiance. Each pool offers a distinct temperature, so you can tailor your hot spring experience to suit your preferences, ensuring maximum relaxation and rejuvenation.

You can select either a full-day pass starting from $85 USD or a half-day pass from $70 USD. The full-day pass grants you access to various amenities, including bathrooms, lockers, changing rooms, and towels.

Consider exploring the possibility of an overnight stay at Tabacon Resort. Surprisingly, the cost of staying overnight may not be significantly more than purchasing a day pass, offering you a delightful luxury experience during your journey.

Chocolate tour

Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of La Fortuna’s San Carlos region, framed by the majestic presence of the Arenal Volcano. Here, indulge in a delightful rainforest escapade where the secrets of chocolate unfold before your eyes.

Discover the rich history of chocolate, from its ancient origins and significance in tropical America to the intricate process that transforms cacao into the beloved treat we relish today.

Regarded as a “Gift of the Gods,” the cacao tree held profound cultural significance for ancient civilizations. Beyond its use as a ceremonial beverage, its seeds served as currency, highlighting its esteemed economic value across various Mesoamerican regions, including Costa Rica.


Best Hotels To Stay In La Fortuna


Accommodation options in the La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano areas span various budgets, ensuring something for everyone. The choices are plentiful, from budget-friendly hostels offering beds in dormitories for as little as $20 USD per night to luxurious resorts commanding rates of up to $850 USD per night.

Staying in the heart of La Fortuna town often offers more economical options, making it ideal for budget-conscious travelers. Hostels abound in this area, providing affordable yet comfortable accommodations.

For travelers seeking comfortable stays without breaking the bank, La Fortuna offers a range of budget-friendly options right within town:

  • Hotel Las Colinas: A charming, family-run establishment conveniently located downtown, promising a cozy retreat.
  • Selina Fortuna: With its prime location, this popular hostel chain caters to digital nomads and backpackers, offering a vibrant atmosphere.
  • Pura Vibra Hostel: Tucked away in a tranquil dead-end street just a 5-minute stroll from downtown, this small hostel exudes a peaceful ambiance.
  • Hotel El Secreto: This cute family-operated hotel is a mere 10-minute walk from downtown. Guests enjoy a hot breakfast and complimentary parking.
  • Arenal Poshpaker is a hostel nestled in the heart of town. It features a refreshing pool where guests can unwind.
  • La Choza Inn and Hostel: This hostel offers dorms and private rooms and fosters a friendly atmosphere ideal for socializing.

For those seeking a touch of luxury or willing to splurge for added comfort, La Fortuna boasts an array of mid to high-range accommodations:

  • Hotel Magic Mountain: Indulge in a great breakfast, unwind by the inviting pool, and enjoy spacious rooms just a short drive from the town center.
  • Arenal History Inn: Embrace the charm of individual bungalows and a refreshing pool, all near the town center.
  • Volcano Lodge and Springs: Experience comfort and relaxation with access to private hot spring pools in this cozy hotel.
  • Arenal Kioro: Luxuriate in a spa, exclusive hot springs, and exquisite dining options, all while being one of the closest hotels to the volcano.
  • Hotel Montana de Fuego: Discover villas and bungalows with private hot springs, on-site dining, and scenic hiking trails.
  • Arenal Observatory Lodge: Immerse yourself in nature at this expansive property, offering trails, hanging bridges, and waterfalls, perfect for birdwatchers and hikers.
  • Royal Corin: Enjoy luxurious amenities, including hot springs and pools, in an adults-only setting.
  • Nayara Springs: Indulge in ultimate luxury at this adult-only rainforest resort, featuring private plunge pools in each bungalow.
  • Nayara Hotel: Experience a family-friendly rainforest resort, with options like Nayara Tent Camps for a unique glamping experience.
  • Los Lagos Hotel: Relax in spacious rooms, dine at on-site restaurants, and rejuvenate in their hot springs, all while enjoying a unique view of Arenal Volcano.
  • Tabacon: Revel in the renowned luxury of this rainforest resort, boasting beautifully appointed rooms and exquisite amenities.
  • Amor Arenal: This luxury adults-only hotel is ideal for couples seeking a romantic getaway. It offers a spa, fine dining, and breathtaking views of Arenal Volcano.
  • The Springs Resort & Spa: This luxurious hotel caters to families and features on-site restaurants, outdoor adventures, an animal sanctuary, and stunning volcano views from its beautiful rooms.

In addition to traditional accommodations, many Airbnb listings, vacation rentals, and VRBO properties can be found across the Arenal region, spanning from Lake Arenal to Chachagua, El Tanque, and El Castillo. With many choices available, visitors can rent apartments, studios, or fully furnished houses in charming local neighborhoods.


Best Cafes and Restaurants in La Fortuna

Discover culinary delights in La Fortuna with these local dining recommendations:

  • El Coloso Arenal: Savor inexpensive local fare served in generous portions.
  • Rainforest Cafe: Indulge in delectable empanadas, cake, and coffee at this conveniently located cafe across from Hotel Las Colinas.
  • Snappers Marisqueria: Delight in fresh seafood at this renowned eatery.
  • Marisqueria Del Carajo: Enjoy reasonably priced and delicious seafood dishes.
  • La Parada Restaurant and Pizzeria: Relish local cuisine and satisfying pizza downtown.
  • Don Rufino: Treat yourself to exquisite steak and seafood for an elegant dining experience.
  • Lava Lounge: Experience the vibrant nightlife while sipping craft beer and enjoying bar food.
  • La Casa de la Hormiga soda: Taste authentic local dishes at budget-friendly prices behind Arenal Hostel Resort.
  • Chocolate Fusion: Visit this charming café and bakery for coffee, chocolate, ice cream, and pastries.
  • Santa Paletta Granizados: Cool off with delicious ice cream and shaved ice treats in town.
  • Zacate Fast Food: Grab quick and affordable bites like burgers and sandwiches.
  • Piura: Delight in Peruvian cuisine featuring meat, seafood, and ceviche.
  • Restaurante Pollos Fortuenos: Indulge in mouthwatering chicken, burgers, nachos, and sandwiches.
  • Mercadito Arenal: This food court offers diverse food options, including pizza, tacos, burgers, and sushi. La Canalla offers superb burgers.
  • Soda Viquez: Enjoy a satisfying meal at this local restaurant next to Rainforest Cafe.
  • Spectacolar Cantina: Immerse yourself in a lively atmosphere while savoring Mexican food and beer.
  • Soda Garra-Pata: Dive into barbecue and steak dishes, a local favorite for traditional Costa Rican casados.
  • Organico Fortuna: Delight in vegetarian and vegan options, along with fresh breakfasts, smoothies, and desserts.
  • Soda Nene: Sample one of the best local ceviches and coconut flan at this renowned spot.
  • Fortuna Pub: Experience craft beer paired with delicious food and enjoy various vegetarian options.
  • Urbano: Grab a delicious sandwich from this affordable food truck.
  • Soda El Turnito: Relish Costa Rican cuisine at this excellent local restaurant.

How to Get Around La Fortuna, Costa Rica


For international travelers, San Jose is a standard entry point located approximately three hours from La Fortuna. The journey is smooth along well-paved roads, and you can rent a car without needing a 4×4 vehicle. Alternatively, numerous shuttle buses or public buses provide economical transportation options. 

Here are the various transportation options to reach La Fortuna:

Public Bus: From San Jose, catch the bus to La Fortuna departing at 8:40 AM from Terminal 7-10, Ave 7-9, Calle 12, taking approximately 4 hours. If you miss the direct bus, opt for San Ramon or Ciudad Quesada routes. From Guanacaste, including areas like Tamarindo or Flamingo, first head to Liberia, then proceed to Canas, Tilaran, and finally to Fortuna.

Shuttle: Private shuttles from San Jose or Liberia cost around USD 220 one way. Alternatively, shared shuttles with companies like Interbus or Caribe Shuttle offer a more economical option at approximately USD 59 per adult.

Air: Sansa Air provides domestic flights to La Fortuna from San Jose, a quick 20-minute journey costing around USD 110 one way.

Driving: Renting a car from Liberia or San Jose offers flexibility, with a driving time of around 3.5 hours each way. Consider a stop at Rio Celeste on the Guanacaste route for a scenic detour.

Boat: Travelers from Monteverde can opt for the taxi-boat-taxi service across Lake Arenal, priced at approximately USD 50 per person.

Adventure Transfers: For an adventurous journey, consider a white-water rafting trip. Some companies offer one-day tours like the Pacuare rafting tour, which connects San Jose, Puerto Viejo, and La Fortuna.

Best time to visit La Fortuna, Costa Rica


La Fortuna basks in tropical splendor year-round, cloaking itself in verdant hues. The dry season, spanning December to April, beckons outdoor enthusiasts with ideal conditions for exploration. Yet, it’s also the peak tourist season, marked by soaring accommodation rates, especially during festive periods like Christmas and New Year.

For those unfazed by occasional showers, the wet season from mid-April to November presents an enticing alternative. This period offers fewer crowds, more affordable lodging options, and the added allure of cascading waterfalls and brimming rivers. Typically, rain showers are brief and occur in the afternoons, leaving mornings bathed in glorious sunshine and clear skies.


Packing Essentials: What to Bring for Your La Fortuna Adventure

La Fortuna’s climate remains consistently hot and humid throughout the year. Whether your stay is brief or extended, it’s essential to pack accordingly:


  • Lightweight rain jacket: Bring a compact rain jacket for occasional showers.
  • Mosquito repellent: Protect yourself from pesky insects with a reliable mosquito repellent.
  • Sunscreen: Shield your skin from the tropical sun’s rays with a high-quality sunscreen.
  • Fitness/workout clothes: Choose quick-drying, lightweight, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant garments to ensure comfort during outdoor activities.
  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat provides additional protection from the sun’s glare.


  • Running/walking shoes: For hiking adventures, sturdy running or walking shoes are recommended.
  • Water shoes: If you plan on partaking in water-based activities like rafting or tubing, water shoes with closed toes are ideal for safety and comfort.

Additional Gear:

  • Waterproof backpack or rain cover: During the rainy season, equip yourself with a waterproof backpack or rain cover to safeguard your belongings from moisture.
  • Consider consulting our guide on packing for the rainy season in Costa Rica for further preparation tips, and explore our comprehensive Costa Rica packing list for additional insights.

Shopping & Super Market In La Fortuna

Discover souvenir stores throughout town, each offering unique treasures to commemorate your visit. There’s something for everyone from Green Forest Souvenir and Cianikal Galeria to Souvenir Leo and Wood & Art Gallery. Additionally, don’t miss out on Mercado Artesania and the Galeria Estudio Art for more eclectic finds. For eco-conscious shoppers, bamboo stands out with its selection of eco-friendly clothing options.

When it comes to stocking up on essentials, La Fortuna has you covered with various supermarkets and local markets. Satisfy your craving for fresh produce at Sarchisenos, or opt for convenience at Super Christian #1 and #2. Explore Mega Super, Super Market Arenal, Maxi Pali, and Super Rovi for a more comprehensive selection, ensuring you have everything you need for your stay.


Banks, ATM, & Laundry In La Fortuna



Numerous banks equipped with 24-hour ATMs dot the town. Bac San Jose and Banco Nacional are among them, conveniently located near the gas station for easy access to financial services.


Laundry Facilities:

For laundry needs, downtown La Fortuna hosts two establishments—Tuanis and Burbajas—where you can conveniently take care of your laundry while exploring the town.


Neighboring Towns near La Fortuna:


Nestled amidst Costa Rica’s lush landscapes, charming neighboring towns surround La Fortuna, each offering its unique allure. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find towns like Nuevo Arenal, renowned for its tranquil shores and opportunities for water sports on Lake Arenal. 

Venture further and discover the quaint village of El Castillo, where you can explore the mystical allure of the Arenal Volcano from a different perspective. Or journey to the picturesque town of Tilarán, known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and vibrant local culture. 

Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, the neighboring towns near La Fortuna promise unforgettable experiences awaiting exploration.


Make the most of your time in La Fortuna.

La Fortuna harmoniously blends tourist attractions with local charm, offering a delightful mix of amenities and authentic experiences. Everything you need, from affordable eateries and souvenir shops to conveniently located hotels and hostels, is easily accessible on foot.

It’s no wonder La Fortuna holds a special place in our hearts as one of Costa Rica’s standout destinations. With its diverse range of activities and attractions, there’s something to enchant every visitor. Immerse yourself in the verdant rainforests, marvel at the imposing volcano, and embrace the pura vida lifestyle adopted by the warm-hearted Costa Ricans.


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