15 Best Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Are you wondering if La Fortuna, Costa Rica, is worth the visit? You have come to the right place! The short answer is, La Fortuna is most certainly worth visiting. In fact, a vacation to Costa Rica would not be complete without a stop in La Fortuna Arenal! Located in the providence of Alajuela, this volcanic region is most well known for its hot springs, rain forests, waterfalls, and Mt. Arenal Volcano. So, here are 15 epic things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, that will have you booking your trip right now!

things to do in la fortuna costa rica

You may also hear people refer to La Fortuna as Arenal Costa Rica or the Arenal Region. First time in Costa Rica? Check out these top things to know before you go!

Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica Mt. Arenal
View from Los Lagos Hotel in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

1. Visit One of  the Many La Fortuna Hot Springs

You simply can’t visit the La Fortuna Area without going to at least one hot spring! Since La Fortuna is home to the Volcano Mt. Arenal, the area is blessed with geothermal activity, which has created these springs. 

The two most popular springs are The Springs and Tabacon Hotel. They both offer hot springs that are surrounded by tons of natural beauty, small waterfalls, and more. If you have ever seen pictures of the La Fortuna area, you have likely come across photos from one of these springs, because they are considered very photo-worthy. 

The Springs resort hot spring in La Fortuna with woman sitting on edge.
The Springs Resort.

Both do come at a price, though. The Springs offers a 2-day pass to enjoy their springs. During our visit, a shuttle took us down to the Club Rio Springs area. Towels were given, and there was a restaurant and bathroom area. We even saw toucans and a sloth on the property. The tickets are $79 plus tax per person. You can find the day pass for the Springs here.

Tabacón offers several types of day passes. They come with either lunch or dinner, and the prices vary depending on the time you choose to visit. They start at $75 and go up from there. Tabacon’s restaurant is also known as one of the best places to eat in La Fortuna. You can find Tabacón day passes here.

There are also the FREE natural hot springs. They are very popular among locals and located right outside the Tabacon Resort. As you drive by, people will be directing you to park for a small fee of around $5 USD. You can’t miss it! If you go here, I would recommend some type of water shoe or more heavy-duty sandal, since it is slippy and rocky. 

In google, it comes up as Free Natural Hot Springs River. 

Other Springs to consider are:

  • Baldi Hot Springs (Good for Families)
  • EcoTermales Hot Springs
Samantha wearing a coral bathing suit in Costa Rica hot springs - Costa Rica packing list

2. Explore Through the Mistico Hanging Bridges

If you are in hopes of seeing some wildlife, you can miss the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges – also known as Arenal Hanging Bridges Park! Not only is it one of the best things to do in La Fortuna, but it is also known as one of the best things to do in Costa Rica overall.

There are 7 hanging suspension bridges that take you down well-paved paths through the jungle. You can also see lovely views of Mt. Arenal Volcano here.

baby coati in La Fortuna Costa Rica.

I would highly recommend a tour guide when visiting if you would like to see wildlife. Nature is not guaranteed, but these pros know how to spot it! We went on this guided tour, and our guide, Andres, was incredible! He pointed out bats, snakes, frogs, monkeys, and more! Without our guide, we likely would have missed out on most of the wildlife. 

If you choose the tour we went on and have your own car, you can meet them there and pay less!

mistico hanging bridges with woman standing on suspension bridge

Mistico Hanging Bridges Tips: If you go on a guided tour, you can not enter the park earlier since your tour counts as your admission ticket. We thought we could go in early and meet our guide after, but that was not the case. I would also recommend wearing good shoes, bug repellent, and planning for rain. Costa Rica rains a lot! I wore my hiking boots and packed my rain jacket. Check out my detailed packing guide for Costa Rica!

Admission (no guide): Adults $26.86 USD; Teens (11-18) $19.45 USD; Seniors (65+) $24.08 USD; Children are free.

Hours: 6 AM – 3:50 PM – There are special guided tours and night tours.

Eyelash pit viper on green leaf
Eyelash Lalm Pit viper.

3. Visit the La Fortuna Waterfall

Another thing not to miss is visiting the majestic La Fortuna Waterfall! This incredibly beautiful waterfall drops over 200 feet, and the best part is that it is swimmable! The waterfall is very accessible, with a paved path and even resting areas on your way down the 400-plus stairs.

La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall

On your way down, you may even be greeted with some wildlife, including monkeys. Because this is one of the top attractions, the waterfall does get very busy. I would suggest getting there early in the morning when the waterfall first opens to avoid the crowds!

There are lifeguards on duty as well. 

Costa Rica Travel Tip: Always be careful of where you are stepping and placing your hands. The wildlife, including snakes, camouflage into their environment extremely well. Keeping your hands off trees and branches is your best bet!

Entrance Fee: 18 USD per person

Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7 AM – 5 PM

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the best things to do

4. Take a Night Tour in La Fortuna

A more unique thing to do while here is a wildlife night tour. At night, there are different animals you have the opportunity to see in Costa Rica! During our night tour, we went searching for frogs and saw a plethora of frogs. From the famous Costa Rican Red-Eye Tree Frog to Blue Jean Dart Frogs.

It was by far one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever done! You can find night tours here

La Fortuna Night tour tip: I would recommend wearing close-toed shoes, pants, and long sleeves to reduce bug bites. Many times it also rains at night (especially during the rainy season), so consider bringing your rain jacket as a precaution. 

two red eyed tree frogs in la fortuna costa rica at night

5. Hike Arenal Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal)

You can’t miss the Arenal Volcano National Park when visiting La Fortuna. This National Park is located in the foothills of the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range and the San Carlos plains. The park consists of almost 30,000 acres of trails through local flora and fauna and, of course, stunning views of the Arenal Volcano. The park also has restrooms, water, and a park ranger station.

Did you know Arenal Volcano is an active andesitic stratovolcano? Its last eruption was in 2010, and is considered relatively young. It is believed to have been formed around 7,500 years ago.

Arenal Volcano Tip: The best time to see the Volcano is in the morning when there will be less cloud coverage. Often times, the volcano is fully covered in clouds.

Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM

Entrance Fee: $15 USD for Adults and $5 USD for Children (Prices are for non-residents).

Mt. Arenal in La Fortuna

6. Hike Arenal 1968

If you are looking for a hiking spot a little more secluded for views of Mt. Arenal, Arenal 1968 is another top contender. Located right by Arenal Volcano National Park, it sees fewer crowds than the national park and offers two trails that get you fairly close to the volcano. 

The trail gets its name from the 1968 eruption. The unexpected eruption caused immense damage to the town of Tabacón at the time. 

Both hiking trails were formed by the lava from the 1968 eruption. Make your way through the jungle and lava to the observation point! The Yellow Forest trail is almost 3 miles, and the Lava Flow trail is a little over 2.4 miles. Most people prefer the Lava Flow trail Arenal volcano hike.

Entrance Fee: $19 USD

Hours: Daily 8 AM – 5 PM – Last entry might be earlier.

Address: On street 142, take the El Castillo dirt road for 1.5 km; La Fortuna, San Carlos, Costa Rica

baby Coati in La Fortuna
Baby Coati by the trail

7. Explore Mirador El Silencio

If you want more of a hidden gem volcano hike through the jungle, then head to Mirador El Silencio. We were given this recommendation by our awesome local tour guide, and we were actually the only ones there! It was kind of scary and thrilling at the same time.

The Mirado El Silencio Wild Life Reserve is also located near the Arenal Volcano National Park and has 555 acres of protected area. Of that, 247 acres is primary forest.

The park offers 7 trails with a variety of difficulties. They were marked pretty well during our visit. Although we didn’t see much wildlife during our visit, our tour guide said there is a better chance to see wildlife here over the National Park because there are fewer people. You can also see Lake Arenal and Lago Verde.

We took trail 4 (I believe), which is one of the easiest trails, and walked the gravel road back down because it was starting to rain. 

Hours: Daily 8 AM – 6 PM with last entrance at 3:30 PM

Entrance Fee: 5,000 colones, which is around $7-8 USD.

blue jeans red dart frog

8. Go Ziplining Through the Jungle

La Fortuna is known for its great ziplining. If you were ever to go ziplining anywhere, it should really be Costa Rica. This is because it has been said that Ziplining was invented in Costa Rica!

After exploring the La Fortuna rain forests from the ground, getting to see it from an aerial view is next level! There are tons of places you can go ziplining. One of the most popular places to go ziplining in La Fortuna is Sky Adventures Arenal Park. I think one of the big reasons a lot of people choose them is so they can stand on the giant sculpture hand. 

See reviews on Sky Adventures Ziplining here!

9. Check out the El Salto Rope Swing

Want to do something that has more of a local vibe? The El Salto Rope Swing will fit the bill and is another one of the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Oh, and visiting El Salto Rope Swing is free! This local swimming hole is not considered a tourist attraction, so you won’t find lifeguards here. 

It is simply a place on the side of the road locals decided was a cool place to hang out. With that being said, if you decide to visit, please be respectful of the area and don’t leave any trash.  

Address: F954+4RQ, Río, Provincia de Alajuela

10. Experience Canyoneering

Another adrenaline-filled thing to do while here is Canyoneering. Costa Rica is really made for the adventurous traveler! This is another really fun way to explore La Fortuna! Experience repelling down waterfalls and exploring the rainforest from a more thrilling perspective. Similarly to ziplining, there are tons of tours to choose from. Find Canyoning tours here.

11. Try a Chocolate or Coffee Tour

Coffee and chocolate are two staples of Costa Rica, so it’s only natural to check out one of these tours! During the tours, you will learn about the process of growing the crops and even have tastings. You will learn about the drying and roasting of the beans; it is a very cool experience, especially if you are a lover of chocolate or coffee. 

Check out this highly-rated Coffee and Chocolate tour!

Coca Bean opened up at night
Coca Bean opened up

12. Visit the Bogarin Trail to See Sloths

If you chose to visit Costa Rica, I can’t imagine the thought of seeing a sloth didn’t cross your mind! La Fortuna is one of the best places to see sloths, especially on the Bogarin Trail. You can see both the 3-toed sloth and 2-toed sloth in La Fortuna. They spend most of their time up in the trees and can be very difficult to spot. 

So, on the Bogarin Trail, they have experts looking for these fluffy guys every day since many called their property home. During a tour, you will learn a ton about the sloths and other local wildlife. We spotted 2 sloths, some frogs, tropical birds, and a poisonous caterpillar.

Find La Fortuna Sloth tours here!

Sloth in tree in La Fortuna
Tropical bird in Costa Rica

13. Test Your Self at White Water Rafting

The La Fortuna area is also known for having great white water rafting! So, if seeing the jungles from a river perspective is on your bucket list with a thrilling twist, this will be for you! You will paddle down the Balsa River or the  Sarapiqui River rapids, where you can encounter class 2, class 3, and even class 4 rapids!

If you get lucky, you may even see some monkeys hanging around while you make your way down the rapids! Check out this highly-rated White Water Rafting tour here!

 Arenal River

14. Take A Day Trip to Rio Celeste

Ok, so Rio Celeste technically is not in La Fortuna, but it is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica and acts as the perfect day trip from La Fortuna. This is one of the most epic waterfalls you will see! The water is literally Gatorade blue! In fact, there is even a legend about why the water is so blue! 

Samantha looking at Rio Celeste waterfall wearing a white tank top and workout pants in Costa Rica

The reasoning behind the water is that god used this water to dip his paintbrush after painting the sky! In actuality, the blue water is formed by a mixture of chemicals. 

Rio Celeste is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away from La Fortuna, located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park of Costa Rica. The hike to the Rio Celeste waterfall is about 2 miles out and back. The hike is easy to moderate, with the 200+ stairs down to the waterfall being the most difficult park. 

The full Rio Celeste hike is around 3 miles out and back. 

This trail is usually pretty muddy, so good shoes are recommended. I was really happy to have worn my hiking boots here. Also, please note you can NOT swim here.

Hiking Rio Celeste Trail

Getting to Rio Celeste is actually somewhat annoying. Not because the drive is bad but because Google Maps and Waze do not have a defined point of direction. 

We put Rio Celeste into Waze, and it brought us nowhere close to Rio Celeste! 

It is in the same vicinity as Cami’s Shop Souvenirs Rio Celeste and Parqueo del Parque Nacional Tenorio on Google Maps. The hiking trail road is called Misterios del Tenorio. I also added the coordinates below! 

Address Coordinates: 10°42’57.7″N 84°59’13.6″W

Entrance Fee: $13.50 USD (It might be slightly more or less depending on the exchange rate).  You will have to pay around $4 USD to park your car at one of the lots. Have cash or colones for this.

Here is a highly-rated Rio Celeste tour if you rather not drive.

Rio Celeste Waterfall.
Rio Celeste Waterfall.

15. ATV Through the Jungle

If hiking through the jungles is not your thing, then hop on an ATV instead! ATVs are always a fun way to explore a lot of ground, and this tour will take you through the tropical rainforest of La Fortuna, along with some rugged terrain. Expect it to get muddy as your local guide shows you around! Learn more about the ATV tour here!

Costa Rica Rainforest Jungle

How to Get Around

The best way to get around all depends on your full Costa Rica trip itinerary. If you are just visiting La Fortuna, you probably don’t need to rent a car. Instead, you can use Uber or be picked up by tour companies.

If you have the budget to rent a car, and feel comfortable driving, I do believe renting a car is still worth it. If you plan to visit multiple areas, I would rent a car.

We rented a car to get around La Fortuna, and this allowed us the freedom to go exactly where we wanted when we wanted. I just want you to know that having a car is not necessary, but nice. 

Toucan in the trees in La Fortuna

Renting a Car

Renting a car can be somewhat expensive in Costa Rica. Also, many people believe you get ripped off by the rental companies. This is not true! Costa Rica requires you to purchase car insurance through them, however, many 3rd party websites don’t show you this on the bill. So, you think you got a great deal, then you show up for your rental, and it’s $300 more than your original quote!  

Thankfully, I connected with Greg Gordon from CR Surf. We personally rented our SUV with him, and the reservation was put directly with Alamo for an incredible price – NO hidden fees whatsoever! He works with a handful of local car agencies, so you can choose the best price. Additionally, Greg was also available to help us with any questions.

You can fill out the form to get your quote here, and MAKE SURE to copy and paste: “SAM OPP FIND LOVE & TRAVEL” in the referral section in step 3. I have yet to find better prices that include the necessary insurance!

Where to Stay

There are many beautiful places to stay in the La Fortuna Area. We personally stayed a Los Lagos Spa & Resort. The resort is located near the main attractions (by car), had incredible views of Mt. Arenal, and enjoyed the pool area. The breakfast at the buffet and the pizza by the pool are also pretty good; just saying. The price is also budget-friendly. The rooms are nothing fancy, but nice overall.

You can check out this detailed guide on where to Stay in La Fortuna here!

If you choose not to rent a car, see if the hotel offers transport to and from the airport.

Los Lagos inside of room
Los Lagos outside lodge

How to Get Here

Unsure how to get here? The 2 most popular airports to fly into Costa Rica are the San Jose Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and the Liberia Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR).

We flew into SJO, and the car ride was 2 hours and 30 minutes. From LIR, the drive should be around the same drive time. 

Best Things to Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica Wrap-up

This concludes some of the most exciting activities in La Fortuna. From jungles and hot springs to wildlife and waterfalls, I hope you have the best time exploring Costa Rica! 

Pura Vida (meaning Pure Life and a very common Costa Rican phrase)!

If you have any questions or feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments below!

Did you find this guide helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

1 thought on “15 Best Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.