No trip to Costa Rica is complete without adventuring your way around lush La Fortuna. Located at the foot of the tallest, most majestic volcano in the country, the Arenal Volcano, and surrounded by vast rainforests, there are so many incredible things to do in La Fortuna and Arenal – all to do with enjoying nature and embracing adventure!
From zip-lining through the jungle canopy and relaxing in natural hot springs, to hiking in Arenal National Park and spotting monkeys, jaguars, and sloths in the wild, your time in La Fortuna will be unforgettable.
Here are 19 of the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica (and the Arenal area).
Table of Contents
- Getting Around La Fortuna
- 19 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
- #1 Immerse Yourself in Nature at an Eco-Lodge
- #2 Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
- #3 Canoe in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
- #4 Relax in the Natural Hot Springs at Tabacón
- #5 Go Zip-Lining Above the Jungle Canopy
- #6 Eat Costa Rican Cuisine at a Traditional Soda
- #7 Hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park
- #8 Learn About Chocolate on a Chocolate Tour
- #9 See Lazy Sloths (Take a Sloth Tour)
- #10 Swim in the La Fortuna Waterfall
- #11 Go on a Wildlife Night Tour
- #12 Hike to the Rio Celeste Waterfall
- #13 Go Canyoning & Waterfall Rappelling
- #14 Visit the (Free!) El Choyin Hot Springs
- #15 Swing on the El Salto Rope Swing (for Free!)
- #16 Go Horseback Riding in the Jungle
- #17 Hike at the Arenal 1968 Volcano View and Lava Trails
- #18 Drink Local Craft Beers at La Fortuna Pub
- #19 Roam Around Downtown La Fortuna
- Guided Tours to Book in La Fortuna & Arenal
- Did you know…
- La Fortuna, Costa Rica Travel FAQs
Getting Around La Fortuna
Before we get into the top things to do in La Fortuna, just a quick piece of advice!
So that you can experience all of the best things to do in La Fortuna and Arenal with ease, you should rent a car. Some of the guided tours you book will come with transportation, but there are so many things to do on your own too. Renting a car will make your life so much easier – and save you a lot of money.
And don’t worry: The roads in, around, and on the way to La Fortuna are (mostly) paved. The traffic is pretty calm too. So you shouldn’t run into any issues. (Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!)
Discover Cars is the best place to book your Costa Rica rental car. Whether you land at San José Airport or Liberia Airport, you can pick it up there! (Both San Jose and Liberia are about 2.5 hours from La Fortuna.) Click here to book your rental car now.
19 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
When it comes to the best things to do in La Fortuna and Arenal, many of them involve guided tours. Our experience (in the low season!) was that these tours sell out. So that you don’t miss out on the things you really want to do, I recommend booking them in advance on Viator.
To make it easy for you, I’ve shared links to book all of the tours I loved and recommend below!
#1 Immerse Yourself in Nature at an Eco-Lodge
The best way to get in and amongst nature? To surround yourself with it! While in La Fortuna, make sure to book a hotel that immerses you fully into a true Costa Rica experience.
The best place I found? Tifakara Boutique Hotel & Birding Oasis. And I absolutely loved staying here.
Falling asleep (in a super comfy bed) to frogs ribbiting, and waking up to birds chirping and monkeys howling, is exactly what you need when in La Fortuna. At Tifakara, the rooms are lovely, the staff go out of their way to make you happy, and the pool and jacuzzis are perfect for relaxing after big days of adventure. Plus, breakfast is included… which is always a plus!
To top it off, every evening, Tifakara Boutique Hotel & Birding Oasis offers a free frog tour to guests. We saw green tree frogs, strawberry poison dart frogs, viper snakes, and more! So awesome.
Other Amazing La Fortuna Hotels
Some of the other amazing eco-lodges I checked out while in La Fortuna and would recommend include:
- Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa ($$): Situated on 860 acres of private rainforest, this lodge boasts jaw-dropping views of the Arenal Volcano and an on-site bird sanctuary (with ~500 different bird species).
- Noah’s Forest Hotel by Tifakara ($$$): A true rainforest oasis, Noah’s offers the perfect mix of luxury, sustainability, tropical-chic design, and exceptional service – while immersing guests deep into nature.
- Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa ($$$$): This place offers the most incredible natural on-site hot springs experience you’ll ever come across! It’s a Small Luxury Hotel property, so you know it’s going to be all-around fantastic. When only the best will do, this is your spot.
Still looking? Booking.com is home to the best deals on La Fortuna hotels – and there’s usually a free cancellation option, just in case!
#2 Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
Exploring the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park was the best thing we did in Arenal! In fact, it was so cool that we did it twice. Once on a sunny morning, once on a rainy morning. And both times, nature put on a show for us!
As we walked along the forest trails and across the jungle canopies, suspended high above the forest floor, we spotted acrobatic spider monkeys at play, plenty of howler monkeys, snakes slithering, lizards and iguanas basking in the sun, birds feathered in every color of the rainbow, and some of the biggest bugs ever! Just to name a few. The views of Arenal Volcano didn’t disappoint either.
At Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, you can go alone, or hire an expert nature guide to walk with you.
If you opt for the guided tour, you’ll see all the creatures you’d likely miss on your own (these guides are like hawks spotting their prey!) and you’ll learn so much about the rainforest ecosystem. If you do want to hire a guide, you should book your Mistico Hanging Bridges Park experience in advance, as there’s limited availability. Click here to book your tour!
This walk is about 2 miles long and takes 2-3 hours to complete.
- Hot tip #1: Don’t rush this experience. The slower you go, the more wildlife you’ll spot!
- Hot tip #2: This is the perfect thing to do on a rainy morning in Arenal. The treetops shield you from intense downpour, and obviously, you can bring rain gear. You may not see amazing views of the volcano, but some wildlife (i.e. monkeys) are more active in the rain.
#3 Canoe in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
A wildlife canoeing safari on the Río Frío, inside the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, is an activity you can’t miss while in La Fortuna!
As you silently paddle down the river, you’ll spot all kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat, unbothered by your presence.
During my tour, we saw 2 of the 3 orange howler monkeys in the world! We saw capuchin (white-face) monkeys. Spider monkeys. Caiman. Rare birds. Crocodiles. Prehistoric alligator gar fish. And more. It was soooooo awesome.
I don’t know what’s more special (or relaxing) than drifting down the river, listening to the rainforest, and spotting amazing wildlife.
This canoe tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and one of the best things to do in La Fortuna and Arenal. Click here to book your canoe adventure now. This tour is operated in small groups and sells out!
- Hot tip: This canoeing tour is not very strenuous physically. But if, for whatever reason, you can’t/don’t want to canoe, you can opt for the Río Frío Boat Experience. Click here to book your boat safari now.
#4 Relax in the Natural Hot Springs at Tabacón
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better natural hot springs experience, the world over!
Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, situated on 900 acres of lush tropical reserve, is home to the best naturally-flowing mineral hot springs in all of Costa Rica.
There, you’ll relax in the various rivers and pools, and discover the many cascading waterfalls, heated naturally by the volcano (to temperatures ranging from 72 to 105 °F). Get ready to revel in the feeling of being totally, completely immersed in nature. And luxury. All at once. And for further relaxation, you can offer a smoothie or cocktail at one of the swim-up bars. Amen.
You can book your stay at the Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa here.
- Note: If you don’t stay as a hotel guest at Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, you don’t have to miss out! Tabacón offers a limited amount of Day Passes to the general public. I chose the “Day Pass: Entrance with Dinner” option (which starts at $89) and it was incredible. And to be honest, I was surprised by how fabulous the included dinner was.
Don’t miss this experience. It’s one of the best things to do in La Fortuna & Arenal.
#5 Go Zip-Lining Above the Jungle Canopy
I have 3 words for you: So. Much. Fun.
There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of zooming through the jungle canopy, with views of Lake Arenal and the volcano in the distance. It’s inexplicably awesome. And you have to do it.
I’ve been ziplining before in Costa Rica (and other parts of the world), but nothing compares to the zipline course at Sky Adventures. Seriously. Apparently, this ziplining experience is the longest, fastest, highest, and safest in all of Costa Rica. Or something like that.
This Sky Adventures combo tour includes the beautiful Sky Tram gondola up to the course, the ziplining itself, and a hanging bridge walk (because you can never get enough hanging bridge action while in La Fortuna, Costa Rica!). It’s 5 hours of FUN. And you’re going to love it.
Click here to book your ziplining tour now. This one sells out!
#6 Eat Costa Rican Cuisine at a Traditional Soda
If you haven’t tried traditional Costa Rican cuisine yet, then you’re in for a treat!
Most typical Costa Rican platters (casados) usually consist of rice and beans, sweet plantains, fresh cheese, a protein (like garlicky shrimp, freshly caught fish, or chicken), salad, and maybe some veggies and tortillas.
In La Fortuna, many of the sodas (typical restaurants) serve fresh tilapia, caught at Lake Arenal – just down the road! If you’re a fan of fish, try a tilapia casado. You won’t be disappointed.
The three best sodas in La Fortuna are:
In that order! If you have time, though, try ’em all.
I have to give a special shoutout to Soda Sabores Lulu. Not only was the experience super local and the food absolutely delicious, but Lulu herself was so welcoming and kind. So pura vida. Don’t miss this place!
#7 Hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park
You can’t go to Arenal and not hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park!
To be honest, this “hike” is more of a leisurely nature walk with a small incline (and a few stairs) up to the view point of Arenal, in all her majesty.
The hike to the “Mirador” (the lookout) takes about an hour roundtrip, and offers the most striking views of the volcano when you get to the end!
The entrance fee to the national park is $15 per adult (and $5 per kid).
#8 Learn About Chocolate on a Chocolate Tour
Everyone loves chocolate. But it’s mind-boggling to me how so many people don’t know where chocolate actually comes from. Or what cacao pods even look like!
If that’s you, then you should definitely take this chocolate tour while in La Fortuna. You’ll walk through the rainforest, learn about the flora and fauna, see the chocolate-making process in action, and try (what may be) the best chocolate you’ve ever had! Artisanal chocolate in Costa Rica is seriously good; take it from a self-professed dark chocolate connoisseur.
There are plenty of chocolate tours around La Fortuna, but this Rainforest Chocolate Tour is the best one!
P.S. If you want to learn about coffee too (because Costa Rica is known for amazing coffee beans!) then you should book this Craft Specialty Coffee and Chocolate Tour instead.
#9 See Lazy Sloths (Take a Sloth Tour)
One of the top La Fortuna attractions is not a place – but an animal! A main goal we had in La Fortuna was seeing a sloth up close and in the wild. And I’m glad to say, we did!
As you drive around La Fortuna, you will probably see groups of people stopped on the road, looking up into the trees. 9 times out of 10, they’re looking at sloths! So pull over and join them.
If you want some more sloth “action,” then you can visit Sloth’s Territory. It’s hard to get enough of these cute, lazy animals. So go on, you know you want to!
At Sloth’s Territory, you’ll hike through lush rainforest reserve, where you’re guaranteed to see sloths! But you’ll likely see other animals too – like toucans and porcupines. This tour is limited to 10 people and will sell out. Click here to book your sloth watching tour.
- Hot tip: If you have a pair of binoculars at home, make sure to bring them with you to La Fortuna! That way, you can really check out the sloths up close… And the toucans, monkeys, bats, birds, and so on!
#10 Swim in the La Fortuna Waterfall
Visiting the beautiful La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the most popular things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. And from the photo above, you can see why. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream!
At the base of the dormant Chato volcano, the 70-meter La Fortuna Waterfall cascades into the most brilliant blue water pool and is surrounded by lush rainforest. Be warned, there are 500 steps to get down to the waterfall (and to get back up!).
Annoyingly, you have to pay an $18 entrance fee to see the La Fortuna Waterfall… But what outdoor activity don’t you have to pay for in La Fortuna? Ha.
- Hot tip: Do NOT visit between 10 AM to 3 PM. If you do, you will find the La Fortuna waterfall overflowing with hoards of people visiting on tour buses. My friend and I visited at 7 AM, and we were the only two people there. That’s the way to do it! To make the experience worthy of your $18, visit right at the opening (7 AM) or an hour before closing (4 PM) so you can have this beautiful, relaxing oasis all to yourself!
#11 Go on a Wildlife Night Tour
Costa Rica’s rainforests are home to all kinds of interesting critters – many of which only come out at night. To get the full La Fortuna experience, book this Wildlife Night Tour. Some of the nocturnal animals you can hope to see include frogs, bats, sloths, turtles, toucans, armadillos, snakes, and lizards.
Well worth your time and hard-earned cash, you won’t regret booking a night tour in La Fortuna!
- P.S. The resort I stayed at (and recommend!), the Tifakara Boutique Hotel & Birding Oasis, also offers all guests a free, guided night walk through their frog sanctuary. From vipers to red-eyed tree frogs, we saw lots of cool creatures that only come out at night.
#12 Hike to the Rio Celeste Waterfall
Get your hiking boots ready! Because you’re not going to want to miss out on seeing Río Celeste’s brilliant blue water, marveling at the gorgeous Río Celeste Waterfall, and spending time in the Tenorio Volcano National Park.
As you hike through the national park, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for animals. And when you arrive triumphantly at the waterfall, you can enjoy soaking in the thermal river.
The roundtrip hike to the Río Celeste Waterfall takes about 3 hours and it’s well worth seeing!
- Hot tip #1: Ideally, you should rent a car at the airport and drive yourself to the Tenorio Volcano National Park. That way, you can hike to the beautiful Rio Celeste, see wildlife, and swim, all in your own time. But if that’s not an option, you can book this Full-Day Río Celeste Tour From La Fortuna.
- Hot tip #2: To make the most of your time in Costa Rica, it may be a good idea to visit Río Celeste on your way in or out of La Fortuna, since it’s on the way to/from the San Jose airport.
#13 Go Canyoning & Waterfall Rappelling
If zip-lining isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush, then there’s always canyoning and waterfall rappelling!
On this Canyoning and Waterfall Rappelling Tour, you’ll explore a natural playground, completing a thrilling course with hiking, rock climbing, waterfall rappelling, river crossing, and more – in the most beautiful jungle scenery.
If you’re an adventure junkie, this La Fortuna activity is for you.
#14 Visit the (Free!) El Choyin Hot Springs
Right next to Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, you will find a public (free!) thermal river where you can swim and soak!
The fact that the El Choyin hot springs are free obviously means it’s going to be crowded. Especially on a nice day. But it’s a cool experience nonetheless!
- Hot tip: Go first thing in the morning or late in the evening. That way, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the hot springs all to yourself.
- Note: This experience is not as special as getting a Day Pass at Tabacón, but it is free! So if Tabacón is out of your budget, or if you only have time for a quick dip, then don’t miss it!
#15 Swing on the El Salto Rope Swing (for Free!)
Make like a spider monkey and swing from the El Salto Rope Swing into the Fortuna River!
This is another one of the few free things to do in La Fortuna, and it’s a must if you love rope swings and cliff jumping. This is also a popular hangout of locals, so it’s somewhat of a cultural experience too.
After you let go of the rope, the drop is approximately 20 feet! Eeeek. I’ll leave that to you!
#16 Go Horseback Riding in the Jungle
If you love horses, then why not take a horseback riding tour through the jungle?
On this Private and Customized Horseback Riding Adventure, you can trek along rainforest trails, through deep, rushing rivers, across open pastures, and in between hills… All while admiring the incredible views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.
#17 Hike at the Arenal 1968 Volcano View and Lava Trails
If hiking at the Arenal Volcano National Park wasn’t enough, then I have another Arenal Volcano hike for you!
At the Arenal 1968 Volcano View and Lava Trails park, you can hike through the lava flow from the 1968 eruption (sometimes there’s orchids growing through the lava!) and enjoy 360° views of the volcano.
There are a few different well-maintained trails to choose from with different difficulty levels. The park entrance fee is $19 per person.
#18 Drink Local Craft Beers at La Fortuna Pub
The craft beer scene is on the come-up in Costa Rica, and La Fortuna Pub is supporting it in full-force.
In the center La Fortuna town, you’ll find this (not-so-hidden) gem. They have it all: local craft beers, live music, a great happy hour, good vibes, and games! Who doesn’t love Jenga and beer? Apparently the food here is good too, but I can’t say for sure. If you try it, report back!
After a big day of adventuring, this pub is the perfect place to chill.
#19 Roam Around Downtown La Fortuna
And last but not least, you can’t visit La Fortuna without actually roaming the town and visiting the central plaza.
With countless souvenir shops, local sodas, great restaurants, and bars, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for an evening. Plus, the La Fortuna locals are super friendly.
Surprisingly though, La Fortuna doesn’t have much of a party scene, so don’t expect to find anything too crazy! (If you’re looking for something else to do at nighttime, see the FAQs below.)
Guided Tours to Book in La Fortuna & Arenal
As you can tell, most of the top things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica revolve around guided tours. Whether we’re talking about zip-lining, canoeing, or horseback riding, you simply can’t do them without a guide.
To make it easy for you, I’ve listed all of the top La Fortuna experiences you should consider booking on Viator… In advance. Like, right now! Arenal is the most popular place to visit in all of Costa Rica, so these experiences will sell out.
- Mistico Park Hanging Bridges Guided Tour
- Wildlife Canoeing Safari on the Río Frío
- Río Frío Boat Experience in Caño Negro Wetland
- Sky Adventures Ziplining & Sky Tram Combo Tour
- Rainforest Chocolate Tour
- Craft Specialty Coffee and Chocolate Tour
- Sloth Watching Tour at Sloth’s Territory
- La Fortuna Wildlife Night Tour
- Full-Day Río Celeste Tour From La Fortuna
- Canyoning and Waterfall Rappelling Tour
- Private and Customized Horseback Riding Adventure
19 Amazing Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
(and the Arenal Volcano Area)
A Costa Rica trip would not be complete without spending a few days exploring the incredible nature of La Fortuna. From relaxing in natural hot springs, walking in the treetops on hanging bridges, and marveling at Arenal Volcano, to horseback riding through the jungle, canoeing in a nature reserve, and zip-lining, there are endless amazing things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica!
If you’re lucky enough to visit La Fortuna, all I can say is… Bring your hiking shoes, swimsuit, organic bug spray, rain gear, reusable water bottle, and a smile. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime – in the most incredible nature setting you can possibly imagine!
Did you know…
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La Fortuna, Costa Rica Travel FAQs
Yes, La Fortuna is a very safe place for travelers to visit! In fact, it’s one of the safest places in all of Costa Rica. It’s even considered safe to walk around downtown La Fortuna at night. The people in La Fortuna are (generally speaking) very friendly and helpful, and crime rates are very low.
The best way to get around La Fortuna is with a rental car. All of the best experiences and things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica are very spread out. Some of the guided tours you book will come with transportation included, but otherwise, you’re on your own. If you don’t book a car while in La Fortuna, you will surely regret it. Renting a car will make your life so much easier – and save you a lot of money too.
If you’re worried about driving in Costa Rica, know this: The roads in, around, and on the way to La Fortuna (from the airport) are paved. The traffic around town pretty calm too. So don’t worry! Pura vida. (Trust me, if I can successfully rent a car, you can too!)
Discover Cars is the best place to book your Costa Rica rental car. Whether you land at San José Airport or Liberia Airport, you can pick it up there! (Both San Jose and Liberia are about 2.5 hours from La Fortuna.) Click here to book your rental car now.
There are a few bars and restaurants in La Fortuna that stay open late, but the town really doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene.
If you’re looking for something to do at night, I would recommend taking a dip in one of the hot springs or going on a nighttime wildlife tour!
No, you don’t need to speak Spanish in La Fortuna. Most of the people working in the tourism industry there speak English, so you will be able to get by without speaking Spanish. However, locals always appreciate it when visitors try to speak a few words of Spanish! It shows respect!
There are so many incredible things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Some of the top things to do include zip-lining, visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall, hiking in the Arenal National Park, walking in the treetops at the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, canoeing in the Caño Negro wildlife reserve, taking a sloth tour, and taking a day trip to the Rio Celeste Waterfall. This article covers all of the most fun and exciting things to do in Arenal and La Fortuna – along with hot tips to make your Costa Rica trip absolutely amazing.
100% yes! La Fortuna is worth visiting if you get the chance. The La Fortuna and Arenal areas of Costa Rica are probably the most naturally stunning places you can visit. Between the views of Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, and the vast, lush rainforests, you will be blown away by the stunning vistas.
But not only that, La Fortuna and Arenal are absolutely packed with fun, adventurous things to do. Some of the adventure activities available include zip-lining, horseback riding, going on an ATV tour, hiking in the rain forest, relaxing in hot springs, swinging from rope swings, and going canoeing.
Not to mention, opportunities for wildlife viewing are endless! Especially if you go on a guided tour of the hanging bridges park! You can expect to see sloths, monkeys, snakes, frogs, and so much more.
If you have the opportunity to visit La Fortuna, Costa Rica, do it. Arenal and La Fortuna is definitely worth visiting.
Many say that the best time to visit La Fortuna is between December and April. This is the dry season in Costa Rica, so you can expect sunny days with little to no rain. But note that’s also hot and dry at this time! Many travelers will love this! But for some, the heat may not be ideal, considering all of the physically strenuous and adventurous outdoor activities you will do in La Fortuna.
If I were you, I would consider visiting between the months of May and September. Yes, there may be rain during your trip, but you are visiting the rainforest, after all!
During the rainy season, there will be less crowds and much cheaper prices. It won’t be as hot, the vegetation will be lush, green, and beautiful, and the rain will cool down the heat of the day – possibly giving way to some pretty cool nighttime thunderstorms.
I visited in June and it rained a bit, but it didn’t put a damper on my time at all. It was amazing and I would definitely visit in June again!
If you want to experience the best of La Fortuna, Costa Rica, then you should plan to spend between 3-5 full days there. From walking the Arenal Hanging Bridges, visiting La Fortuna’s most popular hot springs, and hiking to a gorgeous waterfall, to relaxing at the Club Rio Outdoor Center and going on a rafting trip, there’s a lot to pack in! Or you can take it slowly, relax, and spend a bit more time soaking in the incredible surroundings.
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