La Fortuna in Costa Rica is truly a picturesque jewel in the lush Costa Rican landscape, known as the gateway to the spectacular Arenal Volcano. This charming town, nestled in the northern region of the country, is not only a magnet for adventure seekers, but also the perfect place for nature lovers. In this article, we give you an overview of the most beautiful sights of La Fortuna and explain why this place is a must-see on any Costa Rica itinerary.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Costa Rica La Fortuna
La Fortuna, located in the province of Alajuela, was originally known as a small farming village, but over time it has become one of the most popular travel destinations in Costa Rica. The town owes its popularity not only to its breathtaking natural beauty, but also to its proximity to the Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
The town offers a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. You can relax in the hot springs fed by the volcanic activity or engage in exciting activities such as ziplining, hiking and white water rafting. La Fortuna is also a center for ecotourism, with a variety of accommodations ranging from cozy hostels to luxurious resorts.
Overview of the Arenal Volcano
The Arenal volcano, which towers proudly over La Fortuna, is the undisputed landmark of the region. With its almost perfect cone shape and a height of 1,657 meters, it is an impressive sight on the horizon. The volcano is relatively young in geological terms, dating back around 7,000 years. It is famous for its spectacular eruptions, especially the great eruption of 1968, which dramatically changed the landscape around it.
Today, the Arenal volcano is synonymous with adventure and nature experiences. The surrounding Arenal National Park offers an abundance of hiking trails that lead through rainforests and across ancient lava fields, giving you the opportunity to explore the rich flora and fauna of the area.
The Best Things To Do in La Fortuna
La Fortuna in Costa Rica is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and the variety of activities it has to offer. From exploring the spectacular Arenal Volcano to soaking in the soothing hot springs. La Fortuna has something for everyone.
Arenal Volcano and National Park
The Arenal Volcano, a symbol of Costa Rica, offers a spectacular backdrop for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The Arenal National Park includes a variety of hiking trails that lead through lush rainforests and across ancient lava fields. Popular routes such as the “Mirador El Silencio” and the “Lava Flow Trail” offer breathtaking views of the volcano and the surrounding landscape. These hiking trails are not only a paradise for photographers, but also a great opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna.
The ticket can be purchased at the main entrance for 10$ per person. You can then drive to the rear parking lot. From here you can walk the Lava Flow Trail. The national park also has a second trail that offers a view of the lake and is about 2 kilometers away, which you can cover by car after the first hike.
The Lava Flow Trail is a circular trail that leads partly over old lava fields and offers various viewpoints of the volcano. The trail is not particularly varied and we expected the lava fields to be a little more exciting. What impressed us, however, was a huge tree that was around 400 years old. The impressive roots make their way up the several meter wide trunk. Wow… we could only marvel at the sight. Apart from the volcano itself, this old tree was the most fantastic sight in the national park.
The second part of the Arenal National Park
From here, we return to the parking lot and take the car to the second hiking trail at Lake Arenal. The hiking trail along the lake is well developed (asphalted) and offers several viewpoints and a high observation tower. However, we liked the coati much better than the lake, who were quietly digging a hole at the edge of the path and were not distracted by us. We also liked the part of the national park by Lake Arenal better than the part by the volcano.
In addition to the hiking trails, Lake Arenal offers a picturesque backdrop for a variety of water activities. Whether kayaking, stand-up paddling or fishing. The tranquil atmosphere of the lake is ideal for spending a relaxing day in nature.
Accommodation Recommendation in La Fortuna Costa Rica
During our two nights in La Fortuna, we stayed at the Eco Torre Lodge. From the fairly simple rooms and wooden huts, you have a magnificent view of the volcano. The wonderful large terrace and the owners’ cute little dog also contributed to our great stay.
La Fortuna waterfall
The La Fortuna waterfall, one of the region’s main attractions, is a spectacular natural spectacle. The waterfall plunges from a height of around 70 meters into a crystal-clear pool. The way to the waterfall is via a staircase with 500 steps that winds its way through the dense rainforest. A dip in the refreshing pool below the waterfall is a welcome way to cool off after the descent. Visitors should make sure to bring swimwear and a camera to capture this unforgettable experience.
The hot springs in La Fortuna, fed by the geothermal activity of the Arenal volcano, are a must for every visitor. Places like the Tabacon Hot Springs and the Baldi Hot Springs offer a relaxing experience surrounded by nature. These natural thermal baths are perfect for relaxing tired muscles after a day of adventure and enjoying the healing properties of the mineral-rich water.
Cheap Hot Springs in Fortuna
The hot springs at Hotel Los Lagos are an inexpensive alternative. Several pools and slides for just 17$ per person. We didn’t have to think twice about that.
For only 17 USD per person in Hot Springs in La Fortuna
Do you want to go to a thermal bath (hot springs) in Fortuna for cheap money? Then go to the Hotel Los Lagos. You can find it here on Google Maps.
You won’t find any information online about this price or the day entry for 17 USD. You simply drive to the entrance, park your car there and go to reception. There you say that you want to go to the Hot Springs, pay the 17 USD per person and then get a small wristband.
How do you do that?
Then you drive in, park and can change in a separate building. A locker or towel costs extra. So it’s best to take your own and leave your clothes in the car.
What can you do?
There are several slides and lots of (cold and hot) pools. There are also whirlpools, sun loungers and everything is really tastefully and stylishly furnished. A really great resort.
You can also visit the butterfly house, a crocodile (a little sad in its small enclosure) and hummingbirds in the garden for free. It’s definitely worth it.
Our afternoon at Los Lagos took us back to our childhood days. We slid down the slides again and again into the cool or sometimes warm water. During the breaks from sliding, we relaxed in the hot bubble baths and let the water massage our backs.
Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna
If the $17 is too much for you, there is also a free alternative. In addition to the Tabacon Hot Springs, there are hot springs directly in the river where you can take a pleasant dip. There are also a few parking spaces along the road, as the free hot springs are also very popular with the locals. You can find the free hot springs in Fortuna here on Google Maps.
Hike over Suspension Bridges
The suspension bridges in La Fortuna offer a unique opportunity to experience the rainforest from a different perspective. The“Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges” lead along a circular path through the forest and offer spectacular views of the surrounding nature and the Arenal volcano. This hike is a great opportunity to observe the wildlife up close and enjoy the tranquillity of the forest.
Canopy (“Ziplining”) and Canyoning
For adrenaline junkies, La Fortuna offers exciting activities such as ziplining* and canyoning*. Ziplining involves gliding on wire ropes over the treetops of the rainforest, while canyoning adventures take you through gorges and over waterfalls. These activities not only offer thrills, but also unique perspectives on the breathtaking landscape of La Fortuna. So if you’re looking for a little action and adventure, you’ve come to the right place.
How to get to La Fortuna Costa Rica
La Fortuna is easily accessible from most major cities in Costa Rica, making it an ideal destination on a round trip through Costa Rica.
By Bus to La Fortuna
Traveling by bus is one of the cheapest and most authentic ways to explore Costa Rica. There are regular bus connections from San José, the capital of Costa Rica, to La Fortuna. Buses depart several times a day from Terminal 7-10 and the journey takes around 4-5 hours. It is advisable to arrive at the bus station early to secure a seat, as the buses are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Another advantage of traveling by bus is that you can enjoy the picturesque Costa Rican landscape. The route takes you through green valleys and along rivers, making the journey an experience to remember.
By Rental Car to La Fortuna
Those who prefer flexibility and independence should explore Costa Rica by rental car and travel to a Fortuna. The roads to La Fortuna are well developed and signposted, which makes for a stress-free journey. The drive from San José to La Fortuna takes around 3-4 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
When renting a car, it is important to choose a reliable vehicle, especially if you plan to drive to more rural areas. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended as some roads in Costa Rica can be unpaved and slippery during the rainy season.
Tips for the Journey
- Allow enough time: Both the bus ride and the rental car ride can take longer than expected, especially if there is traffic or bad weather.
- Pack snacks and water: Especially when traveling by bus, there are not always stops to buy food or drink.
- Keep an eye on your valuables: As with any trip, it is important to always carry valuables with you and not leave them in the car.
- Enjoy the journey: Whether by bus or car, the journey to La Fortuna offers beautiful views and the opportunity to enjoy the Costa Rican landscape.