La Fortuna is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Costa Rica. You can easily combine a few days in La Fortuna with a visit to other areas of the country but there is enough to do here you could stay a whole week. The weather is beautiful most of the year, however, there are times to visit when it is less rainy.
The area is well known for the magnificent Arenal Volcano which is a picturesque giant cone. There are several national parks nearby and reforestation projects like Ecocentro Danaus which is number 8 on our list. We have spent a lot of time in La Fortuna, tried a lot of tours and are happy to share our top 11 favorite things to do in La Fortuna with you.
The Arenal volcano is one of the active volcanos in Costa Rica. Springs and rivers are warmed by its underground heat making it possibly the biggest attraction in Northern Costa Rica and a big part of what La Fortuna is known for.
The two tours we recommend to try are the Arenal Volcano Expedition and the Arenal Volcano National Park Tour by Lake Arenal. The expedition tour brings you as close as you can get to the volcano through a short hike over old lava flows and primary forest. On the National Park tour you can admire the impressive volcano from all angles while sailing along the shores of Lake Arenal after a short rainforest hike and observation tower.
If you are looking for a bit more adventure in the La Fortuna area we can recommend this 4 day 3 night Arenal Volcano Adventure package where you wake up with a beautiful volcano view.
The La Fortuna waterfall is over 230 feet tall and receives more than 100,000 tourists per year making it one of the most visited falls in Central America. It has 480 plus steps that descend into the rainforest.
As with most of the destinations in Costa Rica you can experience it on your own or use a guide to help you identify animals, learn about history, ask questions, and enrich your experience. On this tour you will learn about the flora and fauna and can swim in the crystal clear water on a La Fortuna waterfall hike.
Visiting the waterfall means you are supporting the local community because 100% of the entrance fee profits go to social projects and benefit schools, an orphanage, a recycling center, road improvements, the safety of waterfall visitors and much more. There is a souvenir shop with lots of great gifts and a restaurant if the hike makes you hungry.
Hanging bridges give you a different perspective of the jungle. You are right there in the canopy with the monkeys and birds.
There are a couple different hanging bridges experiences in the La Fortuna area. Our favorite is Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges but Sky Adventures is a wonderful experience too. They can be walked on your own, however, if you want to get to know the forest with its plants and animal inhabitants choose a tour with a local guide.
At Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges you will find a stunning view of the Arenal volcano on a clear day. The paths are concrete between the bridges making for an easy walk. The full trail is 3.1 km (2 miles) with 15 suspension bridges and the shorter trail of 1.5 km (nearly 1 mile) is wheelchair accessible.
After all the action Costa Rica has to offer you might want a relaxing soak in mineral rich waters. This is a truly unique experience and a must do when visiting Costa Rica. Due to the volcanic activity that has shaped Costa Rica’s landscape for thousands of years natural hot springs can be found in many places in the country.
The most famous thermal baths can be found in the region around the Arenal Volcano. Some have more than 20 pools with varying temperatures, swim up bars, slides, and restaurants. You can go for the evening or choose one that is connected to a hotel so you can get a good night’s rest once you are relaxed. You can combine different experiences at various locations such as Tabacón, Baldi, Ecotermales, Paradise Hot Springs or The Springs Resort.
If you are looking for something free that is more of an adventure and natural setting you can check out the local hotspot Chollin. This river is naturally warm and steamy any time of year and you can enjoy the warm relaxing waters even in the rain. The access sites are near Tabacon hot springs where you will see trails on both sides of the road to the river. You can park on the side of the road here. Take a cooler with some drinks and snacks for a relaxing afternoon.
Read more about the hot springs.
We can help you plan your trip to the hot springs and beyond. Leave the details to us and we will secure you the best price possible.
Ziplining feels like flying through the trees where you will get some amazing unforgettable views that can only be seen from the cables in the sky. Some of the longest and fastest zip line cables in the world are right here in La Fortuna and our favorite tour is Mundo Aventura.
Many of the tours include a sky tram or walk through the forest to get to the starting point of the cables. Your guide will help you spot the tree dwellers like sloths, toucans, monkeys, and snakes.
Make sure to check with the company beforehand about appropriate clothing. Most places have lockers for your valuables. Some tours even take photos of you so check before booking if this is something you would like to have as a souvenir.
Repelling down waterfalls sounds like it takes a lot of skill and talent but with a canyoning tour you don’t need to have any experience. There are several canyoning tours near the Arenal Volcano and our favorite is the Spider Monkey Canyon. This tour is even kid friendly! Safety is always a priority and the guides are certified by The National Academy for Guides in Costa Rica.
Between the rush of hanging in the air you will climb through a beautiful forest and canyons including repelling down 4 waterfalls, one rock face, and make a short climb. The whole experience is unique and thrilling but our favorite part is the “monkey drop” which is a rope slide.
You are guaranteed to get wet on this adventure so make sure to wear appropriate clothing, quick dry if possible, tennis shoes or sports sandals, and bring a change of clothes. They provide towels and a clean place to change. You can look forward to a delicious organic lunch after the tour.
The tribe of 650 Maleku live just a 60 minute drive from La Fortuna on 7,396 acres of land. Although they wear clothes like you and I, most live a traditional Maleku lifestyle and speak and teach the language of Maleku. Their traditions are alive for you to experience what life was like before the creation of cities and concrete.
Tourists are welcomed onto their sacred land which they work tirelessly to respect and reforest. On a guided tour you can walk through their reforestation project and medicinal gardens, learn about rituals, how they use cocoa and make clothing, experience a traditional Maleku ceremony and lunch, and even paint your own artwork. To wrap up you will gather in the main house for a cultural presentation and opportunity to take home your own Maleku artwork.
Reforestation projects are crucial to keeping Costa Rica one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet and with 25 years in the making, this one really shows up and shines. On the 3 hectare biological reserve they practice conservation, environmental education and run sustainable production programs. They also have a Maleku indigenous culture exhibition featuring the 650 member tribe living just outside La Fortuna.
You can walk the trails at Ecocentro Danaus to the natural spring which is home to a diverse flora and fauna like sloths, turtles, monkeys, reptiles, and birds. Keep going on to visit the botanical gardens, medicinal plant gardens, and butterfly gardens. They offer day tours, birdwatching tours, night tours and a Cultural Maleku Indigenous Exposition where you discover their culture and learn a traditional dance. They even have a volunteer program if you want to stay longer than 1 week!
This rainforest is the largest private reserve in Costa Rica and got its name from how it came to be. Children from around the world began fundraising in the 1980’s and they now support this project from 44 different countries. The 55,800 acres are managed by a Costa Rican non-profit organization and is home to an unbelievably diverse animal kingdom including hundreds of thousands of North American migrating birds.
There are four different stations with some offering lodging and meals and you will want to make a reservation ahead of time. The road to the children’s rainforest is rough and 4×4 is recommended so booking a tour is best for this excursion.
Our favorite tour is the Pocosol station, a 7 km (4.3 mile) 3 hour hike through primary rainforest where you get to experience a volcanic lagoon, fumaroles that emit a warm mineral steam inside and next to a stream, and a waterfall towering over 160 feet all at 1100 meters above sea level. At this station there are a total of 10 km (6.2 miles) of trails, an option to stay overnight, and a restaurant. We definitely recommend bringing bug repellent because you will be deep in the jungle here. They also have volunteer opportunities and other ways to get involved and make a difference.
The word “celeste” means light blue and heavenly which is exactly the experience you will find at the Rio Celeste day tour in the Tenorio National Park. On a clear day you are lucky to catch a good view of the Tenorio Volcano but the real highlight of this adventure hike is the brilliant bright blue water of the Celeste River, its waterfall, and blue lagoon.
The color of the river is completely natural and the guide will likely tell you all about the minerals and acidity levels that mix from two rivers that cause this phenomenon. It is the same way that rainbows are seen. You will smell different minerals and see bubbling warm water which is energy releasing from the volcano.
You might want to go with a guide who can tell you all about the waters, show you the good spots, and answer any questions you might have. This tour is a 4 mile hike with a guide and a delicious Tico lunch afterwards.
The La Tigra Rainforest Lodge began as a reforestation and conservation project more than 30 years ago. Today you can experience the jungle from the comfort of a tent cabin. La Tigra is the perfect combination of staying overnight in the jungle but with all the necessary accommodations like warm showers, flush toilets, and comfy beds.
Enjoy the property by eating in their creative farm-to-table restaurant Canta Rana, taking a night tour to see the creatures of the jungle, learn to cook like a Tico at a cooking workshop, relax in the pool, read or relax in the gardens, hang with the chickens, hike several miles of trails encountering breathtaking views, sit by the quaint flowing river, and even plant your own tree to contribute to the reforestation project.
If you just want to go out for the day they offer a tree planting farm tour which is an all day adventure that leaves from La Fortuna. You begin with a walk through the Bosque La Tigra project paths which leads to the tree plantation. Once you choose your tree and plant it, the project will care for it for a few years until it is strong enough to survive on its own. You receive a GPS coordinate so you can check on your tree from home anytime. After this you visit a small agro-ecological farm nearby where you will see tons of food growing like yucca, vanilla, and bananas. A rich traditional Costa Rican meal prepared over a wood-burning stove is the perfect way to end this eventful day.
La Tigra is close to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest so you could combine your stay here with a hike at Pocosol station.