Traveling with Stephy

Top things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica: all you need to know

Famously known for its active volcano called Arenal, La Fortuna is a must-see in Costa Rica. From hot springs to thrilling experiences and hiking trails, La Fortuna will be a highlight of your Costa Rican adventures. Today I share with you a complete La Fortuna travel guide that gathers the top things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. After reading this guide, you will get everything you need to know to organize your trip and enjoy the region to the fullest!

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La Fortuna is located in the Central Northern part of Costa Rica, more precisely in the Alajuela province. You can either get to Lafortuna by car (easier) or by public transportation.


Located between mountains, La Fortuna is accessible by a 2,5 hours drive from either San José Airport (SJO) or Liberia Airport ( if you come by car, it is a 2,5 hours drive from San Jose Airport or Liberia Guanacaste Airport (LIR). 

Book your car at the best prices now!

“Just be aware that depending on the roads you take, you will need to cross mountain roads with big uphills and downhills on not paved roads. This is why, a 4×4 may be needed, especially during the rainy season (from May to October).”


If you decide to visit Costa Rica by public transportation exclusively, the good news is La Fortuna is well-served. However, you will need to arm yourself with patience. Indeed, the bus HUB for La Fortuna is a small village called San Ramon, in the province of Alajuela. From San Ramon, there is a direct bus to La Fortuna downtown. The journey takes about 4 hours.

I highly recommend downloading the free app called where you can see the bus routes and bus changes.  keep in mind that sometimes the app is not very accurate with bus stop locations, so ask for help from the locals if needed. Then, once you know the bus route you have to take, 

“I highly recommend downloading the free Mobile app called Moovit. Thanks to the app, you can find the bus routes.  Keep in mind that sometimes the app is not very accurate with bus stop locations or timetables. But it’s a start!”

How long to stay at La Fortuna?

La Fortuna has so much to offer with beautiful hiking trails, stunning views, nice atmosphere combined with thrill-seeking adventures! In other words, you can’t get bored during your stay in La Fortuna. That’s why, I advise you to stay for at least 4 days (3 nights). Of course, if you have more time (great!), I would suggest you spend a minimum of a week there.

Where to stay at La Fortuna?

Lodging in La Fortuna is separated into two different zones. Having said that, you will find all the luxury resorts located out of town. Indeed, most of the lodges are situated from 10 minutes to even a 30-minute drive away from La Fortuna downtown. But in compensation, you are immersed in nature, and that is priceless!

Here are some of the best luxury resorts in Costa Rica, check it out!

If you prefer staying right in the middle of town, then you will find what you are looking for here, with smaller hotels and hostels. 

How to move around La Fortuna?


no hesitation when saying that the car is definitely a must while in La Fortuna. Indeed, the region is not well-served in terms of public transportation, unfortunately. In other words, except for the direct bus that will drop you off in La Fortuna downtown, there is no other public bus that goes around the region. As a result, it can be a bit tricky to visit the must-sees of La Fortuna without your own mean of transportation. That’s why, I sincerely think it is necessary to have a car while discovering the La Fortuna region.

Don’t hesitate much longer and book your car at the best prices now!


In case you don’t have the budget for renting a car, you can still move around La Fortuna on foot (close to your accomodation) or by taxi. However, the trips can be quickly at a high rate. For instance, a ride from La Fortuna downtown to Arenal Observatory Lodge costs  $25 US one way. Having said that, if you still decide to move around by taxi, I suggest you use the Uber app during your stay in La Fortuna. On a side note, the Uber app doesn’t work everywhere in Costa Rica but fortunately, it works around this region. You might have a slightly cheaper ride with the app. 

What to do in La Fortuna?

La Fortuna is packed with so much to do, from exploring the rainforest, observing the magnificent active Arenal volcano, and ziplining! You won’t get bored during your stay here, trust me!

Also, if you don’t have a car and decide to join guided tours, don’t forget to book your experience here!

Mirador El Silencio

Mirador El Silencio is located at the foot of the Arenal volcano. This is the ideal place to walk on the Lava field of the 1968 eruption.  On top of that, the park is packed with different trails from easy to moderate levels of difficulty. I recommend doing the big loop which will bring you into the rainforest, then you will pass a huge field with cows and finally end at the Lava field. Once you arrive at the 1968 eruption Lava field, you will have a breathtaking of the Arenal volcano. 
“I highly recommend visiting Mirador El Silencio if you want to enjoy different types of landscape in one day, combined with great views of the famous Arenal volcano.”

5 colones / US$ 8.00 (cash only)

open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Bogarin trail

Bogarin Trail is a private reserve located close to La Fortuna downtown. Therefore, if you stay downtown, you can get to the Bogarin trail on foot. Otherwise, no worries there is a free parking lot at the entrance of the park. 
Well-known for the presence of sloths along the trail, this place is the ideal location to spot your first Costa Rican wildlife. As a bonus, there is a small area where staff leaves fruits for birds at the entrance of the reserve. So, take a chair and enjoy the show! 

“I highly recommend this place to see sloths in their natural element. In addition to that, the Bogarin trail is an easy loop, so it suits everyone! As always, you can hire a guide if you want to, but sincerely we didn’t take a guide and saw so many animals by ourselves.”

self-guided hike: US$ 15 per adult
guided tour: US$ 55 per adult

open daily from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge is namely a luxury lodging located right at the foot of Arenal Volcano (book your stay now and get the most amazing night surrounded by nature!).
In addition to luxury lodging, the owners have created trails around the property. From easy to moderate trail levels, you can easily spend the entire day exploring the park. Note that since the park is located a little bit higher in altitude than the other parks, you can observe other kinds of trees such as pine trees How amazing is that!
“I can’t recommend this place enough if you want to be immersed in a forest with a closer look at Arenal Volcano. The view here in Arenal Observatory lodge is even closer than at Mirador El Silencio (and at the opposite side of it).”

US$ 12 per adult

open daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

La Fortuna waterfall

La Fortuna waterfall is a masterpiece of 70 meters high. You need to hike down 530 steps to reach this wonder, which means the same amount of steps to hike your way up. However, this is definitely worth it!
I sincerely recommend going to La Fortuna waterfall as early as possible or close to the closing time (around 3:00 pm) to beat the crowd.
“The waterfall is easily accessible by car (on a paved route) or by taxi/Uber (for a few dollars).”

US$ 18 per adult

open daily from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm

El Salto waterfalls

El Salto waterfall is located close to La Fortuna downtown and is free (rare to be noticed)! This place is the perfect location to enjoy fresh water and good time with friends! You can even jump into the natural pool and there is a crop so you can be like Tarzan or Jane for a moment.
“El Salto waterfall is also a great place to meet locals as this is their meeting point.”

Sloth's territory

Sloth’s territory is a natural gem of 13 hectares protected and maintained by a Costa Rican family. This private reserve offers a notable sloth walking tour with a trail accessible for all ages! Note that you can only access the property with a guided tour. They offer daily day hike that lasts from 1,5 to 2 hours. Book your tour now!

observation tours: US$ 28 per adult

daily hikes starting at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm

Mistico Arenal hanging bridges

One of the most popular places in La Fortuna, and I understand why! Mistico Arenal hanging bridges has ten regular bridges and six long hanging bridges. In addition to the different bridges, you can spot a lot of wildlife along the trail. The path is paved and easy to walk on. No need to put on your hiking shoes, even though you are immersed in the forest!

Book your guided tour with a pick-up at your hotel!

Since the park is one of the most famous places, I would suggest visiting the place starting at 2:30 pm, which let you have two entire hours to explore the park!

“If you are afraid of heights, this place is definitely not for you!”

self-guided tour: US$ 26 per adult

open daily from 6:00 am to 4:30 pm

Jungle night tour

We experienced such a great jungle adventure with Ecco Terra Costa Rica by walking through the primary forest at night. At first, it can seem a little bit scary but frankly, it is such a great experience to see wildlife during the night. 

The tour operator gives you lights so you can spot wildlife by yourself. This is so interesting to learn all the behaviors of these different species. Guess what? We even saw a baby sloth playing in the tree with its mum! Otherwise, this place is ideal to spot rainforest frogs from blue jeans frogs to glass frogs!

“I suggest you wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself. Moreover, put on hiking shoes or rubber boats if you have (even better)!”

US$ 55

tour starts from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Free hot springs near Tabacon Resort

As you may know, La Fortuna is also well-known for its hot springs coming straight from the volcano. However, entrance fees can be a bit expensive since they are the property of luxury resorts.  However, you can still enjoy these hot wonders by heading near Tabacon Resort where you will find free hot springs. 
“No surprise if I tell you that the place gets quite busy during the day, so you should go there early to save your spot!”

Tenorio Volcano National Park (Rio Celeste)

Alright, so the famous Tenorio Volcano National Park aka Rio Celeste is a must-do of the region even though it is a bit far away from La Fortuna downtown. Indeed, Rio Celeste is located around 1,5 hour’s drive from La Fortuna downtown. There is no public transportation that takes you there. 

Therefore, you have two options to visit this magical place:
  • You book a guided tour starting from La Fortuna which includes transportation (the price should be about $ 120 US per person)
  • You stay at Bijagua de Upula, a small village close to Tenorio National Park. From there, you need to take a taxi (no Uber is available in the area). It will be around $ 10 US one way.

US$ 12 per adult

open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (last entry at 2:00 pm)

Tapir Valley Reserve

If you stay at Bijagua de Upula or you are around the area with a car, I advise you to visit Tapir Valley Reserve after Rio Celeste. Indeed, this huge private reserve is packed with wildlife. It is also the ideal place to do a night tour and to spot tapirs (an endemic mammal from Costa Rica). Moreover, this is a great location to have a bird-watching tour early in the morning. 

Note that you can only visit Tapir Valley Reserve with a guide.

bird watching tour: US$ 75 per adult

open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm

SPring Paradise Bijagua Reserve

Still, if you are around Tenorio National Park with a car or even stay at Bijagua de Upula for a night or two, you should take a guided tour at Spring Paradise Bijagua Reserve. The park is located close to Upula downtown and on the road to Tenorio National Park. You can only visit the reserve with a guide either during the day or the night, you choose!

US$ 30 per adult

open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

In conclusion

In summary, La Fortuna is the perfect place to enjoy the volcanic and lush landscape of Costa Rica. From the rainforest to volcanoes, this region is packed with a lot of hiking trails, wildlife, and nature! Moreover, if you want to have even more thrilling adventures, La Fortuna is a great place to do the zip line and rafting.

Anyway, I hope I have inspired you to add La Fortuna to your bucket list next time you visit Costa Rica. Don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Costa Rica to get more inspiration!

Sending you lots of love,

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