Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park: Plan Your Experience

La Fortuna, Costa Rica is home to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park and nature reserve. This is the perfect place to hike along 15 suspension bridges, see amazing views of the Arenal Volcano, and enjoy unique rainforest flora and fauna.

It is a very popular place to visit in the area, but there are some things you should know first to maximize your experience.

We have visited this park several times and have used our past experiences to write this complete guide to the Mistico Arenal hanging bridges. Let’s get to it!

Mistico Hanging Bridges Park at a Glance

What is the Mistico Park? 

mistico hanging bridge park

Mistico Park, also known as the Arenal Hanging Bridges, is a private reserve that offers a captivating nature experience with suspension bridges. 

The suspension bridges are part of a 2-mile trail through a lush private rainforest property. On a clear day, these bridges provide stunning views of Lake Arenal and the iconic Arenal Volcano.

The park is located 600 meters above sea level in a tropical transition wet forest. It boasts 15 bridges, including 6 hanging ones.

If you visit you will be able to observe both the highland and lowland ecosystems which provide a habitat for over 700 species of flora and a rich variety of local wildlife. You might see birds, mammals, and reptiles here. 

Important Info About Mistico Park

mistico park view

Here is everything you need to know to plan your visit to the nature reserve. 

Hours of Operation

The park is open daily from 6:00 am. The last entry time for a self-guided tour is at 3:30 pm.

However, if you book a twilight or evening tour, it is also possible to come here after the rest of the park visitors leave for the day.

You can no longer arrive to the park entrance without a ticket. You need to pre-book a self-guided or guided hike in order to visit. 

Entrance Fee

The general admission cost for 2024 is as follows:

Self Guided Tour:

  • Adults (19 – 64 years old): $32USD
  • Youth (11 – 18 years old): $21USD
  • Senior (65 and older): $26USD
  • Children (10 and under): $0USD

Purchase Tickets Here

If you opt to take a tour instead, do not pre-book your tickets. All the tours include admission in their fee. 

We go into more detail of the tour options provided by Mistico further into this post. But, if you would like to book it now, here are your choices:

Note: Only the nocturnal walk includes transportation to the park.

Directions

If you have a rental car, the best and most affordable way of getting here is to drive yourself. The reserve is located just off of the main road near Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano.

Get Directions on Google Maps Here

If you do not have a rental car you have 3 options:

  1. Book a guided tour with transportation included. We like this full day combo tour that also includes a visit to the La Fortuna Waterfall and Volcano National Park.
  2. Take a taxi. Make sure it is a registered taxi or ask at your hotel for a service the recommend.
  3. Try out EasyHop. EasyHop is a new company in La Fortuna that offers hop on hop off service throughout the popular spots in La Fortuna including to Mistico. You can check them out here. 

Parking

There is a large parking lot that you are welcome to use. It seems pretty safe, but it is still best not to leave anything of value in your rental car here, just in case. 

Facilities

On the property, there are restrooms and a restaurant at the main entrance area. The restaurant serves basic Costa Rican food.

What to Wear

  • A Shirt made from breathable and UV-blocking fabric. Depending on the weather and how powerful the sun is you should choose between long sleeve and short sleeve.
  • Closed-toed shoes. I usually wear Keens for everything in this country. They are fine to wear, but you will need to sign a waiver since I guess they don’t technically consider them to be close-toed.
  • A sun-blocking hat. I love this Bora Bora hat from Columbia. It’s a bit nerdy but does the job well.

What to Bring

  • SPF 50 Sunblock 
  • Bug Spray (it usually isn’t too buggy here, but you might want it if you take an evening tour)
  • A full water bottle
  • Your camera gear
  • Rain Jacket (if you are visiting during the rainy season)
  • Binoculars. We have this pair of pocket binoculars which are great. 

Best Time to Visit

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park: Plan Your Experience

The best time of year to visit for clear volcano views is during the dry season (from late December until late April). 

The best time of day is kind of hard to say. I like coming in the early mornings because the wildlife is most active and sometimes that is when the volcano is the most visible.

However, we have also had times in La Fortuna in which the volcano has been fogged in all morning and then become visible in the afternoon.

It is so hard to really predict. 

During the rainy season, you might experience unfavorable conditions, especially in the afternoon. If you visit during this time of year I suggest coming in the morning.

Amount of Time You Will Need

If you are doing a self-guided tour you will likely spend about 2 to 3 hours here.

The trail itself is about 2 miles long, but you will likely want to stop for a lot of pictures along the way. 

Physical Level

The paths here are all paved and well-maintained. If you are able to walk for 2 miles you will have no problems here.

Tour or No Tour?

We have visited the park as part of a tour and have also done the hike on our own by just purchasing an entrance ticket. 

In my opinion, I enjoyed visiting on our own more.

The one time we visited without a tour was with my dad and sister. Being on our own allowed us to really take our time and go at our own pace. My dad and Thomas went a little crazy with trying to take cool photos. 

Hence why there is a photo above of my sister and I sitting on the bridge. We got a bit bored from having to wait so long for them. 

However, on our own, we didn’t see any wildlife besides birds and we didn’t get to learn any interesting info.

Taking a tour is really nice because it makes a visit here feel like a complete experience. You actually will learn something and hopefully see animals.

The tour guides are very good here. They walk these same paths almost every day and know all the best ways of spotting wildlife. 

So, I think my opinion is a but different because I live here. I know I can always go back and visit again. Plus, I see wildlife every day. 

If this is the one time you will be in this area, I think it is best to splurge and go for a guided tour. 

I included my favorite tour options below. 

Tour Options

mistico hanging bridge park

There are a lot of guided tour options from the La Fortuna area that go to Mistico. However, most of them are very pricey and don’t necessarily give you the best value for the money.

The following tours are provided directly by Mistico Hanging Park with booking through Viator.

I suggest booking through Viator because there are very good cancellation policies, you can count on a secure payment system, and it costs the same as directly through the Mistico site.

Just note that the following tours DO NOT include transportation.

Mistico Park Hanging Bridges Guided Tour

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2 hours 30 minutes | ✅ Book it!

This is the original Mistico Hanging Bridges tour provided by their own professional tour guide. Transportation is not included but this fee includes admission to the park as well as the tour.

Highlights Include:

  • Possibly see a diverse range of wildlife including bird species, monkeys, and reptiles
  • Trek along ground-level forest trails and suspended walkways to explore the rainforest from the forest floor to the canopy.
  • Learn about the rich biodiversity of the area from a knowledgeable naturalist guide.
  • Enjoy panoramic views of Arenal Volcano while traversing the park.

Our Opinion:

This is the best tour option if you are planning to visit during the daytime and want a great value for the money.

The downside is, this is their most popular tour so it is almost always a full group (especially during the dry season).

The guides are excellent though and really make the tour. They communicate to each other over walkie-talkies to indicate any wildlife sightings so everyone can try and see.

Birdwatching Tour at Mistico Park

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2 hours 30 minutes | ✅ Book it!

Embark on an immersive early morning birdwatching adventure!

Boasting a catalog of over 450 bird species, the protected reserve serves as a vital biologic corridor for both migratory and native bird species.

Highlights Include:

  • Wander through the lush rainforest and observe bird species from the elevated vantage points provided by the park’s hanging bridges.
  • Enjoy a personalized tour experience with a maximum of 8 participants per guide.
  • See amazing views of Arenal Volcano

Our Opinion:

If you are very interested in birdwatching, this tour is great. I like that it has a stronger emphasis on birds because it filters out more general hikers.

Plus, the tour starts at 6 am so you almost have the whole park to yourself.

In our experience, the guides are knowledgeable, friendly, and great at finding wildlife you would likely never see on your own.

Hanging Bridges Twilight Walk

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2 hours 30 minutes | ✅ Book it!

This twilight tour departs at 4:30pm allowing you to get the best of both daytime and night time at the reserve.

Highlights Include:

  • Experience the magic hour of twilight as you witness the changing colors of the sky against the backdrop of the Arenal Volcano.
  • The knowledgeable nature guide will help spot elusive wildlife species, including monkeys, sloths, birds, and reptiles, as well as nocturnal birds like owls.
  • Enjoy the convenience of complimentary telescope views and binoculars, as well as bottled water.

Our Opinion:

This tour is kind of the best of both worlds. You get the chance to see the park during the daylight, but also have the chance to see a few night active animals as they start to come out.

Plus, most of the self-guided park visitors will be gone for the day (the last admission for that is at 3:30pm) so it is much less crowded.

Nocturnal Walk in the Hanging Bridges

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2 hours | ✅ Book it!

This is a night walk through the park allowing you to see all the nocturnal wildlife that lives here.

Note: this tour DOES include transportation from your La Fortuna area hotel.

Highlights Include:

  • Keep an eye out for frogs, snakes, lizards, mammals including kinkajous, sloths, nocturnal animals such as owls, and a wide variety of insects.
  • Gain insights into the local ecosystem and enhance your wildlife spotting skills with the assistance of a knowledgeable guide.
  • Suitable for ages 11 and up, this tour provides an educational and memorable experience for the whole family.
  • Enjoy the convenience of transportation to and from La Fortuna hotels, ensuring a hassle-free adventure in the rainforest.

Our Opinion:

I think this tour is cool, but I don’t highly recommend it.

The reason is, although it is an excellent tour with great guides, this isn’t just some normal nature reserve.

This is a hanging bridge park with amazing views. and, in my opinion, that is best enjoyed during the day.

La Fortuna Waterfall, Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano Combo Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  9 hours | ✅ Book it!

If you would like a combo tour with several activities and transportation included, this is our top choice for you.

This tour is not conducted by Mistico Park itself, but rather by Green Vacations Costa Rica, a reputable tour company in the area.

Highlights Include:

  • Arenal Volcano Exploration: Begin your journey with a 2.5-hour hike around Arenal Volcano. Learn about the volcano’s history and marvel at its majestic presence.
  • La Fortuna Waterfall: After a short drive, arrive at La Fortuna Waterfall, where a 500-step hike awaits. Take a refreshing swim at the waterfall’s base and soak in the breathtaking surroundings.
  • Mistico Hanging Bridges: Venture into the primary rainforest for a 2.5-hour hike through the Mistico Hanging Bridges.
  • Comprehensive Guided Experience: Throughout the tour, a knowledgeable guide will provide insights.
  • Hotel Pickup and Drop-Off: Enjoy the convenience of transportation to and from your accommodation in La Fortuna.
  • Lunch: Enjoy a typical traditional Costa Rican meal called a casado.

Our Opinion:

There are a lot of combo tour options in La Fortuna to choose from. But, we like this one because the guides are excellent, it includes so much, and it completely takes the stress out of planning everything yourself.

This day tour is a bit on the pricey side, but I think it is worth it when you factor in all that is included.

Is it Worth Visiting?

arenal volcano view

I think it is worth visiting Mistico, but it depends on your interests and preferences.

It is a nice walk and a great way to get different perspectives of the area, but at over $30 to enter for adults I think the price point is a bit high.

This park is a great place for nature lovers, birdwatchers, and those interested in eco-tourism. Families with children and elderly visitors can also enjoy the park, as the trails are well-maintained and suitable for various fitness levels.

Additionally, the parks guided tours led by knowledgeable naturalists, offer a good chance to see local wildlife in a contained area. This is also great for families.

If you’re seeking extreme adventure or fast-paced activities, you may find the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park less exciting compared to other options in the area.

It’s also not the best activity for individuals with a fear of heights.

Nearby Hotels

There are tons of great hotel options in La Fortuna! Here are some of our favorites.

High End

Mid-Range

Budget Friendly

Check out our guide to La Fortuna hotels for all the best places

Nearby Restaurants

There is a restaurant on the Mistico property called Restaurante La Roca Bistró. It is OK, but nothing amazing. They serve basic Costa Rican food.

Check out our guide to the 19 La Fortuna restaurant for all the best places

What to Do After

Here are some other fun things we love in La Fortuna

Relax in a Hot Spring

la fortuna hot spring

The hanging bridge park is located close to most of the hot spring parks in La Fortuna. A nice soak in multiple warm and cool pools is the perfect way to unwind after your tree-top hiking adventure. 

Check out our guide to La Fortuna hot springs for all the best places at a variety of price points. 

Visit Lake Arenal

lake arenal costa rica

Lake Arenal is the large man-made lake at the base of the volcano.

This is a nice place to enjoy great views, but there are also several fun activities you can do on the lake from wind surfing to kayak fishing.

Check out our guide to Lake Arenal for all the details.

Visit the La Fortuna Waterfall

la fortuna waterfall

The La Fortuna waterfall is located near downtown La Fortuna. You will need to hike down over 200 steps to get to the base of the fall, but the views are worth it.

Plus, depending on the water level you can even swim under the fall. 

Check out our guide to the La Fortuna Waterfall for more info.

Go Zip Lining

Zip lining is one of the most popular activities in the area. There are several companies that provide this activity by catering to different needs. If you are a thrill seeker, there is a place for you. If you are a family with young kids zip-lining for the first time there is a place for that as well.

Check out our guide to Zip Lining in La Fortuna for more info. 

Conclusion: Arenal Mistico Park

In conclusion, Mistico Hanging Bridge Park provides a unique Costa Rican experience and is a great way to enjoy wildlife, nature, a waterfall, and Arenal Volcano views.

If you have any questions about planning your trip here, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you plan!

You Might Also Like:

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

๐Ÿš— Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

๐Ÿ„๐Ÿฝ How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

๐Ÿ I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

โœˆ๏ธ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

๐Ÿ›๏ธ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธWhat is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

๐Ÿ’ฐ What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colรณn (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

๐Ÿ“ž What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

๐ŸŒด Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

๐Ÿ›‚ Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.