La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The perfect jungle destination with tons of fun things to do!
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la fortuna costa rica
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The La Fortuna Vibe

La Fortuna Costa Rica is home to Arenal Volcano (pictured above). In fact, this area is often referred to as Arenal Costa Rica.

This area is the perfect jungle destination complete with amazing waterfalls, hanging bridges, ziplining, great hiking spots, white water rafting, hot springs and more.

If you are looking for adventure, this is our top pick for you. We usually aren’t into the really touristy destinations like La Fortune, but there is just so much to do for everyone and the scenery is amazing. We come up here pretty often and take every person who visits us to this unique area.

Now on to the rest of the La Fortuna Costa Rica travel guide!

La Fortuna Weather

It’s hard to write about the climate in La Fortuna because this is a jungle. You never really know how the weather is going to be.

If you visit between December and mid-April you will almost without a doubt have dry and hot weather. This is the dry season in Costa Rica and you will have the best chance of having a clear view of the volcano.

The downside is that La Fortuna is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica and every other tourist will also be here at that time.

During the rest of the year, the weather is totally unpredictable. We have visited and had perfect weather every day. We have also visited and had a lot of rain and no views of the volcano.

Even during the rainy season, it tends to stay warm in La Fortuna. I always bring pants and a long sleeve shirt just in case, but usually, I don’t need them.

La Fortuna Transportation

Getting to La Fortuna

Flying into the Liberia or San Jose airport are both good options for going to La Fortuna. From San Jose to La Fortuna will take you about three and a half hours to drive. From Liberia it will take about two and a half hours.

More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be cheaper for you to fly there than San Jose.

The best option to get to La Fortuna is to rent a car. If coming from San Jose or from Liberia you can rent a car from close to the airport (but free transportation to the rental car office is provided from the airport).

We suggest using Adobe because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country (in our opinion) and we have a 10% discount for you. You can read more about renting a car here.

FIND OUT HOW TO GET UP TO 10% OFF YOUR CAR RENTAL IN COSTA RICA!

The drive from both San Jose or Liberia is pretty nice and easy. In fact, the second half of the drive from San Jose is my favorite drive in the whole country. On a sunny day it is absolutely breathtaking.

You will not need a 4×4 to get to La Fortuna from Liberia or San Jose, but something with decent power would be helpful. You will be going up and down lots of hills.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving to La Fortuna on your own, the cheapest option is to take the public bus. The bus leaves from San Jose every day at 6:15am, 8:40am, and 11:30am.

It will take you about five hours to get to La Fortuna. The public bus from Liberia to La Fortuna leaves almost every hour from 3:00am until 8:00pm.

It’s not the most comfortable ride, but it’s cheap (under $10 per person). I wouldn’t suggest the bus if you get car sick, though. The roads are really curvy in spots and as someone with major car sickness I find that I’m an absolute mess on the bus.

Definitely get to the bus station early before the departure time because once all the seats are taken you may be left standing for a long ride.

If you are coming from Liberia and would like a more comfortable and stress free ride, we suggest our favorite go-to shuttle company, Caribe Shuttle

BOOK YOUR SHUTTLE RIDE IN COSTA RICA

Getting Around in La Fortuna

We suggest depending on a rental car while in La Fortuna. Most of the activities you will want to do in La Fortuna are not in the actual downtown area.

This means that if you don’t rent a car you will have to book day tours which include transportation. This can be really expensive.

Also, when you look at some of our favorite La Fortuna activities you will see that some are off the beaten path. Day tours usually do not go to these locations.

If you opt to take the bus up, you can rent a car from Adobe and input La Fortuna as your pick-up location. They have an office directly in the downtown area of La Fortuna.

In the comments section of the rental car reservation, you can specify that you need the car delivered to you at your hotel in La Fortuna. Adobe will deliver it to you free of charge if you are within 12 miles of their location.

Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.

Things to Do in La Fortuna

Go kayaking: There are many tour companies who will offer to take you kayaking on Lake Arenal, but these tend to be expensive.

Instead, just drive to the lake and see if you can find some locals renting kayaks. They are not always there, but when they are they will give you a much more reasonable rate and you can paddle around for an hour or so.

Go hiking: There are a few hiking spots in La Fortuna, but we like the Arenal 1968 trail in Arenal Volcano National Park. It costs about $12 for entry and will take you a few hours. It’s somewhat strenuous in places, but doable. I wasn’t overly impressed with this hike because you are never rewarded with great views, but if you just want to get some hiking in, go for it!

Visit a butterfly sanctuary: The Butterfly Conservatory near Lake Arenal is a really nice place to spend a couple of hours. You’ll see some really cool butterflies and reptiles, take a nice nature walk and meet some very knowledgeable people who work there.

You could combine this with a hike on the Arenal 1968 trail or a kayak trip around the lake. They are all located close together.

Swim under a waterfall: Check out La Fortuna waterfall if you want a nice half day trip that is not too expensive. It costs $15 for entry. This waterfall is seriously impressive and if there hasn’t been too much rain recently you can swim under it. 

Just as a warning, be prepared to walk down over 400 steps to get there, which means walking back up 400 steps after. 😉 There is free parking, a bathroom with changing rooms, and a cafe on site.

Go caving: About 45 minutes from downtown La Fortuna there is a place called Venado Caves. It’s $25 per person for a tour of the caves which lasts about 1.5 hours.

It’s intense and if you don’t do well with tight spaces this is not an activity for you. I thought I would freak out, but once the adrenaline kicked in I was good to go.

Relax in a hot spring: There are tons of hot springs in La Fortuna! Our fave budget-friendly sports are Termales Los Laureles and Termalitas del Arenal. For a fancier experience, we suggest Baldi Hot Springs.  

If you want a free hot springs experience drive to the bridge near Tabacon resort. You can pull your car over to the side of the road and walk to the river below the bridge. It’s crazy warm and a fun experience.

Learn how chocolate is made: We love the tour at Rainforest Chocolate Tours! Plus it includes all the chocolate you can eat! This is something you should book ahead of time because the tours tend to fill up. You can just email them and they’ll reserve a spot for you.

Go white water rafting- Whitewater rafting is the perfect adventure activity. There are many companies in the town of La Fortuna which offer this service. 

Try zip lining- There are plenty of zip lining companies in La Fortuna. We suggest asking at your hotel. Sometimes they partner with local companies and can get you a discount. 

Visit the hanging bridges- The best hanging bridges in La Fortuna are at Mistico Park

Take a day trip to Rio Celeste- Rio Celeste is a bright blue river located about 1.5 hours north of La Fortuna. It is a must-see in Costa Rica.  We have a full guide here

La Fortuna Hotels

High-End Hotels

Tabacon Thermal ResortA beautiful resort featuring hot springs, pools, a spa, multiple restaurants, and more!

Arenal ManoaThis hotel features hot springs, spa treatments, beautiful volcano views, and more!

The Royal CorinExperience the amazing grounds which feature pools, spa services, a restaurant, a bar, and more!

The Springs Resort & SpaThis place is pure luxury! Enjoy the 28 hot spring pools, a spa, volcano views, and a fitness center.

Mid-Range Hotels

Hotel Faro Arenal: Super cute cabins with a swimming pool and a really beautiful view of Arenal Volcano. This spot is great because it’s out of the downtown area and really nature-y.

Volcano LodgeThe perfect place to stay a bit out of the downtown area. The facilities include a nice pool with Arenal volcano views.

Arenal Observatory– Located outside of the downtown area, the volcano views here are great. There is an on-site restaurant, bird sanctuary, spa, walking trails, restaurant, and more!

Hotel Los LagosA nice hotel with an on-site restaurant and hot springs. Located outside of the downtown area. 

Casa Luna Hotel & SpaA small hotel with pool, spa, and restaurant.

Budget Hotels

Hotel Secreto La Fortuna-Simple rooms, but all rooms are clean and modern. There is a pool for guests to use. 

Hotel Roco Negra del Arenal: Located close enough to the action of downtown but still has a natural peaceful feel to it. Also, all the rooms have a fridge! There is a pool and a hot tub on the property as well. 

Arenal XilopaloLocated outside of downtown La Fortuna. The rooms are simple, but have everything you need and are very affordable. 

La Tigra Rainforest LodgeUnique elevated tens with bunk beds. This hotel is located in a somewhat remote area.

Booking.com

We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well. Sometimes you can get some really great accommodation deals at beautiful places on Airbnb. We like Airbnb because often you can get a place with a private kitchen.

Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here

airbnb credit

La Fortuna Restaurants

Fine Dining

Amor Loco Restaurant– Beautiful restaurant located in Nayara Spring Hotel. The service, atmosphere, and food are all excellent. 

Restaurante Emperador– Delicious restaurant with amazing volcano views located in the Royal Corin hotel. 

Mid-Range

Organico Fortuna- Go here for lunch! you won’t be disappointed. They serve up super fresh organic food which tastes amazing! They also have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

Restaurante Tierra Mia– Great Costa Rican food located in downtown La Fortuna. The perfect place for a traditional dinner. 

Restaurante Cafe Mediterraneo– Located just outside of downtown La Fortuna, this relaxed place serves up some tasty wood fired pizza and pasta.

Marisqueria Snapper House– Ths is our go-to place in La Fortuna for delicious seafood. It’s located right in downtown La Fortuna and we highly recommend it!

Budget-Friendly

Red Frog Coffee Roasters: These guys know coffee. If you’re looking for a good cup, this is the place to go. They also have a good selection of food. It’s a good breakfast spot, but just note they don’t open until 8 am.

Soda ViquezGood traditional Costa Rican food at a very reasonable price. This is a good spot for a large lunch or dinner.

Yellow Bark We like this place for lunch. They have great sandwiches, wraps, burgers. etc. 

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La Fortuna Travel Tips

– Our only advice is to definitely visit La Fortuna. It definitely has something for everyone and is the perfect jungle experience

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hello!
    My husband and I are going to Costa Rica the first week of May for our honeymoon. We are staying two fulls days in Arenal and two full days in Monteverde and one day that is up in the air. We know that the weather at this time is pretty uncertain. Can you suggest some activities that are good to do when it is raining. I like to plan ahead and know that we have options if the weather isn’t great. Any other suggestions are welcome as well! Thanks so much!

    • Hi Vanessa! You actually should be ok in early May. It will be just the start of rainy season, so you may have an afternoon rainstorm in La Fortuna, but you might get lucky and not have anything. In Monteverde, it is almost always raining but it is such a light constant rain that we just continue along with our normal activities and try not to let it bother us.
      However, if it does rain in La Fortuna but isn’t thundering we like to go to the hot springs. You will be wet anyway and even when it rains it will still be hot in Fortuna at that time of year.
      Also, definitely go ziplining in either fortuna or Monteverde. That is a must do activity in those places.
      Let me know if you think of any other questions 🙂

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Most bars and restaurants with bars tend to be open until about 11pm. There are also a few clubs, but I’m not sure how safe they are. I would stick with the bars and restaurants if possible.

  2. Just a quick question. Do you need cash to get into the falls or do they also take visa. mastercard, debit? Also is it a problem taking a taxi there?

    Thanks Sandy

    • Hi Sandy, I’m sorry for the late reply. I somehow missed this. You can definitely take a taxi there. The problem will be coming back. I cant recall seeing taxi drivers waiting around the airport. If you have a working cell phone it might be best to ask your taxi driver for his number so you can call him when you are done. I am not 100% positive but I am about 80% sure that they take credit cards at the La Fortuna waterfall.
      Let me know if you have nay other questions!

  3. Hello,

    Just wanted to thank you for your blog, it has definitely helped our family plan our upcoming vacation. I did have one question, we need transportation from San Jose airport to Tabacon resort in La Fortuna. We decided not to rent a care b/c we will do so when we drive out to Tamarindo. What mode of transportation do you suggest from airport to resort? I hear uber is a pretty good option. The quote Tabacon resort gave me for 3 of us was 190.00 US dollars. I feel that’s a little pricey. We welcome any suggestions you may have.

    • Hi Evelyn! It is a bit pricey but I think you Uber will probably cost you more. I’ll check for you though! My phone is getting fixed this morning but when I get it back this afternoon I will input Tabacon and see how much it costs. I live pretty close to the airport.
      There are private shuttle companies but those are also expensive. I would suggest checking with Interbus. That tends to be the go-to shuttle company here. https://www.interbusonline.com/ However, it seems that the shuttle would be even more expensive.
      Honestly, your best bet might be to rent a car for a day. I just checked prices with our Adobe discount and it seems like this will be much cheaper for you. I would rent an SUV for comfort but you can definitely do the drive in a small car and will be fine if you want to save money. We have done the drive with a little Hyundai Grand without any problems. You can input San Jose Airport as your pick up and return in Fortuna. You can make a note that you are staying at Tabacon and Adobe will pick up the car from your hotel for free. https://www.costaricavibes.com/renting-a-car-in-costa-rica/
      Let me check on Uber this afternoon and let you know though!

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