La Fortuna is a must visit spot for travelers in Costa Rica. It is seriously beautiful and there is so much to do, but it can be expensive. Activities such as zip-lining and whitewater rafting are popular in La Fortuna, but you can expect to pay at minimum $100 per person.
To save some money we rely on these budget La Fortuna activities that pack a serious punch of awesomeness without breaking the bank.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Hiking
There are a few hiking spots in La Fortuna, but we’ve only done the Arenal 1968 trail. It somewhat strenuous in some parts 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!
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Hot Springs
There are several hot springs in La Fortuna, but most are really expensive. We tend to opt for the cheaper hot springs. We suggest checking out Termales Los Laureles and Termalitas de Arenal. We like Los Laureles during the day because it has a great view of the volcano. Termalitas de Arenal is great at night because they light up the whole place with colorful lights.
Cost: Termales Los Laureles: $12 Termalitas de Arenal: $8
Things to know: Both places we suggested have grills for visitors to use, bathrooms, changing rooms, lockers you can pay for, and a small stand selling hot food. We love to make a full day of our hot springs trip and do some grilling. Both hot springs are open until about 10 pm.
If you want a FREE option head to the bridge near Tabacon resort. You can pull your car off the side of the road right before the bridge. There will usually be a man working there who will collect a few dollars to watch your car. Then head down the path next to the bridge to hop in the hot river. Be careful, it can be a bit slippery, so we always like to wear some type of stable water shoe like Chacos.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Waterfall Chilling
The La Fortuna waterfall is amazing. As in, if you visit La Fortuna you better not leave without seeing it or I will be extremely sad for you.
Cost: $10 admission
Things to know: The walk to get to the waterfall consists of an insane amount of steps. Going down is not so bad but going back up will have your legs shaking for sure. Bring a full water bottle and take a few breaks. Also, bring your bathing suit (or wear it) there is a bathroom you can change in near where you buy tickets. If the water level is not too high you can swim under the waterfall (which is really fun). You can ask at the top when you buy your ticket if swimming is allowed that day. If you can’t swim under the waterfall there is a nice stream next to it where you can take a cold dip.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Swimming
Most of the hot springs have nice pools for swimming, but if you want a unique experience head to the river where the locals go swimming. There is a nice little “pool” with a rope swing you can enjoy.
Things to know: It can be a bit slippery getting there, so if you have water shoes like Chacos definitely bring them. Also, the experience is not for everyone. I would suggest not bringing kids or anyone who has trouble walking to this spot.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Butterfly Conservatory
If you have a car with you, head a bit out of La Fortuna to the Butterfly Conservatory. This place is one of those hidden gems that most people don’t venture to. It is run by volunteers (who were really helpful) that will show you around and tell you a bit about each butterfly. After looking at all the butterflies on the rounds you can do a nice little walk through their property. At the end of the hike, you will be rewarded with a nice view of Arenal volcano.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Check out Downtown
Downtown La Fortuna is not really my cup of tea. It’s filled with hostels and touristy restaurants, but the church in the center of town is picture perfect. I like to just relax by sitting in the park across from the church and do some people watching. On a clear day you will be able to get an amazing shot of the church with Arenal volcano in the background.
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Take a Chocolate Tour
Down the street from the La Fortuna waterfall is the Rainforest Chocolate Tour. This fun tour will teach you about the history of chocolate and how chocolate is made. You then get to eat as much chocolate as you want. Yeap, as much as you want.
Things to know: We suggest reserving ahead of time by phone or just stopping by the day before you want to do a tour. They fill up fast!
La Fortuna Budget Activities: Caving
OK, I was absolutely terrified to do go caving at Venado Caves. I don’t do well with tight spaces and I’ve been known to have some anxiety issues, but the three guys I was traveling with were super into doing this so I decided to try and be brave. Little did I know that once my adrenalin kicked in, I would be totally ready to go.
We actually really enjoyed this activity. It was a unique experience which I’m totally happy that I did. After you finish your caving tour there is a nice pool you can relax in on the property for free.
Things to know: Venado Caves is located a little less than an hour from La Fortuna. They are open every day from 8:00 to 3:00 pm. The caves are really tight at some points (I mean as in you’ll be slithering like a snake to get through certain spots) but there is always an alternative route if this freaks you out. Rubber boots are provided and you should wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet (you’ll be soaked by the end). I wore my bathing suit under gym shorts and a t-shirt. Also, sometimes things get caught on rocks (I ripped my shorts) so don’t wear anything you want to preserve.
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