At the foot of Arenal Volcano lies La Fortuna, a small but bustling town and the perfect base for visiting the active volcano. Moreover, you’ll find hot springs, an impressive waterfall, and an abundance of wildlife. In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano.
How to get to La Fortuna?
La Fortuna is located within a maximum of four hours’ drive from the capital city, San José. We recommend going by car as the roads are quite good. Plus, renting a car in Costa Rica is relatively inexpensive and a lot of fun.
A 4×4 car is not necessary when driving from the capital to La Fortuna. However, it’s still wise to book one because the roads in many parts of Costa Rica are not as well-maintained.
We drove from Monteverde to La Fortuna, accidentally taking a rather adventurous route. It involved dirt roads and crossing rivers, which we managed to tackle with some luck. Exciting, but not very practical.
Fortunately, there is also a paved road from Monteverde to Fortuna. Before setting off, make sure your navigation system chooses the main roads. The shortest route is usually not the fastest in Costa Rica.
As soon as we enter La Fortuna, we see it in the distance: Arenal Volcano. An impressive natural phenomenon, this over 1600-meter-high volcano is active. And its activity can be seen both during the day and at night.
On clear days, you’ll frequently see smoke rising from the crater. The volcano becomes particularly awe-inspiring after sunset. With a bit of luck, you’ll witness glowing rocks rolling down, even if you’re far away from Arenal.
Sights to See in La Fortuna
La Fortuna is a small town with plenty of restaurants and shops. The town itself may not be very inspiring and has a noticeable touristy vibe.
So, you don’t want to spend days just hanging around in La Fortuna. Luckily, you don’t have to because there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area. Here’s an overview of the top attractions in La Fortuna (and beyond).
Arenal National Park
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t miss Arenal National Park. This nature reserve covers a whopping 121 square kilometers and surrounds the Arenal Volcano. You can’t climb the volcano since it’s still active, but the well-maintained hiking trails will take you very close to the active volcano. In fact, you can walk on the petrified lava remnants. Along the way, you’ll stroll through misty rainforests and encounter a variety of wildlife.
Within the national park lies another, much older volcano that has been inactive for 3500 years. Chato is smaller but equally impressive. Inside its crater, a beautiful lake has formed. If you want to see it with your own eyes, be prepared for a challenging two-hour hike (excluding the return journey) on a demanding trail.
La Fortuna Waterfall
If you’re not up for hours of hiking but still crave some refreshment, a visit to La Fortuna Waterfall is a must. After a 15-minute walk, you’ll reach the 60-meter-high water spectacle. Remember to bring some cash and swimwear as there’s an entrance fee (around $20), but you’ll have the opportunity to take a dip in the crystal-clear yet chilly water.
La Fortuna Hot Springs
If soaking in warm water is more your style, then you should visit one of the many hot springs in La Fortuna. Thanks to the active volcano, there are plenty of places where the water is naturally heated. Naturally, entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this, so if you search for “hot springs La Fortuna,” you’ll find numerous places where you can enjoy a relaxing soak for a fee. Alternatively, you can also find natural hot springs where you can enjoy the warm waters for free. Simply drive to the location, park your car on the side of the road, put on your water shoes, and enjoy!
Canopy Tours in La Fortuna
Canopy tours and Costa Rica go hand in hand. We marveled at the cloud forests of Monteverde from a series of impressive hanging bridges. In La Fortuna, you can also admire nature and landscapes from high-up canopy tours.
There are several parks to choose from, but Mistico Hanging Bridges and Sky Walk Hanging Bridges are highly praised. The latter offers the longest hanging bridges, while the former has the most bridges overall. Whichever park you visit, the natural beauty is always stunning, and if you keep your eyes open, you’re likely to spot plenty of wildlife.
Ziplining in La Fortuna
If you’re up for some excitement, consider a ziplining excursion. Guaranteed adrenaline rush and stunning views. Although ziplining in Monteverde is said to be slightly more spectacular, we didn’t try it in La Fortuna, so we can’t vouch for it. (But our ziplining adventure in Monteverde was absolutely awesome!)
Our Favorite Hotel in La Fortuna
There are quite a few hotels in and around La Fortuna. If you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay, it’s wise to book in advance, especially outside the town where you’ll find many beautiful hotels.
We stayed at the Lost Iguana Resort and Spa, and it was great. Despite being a relatively large hotel, it doesn’t feel that way. The rooms are authentically decorated, and from our balcony, we had an amazing view of the Arenal Volcano.