7 Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

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For years, La Fortuna in Costa Rica has been one of the top tourist destinations. It is the hub of outdoor adventuring with its impressive landscape and variety of activities. In this natural oasis, anyone can find plenty of options to satiate their need for excitement or rejuvenation. Enjoy this guide detailing our recommendations on things to do in La Fortuna. For a more general guide on the country, read through our recommendations on things to do in Costa Rica

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Arenal Volcano is among the most iconic destinations to visit on a trip to Costa Rica. Towering over La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano is a spectacular active volcano in the shape of a perfect cone. What’s more incredible, is the opportunity to get up close with this giant via the Arenal Volcano National Park. Hike on old lava fields, witness lava flow from the overlook, trek among unique vegetation such as wild orchids and historic Ceiba trees, and spot wildlife along with the sprawling network of trails in one of the most visited national parks of Costa Rica. Just outside Arenal Volcano National Park, other adventures include canopy tours with hanging bridges, zip-lining, and bungee jumping with the volcano in view.

  • Best time to visit: Dry season (February to April) as heavy rains in other months can create muddy and inhibitive conditions for hikes; open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.

2. Kayak in Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal in La Fortuna
Lake Arenal is a perfect destination for a multi-adventure trip.

A trip to Lake Arenal is perfect for creating a multi-sport trip that includes both land and water adventures. If traveling to or from Monteverde area, boating across this lake in combination with a quick 4x4 journey provides a popular and scenic route to connect to La Fortuna. Sunset cruises and kayaking on the lake are spectacular, offering incredible views of the volcano and opportunities for bird-watching. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you'll appreciate the lake’s superb conventional fly-fishing.

  • Best time to visit: Early morning, year-round for birdwatching; November to June’s low waters are best for fishing.
La Fortuna waterfall is a great place to go for a swim
La Fortuna is a 70-meter tall cascading waterfall.

Cascading 70 meters, this powerful waterfall is accessed via a short 15-minute hike through lush rainforest. Truly a jungle paradise, the falls crash into a gorgeous, refreshing turquoise-colored pool perfect for swimming. Daredevils can take a short walk around the perimeter of the pool to take in the misty view out from behind the waterfall. Consider taking a friend with you to capture a shot from across the pool of you, miniature in comparison to this massive cascade.

  • Best time to visit: February through April for a refreshing dip in the drier, warmer months. Afternoon hours are suggested for a more pleasant swimming experience. Open daily from 7am to 3pm.

4. Visit the Natural Hot Springs

Things to do in La Fortuna hotsprings
Soak in one of the many thermal hot spring resorts in La Fortuna.

A visit to La Fortuna's Arenal area isn’t complete without taking in some of the natural thermal waters of the region. This is the prime destination for hot springs in Costa Rica and La Fortuna offers many hot spring resorts to choose from. Bladi Hot Springs, Tabacon Resort Thermal and Spa, and The Springs Resort are some of the popular thermal resorts in the area. While many visitors flock to the numerous hot springs resorts in the area, Rio Chollin is a volcanic-fed natural hot spring river that is completely free. After a short walk downstream from the river’s bridge, you’ll be surrounded by pristine Costa Rican nature while soaking in the thermal waters of the site. Getting there takes some maneuvering through an undeveloped river, so if traveling with small children or limited mobility opt to spend the day at one of the thermal spring-fed resorts.

  • Best time to visit: Weekdays before noon is best to avoid crowds and afternoon rains at Rio Chollin. Thermal spring resorts can be visited any time of the year.

5. Go Whitewater Rafting in Rio Balsa

Things to do in la fortuna rio balsa
Raft class II, III and IV rapids in Rio Balsa.

Not all waters in La Fortuna are fit for relaxing. If you’re wondering what to do in La Fortuna for adventure, go no further than Rio Balsa just outside of La Fortuna. This river is known for its consistent class II, III, and IV rapids perfect for fun adventures, white water rafting and kayaking. Some areas along the river are good for a quick swim too. Wildlife is abundant, so watch out for monkeys, iguanas, sloths, and native birds along the way.

  • Best time to visit: For smaller rapids, visit in the dry season (December to May), for a white-knuckling adventure, rainy season (June to November) produces a roaring river flow. Start your trip in the morning to ensure plenty of daylight hours for your raft downstream.

6. Go rappelling at Piedra Canyon

An increasingly popular destination for canyoning, La Fortuna offers many sites for rappelling and other adventures through jungle cliffs, waterfalls, and streams. The most popular is Piedra Canyon (also referred to as Lost Canyon), offering several rappels up to 36 meters and areas for down climbing and boulder hopping.

  • Best time to visit: February through April to avoid wet weather that could make climbing dangerous.

7. Hike an Off-the-beaten Path to Cerro Chato

Things to do in La Fortuna cerro chato
Hike up the summit to reach the crater lake of Cerro Chato.

It’s true that Arenal Volcano holds the prestigious fame of being the most well-known volcano in La Fortuna, perhaps all of Costa Rica. What many visitors to this town don’t know is that Arenal Volcano National Park is actually home to two volcanos. On the southeast side of Arenal Volcano lies the dormant volcano, Cerro Chato, which has long been a destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. Although the popular trail from Arenal Observatory Lodge, which was the most popular and accessible route has been shut down, since September 2018, extreme adventurers can access the hike from another route right before the Observatory Lodge which is more difficult and longer. The hike is strenuous but rewards those up to the challenge with a chance to walk downhill to the volcano’s crater lake. 

  • Best time to visit: Dry season (February to April), because muddy conditions can result in trail closings to Cerro Chato.

La Fortuna de San Carlos in Costa Rica is a top choice for solo, family, and group adventure travel. Spend your days checking volcano treks off your bucket list or soothing your senses in healing waters. Offering some of the most authentic outdoor experiences in the country, La Fortuna is a must-visit destination for your next Costa Rica vacation no matter how many days you are spending in the country.

Contact our local travel experts who will help you plan a custom trip to Costa Rica that includes all the highlights of La Fortuna.

Published by Sofie, updated on July 6, 2023

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