16 Unmissable Things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Traveling to Costa Rica and looking for the best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica? Keep reading to plan the perfect itinerary.
An unforgettable adventure oasis in the Costa Rican jungle, La Fortuna is a destination you’ll not want to leave off your Costa Rica itinerary. This small town in central Costa Rica is the home of adventure sports and activities, wildlife watching, and everything related to hot springs.
With Arenal volcano guarding the town closely, you’re never too far away from the active volcanoes that produce mineral-rich waters that flow around La Fortuna.
With plenty of places to relax, eat good, healthy food and get your adrenaline pumping, at least a couple of days in La Fortuna Costa Rica is a must.
I recently spent a month in this lovely town enjoying the delicious fresh fruit, the local ‘pura vida’ life philosophy of the locals and the diverse wildlife. Here are some of my favorite things to do in La Fortuna- do not miss these off your itinerary.
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How to Get to La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Once arriving in Costa Rica, there are several ways to get to La Fortuna.
The best way to travel around Costa Rica, in general, is by renting a car and driving yourself. You can rent a car at San Jose or Liberia International Airports and the process is extremely straightforward. You’ll want to make sure to book your rental car well in advance especially during high seasons (November-February).
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You can also get to La Fortuna by private shuttle. Tourist shuttles exist all over Costa Rica and provide quick and direct transfers between all the major popular destinations. From the airport, you’ll be able to organize a direct transfer to La Fortuna. Costa Rica Shuttle and Costa Rica Transfers are just a few companies to check out before booking.
Click here for the best one-way transfer from San Jose to La Fortuna.
The other way to get to La Fortuna is by public bus. Buses travel to La Fortuna from all major Costa Rican towns and cities. There is one direct bus per day from San Jose or Alajuela which departs Alajuela at 9.30 am. Otherwise, take any bus to Cuidad Quesada and change there for another bus to La Fortuna.
Taking buses in Costa Rica isn’t the easiest as there are no real departure times or timetables anywhere. It definitely helps if you speak Spanish as locals are very helpful and will direct you the right way. Oftentimes we just turned up at the bus station with our luggage and asked for the next departure.
It’s worth noting that In Costa Rica you just pay the bus driver as opposed to buying a ticket at the ticket office beforehand. Bus travel in Costa Rica is incredibly cheap compared to private shuttles but it’s definitely not as convenient.
Ride Sharing Apps
Uber also works in Costa Rica and works well in the Central Valley if you need to transfer from your accommodation to the bus station.
Uber also works in La Fortuna however, it’s not the most reliable, especially when calling a ride from nearby attractions outside town. This is why it’s best to rent a car when travelling to Costa Rica.
Best Time to Visit La Fortuna
The best time to visit La Fortuna is during the dry season which runs from November until May. La Fortuna has a spring-like climate with average temperatures of about 28°C/82°F throughout most of the year.
During the rainy season, nights can get a little chilly when temperatures fall to about 18°C/64°F.
Bear in mind that La Fortuna is one of the rainiest places in Costa Rica and it rains quite a bit even in the dry season. For this reason, it’s so lush and green.
When visiting in the rainy season be prepared for heavy rainstorms almost every day and torrential rain which might put a stop to the activities you want to do. It’s best to visit during the dry season when it does rain a lot less.
When packing for La Fortuna make sure to bring light, quick-drying clothing, a rain jacket and some good walking boots for outdoor activities.
I would recommend at least 3 full days in La Fortuna in order to experience everything the region has to offer. There is a lot!
Where to Stay in La Fortuna
The best hotels in La Fortuna are actually located in the area of La Fortuna and not in the town itself. If you have a car I’d highly recommend taking advantage of this staying in one of the best places outside town and driving to town for meals/services.
It’s also worth noting that many of the most famous, luxury hotels also have their own hot springs and if you’re coming to La Fortuna with visiting hot springs on your bucket list I highly recommend these hotels as you’ll be able to use their facilities for free. Tabacon Hotel and Spa and The Springs are the two best hotels in the area with their own hot springs and while you can visit for a day, it might be worth actually staying here where you can really make the most of their facilities.
If you’re on a budget or you don’t have a car, it might be easier to stay in a hotel in La Fortuna itself for ease of booking tours and going out to local restaurants.
Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa
If you’re in La Fortuna to take advantage of the area’s hot springs, you’ll want to stay here. One of the things to do in La Fortuna that you’ll find on any bucket list guide is to visit their hot springs so why not stay here? Guests also have access to the hot springs from 8 am rather than non-guests that enter at 10 am.
Tabacon is located about 10 minutes outside La Fortuna by car on the slopes of Arenal volcano surrounded by jungle and nature. The resort itself is sublime with spacious and private rooms with all the amenities and a great restaurant on that property that actually has a great plant-based menu. Make sure not to miss their vegan ‘Casado’ the local dish that’s truly delicious.
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Casa Luna Hotel and Spa
If you’re looking for a more budget option, then make sure to consider Casa Luna Hotel & Spa. This is a beautiful hotel with incredible views of Arenal volcano, simple but cosy and comfortable rooms, gorgeous gardens, a pool and the best part- three thermal jacuzzi pools surrounded by lush garden.
This eco-hotel also has a garden on-site where it grows most of the ingredients on the restaurant menu, a spa on-site and even a trekking path where you can access a nearby river running around the backside of the property.
We stayed here for two nights and loved coming back to this amazing hotel after a day of exploring to just soak in the thermal waters, swim in the pool and relax on the balcony watching all the birds fly around us.
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Another top hotel in the La Fortuna area and recently used as a shooting location for an episode of the series ‘The Bachelor’, the Springs is a stunning property surrounded by pools and gardens. It’s a large hotel with all the amenities you could imagine. Your stay also includes access to the thermal resort where you can soak surrounded by pure nature.
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Best Restaurants in La Fortuna
Easily a firm favourite of ours when in Costa Rica, Organico Fortuna is the place to come for organic, healthy plant-based food. With a menu plentiful in plant-based treats like delicious salads, thick smoothie bowls, taco bowls, falafel, sandwiches and some pasta- everything here is colourful, vibrant and nutritious.
They also have an array of superfoods to add to juices and smoothies. Don’t miss their locally sourced organic coffee. The best time to visit is for breakfast or lunch.
A great place to come for everyone, Yellow Bark isn’t exclusively for plant-based eaters but it does have something for everyone.
The focus of food here is on local flavors and dishes and you’ll find ‘casados’- a local plate of rice, beans and salad- on the menu as well as burgers, salads and desserts.
El Chante Verde
Located outside of La Fortuna itself- close to Casa Luna Hotel & Spa, el Chante Verde is another of our firm favorites. The menu has some solid plant-based classics like burgers with a local Costa Rican spin on them with homemade gluten-free buns, salads, pad thai and sandwiches even though it does serve meat too.
The restaurant itself is in a beautiful setting too with a wonderful garden, bar and they also have board games too. Book a table for the evening, come from dinner, drinks and a few rounds of Monopoly.
Chifa La Familia Feliz
We ate here on our first day in La Fortuna and we spent ages chatting to the lovely Peruvian owner. This Peruvian restaurant has a separate page in the menu for vegetarian options where you can find some delicious dishes. The portions and large and the food is flavoursome. A great option after a whole day of exploring.
La Casa de la Hormiga
This is one of the best ‘sodas’ in town, recommended to us many times over by locals. ‘Sodas’ in Costa Rica are cheaper restaurants that serve local food. Here you can delicious local dishes like casado – rice with beans plantains and salad and Gallo pinto – rice mixed with beans normally served at breakfast.
Costa Rican food is quite vegan-friendly and this is one of the best places in La Fortuna to try some local flavours.
Before You Go…
Before we get to the best things to do in La Fortuna, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance! You never know when you’ll need it and it’s better to be covered than have to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills. As La Fortuna is Costa Rica’s adventure capital, there’s even more reason to make sure you are covered for all the activities you plan to do.
SafetyWing offers cheap travel insurance – from just $10 per week- on a rolling, cancel-anytime basis. I’ve personally used them for years for all my travels. Get a quick quote below, save money and stay safe!
Top Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica and in the Arenal area. It’s a must-visit and it’s very easy to just pack a picnic and spend the afternoon here.
La Fortuna waterfall is fed by the Arenal River and drops about 75 metres before continuing into the jungle.
To reach the waterfall you’ll have to pay the entrance fee of $18 and follow the path around and down about 490 steps before reaching the waterfall itself. Here you can swim in the plunge pool and bathe in the cool waters. Further downstream you’ll find a tiny beach and some rocks to relax on.
Bring some snacks with you spend your afternoon relaxing here and enjoying nature at its purest around you. If you want to take photos the best time to come is first thing in the morning as it does get crowded.