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Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

If you’re looking for adventure in Costa Rica, La Fortuna is a must. From hiking through lava fields to rappeling down waterfalls, and relaxing in the hot springs to whitewater rafting through rivers, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in La Fortuna.

With the backdrop of , it’s easy to see why La Fortuna is one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica. I visited La Fortuna for the first time in 2015 and returned in 2020, which was a highlight of my trip each time.

Here are 10 La Fortuna activities to try out on your trip! At the end, I’ve included some sample La Fortuna itineraries to help you maximize your time here.

An aerial view of a beach and island in la fortuna costa rica.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

La Fortuna Things To Do

1. Gravity Falls La Fortuna

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

If you’re looking for an epic adventure in La Fortuna, the gravity falls waterfall jumping tour with Desafio is an absolute must! This combination tour has a bit of everything – rappelling over waterfalls, cliff jumping, hiking, and rock climbing.

The tour starts with an early pick up at 6:30 am from your hotel in La Fortuna for an hour’s drive out to the countryside.

Once at the site, the guides help everyone get geared up for the adventure (you can leave any belongings you don’t need in the truck). From there, it’s a short walk down to the top of the canyon for the first rappel.

If you haven’t woken up yet, you will soon as you start the 140ft rappel down a rushing waterfall into a deep crystalline pool.

Don’t worry, the guides are highly knowledgeable and there to support you the entire way down. I was terrified when I started the rappel, but once I got the hang of it, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

The rest of the tour includes five cliff diving jumps ranging from 5 feet to 25 feet, swimming through a narrow canyon passage,  and a small rock climbing adventure.

If you don’t want to cliff jump, the guides can help you rappel down. The last jump from a 39 ft platform is optional, so no worries if you’re afraid of heights.

I loved this tour! Not only was it full of adventure, but it took place in an isolated rainforest canyon, which was beautiful and reminded me of the landscapes around Puerto Vallarta.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best La Fortuna ToursClick here to check out the top La Fortuna tours
Best La Fortuna Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in La Fortuna
Best La Fortuna Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in La Fortuna

2. Take a dip in La Fortuna Waterfall

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

If you love chasing waterfalls, then you’ll love Costa Rica! There are so many beautiful waterfalls to see here, and La Fortuna waterfall is one not to miss. Like most waterfalls in Costa Rica, there is an entry fee. However, the line here is often long, so I recommend getting skip-the-line tickets in advance. The trail to this waterfall is very well-maintained. Once you enter the park, there are great views of La Fortuna waterfall from the top of the staircase.

To reach the bottom of the La Fortuna waterfall, you must descend a 500-step staircase. The walk is much more difficult coming back up, so make sure to bring water with you.

Swimming at La Fortuna Waterfall

girl sitting on rock in la fortuna waterfall park

You can swim in La Fortuna waterfall, but the water is chilly! No one was swimming while I was there, but I decided to go in for a quick dip.

The water was frigid but refreshing after the hike. I only stayed in for a few minutes because the current was so strong. Nearby, there is a calmer body of water.

You can explore other small trails in the park to an orchid and butterfly garden. There’s also a cafe on-site if you want to grab a bite afterward!

3. El Salto Rope Swing

el salto rope swing

El Salto Rope swing is one of the best free things to do in La Fortuna

This popular swimming spot is right outside of town, on the way to La Fortuna waterfall. It’s just 1.5km from the town’s church, so you can walk if you don’t have a car.

It’s also next to Desafio’s Hunter & Gather restaurant, so if you’re doing the canyoning tour, you have the option to stay in that area instead of going back to town.

At El Salto, you can use a Tarzan rope swing to jump into the water. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon in La Fortuna if you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank!

4. Soak in Hot Springs

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

One of the best activities in La Fortuna is to relax in the beautiful hot springs heated by the nearby Volcano Arenal. La Fortuna has over a dozen hot springs suited to any budget.

One of the most luxurious hot springs in La Fortuna is Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. Inside, there are beautiful gardens and pools landscaped around the Tabacon thermal river. If you aren’t staying at the resort, you can purchase a day pass.

An alternative is to visit the Tabacon river across the street, about 100m down. There, you’ll find beautiful all-natural hot springs you can see for free!

The only downside is that it’s popular. We got here around 6 pm and it was packed, mostly with locals. So get here early if you want a good spot!

For a cheaper option, check out Paradise Hot Springs which offers much cheaper day passes. The facilities are beautiful, with lovely views of Arenal Volcano.

They have several pools of varying temperatures, including a swim-up bar. There weren’t many other people here while I was visiting, which made it all the better!

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

5. Zip lining La Fortuna

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a reputation for having some of the best zip lines in the world and lives up to the hype.

There are zip lines nationwide, and La Fortuna is one of the best places to try it after Monteverde Cloud Forest.

If you want to go zip-lining in La Fortuna, I recommend visiting the Sky Trek & Sky Tram Adventure park. They claim to have the longest and fastest lines in Costa Rica, and it certainly felt like it! Now that I’ve done that and the longest zipline in Mexico, it feels like something I have to cross off in every country.

It was such a thrilling feeling to go flying through the forest. I couldn’t help but scream! Plus, the surrounding views of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano are amazing.

View of Arenal Lake from SkyTrek Adventure Park

The tour starts with a scenic gondola ride up the top of the zip-lining course. There are some fun photo ops at the top before you start. They have photographers who will take photos of you, which you can purchase afterward, as well as GoPros you can rent with helmet mounts.

The first zip line is short; it’s just to get the hang of how it works. After that, the fun begins as you descend back down to the starting point via six massive zip lines through the forest.

There are several guides to strap you in at each station and ensure everything is OK. It was only my second-time zip-lining, and I thought it would be terrifying, but it was so much fun!

Zip-lining at SkyTrek Adventure Park

There is a restaurant that serves nice food and has fantastic views of Arenal Volcano at the end. You can explore some hanging bridges and walking trails in the park.

6. Hiking in La Fortuna

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Although you can see Arenal Volcano from town, you can get even better views by visiting Arenal National Park or Arenal 1968 Park. The parks are home to some of the best hikes in La Fortuna.

Arenal 1968 Park

Arenal Volcano was dormant for over 500 years until a massive explosion set it off in 1968, destroying three towns near its base. The volcano was active until 2010, spewing lava from the top.

Arenal 1968 is a park where you can see the remains of the volcanic explosion. It was so cool to walk through giant lava rocks on this La Fortuna hiking trail.

Two hiking trails in the park connect. The main loop, which takes about three hours, goes through the lava trails and a small lake. If you only take the lava trail, it takes about an hour and a half round trip.

If you enter the park after 3 pm, they will only let you on the smaller lava trail as there isn’t enough time to walk the full loop before the park closes. Unfortunately, you still have to pay the entrance fee regardless of what trail you do.

Arenal National Park

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Arenal National Park has mainly flat trails, so this is a good option if you’re looking for an easy La Fortuna hike. Sendero Colada 1968 (3.4km) and Tucanes (2km) are the shortest hikes, which take you through secondary forests and lava fields. There are also hanging bridges to explore in the park.

7. Whitewater Rafting 

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Rafting is another popular thing to do near La Fortuna. I didn’t do it here, but I have gone rafting in other parts of Costa Rica, and it’s a blast!

Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica

There are two different options for rafting in La Fortuna.

If it’s your first time, rafting on the Balsa River in class 2 and 3 rapids is a good option. However, for a more adrenaline-pumping experience, check out this tour which takes you rafting on class 3 and 4 rapids.

8. Hanging Bridges La Fortuna

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

A great way to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area is to go on a hanging bridges tour. Check out Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, which is known for its wildlife.

Inside the park is a 3.2km trail that takes you above a rainforest. I highly recommend getting a guide if you are trying to find wildlife in Costa Rica; it makes a world of difference.

There are also large hanging bridges in the Sky Trek Adventure Park. It’s separate from the zip-lining and is an additional fee to enter that area, but the staff let us walk to one of the hanging bridges for no extra charge while waiting for our zip-lining tour. It never hurts to ask!

Quick Tip: View my full Central America Packing list here and my 1 month Central America itinerary here

9 Rio Celeste Waterfall

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Rio Celeste is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I encountered in Costa Rica. The blue color looks even better in person than it does in pictures. It makes for the perfect day trip from La Fortuna!

Rio Celeste is inside Tenorio Volcano National Park, about an hour’s drive from La Fortuna. The best way to visit is by renting a car, but you can also book a Rio Celeste day tour from La Fortuna.

We spent about three hours hiking around Tenorio Volcano National Park, so plan for a full day if you want to visit Rio Celeste from La Fortuna.

The park only lets 1000 people per day (500 at a time) and closes at 2 pm, so it’s best to get there as early as possible.

We spent the night in Rio Celeste and got to the waterfall as soon as it opened at 8 am. This meant we had it all to ourselves for about 20 minutes, so it was worth the early rise! I love chasing waterfalls, and this was one of my favorites in Costa Rica!

10. Discover Costa Rica’s Wildlife

a sloth in la fortuna costa rica

La Fortuna is a great place to see Costa Rica’s unique wildlife. While driving back to our hostel one night, we saw a sloth, toucans, and hawk just off the side of the road.

If you want to increase your chances of seeing wildlife while in La Fortuna, visit the Cano Negro wildlife reserve. Inside the reserve, you can take a safari float down Rio Frio, where you can spot toucans, sloths, caymans, and more.

La Fortuna Itinerary

sunset in la fortuna costa rica

With so many things to do here, plan to spend at least two full days in La Fortuna. We spent two and a half days (three nights) and felt it was the perfect amount of time. Here’s a sample itinerary for a two-day trip:

Day 1: Go on a gravity-fall waterfall jumping tour with Desafio in the morning and enjoy a hot buffet lunch afterward. Opt to add in rafting for a full day of adventure.

If you’re feeling energetic after lunch, check out the El Salto rope swing next to the restaurant where the tour ends. Or, if you feel like relaxing, head to one of La Fortuna’s hot spring spas (most are open until 9 pm).

Day 2: Take an early morning hike in either La Fortuna or 1968 Park (3-4 hours), then enjoy lunch at a (a local Costa Rica restaurant).

In the afternoon, head to the zip-line park (it’s open till 4). Book in advance so you don’t have to wait in line for tickets! If zip-lining isn’t your thing, head to La Fortuna waterfall for an afternoon dip.

When is the best time to visit La Fortuna?

arenal volcano

The most popular time to visit La Fortuna is from December to April during the dry season, the same as Mexico and many other nearby countries.

The weather is warm during this time, with temperatures averaging around 28-30 degrees Celcius. These are the months you’ll see the most sun, but it can still be rainy and cloudy.

If you visit during the wet season, you’ll be rewarded with fewer tourists and lower prices, but some outdoor activities may not be accessible due to heavy rainfall.

is hard to see when it’s rainy, so plan for a few days to give yourself the best chance of a clear day.

Getting to La Fortuna

is by far the best way to get around Costa Rica, but there are alternatives if you can’t.

From Liberia: If you have a car, it’s about a 3-hour drive to La Fortuna from the Liberia airport. This is a relatively straightforward drive on well-maintained roads. If you don’t have a car, you can book a shuttle transfer.

Getting to La Fortuna from Liberia via public bus is possible, but it involves several transfers. First, you need to take a bus to Canas, then to Tilaran, and then to La Fortuna.

From San Jose: It’s about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Jose to La Fortuna, which is beautiful. If you don’t have a car, many shared shuttles are available, or you can book a private shuttle.

Public transport from San Jose is more accessible than from Liberia. There are direct public buses, which is a much cheaper options but takes about five to six hours.

: La Fortuna has an airport with daily flights from the capital city, San José, and Quepos.

If you are going to Monteverde before or after La Fortuna, the best and fastest way to go is via a taxi boat across Arenal lake.

Where to stay in La Fortuna

Things To Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

Since La Fortuna is a popular tourist spot, there’s no shortage of places to stay for any budget. If you stay at one of the hotels and springs resorts, you’ll get to use the hot springs.

Budget: Selina is a popular chain of hostels across Costa Rica geared towards digital nomads (they all have co-working spaces)! The Selina in La Fortuna is in a great location, right in the center of town, minutes away from many restaurants and shops.

Selina also has an on-site restaurant and bar next to a tranquil river. Plus a pool! They have a range of accommodation options, including dorms, privates, and these unique teepees.

Another great hostel that I stayed in during my first time in La Fortuna was Arenal Backpackers Resort. They have a large pool and social atmosphere where it’s easy to meet other backpackers.

Mid-range: Hotel Monte Real is an excellent option for couples or friends looking for something quieter than a hostel. It borders a river and has its own forest and frog garden, along with an outdoor swimming pool.

Luxury: Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa is one of the most luxurious hot spring resorts in La Fortuna. With some of the highest-rated reviews of any hotel in La Fortuna, you won’t be disappointed with a stay here.

For more information on planning your trip to Costa Rica, check out my ultimate guide to backpacking Costa Rica.

La Fortuna Travel Guide Planning

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in La Fortuna?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in La Fortuna?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Author’s Bio

A woman in a hat standing next to a pool in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Bio: Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country and pet as many dogs as possible. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled solo to 70+ countries and six continents. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home, where she runs the website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta.

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Costa Rica travel guide: The ultimate things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.