Costa Rica is a nature and wildlife paradise. It offers picturesque views and breath-taking experiences. With so many places to visit here, La Fortuna should be on top of your list. Don’t waste your time in the capital. Since, San José is very westernised, you will only find lots of McDonalds, Starbucks as well as other popular fast food chains on every corner. Get the real taste of Costa Rica and head straight to La Fortuna. This small town surrounded by incredible nature will win your heart! Furthermore, it’s one of the most popular places visited among tourists and there’s a reason for it! There are plenty of things to do in La Fortuna, that will make your stay a great adventure.
La Fortuna is a small town at the base of the giant Arenal Volcano. The name La Fortuna meaning ‘The Fortune’ has been given for its extremely fertile land. Some people also say it’s because when the Arenal Volcano erupted in 1968, it caused extensive damage to the three villages nearby, but it did not affect La Fortuna town. This is why you will hear ‘Pura Vida’ (‘Pure Life’ – phrase used by Costa Ricans) more often here than anywhere else.
How To Get From San Jose To La Fortuna
You can catch a bus from Terminal 7-10 located on Calle 8. There are ‘direct’ buses, but it still makes few stops on the way to pick up more passengers. The bus leaves at the following times: 6.15am, 8.40am and 11.30am. The journey takes about 4 hours. You need to purchase a ticket beforehand from the desk located on the third floor. The fare costs 2495 colones (around $5). Also, make sure to get there early to get a seat, as the bus fills up very quickly. For more information on buses in Costa Rica, check out this useful website.
Where To Stay In La Fortuna?
During my five nights in La Fortuna Costa Rica, I stayed at the budget hostel ‘La Choza Inn’. It was only $8 per night in a 10-bed dorm. In addition to good wifi and breakfast, other perks of staying there included free trip to Free Natural Hot Springs and unlimited $15 shuttle. Also, you can read my full review of La Choza Inn Hostel if you are unsure where to stay in La Fortuna. I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.
Things To Do In La Fortuna
From thrilling adventurous tours to relaxing natural hot springs visits. La Fortuna combines adventure with nature. There are plenty of activities to choose from. You may only run out of the time or the money! Here’s a list of my favourite must do in La Fortuna.
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano, currently listed as the third most active volcano in Costa Rica. It’s undoubtedly one of the main attractions in the country. At 1,633 metres (5,437 feet) behind the clouds hides this cone-shaped volcano. Arenal Volcano National Park charges $10 entrance fee. Unfortunately, you can’t hike to the top of volcano. However, there are several trails, one which can take you up to the lava summit point, where you can see the rocks of now hardened lava from the 1986 eruption. The hike takes about an hour although it’s more of a walk through the rainforest. You can also spot different animals there, such as howler monkeys, coati, snakes and red-eyed frog.
Swim In La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna waterfall is a must-see! There is an admission of $10. It’s best to arrive there early in the morning (it opens at 7am), as the crowds gather quickly. You can admire La Fortuna waterfall from a distance as well as from the close up. It takes only 15 minutes down the steps to get to the base. Moreover, you can swim in it, too! There’s also butterfly and orchid gardens where you can see the colourful butterflies, hummingbirds and all kinds of different orchids.
Visit Rio Celeste
Claimed as one of the Costa Rica’s best kept secret! Located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, which is only 30 minutes drive from La Fortuna. You can buy a tour including transport, park entrance and lunch. I got mine booked for $65 at La Choza Inn Hostel. Get mesmerised by this light blue river. There’s a waterfall that drops into the pool of this alluring water. Unfortunately, when I visited, the path to it was under construction and thus the waterfall was not accessible. I still got to hike through the park alongside the Celeste river and see the point where two clear-water river steams come together and create this magnificent light blue river. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Costa Rica. If you’re interested in finding out more about Rio Celeste, read all about my experience here.
Soak In Natural Hot Springs
Unwind and relax at this natural spa surrounded by trees and bird signing. The water is naturally heated by the volcano’s thermal energy. There are many resorts in La Fortuna Costa Rica with hot springs, where you can stay overnight or get a day pass. Some of the popular ones are Tabacon, Baldi and Eco Termales. But, if you’re a budget traveller, you can enjoy free natural hot springs just in front of Tabacon.
Walk Through The Hanging Bridge
Have you even been to Costa Rica if you haven’t walked through the hanging bridge?! You can find a suspension bridge in Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Park. It’s a resort, however if you are not staying there you can just pay $10 entrance fee to the park. However, if you want the ultimate experience, there’s also a more expensive option but with as many as 16 different bridges can be found at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The self-guided tour costs £26.
Hike Cerro Chato
The Chato Volcano resides at a height of 3,740 ft (1,140 m) right next to the Arenal Volcano. It has been inactive for thousands of years, and its crater is home to a lake. Unfortunately, as of February 2017, this hike has been declared as closed and prohibited by the government. Nonetheless, many people ignore the ban and still hike it anyway. However, this is at own risk. The trail is accessible from the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Park, as well as from the La Fortuna waterfall entrance. The trail is difficult and takes about 4 hours in total.
Do Canopy Tour
Soar high over the jungle at the fast pace as you zipline through the rainforest. This is a thrilling experience with amazing views. La Choza Inn Hostel offers canopy and hot springs tour for only $50.
Rope Swing (El Salto)
Feel like a real Tarzan and jump into the natural water hole from the rope hanging from the tree. Located only 20mins away from the main bus station.
Go White Water Rafting
In La Fortuna Costa Rica you can find Class III-IV white water rafting. It’s an extreme sport that will leave you with adrenaline rush. Yet, so much fun and a thrilling experience. It was my first time and I was so scared (even though I’ve done scarier things in the past like skydive), but I absolutely loved it. The instructors were very experienced and fun, they made it such an incredible and unforgettable day! I’ve booked my tour at La Choza Inn Hostel, which costed $65.
La Fortuna may be a small town, but certainly has a lot to offer. It’s one of the places that will show you the true beauty of Costa Rica and why so many people fall in love with it. You can also watch my video from my trip below.
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