The best things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica

La Fortuna, north west of the capital San Jose, may only be a small town but it packs a big punch for travellers visiting the area. Rainforest and tropical jungle dress the volcanic landscape, and attractions such as the Hot Springs La Fortuna and the La Fortuna Waterfall are a true spectacle not to be missed.

The breathtaking scenery can be lapped up when partaking in one of a plethora of outdoor activities that are on offer. La Fortuna is a natural playground!

With stimulating skywalks over hanging bridges, rip-roaring rides through the sky on zip lines and wicked wild rafting escapades over white water, La Fortuna is an adrenaline junkies heaven.

The lush green jungle, exotic wildlife and striking scenery also make La Fortuna a great escape for those looking for a tranquil retreat.

What are the top attractions to visit in La Fortuna?

If you’re wondering where to go in Costa Rica, here are some of the top things to do in La Fortuna…

Arenal Volcano 

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When you picture La Fortuna, you probably picture a lush green rainforest set against a misty, volcanic backdrop; a postcard-perfect display of nature at its very finest. That backdrop is the Arenal Volcano, the unavoidable, imposing presence towering tall over La Fortuna.

Hiking is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and there are certainly challenging hikes to be done here at Arenal Volcano. But do not be mistaken as there is so much more on offer than initially meets the eye.

Horseback rides, hanging bridges and hot springs, rafting, rappelling and canyoning – just some examples of activities that can be enjoyed at Arenal Volcano, a place that simply begs to be explored. Discover natures’ best with one of many available tours at the Volcano and push your nerves to the limit (if you dare) with a thrilling adventure!

Discover the gem of the jungle, the La Fortuna Waterfall 

The La Fortuna Waterfall has an impressive drop of 75 meters, forcing water to plummet through the lush rainforest into a bright blue basin. It is generally easily accessible, making it one of the most popular waterfalls in Costa Rica, with the only slight challenge being the 500 steps to the base of the falls. Once you reach the glorious pool, changing rooms are available at the visitor center so you can comfortably ready yourself for a drip in the cold natural water. If the hike back up from the falls wears you down, there’s a restaurant at the top where you can recharge.

Hot springs La Fortuna

In 1968 the Arenal Volcano erupted, causing severe damages to the region and multiple casualties. Whilst the eruption was tragic, it changed the region geographically in such a way that makes it one of Costa Rica’s most visited locations today. Nature took a lot in 1968, and in return gave way to masses of natural hot springs that make the region a must-visit for travellers in La Fortuna looking to relax in a unique and beautiful setting.

The waters of the springs are rich in minerals that are supposedly good for the body (and mind) with many claiming that they hold healing properties. Whether myth or fact, there is no denying that a turn in the hot springs of La Fortuna will leave you feeling incredible after a hard day of adventure and exploration!

There are many springs to choose from to suit every budget, some geothermally heated by the volcano and others thermally heated.

One popular luxury hot spring is the Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, a 5 star in a tropical paradisiacal setting right in the heart of the jungle. Five different springs feed the Tabacon hot springs, which are naturally heated, each pool with a different temperature so you can choose what’s right for you.

The Eco Termales Hot Springs La Fortuna is a thermal spring and prides itself on being the area’s only ‘true’ natural spring. The magnesia filled waters are filled with medicinal properties, leaving visitors with a feeling of natural energy after their time in the water. 

The region’s hot springs are one of the main reasons many travellers visit La Fortuna, so be sure to take the time to let go of all that ails you and relax in the magical natural waters!

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

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The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is an easy way to discover Costa Rica’s biodiversity in a safe and sustainable way. Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s wildlife, and in the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park alone there are over 300 bird species, 700 species of plants, plus hundreds of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

If you’re visiting Costa Rica in winter, you can see birds of prey as they migrate through. Year round you can expect to see (or hear) toucans and turkey hens, and if you’re lucky you might catch some of the 120 species of mammal in the park, including pumas and jaguars, while exploring the 2 mile hiking trail. The natural experience is made even better by the 6 hanging bridges, the tallest of which is 148 high! For extra insights and an extra pair of eyes, sign up for a guided tour of the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.

What are the best things to do in La Fortuna at night?

La Fortuna is an outdoor, adventure enthusiasts dream and most of the activities in the area centre around this, meaning things can get pretty quiet when the sun goes down. If you’re wondering what are the best things to do in La Fortuna at night, the small town is filled with lively bars and restaurants that are sure to entertain you into the early hours.

If you’re staging in one of the many resorts in the Arenal area, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining, drinking and dancing options. For those staying outside of resorts, the town has many discos, cocktail bars and friendly pubs that await your visit for a tipple or two. 

For foodies, one of the best things to do in La Fortuna at night is to test out the local cuisine! Known for using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients and service with a smile, La Fortuna is a great place to tantalise your tastebuds.

What are the best things to do to do in La Fortuna when it rains?

La Fortuna’s tourism is primarily focused on outdoor activities which, for the most part, are better enjoyed in warm, dry weather! Whilst Costa Rica offers wonderful weather for much of the year, wet season is also a thing in Costa Rica so it’s always good to have a back-up plan in case the rain gets in the way.

La Fortuna is only a small town but there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy if you need to escape from the rain. There are also a couple of highly rated art galleries in town – the Onirica Art Gallery and the Coco Loco Art Studio & Gallery if viewing some local craft interests you. You might even find a little something to take home to remind you of your time in Costa Rica!

One of the most popular activities in the area is to visit one of the many natural hot springs. Whilst it is strictly speaking an outdoor activity, since you’ll be getting wet anyway it remains one of the best things to do in La Fortuna when it rains!

Getting from San Jose to La Fortuna (and back again!)

Sitting just north-west of San Jose, La Fortuna is easily accessible from Costa Rica’s capital. A perfect getaway for an outdoor adventure filled with jungle activities, or a relaxing retreat in the natural landscape, La Fortuna is regularly visited from San Jose. The journey can take between 2.5 and 5 hours depending on your mode of transport. A few public buses run between the two locations daily, taking up to 5 hours. For a more convenient and flexible transfer, Daytrip offers private car transfers from San Jose to La Fortuna, and La Fortuna to San Jose, for those looking for a more personalised approach.

The Best Things to Do in San Jose Costa Rica

Usually considered a city to pass through, San Jose has hidden gems that will make your stay in Costa Rica’s capital worth while. With many international flights arriving at SJO, San Jose should be your first stop on your journey through Costa Rica. A relatively young city, San Jose has many architectural beauties packed with culture and history. As the nation’s capital, it is the most populated city in Costa Rica, but it feels far from crowded, especially compared to its other Latin American counterparts. Enjoy the museums, the cuisine, the culture, and the nitelife as you explore Costa Rica’s underrated gem. 

What are the Best Things to Do in San Jose?

Thankfully a lot of the beautiful buildings and main sites are all within walking distance of each other. This will make your tour of San Jose effortless and enjoyable, while you discover some of the best things to do in San Jose. 

What to See in San Jose Costa Rica?

Teatro Nacional

A stunning building in the center of San Jose, Teatro Nacional is home to Costa Rica’s national ballet and opera companies. Constructed in a neoclassical style the interior is even more grand than the exterior. With a beautiful chandelier, lovely painted murals, and gilded box seats, a night at the theatre feels like a royal occasion. If you are unable to catch a show, the theatre does provide tours where you can see almost all of the interior and marvel at the ornate fixtures, it is truly one of the top things to do in San Jose. 

Metropolitan Cathedral

Head a few blocks down the street and you will find a cathedral just as grand as the theatre. The Metropolitan Cathedral was built with a combination of architectural styles in mind, but is beautiful nonetheless. While a stunning altar draws your eye, the high ceilings are what really make this cathedral feel larger than life. Please note this cathedral operates for parishioners, so it is always a good idea to enter with a respectful mindset.  

La Sabana Park

Known as San Jose’s central park, this space is the most green that you will be able to find in the city. But it’s not like any of the other forests in Costa Rica, you will most likely see kids playing sports or business people taking a break from their day to eat lunch or take a walk. There are a couple paths where you can take a leisurely stroll, there’s even a small lake where you can sit and enjoy the afternoon sunshine, which makes it easily one of the top things to see in San Jose Costa Rica. 

Paseo Colon

Located in the center of San Jose, this is the main drag where you can get to any of the major sites. This is where you will see some impressive architecture, and you can get to the Teatro Nacional and the Metropolitan Cathedral easily from this main street. Consider it your focal point when you are organizing your itinerary for the best things to do in San Jose.

Where to Go in San Jose Costa Rica?

Museo Nacional

source: – Diana Gonzalez

Off the Paseo Colon main drag you will find Costa Rica’s National Museum, it’s a bright yellow building with intriguing sculptures sitting out in front. Dive into Costa Rica’s history as you learn about early settlements, the Spanish Inquisition, and the caribbean influence on Costa Rica’s culture. Then take a look at the pre-columbian history, where there are many pre-columbian artifacts preserved and on display, then check out the butterfly garden, you can wander the beautiful green gardens and see how many species of butterfly you can spot! There are other exhibits that come and go, but even the main exhibits should be on your list of things to do in San Jose. 


Contrary to the name, a ‘soda’ in Costa Rica is not a sweet fizzy drink. A soda is a small family owned eatery, usually street side, only having a few tables. In the family business, usually, one member of the family is cooking and the other member of the family is attending to the customers. Sodas are the quintessential way to dine out and have a quick meal in Costa Rica, they may be small but the food is delicious and authentically Costa Rican. 

Barrio Amon

Check out the historic neighborhood of Barrio Amon. Formerly mansions that belonged to coffee growers, the buildings have been reconstructed and revitalized, as they are now hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. Enjoy the feel of historical architecture while sipping a perfect cup of Costa Rican coffee, it’s no wonder this is one of the top places in San Jose. 

Unusual Things to Do in San Jose Costa Rica

Jade Museum

source: – Haakon S. Krohn

If you’re a history or archaeology buff, the Jade Museum is the perfect thing to do in San Jose. This museum houses the largest collection of American Jade in the world. There are thousands of preserved pieces of different kinds of jade, from translucent stones to idols and figures. Also fun for the whole family, this museum has some interactive exhibits, making this one of the best places in San Jose for the whole family! 

Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica

Catch a football game, or a concert at San Jose’s new stadium! Newly finished in 2011, this 35,000 people stadium draws a crowd from all over Costa Rica to watch the latest football match or rockstar. If you are in San Jose for one of these events, as the crowd becomes lively and electric with a sense of pride for their home team. What really makes this stadium unique is that the shape is reminiscent of a clam shell, truly one of the more unusual things to do in San Jose. 

Waterfalls Near San Jose Costa Rica

La Paz Waterfall

Take the two mile hiking trail to the ‘waterfall of peace’ where you can enjoy the serenity of the natural rainforest. Once you reach the waterfall, the 120 foot stream of water pours into a small pool where the crash of the fall creates a white foam and a strong stream. It is recommended to hire a guide as they can really show you the best spots to see the waterfall, as well as point out different local flora and fauna. The best part is, La Paz waterfall is only about an hour away from San Jose, making it one of the best waterfalls near San Jose. 

Los Chorros Waterfall

Less than an hour from San Jose, you’ll be at the Los Chorros Waterfall! “Los Chorros” means ‘the jets’ in spanish, and it’s rightfully so that this fall has that name. The fall is about 150 feet high, so when the water comes streaming over the fall, it’s tumbling to the pool below as fast as a jet. While you can’t swim at these falls, there are others along the trail where you can take a dip if the heat is intense that day. With the beautiful surrounding forest and powerful falls it is definitely one of the best waterfalls near San Jose.