La Fortuna is likely the most traveled to location in Costa Rica. It is home to Arenal Volcano, a ridiculous amount of Hot Springs and the gorgeous La Fortuna Waterfall. Most people who visit spend their time hiking, birdwatching, horseback riding and adventuring in Arenal National Park.
The La Fortuna Low Down
- How to Keep Busy
- Let's Talk Money
- Crash Pads
- Tips from Mary
- Related Articles
- Booking Resources
How to Keep Busy
- Arenal National Park: While there are tons of trails to follow and hikes to take, this is the OG. If you are hoping to spot animals and learn about the wildlife along the way I recommend taking a guide along with you. The guides have spotting scopes- think binoculars and telescope combined- to help you see even the most hidden of sloths and quickest of monkeys.
- Hot Springs: You will not have a short supply of choices when it comes to Hot Springs to visit. Facilities range from free to fancy. My top 2 are below
- Free Hot Springs- Located Across from Tabacon Resort. You can't miss all the cars parked along the road and the heaps of people hiking down.
- Baldi Hot Springs- Probably the best know of all the Hot Springs Resorts. Can be a little pricey, but as tons of pools and is clean as a whistle. Most tickets come with a buffet lunch or dinner to go along with you day of relaxing!
- La Fortuna Waterfall: You will not believe your eyes. Well worth the over 500 stairs down (and then back up). There are places to swim and hang out, so bring your swimsuit and a snack to share- oh and tons of water, the hike back up is no joke.
- Hanging Bridges: See the rainforest from a new angle as you cross over 15 bridges suspended in the trees. My favorite company is Mistico, they have a ton of different tours to pick from!
Let's Talk Money
- Transportation Prices: The easiest way to get around La Fortuna is by car. You can rent a car- which will run you between $70 and $100 USD daily or book a taxi for the day prices are negotiable but will likely be $50 - $100 USD. Other options would be to see if transport is included with the tour you are booking, hitching a ride with new hostel friends, or hitch hiking (of course at your own risk). There is one central bus station in downtown La Fortuna- there you can buy tickets for onward travel- although the options are limited. You can walk all over the main town of La Fortuna quite safely and just grab a taxi when the rain starts to pour down.
- Food: La Fortuna is definitely not known for its food scene. There are plenty of local eateries called "sodas" that will serve up a pile of rice and bean and your choice of meat for under $6 a plate. Beyond that- there are a handful of good Italian restaurants, a few bars, and lots of fresh fruit to enjoy. Meals in sit down touristy resturants will run about $12- $20 USD. Many of the luxury hotels and spas have really amazing restaurants on site, just be prepared to fork over your $$$.
- Crash Pads: La Fortuna has a huge variety of places to stay. The cheapest backpacker hostel will run about $8 USD a night, budget hotel/ hostel is about $10 - $40 a night, mid range hotels run about $60 a night, and fancier options are closer to $200 or $300 a night. La Fortuna does also have some super high end and luxury resorts and hotels that can cost closer to $500 - $1000 a night depending on your selection- think weddings and honeymoon suites. Keep reading to see my top choices of places to stay.
- Hostels: La Fortuna is a backpackers paradise, below are my favorites!
- Arenal Backpackers Resort
- The truest of backpacker hostels complete with a swim up bar.
- Selina La Fortuna
- You always know what you are going to get with Selina brand hostels- clean rooms, good food and drinks, tons of people and chill pool area to hang out in after a long hike.
- Essence Arenal
- While not in La Fortuna proper, this boutique Hotel/ Hostel is combined with an organic family run farm is the real deal. You can find this cute creative community in the next town over called El Castillo. I recommend staying in the glamping tents to wake up to the rainforest!
- Arenal Backpackers Resort
- Hotels / Resorts: Most Hotels and Resorts are located a little outside of the main town of La Fortuna. Some of the best are scattered along the road leading towards Arenal National Park.
- Airbnb: While they are fewer and far between, there are some You can follow this link to get some cash money towards your first reservation with Airbnb!
Tips from Mary
1. In CR all gratuity is included in the price of the meal. There is no need to tip at restaurants (some will ask) and if you really feel the need just leave the change that rounds up the cost to the nearest dollar. You can tip your bellman, someone who helps you with your bags at airport and tour guides.
2. Get Gallo Pinto (A breakfast food made of beans, rice and all the right spices) at a Soda. My favorite in La Fortuna is right next to the bus station called Soda La Hormiga.
3. Visit the secret rope swing. This is a place frequented by locals, where you can swing into a little pool of water being filled by a mini waterfall. Sounds to die for right? It is. Just don't be stupid and make sure to watch how the locals swing in first before attempting on your own.
4. Fall asleep at an early hour and enjoy the morning sunshine. There is very very little nightlife in La Fortuna. I suggest using your evening to recharge and wake with the 6am sunshine and start your day early before the afternoon rain.
5. Speaking of rain, here is your reminder to: Always carry an umbrella! The weather can change drastically over the course of a day. While it usually about 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit year round in La Fortuna the amount of rainfall varies from season to season.
6. Pick your tours wisely. While most people are super pura vida, everyone is trying to make a buck. When booking (even through your hotel) ask them for discounts. Also do your research! Some places are totally chill to explore on your own while others are best traveled with a guide.