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The Best Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

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La Fortuna is a small town located in the North of Costa Rica. As the gateway to Arenal National Park, there are so many amazing things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

With lush rainforest, massive volcanos, and natural hot springs,  this place is perfect for those looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation. Here are some things to know when traveling to La Fortuna.

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Where is La Fortuna, Costa Rica?

La Fortuna is located in the center of the northern area of the country. It sits half way between the two cities of Liberia and San Jose, where the airports are.

where is La Fortuna Costa Rica

La Fortuna is located halfway between Liberia and San Jose.

Getting to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The two major cities that people fly into when visiting Costa Rica are Liberia and San Jose. La Fortuna is located right in between, and is a few hours from both of them, making it pretty accessible.

Being just 2 1/2 hours away, one option is to rent a car from the airport, and another is to take the local bus. Renting a car can be a little pricey in Costa Rica, but it is also a nice option to give you the freedom to travel around freely. The bus on the other hand, is much more affordable.

Want to book your bus to La Fortuna in advance? Here are some options:

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Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

Before making your travel arrangements, it's important to know all the requirements you'll need to meet in order to enter. Here's all you need to know before visiting Costa Rica.

Visa Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

When it comes to needing a visa for a Costa Rica. there are four different groups. The first only needs a passport valid until the day after departure from the country, while the second can enter without a visa but needs the validity of their passport to be three months longer than the dates of stay. The third group needs a visa, and the fourth group can only apply for a restricted visa (this is harder to get/ may have more requirements).

The nationalities that fall into the third group include Albania, Algeria, Angola, Arab Democratic, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Laos, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papau New Guinea, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Russia, Rwanda, Sahrawi, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Western Sahara, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The nationalities that fall into the fourth group include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Myanmar, Palestine, Somalia, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Covid Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

As of April 2022, all protocols for Covid-19 have been dropped.

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Local Adjustments

Whenever you travel there are things that you may forget about, that may be different from where you're coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

What Language is Spoken in La Fortuna, Costa Rica?

The official language in Costa Rica is Spanish. While many people do speak English as well, it definitely helps to learn a bit of the language before traveling there.

Currency in Costa Rica

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colon. Currently (October 2023) each 1 USD is equal to 531.41 Costa Rican Colones.

Is it Better to use USD or Colon in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica there are a ton of American tourists, so it's pretty common that locals will in fact take your USD. However, things are always cheaper in the local currency, and we always prefer going to the ATM to take out local money rather than using dollars.

What Plugs are Used in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica uses the same plug types as the rest of North America, which are types A & B. The standard voltage in Costa Rica is 110 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.

Is it Safe to Drink the Water in La Fortuna?

The water is perfectly safe to drink. Being that supermarkets are pretty expensive here, we definitely suggest bringing a refillable water bottle, and not buying a ton of small plastic water bottles.

Is Tipping Expected in Costa Rica?

The standard tipping percentage in Costa Rica is around 10%. Some restaurants include service in the bill, in which case you can leave a bit extra for really good service.

We urge you not to tip 20%. While you may think this is helping locals, overpaying in any circumstance actually adds to the crippling of the economy for those that live there. 

Costa Rica has an enormous issue with Americans overpaying. Because of this, prices keep rising, and locals can no longer afford to live there. This pushes out communities, and overall destroys the country as a whole.

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Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna is an awesome place to let out your adventurous side. There are so many great ways to enjoy the beautiful nature, and get that adrenaline pumping a little. Here are the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

1. Chasing Waterfalls

The number one thing to do in La Fortuna is to check out the the beautiful nature that it has to offer, and one of the highlights of this great place, is the cascading 70-75 meter waterfall there. 

Sitting at the base of the Cerro Chato volcano, the entrance to the park is $18, and it is open from 7:30 am- 4 pm. We suggest going as soon as they open, so that you can enjoy the place before it gets crowded. Wear comfortable shoes and a bathing suit, so that you can hike safely down the stairs, and swim at the bottom.

La Fortuna Waterfall, best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the main highlights of the area.

2. Hiking the Volcanoes

Other than the great La Fortuna waterfall, this place is known for its grand volcanoes that surround the town.


Being perfectly cone shaped, and sitting 1,657 meters high, this volcano is impossible to miss while visiting this area of Costa Rica. While you can't actually hike the volcano itself, it is definitely worth it to go to the Arenal Volcano National Park, as there are plenty of great ways to enjoy its beauty.

want a tour to explore around Arenal? Here are a few fun ones:

Cerro Chato

Although Arenal Volcano is the much more famous volcano, the Cerro Chato is definitely worth the visit. The hike up is around 1.5-2 hours, and has really nice views around it.

Cerro Chato, things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, Central America

Drone shot of the Cerro Chato Volcano, and its crater lake.

Cerro Chato Crater Lake

The best part of visiting Cerro Chato is that in the crater lies a lake with emerald green water. Making it to the crater lake is rather intense, and only for those adventurous souls that are in very good shape.

There isn't a clearly marked path the whole way, so you just need to trust your instincts. Be extra cautious when descending down to the lake, as the hike down is extremely steep, but will leave you with the most rewarding and unique experience.

Cerro Chato crater lake, La Fortuna, best places to visit in Central America

Cerro Chato Volcano has a lake in its crater.

3. Relax in the Hot Springs

There's nothing quite like relaxing in natural warm waters, after a long day in the sun, hiking, or doing water sports. Naturally heated by the surrounding volcanoes, there are quite a few hot springs in the area.

Visiting the hot springs is definitely one of the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Here are the most popular options.


These are one of the most beautiful hot springs in La Fortuna. Located in a private resort with well manicured gardens, Tabacon hot springs are pretty pricey, as you either need to stay overnight in the hotel, or get a day pass to enjoy them. A day pass including a lunch buffet is $90/ person from 10am- 10 pm, and $110 for a dinner buffet included as well.

Want to get an organized tour there? We've gathered a few that you can take from different areas:


Baldi Hot Springs are a good alternative if you'd like to spend a little less money, but still have that luxurious resort experience. Entrance is $20, $63 for a pass with a meal included, and $83 if you would like to stay the whole day with lunch and dinner included. (Note: These prices were from when we went in 2019 and may have changed).

Ready to book a full excursion including Baldi hot springs? Here are some that you can reserve in advance:

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Free Hot Springs

If you'd like to visit hot springs, want to save money, and are looking for a more natural environment, there are free to visit natural hot springs that are right across the road from Tabacon. 

Just go down the small path by the side of the road, and enjoy the warm waters flowing, and relaxing atmosphere. You'll see groups of friends here bringing beers and hanging out here, which makes the perfect way to end your day after an intense hike at the volcano.

Free Hot Springs, things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

If you don't want to spend a fortune you can take advantage of the free hot springs in La Fortuna.

4. Enjoy some Water Sports

Because there are plenty of rivers and lakes in the area, water sports are pretty popular near La Fortuna. Here are a few to add to your bucket list.


Canyoning is one of the world's fastest growing adventure sports, is truly adrenaline pumping. Inside canyons or gorges, you will do a variety of activities including hiking, climbing, swimming, or abseiling. 

Want to book an excursion canyoning and more? Here are a few great options that we found:

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White Water Rafting

 Located just 30 minutes outside of La Fortuna, you can go to La Balsa River for class 2 or 3 rapids. While still adventurous and fun, they are big enough to pump your adrenaline, but still safe and secure for those who aren't experts. There are plenty of tour companies that offer this, online, or upon arrival in La Fortuna.

Want to book in advance? Here are some options that you can choose from:

5. Zipline Through the Jungle

Ziplining is an exhilarating activity, and is even more fun when you are right in the middle of the jungle. Zoom though the lush greenery and enjoy the views of this beautiful area.

Want to book now? Here are some that you can check out:

6. Go Underground to the Venado Caves

Located 45 minutes away from La Fortuna, lies a small town of Vando, which has a beautiful cave full of stalagtites and stalagmites. Venado caves are open from 8-4, and have tours at 8 and 1, which last around 2 1/2 hours. We suggest bringing water shoes, as there is an underground river inside.

Want to visit Venado Caves? There are tours you can take from both La Fortuna and San Jose:

7. Visit Tortuguero Park

If you're staying a few days in La Fortuna, a great day trip is Tortuguero Park.

This national park hosts 11 different habitats, including rain forest, beaches, mangroves, lagoons, and swamps. The park is open from 6 am- 6 pm and is $15 for foreigners. Check out the village, go hiking, or watch the sea turtles nesting at the beach.

Here's a few day tour so that you can do it all:

8. Learn about Coffee Making

If you're looking to do a cultural activity, this is one of the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Arenal Vida Campesina not only shows you the process of making coffee, but will show you all around the different areas of the farm, and offer great local products.

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Ready to book your tour? Here are a few different options:

Getting Around La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Getting around La Fortuna can be a little tricky, as public transportation is pretty limited. We actually resorted to hitchhiking, which was extremely easy, and we only had good experiences. If you have a little extra money, renting a car is definitely the easier and hassle-free option.

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Local Food

One of the best parts of traveling is trying the local cuisine. Here are a few Costan Rican dishes to try while in La Fortuna.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is considered to be the national dish of Costa Rica, and is definitely a must try while visiting the country. This perfectly blended concoction of rice, beans, onions, red pepper, and cilantro, is usually served for breakfast with eggs, and sometimes as a side for meals later in the day.


Translated to "married man" this dish consists of rice & beans, salad, plantains, and a protein such as chicken or beef, and sometimes a slice of cheese.

Arroz con Pollo

This typical rice dish is made with annatto, which is similar to saffron, with vegetables added such as peas, peppers, onions, carrots or celery, and finished off with chicken. This dish is also seen with plenty of substitutes, such as Arroz con Camarones (shrimp), or Arroz con Mariscos (seafood).


A trip to Central America wouldn't be complete without plantains. These green plantains are sliced thick,  smashed thin, and fried to perfection. If you are coming from Panama, they are the same thing as tostones.

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Where to Stay in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna is a small town, and has plenty of places to stay for very cheap prices. Our personal favorite though, is Selina hostel. This place is slightly more expensive than the budget hostels in the area, but is seriously worth the extra few dollars.

Selina Hostel is centrally located, clean, and has an incredible atmosphere. You can choose to be in a shared dorm, a private room, or one of the unique tee-pees that they have. This hotel has a full kitchen, pool, bonfire area, and buzzing atmosphere.

If you are planning on traveling through Central America or South America, there are plenty of cities that have this great hostel!

Is Puerto Viejo Safe?

We felt pretty safe the entire time we were in La Fortuna. This small town has pure "pure vida" vibes, and everyone is just so happy and friendly. We had no problem walking around at night, and we found it to be a great place for solo travelers looking to meet friends.

Other Things to Know About Visiting La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Now you know almost everything about visiting La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

Weather in La Fortuna

Costa Rica has two seasons- rainy and dry. La Fortuna actually has more rain then most. Its rainy season is from April-December and its dry season is from January to March. It never gets too cool in La Fortuna, and has high humidity and heat for the majority of the year.

Packing For a Trip to La Fortuna, Costa Rico 

Due to the Caribbean weather, we definitely recommend being prepared for rain or shine.  We suggest bringing plenty of sunscreen, bug spray, and sporty clothing for this adventure packed area of the country.

A poncho or umbrella is good to have just in case, as well as shoes and clothes that are comfortable and that you don't mind getting dirty for those jungle visits.

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With so many great things to see and do, La Fortuna is definitely a place to add on anyone's Central American bucket list. We recommend spending a few days here to make the most of this great place.

Want to see more great places in Central America? You can check out our article about the 18 best places to travel in Central America, or you can go through our whole list of Central American guides.

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