Costa Rica was on my bucket list for WAY too long. It is pretty much the polar opposite of the landscape where I am from (Las Vegas), so it’s safe to say I’ve never seen so much green in my life!
La Fortuna specifically is the jungle of Costa Rica, where you can zipline over waterfalls, horseback ride through rivers, see monkeys & sloths everywhere you look, relax in luxurious and all natural hot springs from the volcano, and so much more. La Fortuna is the ultimate adventure-lovers paradise!!
In this guide, I am jumping STRAIGHT in to the best things to do in La Fortuna. At the end of the guide, you can find my recommendations on a few “must-pack” items & where I recommend staying in the area!
Be sure to check out my full 10 day Costa Rica Itinerary here!
There’s a change this free guide contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes towards little Rosie’s treats!
1. Spend the day at Club Rio Adventure Center
This was my FAVORITE day in La Fortuna, so of course I had to put it at the top of the list!
The Club Rio Adventure Center is located at The Springs Resort & Spa, down at their private river-front. At this adventure center, they offer tours like horseback riding through the river, tubing down class II & III rapids, rock climbing, river rafting, and so much more!
At The Springs Resort, they offer an amazing package that includes a two day pass to use at their resort / adventure center, two adventure tours, and lunch for only $125/pp (as of March 2023).
2. Mistico Hanging Bridges Trail
What an incredibly unique experience to walk over hanging bridges over canyons of pure jungle! This 2.5 mile trail winds you through the forest, over creeks & rivers, and the opportunity to walk over 10 regular bridges & 6 hanging bridges!
Even though we went mid-day during their busier season, it was still such a peaceful experience. On the first hanging bridge, there is a hold up of people trying to get their, “instagram shot,” but after that, everyone is very spread out. There were many bridges along the path that I got completely to myself! 🙂
Here is my “instagram shot” 😉
3. Go Zip Lining
I have been zip lining on so many destinations with incredible views but nothing comes even remotely close to zip lining in Costa Rica.. WOW.
I am seriously kicking myself for not bringing my GoPro on my zip lining adventure because the views were absolutely incredible, but you will just have to take my word for it!!
I can’t recommend Arenal Mundo Adventure Center enough. They have a prime location that goes over multiple waterfalls (including the famous La Fortuna Waterfall)! They offer free pick up & drop off from your hotel and make the entire experience so enjoyable.
4. Adventure to the Local’s Natural Hot Springs
Did you know there are natural hot springs in La Fortuna? Most people only know about the picturesque and expensive resort hot springs, but there are all natural hot springs along a river front as well!
Located right outside the Tabacon Resort, you will see many locals and tourists parking along the side of the road. Just through the trees and down to the river you will find natural hot spring pools that are completely FREE!
Here is more information on where to find the hot springs.
5. Spend the Day at a Luxury Hot Spring Resort
If hunting down natural hot springs isn’t your thing, lucky for you there is an abundance of luxury hot spring resorts to visit! Almost all of these resorts offer day passes for a fee ($$$), but will sometimes include things like lunch, tours, spa treatments, etc.!
The two most well-known hot spring resorts in La Fortuna are The Tabacon Resort and The Springs Resort!
My recommendation? The Springs Resort has an amazing package where you get two tours, lunch & a two day pass to the resort for only $125/pp (as of March 2023)!!
Click here to check out that package!
6. La Fortuna Waterfall
Probably the most famous thing to do in La Fortuna is visit the La Fortuna Waterfall!
This beautiful waterfall is what most people picture when they think of Costa Rica.. swimming in waterfalls, surrounded by lush jungle! Well, your dreams are about to come true 😉
The La Fortuna waterfall is extremely close to town (only about a 10 minute drive) and is a very quick “hike” to get to. When I say hike, I mean it is 530 steps down to the waterfall and 530 steps right back up.
Once you arrive at the waterfall, you can sometimes swim in the pool if the currents are not too strong. If they are too strong, which they were when I went, you can still stand on the lava rocks as close the waterfall as you want, just not get in the actual pool. There are other waterfalls at the bottom with a few viewpoints to check out.
7. Rio Celeste Waterfall
If you have the time and want to make the trek to another waterfall, Rio Celeste is a very famous waterfall in the area as well. This waterfall however is quite the trek to get to.. it will take you roughly 1.5 hours to drive to the trailhead and then the hike is 3.5 miles each way.
From locals that is asked, this waterfall is incredibly beautiful with vibrant turquoise water, river to swim in, and hot springs along the river…. but the catch is… only on a sunny day is the water a vibrant color. The local’s say very often it just looks like a regular waterfall and can sometimes look murky if the rains have been heavy days before you visit. Just something to keep in mind before you make the trek!
Also.. you can not swim in this waterfall! You are able to swim in the river in the area, but not the actual waterfall!
Here is a great tour that takes you to Rio Celeste Waterfall from La Fortuna!
8. Sloth Walk at the Bogarin Trail
You can’t go to Costa Rica without seeing sloths, you just can’t!
Lucky for you, there is a flat walking trail called the Bogarin Trail right in downtown that is known for it’s sloth-sightings! These little guys have crazy camouflage and are incredibly hard to spot. I would HIGHLY recommend signing up for a guided tour so he can point out all the sloths for you. He knows what trees they like best and most likely already spotted them earlier that day and know where to look. 🙂
TIP: The Bogarin Trail is CASH ONLY! Make sure you bring enough cash to pay either the entrance fee or the guided tour fee!! Click here for their current pricing.
9. Coffee and / or Chocolate Tasting
Costa Rica is well known for it’s coffee and chocolate farms, which you will easily spot both of these items in any gift shop you walk into. If you want to learn what makes their process special and learn a bit about their coffee and chocolate culture, there are many tours to sign up for.
Here is a coffee & chocolate tasting right in downtown La Fortuna at an extremely affordable price!
10. Hike a volcano
Want to get all up close and personal with the volcano in La Fortuna? There are guided, small group hikes that take you up the volcano where they teach you about the unique eco-system in La Fortuna & let you relax your tired muscles at a hot spring afterwards. Here is that guided tour!
If you want to do a self-guided hike where you follow the trail on your own, here are the top hikes in Arena based off of All Trails!
11. River Rafting
I already mentioned tubing down the river at the Club Rio Adventure Center, but there are also river rafting adventures you can sign up for as well! These tours are usually in larger groups and will take you down more advanced river rapids.
For me, tubing was thrilling enough, but if you are an adventure-seeker, this is for you!
Here is a river rafting tour that includes lunch & hotel pick up / drop off!
12. Waterfall Rappelling
This is something that if I went back to Costa Rica, I would 100% do! Waterfall rappelling is very popular in Costa Rica because there are so many waterfalls to choose from! 🙂
On these tours they typically take you on a course where you rappel down multiple waterfalls, swim in hidden waterfalls, and spot tons of wildlife since you are away from the tourists and in the natural jungle!
This tour also includes pick up & drop off, lunch, and costa rican coffee!
13. ATV Tour to a secret hot spring
There are literally hundreds of ATV tour options in La Fortuna! Want to go right through rivers & mud? Want to go on a paved trail with scenic views of the volcano? How about all of the above with you ending at a secret natural hot spring in the forest?
Click here for the tour that has ATV riding through the rivers & forest with ending at a secret natural hot spring!
14. Try Costa Rican “fine dining” at Don Rufino
I have to be honest… I was pleasantly surprised by the food scene in La Fortuna. I went into the trip expecting not the best food in a small jungle town, but the food was GREAT. There were tons of food options and tons of different types of cultured food!
If you are looking for a nicer restaurant with white table clothes, a lengthy wine list, and excellent food.. Don Rufino is a must! My husband and I made a reservation here for our first night to reward ourselves for such a long travel day and it was unbelievably good!
Click here to make a reservation!
15. Cooking & Salsa Dance Lesson from a Local!
Local tours are my favorite kind of tours! It’s so fun to take a dip into local life and meet people who actually live in the destination. Personally, I think this tells you more about a travel destination than just visiting the touristy sites! 🙂
I always always always use Viator to book my tours because it compares prices of other similar tours, shows real reviews, and tons of photos so you can see what you’re signing up for!
Click here for the Cooking & Salsa Dancing Class!
16. Relax at Lake Arenal
I originally thought about heading to the lake and doing a sunset boat cruise or booze cruise, but was shocked that there was nothing like that at Lake Arenal! After visitng La Fortuna, I can see now that they want to keep La Fortuna a peaceful and a nature-lover’s paradise!
You can head to the lake to just hang out by the water, go paddle boarding or kayaking, or do a fishing tour!
Click here to sign up for paddle boarding or kayaking tour on the lake!
17. Get massages in your hotel room!
If you are staying at a hot spring resort, they likely have a spa on premise. If you are not staying at a hot spring resort, you can still bring one to you! There are local massage shops that offer mobile massages (as long as your hotel doesn’t offer massages)!
Some local businesses that offer mobile massage options are:
18. El Salto Costa Rica Rope Swing
Just outside of downtown La Fortuna, there is a local’s hangout that has a beautiful river to hang out at, a small waterfall, and a rope swing!
Called El Salto Rope Swing, it is located only $5 minutes from downtown and the best part… it’s completely FREE! 🙂
TIP: There is not really parking for this river hang out. If you don’t want to stress about finding parking on the side of the road, make sure you go early in the morning and mid-week!
19. Kalambu Water Park
This one is more for families with kids, but there is a hot spring water park in La Fortuna! Located at the Kalambu Water Park, only about 15 minutes from downtown.
This waterpark is extremely affordable, only $11.00 for a day pass or $18 for a day pass + lunch pass (as of April 2023).
20. Venado Caves
The Venado caves are located about an hour outside of La Fortuna where you can explore caves! These caves are not for the faint of heart and definitely will have you crawling through extremely narrow passageways. There is a river that runs through parts of it, so be prepared to get wet!
I personally did not want to do this because I saw a picture of a huge spider and bats on the reviews, but to each there own!! 😉
Click here for tour options for Venado Caves!
21. Get traditional Costa Rican SODA
If you’re a person who loves to travel to different countries to experience their culture through food, then you most try some local costa rican food.. also known as “Soda.”
When driving around La Fortuna town, you will see restaurants named soda everywhere! All this means it is a traditional, mom & pop costa rican restaurant. I asked all of the locals which once was the best in town and everyone said Soda La Hormiga, by a landslide!!
All of the meals ranged anywhere from $3-$7 when we were there (December 2022)!
22. Rainforest Night tour
If you’re an animal lover, you will want to see all the animals you can! Many of the animal species in Costa Rica only come out at night, so you can sign up for a nighttime rainforest walk to spot these cuties.
These little guys are very difficult to spot without an experienced guide because they are so well camouflaged in the jungle!
This tour is roughly two hours long and has 71+ 5* reviews!
23. Stroll through downtown La Fortuna
Of course, just wandering and exploring is always the best part of traveling! Get out of the resort, see the area and talk with some locals!!
Downtown La Fortuna is so adorable and extremely safe! I never once felt unsafe walking around the downtown area and all of the locals were SO friendly. There are tons of bars, restaurants, shops, and parks to explore. I would recommend getting dropped off at the park, Parque De La Fortuna, and going from there.
Where to stay in La Fortuna
La Fortuna has a surprisingly large amount of resorts to stay at. Most are a luxury-style resort with hot springs on their property.
There are super fancy ones like The Springs Resort (where the Kardashians stay) or Tabacon Resort, which you may never want to leave the resort, ha!
For me, I wanted a nice experience, thermal pools, and to be close to town! My husband and I chose the Royal Corin Hot Spring Resort, which was only 10 minutes from town and had the most beautiful grounds!! It’s a newer hotel, so the rooms are very upgraded and the restaurants were phenomenal.
Plus, the service was 10/10! Instead of walking up to the counter to check in, they seat you on a comfy couch, bring you a cool towel, welcome drink and bring the check in process to you! It was such a great touch, especially since its such a long travel day to get there!
5 “Must Pack Items” for Costa Rica
I never want to bore you with a long packing list, but always like to include what I think are absolute, MUST PACK items for this specific itinerary!
- Reef Safe Sunblock – If you are going in the ocean, you should be wearing reef-safe, mineral based sunscreen only. Plus, it’s better for your skin! This is my favorite brand!
- Light rain jacket – It randomly starts POURING in Costa Rica! I would always carry a small, light rain jacket and travel umbrella in your purse when walking around!!
- Bug Spray.. Like a lot of it. Here are wipes that are a little less greasy if you would rather do that! Plus, they are easy to stick in your pocket for re-applying.
- GoPro if you want to capture any photos or videos during your adventures! I know this is more of a splurge item, but there are so many adventure filled activities on this 10 day Costa Rica itinerary, you will want a durable camera to capture it all!
- Water Shoes for hiking in La Fortuna! If you are going to hot springs, hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding in the rivers, etc.. you need good water shoes. These Teva water sandals are literally the best and most comfortable things you can put on your feet. Seriously, they are a godsend for a trip like this!!
Okay, that’s a wrap! I hope you learned at least a few unique things to do in La Fortuna to help you plan the perfect trip! I am SO excited for you to experience this beautiful little piece of the world, La Fortuna is magical.
Traveling to Costa Rica? I think you would LOVE my 10 days in Costa Rica Itinerary! In my itinerary, I include most of the items on this list and a fun few days on the coast in Las Catalinas. 🙂
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