8 Best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna is one of the most popular areas for visitors coming to Costa Rica. It’s the gateway town to one of the country’s most famous residents – Arenal Volcano – and is also home to a large area of rainforest making it perfect for wildlife spotting too.

La Fortuna is around a 3hr drive from the capital, San Jose – and there are so many hotel options in the town you can’t go too wrong. We chose to stay at the wonderful Nayara Springs, the perfect choice for a special getaway.

The weather in the area is super variable, and rain is experienced here 9 months of the year. We had glorious sunshine through to torrential monsoons for up to 36hrs solid, so it’s important to pack for both and expect rapid weather changes. Here are 8 of the best things to do in the area.

1. Visit Arenal National Park

The main draw to La Fortuna is its proximity to Arenal National Park (post coming soon), which is around a 20-30 minute drive from the town, depending on which area you visit. There are two sections to the park – the main Lava Fields section, and the Peninsula section. We hiked in both areas, and enjoyed both for different reasons.

Volcano view from the Park

In the park we saw a large variety of birds (including a toucan, hawk and lots of smaller birds), but the highlight was the spider monkeys who played above us for 10 minutes or so.

2. Spot sloths on the Bogarin Trail

Sloths are the main draw for many coming to Costa Rica, and we didn’t manage to see any in the National Park. So instead we headed to another section of rainforest to walk the Bogarin Trail, where we were lucky enough to see 3 sloths, 2 of which were active.


This area of dense rainforest is an oasis filled with tropical birds (we saw motmots, owls, hummingbirds, a yellow throated toucan and a fiery billed aracari amongst others), as well as colorful frogs and lots of ants! The trail is around 2km long and is an easy walk, just remember to look up as sloths live at the top of the trees.

3. Mystical Hanging Bridges Park

A short way from the centre of La Fortuna is a park, home to the mystical hanging bridges. It’s family run but is probably the most popular thing to do in the area so be warned, it can get busy. You follow a trail which takes in around 6 hanging bridges, which are high up in line with the top of the canopy, giving wonderful views down.

The hanging bridges are spectacular and the views out over the misty rainforest full of moss, orchids and cheeseplants growing naturally in the wild was special. We spotted howler and spider monkeys, a tarantula, a white hawk, a mot mot bird, a group of coatis and various hummingbirds. I totally recommend doing this with a guide, to make the most of the wildlife.

A lovely mot mot spotted on the way

4. Enjoy Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal is the largest man made lake in Costa Rica, and provides around 30% of the country’s enegery. It lies at the base of the volcano and is perfect for a number of activities. We chose to do a boat tour around the lake, but you can also do wildlife tours, kayaking or even fishing.

About to board a boat at the lake

5. Hotel ground nature walks galore

Most of the hotels and lodges in the area offer free nature walks for customers and it’s a great way to get an introduction to the rainforest and the incredible array of species. Below is just a section of what we saw on our walks – including a whole host of birds, all beautiful colours plus many lizards, frogs and spiders as well. My favourite though was the Blue Morpho butterfly which was absolutely massive and so beautiful.

Birds in the forest
The amazing Blue Morpho

6. Relax in a natural hot spring

The area all around La Fortuna is famous for its hot springs. There are a number of free ones which lie along the main road, or you can pay to enter others for a day pass at a spa in one of the hotels (if your hotel doesn’t have its own). The most famous and beautiful are at La Tabacon Hotel but we chose to visit the springs in our hotel for free, and they were still beautiful. You can read my full review of our hotel, Nayara Springs, HERE.

In the thermal springs

7. Sky Adventures walk and ziplining

Sky Adventures offers an array of jungle experiences. There is a sky gondola to take you to the top, where you can do a beautiful walk for views and then either get the gondola back down or choose something more adventurous and jungle zip-line back through the rainforest. We chose the ziplining.

On arrival we were given helmets and strapped in to our special belts then given some basic instructions about what (not) to do. Then we went up the mountain by steep cable car which carried us over the tree canopy to the first zip line which was a short practice wire. The practice zip line was cleverly set up so that we could not see the first β€˜proper’ zip line just round the corner. When we saw the first proper zip line we all gulped: it vanishes in to the distance and you can’t even see the end of it. Our guides were brilliant though, cheering us all on.

Waiting to fly down (no idea who the guy waiting in front is!)

After the first shaky landing our nerves started to settle so that as we zig zagged our way back down the mountainside via long zip lines we began to regard ourselves as experts. The views were magnificent (once relaxed enough to enjoy them!). If ziplining isn’t your thing, then you could also try abseiling or white water rafting, which are also both offered in the area.

8. Try local Costa Rican food and drink

The area is great for trying a whole host of local food, which is so delicious. We ate Gallo Pinto, Patacones, traditional Casado and so much fresh fruit. The pineapple was the best I’ve ever eaten, and we loved the hearty style of Costa Rican food.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this was helpful to learn about Costa Rica. If you’re planning a visit to the country, then you may find my other posts useful too:

  • Tortuguero via Poas Volcano (post coming soon)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park (post coming soon)
  • The Osa Peninsula (post coming soon)

Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.


  1. I loved this post, Hannah! Mike and I would love to visit Costa Rica for the scenery and the wildlife. Of course, we would have to visit the national parks, since that is our thing. Thank you for such a comprehensive overview. We just might get there one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Costa Rica is so amazing! We went to Arenal and Tabacon, but just for a day, so we sadly missed out on everything else on this list. Looks like we need to go back, and now I know what to do there when we do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an overview of amazing adventures and sights. The wildlife is stunning, not sure I’d heard of a spider monkey before, while sloths are just incredible creatures, I am yet to see one in the flesh. The Hanging Bridges look magical, you did well to get those shots, I wouldn’t have known that it was busy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At least you got to enjoy some blue skies and sun for part of your trip! I am super envious that you spotted some sloths!!! They are so adorable. I’m also a fan of all those hanging bridges. This makes me want to go to Costa Rica now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was touch and go with the weather, but we are lucky to have had a few days of sunshine for sure. The sloths were absolutely incredible, I loved them! The hanging bridges were also a cool experience – I definitely recommend putting CR on the list πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad you had a extensive time in Costa Rica! I’d only scratched the surface of the lush, tropical country on a trip four years ago, so it’d really pay off to return one of these days! Looks like it’s the perfect destination for nature lovers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such an extensive time, we managed to visit lots of places and plenty more posts to come. It really is a beautiful place and well worth slow travelling through to enjoy – there really is nature everywhere that’s for sure. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment πŸ™‚


  6. Your photos of the wildlife are amazing, especially the sloths. I went to La Fortuna years ago, so your post brought back lots of happy memories of ziplining, hiking, wildlife watching and relaxing in the amazing hot springs. Thanks Hannah πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much πŸ™‚ Ahhh I’m glad you have visited La Fortuna too, it really is a wonderful part of the world with so much to offer. The hot springs are divine! Thanks for reading and have a lovely evening πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I’ve never been to Costa Rica but it’s definitely on my bucket list (your post actually moved it up closer to the top!) It seems like all of these are just amazing bucket-list-worthy experiences, and the ziplining sounds so fun! Thank you for sharing this great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This looks like a great place to visit! The sloths and spider monkeys will definitely be my highlight as well. There is just so much to see – the ‘broccoli’ tree is very interesting and the blue butterfly beautiful! The hot springs may not be as adventurous as zip lining, but looks like a great pastime to me πŸ˜‰. Your photos are beautiful and is definitely good advertising for La Fortuna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the springs were one of my highlights too, I spent hours in there just resting, relaxing, reading and wishing that I could stay for longer!! Thanks so much for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed La Fortuna – lots more Costa Rica posts to come.

      Liked by 1 person

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