La Fortuna is Costa Rica’s adventure-lovers paradise. The town may be little in size, but don’t underestimate how much it has to offer.
If you’re obsessed with nature, there’s plenty of hiking to do. Want a relaxing couple of days? La Fortuna has a huge choice of luxury resorts, even with their own hot springs!
Basically what we’re saying here is that La Fortuna is so popular because it offers something for all types of travellers – backpackers, families, and couples.
Just the town alone should be enough to convince you to visit. It’s centred around a colourful park and a beautiful church. No matter where you are in the town, the view is always incredible.
La Fortuna sits at the base of Arenal Volcano, which is an active volcano. Definitely adding some excitement to your trip! This volcano is the backdrop to the town and also the perfect place to hike around, getting to see old lava flows and volcanic rock.
How long should you spend in La Fortuna?
The simple answer is, as long as possible!
There are so many different activities to do in La Fortuna. You can go white-water rafting, climb a volcano or two, relax at hot springs, go ziplining or become a kid again and visit one of the best waterparks in Costa Rica.
We’d recommend a minimum of three days, but if you can afford to spend a little longer, definitely do. You’ll fall in love with the little-town vibe and the countless things to do.
With so much to do in La Fortuna, you’d expect it to be a pretty big city. In fact, if you look at a map, you’ll realise that it’s only a little town.
This means that picking where to stay is pretty simple. Whether you choose to stay right in the centre or on one of the roads leading into town, you’re never far from where you want to be.
Normally we recommend a few areas to stay in, but for La Fortuna, our recommendation is to just go with the accommodation you like the most. There’s a huge range of accommodations, from hostels, lodges, Airbnbs to 5-star luxury resorts. And when we say luxury, we mean it!
La Fortuna attracts a whole host of visitors, and the prices of places to stay reflect that. Hostels start from $10 a night, whilst you can find lovely private lodges for just $20. Nevertheless, you’ll also see that there are plenty of resorts charging over $300 per night!
This place is just wow! You’ll feel like you’re staying in a luxury resort, without paying those high prices you would normally pay at premium places. This eco-friendly hotel offers a number of outdoor pools, hot springs, a spa and a grill restaurant. All surrounded by tropical gardens.
Slip on your robe and enjoy the comfy bed after your spa treatment. The staff here are super friendly and will help you with anything they can. You won’t want to leave your private tropical oasis.
This hotel offers more than just a typical room. You’ll get to stay in fully equipped apartments, for a very reasonable price. Each apartment has its own sitting area, TV and kitchen.
On top of that, you’ll also have access to a really good gym that includes most of the equipment that goes way beyond the typical hotel gym! Then after you’ve worked up a sweat, you can relax on the hotel’s terrace or play a game of snooker.
Hotel Secreto feels like a mini oasis, surrounded by lush plants and views of Arenal Volcano. There are not many places where you can lounge in a swimming pool, or hot tub, and admire views of a 1,600m volcano. Well here you can!
The large glass doors of the rooms mean you’re never shut away from the glorious views and nature. They’re also large, modern and clean. Every morning you can start the day right by enjoying their delicious free breakfast.
Just the view on Arenal Volcano should already be enough to convince you to stay at Arenal Xilopalo. Enjoy the breakfast with a direct view on the volcano while listening to the chirping birds in the surrounding trees.
The rooms match the vibe of La Fortuna, boasting a rustic and natural design. Each room is clean, spacious and also includes extras like a coffee machine and a fridge. The location of the hotel is also perfect.
If you manage to book a mountain view room at Hotel Bijagua, you’ll never want to leave your private balcony. The view is just too good!
The hotel's garden, the public terrace and the swimming pool also provide a peaceful place to relax after a busy day of activities in La Fortuna. There’s also a small kitchen available and free bikes for rent.
For such a small town, La Fortuna has a very diverse food scene. There is plenty of Sodas if you’re looking for cheap and local meals, but there are also Italian, Japanese, vegan and even fine-dining restaurants.
Trust us, after an adventure-packed day, you’ll be looking forward to a delicious meal. To help you out, here are our top three favourite spots in La Fortuna:
Don Rufino – a delicious and creative fine-dining restaurant
If you’re looking to treat yourself, or just guarantee an incredible meal, then Don Rufino is the place to go. The fine-dining restaurant has created a beautiful mix of the best local flavours with different cuisines from around the world.
The restaurant’s interior, alongside its attentive staff, creates a friendly and relaxing ambience. The food is likely to be some of the best that you’ll try in Costa Rica. A popular dish to try is Grandma’s roasted chicken, which has a few surprise ingredients.
Soda Viquez – a local restaurant with the loveliest owner
On the other end of the budget spectrum is Soda Viquez. A local restaurant run by the friendliest woman you’ll ever meet. She welcomes you into her restaurant like family and even gives you a little dessert for free at the end.
There are so many options on the menu, from traditional Costa Rican food to fish, steak and pasta. A must are the beef-loaded nachos. The portion is huge and the topping is delicious.
Panaderia la Principal – a delicious and cheap bakery, perfect for a snack
Not exactly a restaurant, but Panaderia la Principal is a great little spot to grab a snack or some fresh bread in the morning.
The bakery is on the main street, which you can’t help but stop at after you catch a glimpse of all the tasty goodies lined up on the shelf.
There’s delicious pizza bread, vegetarian and meat pastries, sweet pastries, cakes and much more. Most pastries cost around $1.
With La Fortuna being a small town, getting around it is super easy. Exploring downtown can be done entirely on foot, but to reach some of the attractions outside of town, you’ll either need a car or a taxi.
Here’s how to get around in La Fortuna:
If you’re staying in downtown La Fortuna and looking to get anywhere within that area, then walking will do the job. No walk should be longer than 20-30 minutes. Plus it’s a great form of exercise and it’s free.
For the attractions that are a bit further away, getting one of the other forms of transportation will be a better option.
There’s also a big hitch-hiking culture in La Fortuna. Most people will be more than happy to give you a lift back to town from one of the tourist sites. Also, sometimes if people see you walking back into town, they’ll just pull over and offer you a lift!
By Taxi (and Uber)
Although Uber doesn’t operate everywhere in Costa Rica yet, it has finally come to La Fortuna. We’d recommend using Uber over the local red taxis because they’re cheaper and more convenient.
To give you an example, the local taxi will charge you around $15 to get from downtown to La Fortuna waterfall. Uber’s will cost around $5, if not less.
If there is no Uber available, you’ll still find plenty of taxis roaming around the street or waiting around the central park.
Having a car in Costa Rica is super beneficial. It means that you can travel on your own timetable, get to places that public transport doesn’t go to and you don’t have to get a million buses to your next destination.
Unless you plan on just doing tours, having a car in La Fortuna will make your life a lot easier. You’ll be able to visit the attractions outside of town like La Fortuna waterfall, the rope swing and the hot springs without having to worry about transportation.
However, it’s better to rent a car from San Jose than in La Fortuna, where it’s significantly more expensive. You can rent a car for around $40/day from San Jose, whereas from La Fortuna prices start from $100/day.
The only time we would recommend getting the bus is to arrive or leave La Fortuna. The buses that run within the town are rather confusing and don’t go to any of the popular tourist sites.