7-Day Itinerary for Exploring La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Advisor - Isabelle Newcomb
Curated By

Isabelle Newcomb

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  • Costa Rica

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Couples Travel

  • International Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Solo Travel

  • Wellness Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Waterfalls

  • Local Food

girl standing in front of waterfall surrounded by green trees
Curator’s statement

I visited La Fortuna in May 2022 and immediately fell in love. It is not overrun with tourist traps and hoards of tourists and still has that genuine Costa Rican jungle feel. Not only is it beautiful, but the locals are incredibly welcoming and love sharing their beautiful slice of Heaven with travelers. La Fortuna is located right next to the Arenal Volcano, making it one of the best spots for natural hot springs in all of Central America.

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Nayara Tented Camp

Luxury tents in tropical La Fortuna surrounded by lush gardens and wildlife, ideal for reconnecting with nature.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

Luxe resort and spa near Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal

Luxurious thermal spa resort with rustic-chic rooms, natural hot and cold springs and waterfalls.

Fora Perks
  • $125 spa credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Day 1: Arrive in Costa Rica

aerial view of ocean and beach next to forest

Fly into either of the two main airports in Costa Rica: San Jose International Airport (SJO) or Liberia International Airport (LIR). I suggest flying into LIR because the airport is smaller, easier to navigate, you get to skip the horrible traffic in San Jose, and it is a little closer!

Pick up your rental car and make your way to La Fortuna! It is about a 3.5-hour drive from San Jose and 2.5 hours from Liberia. Don't worry, the drive is gorgeous! If you do not want to rent a car, there are plenty of group shuttles you can take to La Fortuna, although, I highly recommend renting a car. It will give you more flexibility, and you will be driving all around La Fortuna, it is just more convenient!

Depending on how you are feeling, you can always stay at the hotel and enjoy dinner there. If you want to go out to dinner, I suggest:

  • Kappa Sushi - for the best sushi in La Fortuna.

  • Don Rufino - for fine dining.

  • Organico Fortuna - awesome vegan and vegetarian.

Day 2: Sloth Tour

sloth hangs onto tree surrounded by green leaves

Of course the first order of business in Costa Rica: sloths! Start the day off with a morning the Sloth Tour at Bogarin Trail. I always suggest a guided tour because the sloths blend in with the trees and can be very hard to find. Plus, the guides know where the sloths like to hang out!

Lunch Suggestion:

  • Soda La Hormiga - Local Costa Rican cuisine for a great price

In the afternoon, we are going ATVing! This is the best way to explore Arenal Volcano, trust me, it is unforgettable. You can choose between single or double ATV's, depending on your preference.

Day 3: Zip Lining Adventures

boy hangs on a zip line surrounded by trees during daytime

We are starting the day out with another adventurous activity: zip lining! Venture out to Sky Trek, about a 20-30 min drive from the hotel, depending on where you are staying. These zip lines have sweeping views of not only the jungle but beautiful Lake Arenal.

After zip lining you have the afternoon free to relax at the pool, check out some shops in downtown La Fortuna, or maybe take a nap!

Lunch Suggestion:

  • Soda La Palma - located on the drive back to La Fortuna with an awesome view of Arenal Volcano!

Tonight, we are doing a nighttime chocolate tour at Don Juan Farms. Not only do you get to learn about the chocolate-making process (and try some too!), but you also get to see some awesome nocturnal species! I went on this tour and we saw many different species of frogs, insects and even a sloth within arm's distance!

Day 4: Hot Springs

pool of water near rocks and trees

After the hustle and bustle of the past two days, we need a relaxing day! Depending on where you are staying, maybe this means hanging out at your hotel's hot springs.

My suggestions for the best hot springs in La Fortuna are The Springs Resort, Tabacon Thermal Resort and Baldi Hot Springs.

Day 5: Hanging Bridges Park

person walking over hanging bridge

Start the morning off at my absolute favorite place I visited, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park! The park has many different activities but a must-do is the Hanging Bridges themselves. The long trail is 3.2 km and has 15 bridges total, six of them hanging over the jungle! We spent about 2.5 hours on the trail, it is not particularly difficult, but there are some intense uphill parts. We did not do a guided tour but we still saw tons of animals - the best being the spider monkeys!

Save your appetite because we are doing a cooking class this afternoon/evening! There are several different options for cooking classes, all with wonderful reviews, but I highly recommend the one that I did through Airbnb. We were first given a tour of their amazing family farm where we picked the vegetables and herbs we would be using for dinner. They then taught us how to make several Costa Rican dishes and we all ate dinner together. It was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget!

Day 6: La Fortuna Waterfall

rainbow over waterfall during daytime

This morning we are conquering one of the most popular spots in La Fortuna, the La Fortuna Waterfall. The waterfall is located 500 stairs down the side of a mountain. Getting to the waterfall is the easy part, it is the 500 steps back up that is hard! Trust me, it is worth it. I strongly suggest going right in the morning when it opens at 8 AM. We went at this time and we were 1 of only 3 small groups at the waterfall, perfect for getting pictures and not having to worry about other people on the stairs.

Lunch Suggestion:

  • Chipotle's Tex-Mex - for some awesome Mexican food.

Spend the rest of your afternoon relaxing at a hot spring or getting a spa treatment, you might want it after the 500 steps at La Fortuna Waterfall! Sadly this is our last night in Costa Rica so give yourself some time to pack and prepare.

Day 7: Travel home

waterfall surrounded by trees with cloudy skies

Goodbyes are so hard! I suggest taking an afternoon flight out because you will have to leave plenty early to drive the 2.5 - 3.5 hours to the airport.

If you have time for a sit-down breakfast, I suggest:

  • Soda Sabores Lulu - for a classic Costa Rican breakfast.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jill Marie's The Best of Nosara, Costa Rica.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Costa Rica and our series on nature escapes.