La Fortuna de San Carlos is a major tourist destination in Costa Rica. Located in the northern highlands of the country, the city of La Fortuna is approximately 2 ½ hours from the international airport in the capital of San José. There is a variety of things do in the Arenal / La Fortuna area. You can decide to explore it on your own or to take one of the many tours.

What to do in Arenal / La Fortuna

Arenal Volcano

Dominating La Fortuna’s landscape is the Arenal Volcano which can be seen from almost every part of town. The volcano stands 1,633 m (5,358 ft.) tall. Arenal hasn’t had a major eruption since 1968 when it spewed out lava for 15 days straight, but it is still an active volcano although it hasn’t erupted since 2010. To get a closer look at the volcano you can hike the two sections of the Arenal Volcano National Park. There is an entrance fee for adults; children 6 and under are free. Trail maps are provided at all of the ranger stations, but guided tours are also available for a small fee. Hike the entire trail in the main section of the park and you will cover 4 km (2.5 miles). The easy to follow trails wind through forests and lava flows. The La Peninsula area has spectacular views of Lake Arenal and has 1.3 km (0.8 miles) of paved trails which are especially good for young children or those with limited mobility.

La Fortuna Waterfall (La Catarata de la Fortuna)

Another one of the must do excursions in La Fortuna is the La Fortuna waterfall located near Arenal Volcano National Park, 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the city of La Fortuna. Set in tropical rainforest, the waterfall plunges 70 m (229 ft.) to the pool below. You can hike around the falls or take a relaxing dip in the pool. However, be prepared for walking; reaching the falls requires descending about 500 steps. There is an entrance fee for the waterfall area to be paid at the adjacent visitors’ center.

Hot Springs

One of the more laidback activities in La Fortuna is visiting its hot springs which are heated by thermal energy from the volcano. Choose to stay in one of the all inclusive resorts in La Fortuna or take a dip in the river for free. Favorite places to relax and be pampered are Tabacón Hot Springs, Baldi Hot Springs and The Springs Resort.

Arenal Lake

Arenal Lake sits across from the Arenal Volcano. For watersports lovers, Arenal Lake is excellent for windsurfing, padleboarding and kayaking, especially from December to April. Fishing enthusiasts will be happy to find many local freshwater fish biting in the lake.

Ziplining and Hanging Bridges

Tours in Arenal / La Fortuna offer plentyful aerial adventures for all ages. You can enjoy  spectacular views of the volcano, waterfall and rainforest canopy from above. The choice is yours whether to experience this from a zipline or from a hanging bridge.

Hotels in Arenal / La Fortuna

Hotels in the area offer a variety of choices for all budgets and preferences. Many boutique hotels and all inclusive resorts in La Fortuna offer luxury accommodation with spas and access to the hot springs. More modestly priced options are also available with the necessary amenities to make your stay comfortable.


You are sure to find a restaurant to please any palate with over 100 to choose from! Hotels in Arenal / La Fortuna offer high-end dining. The town has many smaller restaurants with local fare as well as a number serving international cuisine.

Whether your interest is nature, recreation, or relaxation, there is a wide variety of things to do in Arenal / La Fortuna with tours, activities and excursions for everyone.