What to do in Arenal / La Fortuna
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.
How to Get to La Fortuna
- By public bus: There is a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna at 6:15 AM, 8:40 AM and 11:30 AM from Ave 7-9, Calle 12 and takes 4 hours. From Liberia, you need to take the bus to Canas (one every thirty minutes from 8:30 AM to 3 PM), then to Tilaran (one every hour from 5 AM to 10 AM, 11:30 AM, 13:00,15:30 and 17:00) and then to Fortuna (one at 7 AM and 12:30 PM).
- By shuttle: You can book a private shuttle to La Fortuna from San Jose and Liberia for around $200 USD one way. Shared shuttles from San Jose and Liberia to La Fortuna cost around $55 USD per adult one way.
- Air: La Fortuna has its own local airport. Airlines like Skyway (get 10% off) flies into this airport. A flight is around 20 minutes from San Jose and costs around $90 USD one way.
- Driving: Driving to Fortuna from Liberia and San Jose takes around 3.5 hours one way. You can read about the Guanacaste to Arenal drive and the San Jose to Fortuna drive in these posts. If you’re renting a car, make sure to take advantage of our Costa Rica car rental discount.
- Boat: If you are coming from Monteverde, you can take the taxi-boat across Lake Arenal. It costs around $40 USD per person.
- Adventure transfers: You can also take a rafting trip as an interconnection. Rios Tropicales offers one-day white water rafting Pacuare tours where they can pick up and drop off in La Fortuna (get $10 off this tour here).
How to Get Around
You can easily walk around La Fortuna since the town is not big. The main bus station is in downtown next to the Mega Super and you buy bus tickets at the Red Lava stand next to it.
However, the best and easiest way to get around the area is by car since the points of interest all spread out. The public bus doesn’t go to any of the places of interest either. Therefore, you will have to taxi everywhere or book tours with transportation. Booking tours with transportation is completely doable if you don’t want to rent a car, however.
You can find plenty of red taxis in La Fortuna. If you plan to taxi around, so you have an idea of prices, the town center to Fortuna waterfall is about $15 USD one way and at least $20 USD to the national park.
There is plenty of street parking in the town center but it can be tight on the weekends. Be aware that there aren’t any parking meters or dedicated secure parking lots, it’s all street parking. There is a gas station in downtown.
You can also rent scooters, there are rentals for $30 per 24 hours. We saw a sign by the Hotel Regina that had scooters for rent.
What the Town is Like
You can find pretty much everything in towns such as restaurants, supermarkets, souvenir stalls, medical clinics, dentists, bars and tour desks. Being one of the most touristic towns in Costa Rica, it has all the services and amenities for tourists.
From wherever you are in town, you can get a view of Arenal Volcano. The best spot is in the park where you can see the park, church, and volcano. It is truly an impressive sight to see!
Hope you have a lot of fun in La Fortuna Costa Rica