La Fortuna Costa Rica

Travel Guide, December 27, 2022

La Fortuna town has become a tourist destination par excellence in Costa Rica, thanks to its attractions such as hot springs, hotels, and activities. We could say that is a must-stop on your vacation to Costa Rica, and we will tell you why.

Facts about La Fortuna

  • Area size: 225 km2
  • Height: 250 masl (metres above sea level)
  • Inhabitants: 14000-15000
  • Rooms: +2500

La Fortuna Costa Rica
What to do History Location Town Weather Accommodations Restaurants Attractions How to get

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

In the past, people came to La Fortuna looking for a view and picture of the volcano with streams of lava. And actually, they used to get it, as the incandescent lava was flowing down every few minutes. All you had to do was sit down on the porch of your room or the hot springs and wait for the moment. However, the volcano's activity has changed since 2010, when we had the last lava threads visible. Now La Fortuna is so much more than the Volcano, of course!

We find more than 40 tours and activities to do, such as hiking, rafting, kayaking, floating, tubing, horseback riding, SUP, biking, spelunking, sightseeing, wildlife watching, volunteering, canyoning, rappelling, birdwatching, and much more. We know for sure that any tour or place you visit will be special. Seven Tours has it all! We are local experts and we will be glad to take you and explore any of our natural wonders.

Top tours & activities


A Little History About La Fortuna

La Fortuna was founded probably in the 30s as El Burio, due to a small river that crosses the town. Eventually, the name was changed around 1949-1950 to La Fortuna. The town became more sought after due to an unforgettable and sad event: the first explosion in the contemporary era of the Arenal Volcano in 1968

After this surprising event, the Arenal Volcano became active and started to produce emanations of incandescent lava, and eruptions constantly for several years. These eruptions were captured by many photographers that visited La Fortuna and the tourism book guides of those times started to talk about this small town and put it on the map. In the 90s with the help of the new paved road, La Fortuna became a destination of tourist importance in Costa Rica and nowadays is one of the most visited places in the country.

In the present century, more hotels have been built and now there is a hotel for every person and every budget, including some 5 stars.

La Fortuna History
Downtown La Fortuna, decades ago

Where is La Fortuna Located

La Fortuna is a small town located in the northern region of Costa Rica, crossed by road 142 and easily accessible from San Jose, The Caribbean, Pacific, or Guanacaste. La Fortuna is district seven of the county of San Carlos, in the province of Alajuela.

The town is about 9 kilometers away from Arenal Volcano, and 14 km away from Arenal Lake; most hotels are just minutes away from it.


What La Fortuna is Like

La Fortuna is famous because the Arenal Volcano is in plain sight from almost everywhere. We could say that it is a small town but full of choices. Like all Costarican towns, the most iconic places in town are the Catholic Church and the park. Of course, we have our bullfighting ring, soccer field, and bars. Nowadays we find several hotels, supermarkets, banks, restaurants, bakeries, gas stations, bus stops, shops, souvenirs, stores, and many other businesses where the visitors find all that they need in their trip.

La Fortuna Local people
La Fortuna Local people
Thermo-mineral hot springs
Thermo-mineral hot springs

Downtown is very touristy but quiet, everybody can safely walk around at any time. You can use US dollars to pay in most of the business and they normally give you a fair exchange rate, also you can exchange in any of the local banks. Most businesses are owned by Costa Ricans, locals, which has helped La Fortuna to keep that typical Costa Rican look of a town.

How is the climate in La Fortuna

Normally weather is warm and fresh during the dry season (our summer) - December to April and July and August - with temperatures going from 24 to 32 Celsius degrees at day time, and descending at a minimum of 19 celsius at night. During our rainy season (similar to fall) - from May to June and September to November - we experience high temperatures during the morning from 26 to 34 Celsius degrees with high humidity and occasional or strong rains in the afternoons and sometimes at night.

If we look at the weather app, it is always rainy and foggy which is totally untrue. Don't let the weather stop you from visiting La Fortuna and do one of the more than 40 activities we have. Forests around La Fortuna are rainforest types, with variations according to location and altitude, so when we visit the rainforest we must probably enjoy it with some rain, which is a full experience of nature. Tropical weather can be a bit unpredictable but we can always be ready with sunscreen and poncho in our travel case.

Where to stay in La Fortuna

Hotels, cabins, lodges, hostels, five stars, tents, glamping, houses, rooms, airbnbs, and camping, Yes! La Fortuna has it all! We are sure that you can also chat with a local and they will offer you their home to stay. The town has a perfect place for all budgets, locations, sizes, and preferences. So you don't have excuses not to come and visit us.

Our lodging recomendations
Airbnb rentals
Mid-range hotels
  • Arenal Paraiso
  • Volcano Lodge
  • Arenal Volcano Inn
  • Arenal Manoa
  • La Pradera
Luxury hotels
  • Tabacon Resort
  • Nayara Hotel
  • The Springs Resort
  • Arenal Kioto
  • Amor Arenal
Where to eat in La Fortuna

La Fortuna has become a culinary destination. At walking distance, you can find Costa Rican food, Mexican, Italian, Hindi, Israeli, American, Peruvian, Colombian, Mediterranean, French, Caribbean, and others.

Recommended places to eat
  • Pollo Fortuneño
  • Soda Hormiga
  • Soda Viquez
  • Restaurante Tiquicia
  • Cafe Mediterraneo
  • El Jardin de Frida
  • Snapper's House
  • Restaurante Nenes
Local food in downtown
Rotisserie chicken / Pollo Fortuneño
Top attractions in La Fortuna

These are some of the most important attractions in the La Fortuna area. From hiking to the Arenal Volcano, visiting waterfalls, bathing in the rivers, to relaxing in the hot springs that come from the volcanic veins.

How to get
How to get to La Fortuna

La Fortuna is accessible in multiple ways. All roads to La Fortuna are paved, well-marked, and labeled. Waze and Google Maps work very well, even though in some trams of the roads there is no signal coverage for the GPS or the cell phone, there is no way to get lost.

1 - Driving
Driving from San Jose

If you are coming from San Jose you can take route number 1 until reaching San Ramon City, once there take route number 702 and you will get directly to La Fortuna.

Distance: 130km Duration: 2 hr 30 min

-> View map

Driving from San Jose to La Fortuna

Driving from Central Pacific, like Uvita, Dominical, Manuel Antonio, Jaco and Puntarenas

There are several ways, but we can recommend just remaining on route number 34 until getting to Orotina, then take route 27 for a bit, then route 3, get to route 713 and then route 702 to directly arrive at La Fortuna.

Distance: 218km Duration: 4 hr 22 min

-> View map

Driving from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna

Driving from Guanacaste or North Pacific, or Northern Border

Just get to route number one heading to Cañas City, once in Cañas take route number 142 to Tilaran, also passing Nuevo Arenal to La Fortuna.

Distance: 208km Duration: 3 hr 28 min

-> View map

Driving from Guanacaste to La Fortuna

Driving from the Caribbean

If you are driving from Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, or Manzanillo you must take route number 34 and get to route 32, then route number 4 to get to road 142 to La Fortuna. in case that you are driving from Tortuguero, you must also get to route 32 and then follow the same instructions.

Distance: 269km Duration: 4 hr 7 min

-> View map

Driving from the Caribbean to La Fortuna

2 - Private and Shuttle Transportation
Private transfers

There is always a choice for everyone, and private transfers are always the best choice to travel, not only in Costa Rica. Especially if you are traveling with your family or in a group. Is the most interesting way of traveling as the driver takes the time to explain to you all the important facts about the country, you can do as many stops as you want or need to, you travel in the safest possible way for you and your luggage, and also if you want to invest your time in the best way possible you can travel between destinations on the fastest way possible by land. We could say that private transfers are tours on the way. Seven Tours offers you the best rates on private transfers around the country, with the service that you deserve.
-> Check private rates

Shuttle service

Shuttles are a very comfy way to travel around Costa Rica at a very reasonable rate. Well recommended if you are traveling solo or with a mate. Is a good combination of saving time and money. However, you must be ready at the transport operator schedules and be ok with the scheduled stops they have in the way, and of course if you dint mind traveling with other folks in the van. Seven Tours offers you shuttles from the most popular destinations.
-> Check shuttle rates

Transportation advantages
• Safety • Your luggage will be always safe • Save time between destinations • No lines to buy tickets • You only travel with other tourists • Door to Door service • Very reasonable rate

3 - By Air

There is a local flight company called Sansa, which is the biggest and most popular in Costa Rica, and also with more schedules between destinations. Normally the flights leave in the morning and the cost of the passages goes from $65 to $95 depending on your destination, schedule, and time of the year. Local flights are non-offered in all destinations, so we recommend you check on Sansa's webpage and also you can buy tickets from there.

4 - By Public Bus

There are many possibilities to get to La Fortuna by Public Bus. The trip would take approximately from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the route and connections.

• From San Jose to La Fortuna -> By Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos)

The buses that leave from San Jose to San Carlos, start their schedules from Terminal 7-10. Which is located in the Barrio Mexico, 7th Avenue, 8 street, across from the old Cine Libano. Normally the bus schedule is quite good, buses leave each half of an hour or every hour. The cost of the ticket goes from around $4-$5 or 2000 Costa Rican colones.

Regular or Standard service leaves from San Jose and arrives at Ciudad Quesada, then you must connect to La Fortuna. From the Capital San Jose to Ciudad Quesada, buses could take around 3 to 31/2 hours depending on the time and traffic. Once in Ciudad Quesada, in the same terminal of Plaza San Carlos, you can take the bus to La Fortuna, which could take around one and a half hours. Bus ticket from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna is around $2-$3.
=> Terminal phone number: (+506) 2255-4318

Below you can see a list of buses schedules to get to La Fortuna:

San Jose -> Ciudad Quesada
Ticket cost: $4-$5
Duration: 3 hours
Departure Approx. Arrival
04:30 08:00
05:00 08:30
06:15 09:45
07:15 10:45
08:40 12:10
09:15 12:45
10:00 13:00
11:00 14:00
12:45 16:15
14:00 17:00
15:00 18:00
16:45 20:15
17:30 21:00
18:15 21:45
19:30 23:00
Ciudad Quesada -> La Fortuna
Ticket cost: $2-$3
Duration: 2 hours
05:00 am
05:30 am
06:00 am
07:30 am
08:00 am
09:00 am
10:30 am
10:45 am
12:00 pm
02:00 pm
03:30 pm
05:00 pm
05:15 pm
06:30 pm
07:30 pm
08:00 pm
09:00 pm
09:30 pm
La Fortuna -> Ciudad Quesada
Ticket cost: $2-$3
Duration: 2 hours
04:30 am
05:00 am
05:10 am
05:40 am
06:30 am
07:15 am
08:00 am
11:30 am
12:15 pm
12:30 pm
03:15 pm
04:40 pm
05:30 pm
07:00 pm

• From San Jose to La Fortuna -> By San Ramon City

Take a bus in stop number from San Jose to San Ramon, then connect at the same bus stop in San Ramon to La Fortuna. Bus Stop is located at 10th and 12th avenues, 16th street, Los Angeles neighborhood.
=> Phone number: (+506) 2221-6600

Once in San Ramon let's connect to La Fortuna. Carbachez Company gives the service, in the same bus stop.
=> Phone number: (+506) 2451-1284

San Jose -> San Ramon
Ticket cost: $4-$5
Duration: 3 hours
06:00 am
09:00 am
10:30 am
12:00 pm
02:15 pm
03:15 pm
04:15 pm
05:15 pm
06:15 pm
07:45 pm
10:30 pm
San Ramon -> La Fortuna
Ticket cost: $2-$3
Duration: 2 hours
05:30 am
09:00 am
12:30 pm
04:00 pm
05:30 pm
La Fortuna -> San Ramon
Ticket cost: $2-$3
Duration: 2 hours
05:30 am
09:00 am
13:30 pm
06:00 pm

• From Guanacaste area to La Fortuna

The Guanacaste area is immense! so depending on where you are staying these are the instructions:

- If you are staying in the northern area, such as Tamarindo, El Coco, Hemosa, Papagayo, Flamingo, Potrero, Avellanas or beaches around you must get to Liberia City first. It is quite easy to get a public bus to Liberia from any of these destinations, as you will watch bus stops everywhere; and well-labeled, We recommend you ask a local for schedules, but buses are passing any one of two hours to Liberia City from many of these places. Once in Liberia you will be taken to the Terminal Municipal right there you must look for the bus to Cañas City.

- Buses to Cañas from Liberia depart every 30-45 minutes from 04:30am to 08:30pm. The cost of the ticket is around $3 and the bus takes a bit more than an hour.

- Once in Cañas you must take the bus to Tilaran (in the same bus stop, same company Reina del Campo). From Cañas to Tilaran buses leave every 45 minutes from 05:00am to 08:00pm, the bus lasts around 45 minutes and the costo goes around $2 pp.

- Once in Tilaran you can take the bus directly to La Fortuna, actually these buses are going from Tilaran to Ciudad Quesada, but they stop at La Fortuna on their way.

Tilaran -> Ciudad Quesada (La Fortuna)
Ticket cost: $6
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
07:00 am
09:15 am
12:15 pm
02:10 pm

In case of traveling from Samara, Nosara, Carrillo, Islita or Ostional, the best choice is taking a bus to Nicoya City and once there to Liberia, then follow the instructions above.

• From Monteverde to La Fortuna

We recommend you take the buses to Tilaran, and once there the bus to La Fortuna (bus schedule above).

A very popular way of traveling from Monteverde to La Fortuna is taking the Car-Boat-Car tour. Where they pick you up at almost any place in Monteverde, Santa Elena, or surroundings and take you to Arenal Lake (1-11/2-hour ride), where there is a boat waiting for you to cross the lake in a 30-minute ride, and another bus will be waiting for you at another side to finally drop you at your hotel at La Fortuna on a 20–30-minute ride. Normally the cost goes around $25-$35 depending on the schedule, pick-up place, and tour operator's amenities or conditions.