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Things to Do in La Fortuna

Its close proximity to Volcan Arenal—one of the top 20 most active volcanoes in the world—has kept the quaint town of La Fortuna ranked high among the most popular destinations for travelers venturing into the Costa Rican countryside. Its picturesque hillside, epic views of Volcan Arenal and much-storied history of narrowly avoiding total demise during a major eruption in the 1960s are all just part of what lends this tiny city its charm.

While both Arenal and Arenal Volcano National Park are responsible for attracting the majority of visitors who come to La Fortuna, travelers say La Catarata de la Fortuna—an impressive natural waterfall—and the town’s close proximity to adventurous day trips like zip-lining and cavern tours make it an ideal stopping point for those looking for a Costa Rican experience that’s anything but urban.
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Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
71 Tours and Activities

While zip-line tours that take you swishing through the treetops at squeal-inducing speeds certainly have their charm, there are other ways to appreciate Costa Rica’s wondrous wilderness. Unbeknownst to most tourists, the life of the rain forest largely takes place overhead, in the thick jungle canopy of sunlight and opportunity.

Most of Costa Rica’s birds, monkeys, giant anteaters, sloths, snakes and amphibians spend the better part of their lives in the distant treetops, far from the snapping cameras of junior photographers. The key to seeing these creatures (and getting the best shots) is ascending into the trees yourself.

Hence these 16 elegantly constructed Arenal Hanging Bridges—some suspended high above gorges and others stretching far across jungle floors—that line the winding paths of this epic Costa Rican hike and stretch a total of 2.6 km (1.6 miles) across the steeply pitched landscape.

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La Fortuna Waterfall
72 Tours and Activities

Plunging down the side of Cerro Chato, Volcan Arenal’s dormant and thickly forested twin, is one of the most impressive, and easily accessible, waterfalls in all Costa Rica. Cascada La Fortuna pours some 65m (200ft) down a sheer, volcanic gray cliff face, perpetually bathed in mists and carpeted in abundant and exotic vegetation.

The trailhead for the falls is located just 5.5km (3mi) from La Fortuna proper, a popular bike ride or horseback trek. The descent from the parking lot to the jungle floor isn’t a long or difficult hike; it’s about 20 minutes down, and generally a bit longer climbing back back up. Just keep in mind that the staircase is steep, and sometimes slippery. A the mirador, or viewpoint, allows almost anyone to appreciate this natural wonder no matter what their fitness level.

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Tabacon Hot Springs
19 Tours and Activities

In this well-watered rainforest pierced by the perfect gray cone of Volcan Arenal, it is not only lava that wells up from the depths of the Earth. Steaming hot springs pour like a river from the great mountain’s barren flanks, coursing through the lush tropical grounds of famed Tabacón Grand Spa.

Mineral-rich waters, fresh from the earth, cascade with picturesque through a lavishly landscaped setting. Costa Rica’s most beautiful flowers are woven through a world of quiet pathways and wooden bridges that connect the different pools. Some are warmer, others more isolated; the main pool, with fantastic views of the volcano, has a fabulous bar and water slide. A cold spring hidden away in a shady corner of this marvelous spot is the perfect place to recharge.

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Venado Caves (Cavernas de Venado)
8 Tours and Activities
These ancient caves were carved by tectonic movement and water currents passing over limestone for millions of years. Inside this deep network of tunnels, visitors will find stalactites, stalagmites, rock formations, and subterranean rivers and caverns. There’s also a chance to spot wildlife, including bats, fish, insects, and frogs.
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