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La Fortuna is one of the most popular areas for visitors coming to Costa Rica. It’s the gateway town to one of the country’s most famous residents – Arenal Volcano – and is also home to a large area of rainforest making it perfect for wildlife spotting too.

La Fortuna is around a 3hr drive from the capital, San Jose – and there are so many hotel options in the town you can’t go too wrong. We chose to stay at the wonderful Nayara Springs, the perfect choice for a special getaway.

The weather in the area is super variable, and rain is experienced here 9 months of the year. We had glorious sunshine through to torrential monsoons for up to 36hrs solid, so it’s important to pack for both and expect rapid weather changes. Here are 8 of the best things to do in the area.

1. Visit Arenal National Park

The main draw to La Fortuna is its proximity to Arenal National Park (post coming soon), which is around a 20-30 minute drive from the town, depending on which area you visit. There are two sections to the park – the main Lava Fields section, and the Peninsula section. We hiked in both areas, and enjoyed both for different reasons.

2. Spot sloths on the Bogarin Trail

Sloths are the main draw for many coming to Costa Rica, and we didn’t manage to see any in the National Park. So instead we headed to another section of rainforest to walk the Bogarin Trail, where we were lucky enough to see 3 sloths, 2 of which were active.

3. Mystical Hanging Bridges Park

A short way from the centre of La Fortuna is a park, home to the mystical hanging bridges. It’s family run but is probably the most popular thing to do in the area so be warned, it can get busy. You follow a trail which takes in around 6 hanging bridges, which are high up in line with the top of the canopy, giving wonderful views down.

4. Enjoy Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal is the largest man made lake in Costa Rica, and provides around 30% of the country’s enegery. It lies at the base of the volcano and is perfect for a number of activities. We chose to do a boat tour around the lake, but you can also do wildlife tours, kayaking or even fishing.

5. Hotel ground nature walks galore

Most of the hotels and lodges in the area offer free nature walks for customers and it’s a great way to get an introduction to the rainforest and the incredible array of species. Below is just a section of what we saw on our walks – including a whole host of birds, all beautiful colours plus many lizards, frogs and spiders as well. My favourite though was the Blue Morpho butterfly which was absolutely massive and so beautiful.

6. Relax in a natural hot spring

The area all around La Fortuna is famous for its hot springs. There are a number of free ones which lie along the main road, or you can pay to enter others for a day pass at a spa in one of the hotels (if your hotel doesn’t have its own). The most famous and beautiful are at La Tabacon Hotel but we chose to visit the springs in our hotel for free, and they were still beautiful.

7. Sky Adventures walk and ziplining

Sky Adventures offers an array of jungle experiences. There is a sky gondola to take you to the top, where you can do a beautiful walk for views and then either get the gondola back down or choose something more adventurous and jungle zip-line back through the rainforest. We chose the ziplinin

8. Try local Costa Rican food and drink

The area is great for trying a whole host of local food, which is so delicious. We ate Gallo Pinto, Patacones, traditional Casado and so much fresh fruit. The pineapple was the best I’ve ever eaten, and we loved the hearty style of Costa Rican food.

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