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  • Writer's pictureNiki

5 Days in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Recently my husband and I spent an extended weekend in La Fortuna, Costa Rica and IT. WAS. EPIC. If you are an active traveler, love outdoors/nature activities, and like to experience new cultures I cannot recommend La Fortuna enough.


Here is a breakdown of how we spent our time.


Day 1: Fly in San Jose & Drive to La Fortuna

Day 2: La Fortuna Waterfall & Sloth Trail

Day 3: Mistico Hanging Bridges & Sky Trek Adventure Park

Day 4: 1968 Volcano Trail & Hot Springs

Day 5: Drive back to San Jose & Fly Home

 
Day 1: Fly in San Jose & Drive to La Fortuna

Airports:

There are 2 major airports in Costa Rica. Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), which is the larger of the 2 and located in San José - do not confuse this with Califonia's San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) or you will be very disappointed - and Liberia International Airport which is located. Both are located about 2.5 hours from La Fortuna so you'll want to check both options for the best flight prices for you. We chose SJO.


Rental Car:

This was an absolute must for us. Though there is public transportation that goes from the airport to La Fortuna, with only 3 full days to explore you will value having control of your transportation. Read the blog post FAQs about Renting a Car in Costa Rica to learn more.


The Drive to La Fortuna is about 2.5-3 hours, and is very easy but very windy. I highly suggest arriving well before sunset so that you don’t have to worry about navigating in the dark as you will drive through some pretty remote areas.


Pro tip: Grab snacks and road trip drinks at Walmart near the airport. This is also a great time to use the restroom as stopping along the way can be hit or miss.

 

Day 2: La Fortuna Waterfall & Sloth Trail

La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall

The waterfall is maybe a 5-minute drive from the downtown La Fortuna area. It is Five hun dred steps down to the roaring thunder of the waterfall but every step is worth it.


My breath was taken away by both the beauty and the absolute frigid cold temperature of the water. Buy your tickets ahead of time so you can skip the line! The tickets are good all day so if you are a gluten for punishment to take on the stares again you can come and go as you please.


Pro tip: Wear tennis shoes for the walk to/from the waterfall but bring water shoes to change into as the rocks are slick so you will want shoes on while in the water.


Borgans Sloth Trail

There are a few Sloth Trails in the La Fortuna Area. Most of them serve as a conservation area for harmless creatures which is awesome! Borgans charges an entry fee to do a self-guided tour or for an extra ~$15/person you can go with a guide.

Sloth in the tree at Borgans Sloth Trail

We did the self-guided tour only because we were short on time. If we did it again I would recommend going with a guide as you will see double, if not triple the amount of sloths and learn more about them and the area along the way. It will also save you the pain in your neck (I wish I were kidding) from looking up constantly as the guides bring a telescope to amplify the view.


If going on your own, you can expect this to take about 45min to an hour depending on how determined you are to find the sloths. I enjoyed this more than I thought as it became a competition between my husband and me for who could find the most (he won).


 

Day 3: Mistico Hanging Bridges & Sky Trek Adventure Park Ziplining
Mistico Hanging Bridges

This location is a jungle-like atmosphere filled with hanging bridges crossing ravines; it's located just 25min from town. The bridges range in size and height but are all constructed the same; they are very stable but do sway a little.

Mistico Hanging Bridges

At the start of the trail, we were greeted by sider monkeys jumping above our heads throughout the trees! The hike itself is not strenuous but there are a couple of steep inclines that


may be challenging for some. At the end of the trail, you are greeted by a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano and reward yourself with a snack or smoothie at their onsite restaurant.


You can do guided tours here as well or go on your own; we again chose the self-guided tour, and I think we were happy with our decision. The guided tour was very detailed pointing out all the animals and unique aspects of the forest but once again, being under a time constraint with ziplining to get to, we opted for the self-guided.



Sky Trek Adventure Park Zip-lining

There are a few different zip-lining options in La Fortuna but this one seemed to be the more popular one and for good reason! Here you will find 7 cables which are as high as 700 feet above the ground, and a line that is a half-mile long (called big Mama)! Upon arrival, you are given all of the gear and safety briefings before heading to a practice zip-line.

Sky Trek Adventure Park Zip-lining

The practice line is perfect because you are just barely hovering over the ground but it’s enough for you to learn how to use the gear properly because the very first real line will be sure to get your adrenaline going; you start with the highest zip-line first!


You’ll get an amazing view of the Volcano and the jungle below if you are brave enough to actually open your eyes! There were even a few young kids in our group (3rd and 5th grade) and they had a blast - I would say they were even braver than me! If you or your kids are adventure seekers, this is a MUST-DO while in La Fortuna for sure. The Sky Trek Park also has other activities such as an adventure course, rafting, and tree climbing.


Pro Tip: Bring a go pro! They have helmets with the equipment ready to strap in your camera providing you with epic footage.



 
Day 4: 1968 Volcano Trail & Hot Springs
1968 Lava Trail

Our last full day in La Fortuna consisted of the Arenal 1968 Lava Trail. We chose this over the Arenal National Park because this trail is less trafficked due to the entrance fee and is as close as you can legally get to the active Volcano!

1968 Arenal Volcano Trail

There are two trails to choose from; Lava and Forest. Lava is the shorter and easier of the 2. We took the shorter path, Lava, as we were already hot and tired by the time we made it to the split and were still sore from our previous days' endeavors. If I’m being honest, we did not find as much enjoyment on this trail as we did our other activities.


There are only a couple of clearings when you have good views, and although they are breathtaking, they are few and far between. There was a lot of up and down stairs which after a busy trip already left us exhausted. However, don't give up because the restaurant at the end of the trail had AMAZING smoothies which brought us back to life, and the view of the Volcano from the hilltop was the best we had seen.


Pro Tip: Skip the trail and just walk up to the restaurant from the parking lot, get a smoothie or a bite to eat, and enjoy the incredible view :).



Baldi Hot Springs Resort

After a long weekend exerting our bodies, there was nothing better than arriving

Baldi Hot Springs Resort

at Baldi Hot Springs, grabbing a cocktail at the swim up bar and soaking our muscles in the natural hot spring water. Just about every hotel within the area has some form of hot spring-fed pool due to the near by Arenal Volcano. I have a blog post coming with more details on where to stay so stay tuned!


Pro Tip: Book your stay here so that you can enjoy the hot springs 24/7!


Make the 1968 Trail and Baldi Hot Springs a combo tour with this option: Arenal Volcano Hike plus Baldi Hot Springs and Dinner


 
Day 5: Drive back to San Jose & Fly Home

The drive back to the airport is not nearly as exciting as the drive to La Fortuna because who wants to go home after living it up in the jungle all weekend?? If you have the time and space in your schedule, I would consider booking a one-night stay at a hotel near the airport. However, if you live life on the edge like us, at an absolute minimum add an hour of buffer time to your drive back to the airport to account for any possible issues. The line to get through security was very long (this was a Sunday in March - so spring break). Once through, being Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders, we had access to a priority lounge so we had the option to relax, eat, and drink, before catching our flight home.


 

With every travel blog post, it's important to keep in mind that the writer has no idea about the type of travelers who will be reading this. As the reader, it is your job to decipher if my travel style fits yours because even though I may have liked or disliked something you may find the complete opposite to be true! Thus, if you'd like a vacation fully customized to your travel style, check out Travels by Niki's Services page to get started with your personalized travel quote.


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