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La Fortuna is a popular tourist destination, although its downtown area isn’t the primary draw. In reality, what attracts tourists the most is the many things to do and tours from La Fortuna to take in the area’s natural beauty.
So, where should you stay when visiting La Fortuna?
That’s really the question, isn’t it? I wondered this myself before I first visited. Should I stay right in town near to the lively restaurants and shops, or, should I base myself on the outskirts where I can be a stone’s throw from the attractions that, let’s be honest, make La Fortuna worth visiting?
In this guide, I’ll answer all of that and more!
I’ll walk you through three different areas where you can stay in La Fortuna – each popular for its own reason. I’ll help you identify which area will work best for your holiday, and on top of that, I’ll also recommend my favorite hotels in all budget categories. So, what are we waiting for, let’s dig into the best areas and hotels in La Fortuna!
Don’t have time to read the full article? We suggest staying just outside of La Fortuna near hot springs because you’ll have easy access to the excitement of town along with amazing views. Our top hotel pick for the ultimate relaxing stay is Baldi Hot Springs Hotel and Spa which has 25 thermal pools and beautiful gardens. You can make reservations on Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia.
What are the Best Areas to Stay in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
When considering where to stay in La Fortuna, make sure you already know what you want to get from your vacation. Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, accommodation options in the town are plentiful and range from budget hotels near restaurants and shops to luxury resorts with volcano views.
In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best hotels in La Fortuna to help you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Depending on what type of trip you’re looking forward to, there are actually three areas you might want to consider staying in: in town, just on the outskirts of town, and near Lake Arenal.
If you don’t have a car, the downtown area is the best spot to look for La Fortuna hotels since everything is easily accessible on foot. This is also where most shops, restaurants, and other town amenities are located.
Meanwhile, the outskirts of the town give you the best of both worlds as it is closer to nature but not too far away to isolate you from the conveniences in the downtown area. Many of the best hotels in La Fortuna, particularly those with volcano views and hot springs, are also concentrated in this area.
The last option is near Lake Arenal, where you’ll be really close to nature and have that awe-inspiring lake view to wake up to in the morning. The downside is that getting to downtown La Fortuna will take at least a half-hour by car.
I’ll show you a closer look at these three areas, so you can decide which one’s right for you.
Staying in La Fortuna Town
La Fortuna is a small, charming town. Originally a farming town, La Fortuna’s economy has shifted to tourism thanks to its abundance of natural attractions. Nowadays, the town is the primary tourist destination in the Arenal area all the way to the Arenal Lake and Volcano.
As expected, there is no shortage of shopping and dining options in the downtown area. You can also find a bus station here, and most of the amenities are easily accessible on foot, making it one of the best places to stay in La Fortuna for those without a car.
Despite a large number of tourists, this area still boasts an authentic, local feel.
Advantages to staying in La Fortuna town:
- Since the town is relatively small, you’ll always be within walking distance of shops and the best restaurants in La Fortuna.
- There are plenty of low-cost hotel options in this town. Hotel prices are relatively more affordable than those on the outskirts of town and near Lake Arenal.
- La Fortuna town is lively. There is a great night life here.
- You’ll be close to some really incredible restaurants as well as plenty of shopping.
Disadvantages of staying in La Fortuna town:
- If you’re looking for hot springs, you can’t find hotels right in town with them.
- As expected, no wildlife nearby.
- The downtown area won’t exactly give you that “nature-filled” atmosphere.
- The Arenal Volcano is still some distance away, so volcano views are limited.
- There are no public parking lots here, so finding a parking space might be challenging.
The BEST Hotels in La Fortuna Town
$ – Arenal Poshpacker
With an outdoor pool, bar, garden, and complimentary wireless Internet access, Arenal Poshpacker is a low-budget stay with excellent amenities. In addition, you’ll also find a terrace, a shared kitchen, a tour desk, and even ticket service for your convenience all at the property. Should you also need a lift to the airport or the beach, Arenal Poshpacker offers a paid shuttle service, too.
The location of Arenal Poshpacker puts you in the center of La Fortuna town, yet you’re still just 10 minutes away from Kalambu Hot Springs and La Fortuna Waterfall.
There are 30+ guest rooms on the property where you can stay. A private bathroom is included in every room, and some are even fitted with rainfall showerheads or bathtubs for an extra touch of luxury. If you are traveling solo or on a limited budget, their comfortable dorms are a great option.
of course, a hostel that calls itself “Poshpacker” has an onsite spa – would you expect anything less?! Treatments and facials are also available in the in-house spa to relieve your stress after a long day of sightseeing.
$$ – Selina
Selina La Fortuna boasts 94 comfortably designed rooms accompanied by a variety of amenities to make your stay in La Fortuna one to remember. While staying here, you will have access to complimentary private parking, concierge services, baggage storage, and free Wi-Fi.
You can also make the most out of the outdoor pool and garden, where you can relax and sunbathe. They have a beautiful on-site restaurant and bar where you can enjoy a view of either the garden or the pool. These amenities make Selina LaFortuna one of the most popular places to stay in La Fortuna.
What I love most about the Selina is the range of available rooms. Beautiful private rooms with private toilets are available, but if you’re on a tight budget, a bed in the dorms is a better choice. This means all types of travelers with different budgets can enjoy this hostel.
Every morning, you will wake up to a continental breakfast available right at the hotel. The meal already comes free of charge for some of the rooms. You can then start your day by cycling around the area or taking a yoga class overlooking the garden.
The hostel’s location is in the heart of town, so you’re within walking distance to bars and restaurants, however, you are about a 10-15 minute drive away from La Fortuna Waterfall or any hot springs.
The private Deluxe Room here costs as low as $124 USD per night, while a bed in the Small Dorm costs around $26 USD per night.
I must warn you, Selina hostels in Costa Rica are notorious for being fully booked. Be sure to check the availability and book your stay well in advance. You can book on Hostelworld, Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia (most of the time, they offer free cancellation on these platforms.)
$$$ – Hotel Secreto La Fortuna
Hotel Secreto La Fortuna is one of the best La Fortuna hotels for exploring the town. It has easy access to the Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs, both are only a short drive away. The property also makes for a convenient base for visiting La Fortuna Waterfall. The hotel’s area shuttle also makes it easy for you to reach nearby attractions at an affordable surcharge.
When it comes to rooms and amenities, the hotel provides free private parking, ticket service, and free Wi-Fi on-site. Feel free to dip in the outdoor pool or enjoy the refreshing scenery on the terrace and garden. The view of the volcano here is impressive!
Hotel Secreto La Fortuna’s rooms are well-appointed with every essential to make your stay as comfortable as possible. You have a flat-screen TV with cable channels for days that you just want to stay in and binge-watch your favorite series. The en-suite bathroom is equipped with showers, toiletries, and hair dryers. The best part is that the mountains or pool can be seen from some units.
Although this hotel is stunning, it is super affordable too! Room rates here start as low as $75 USD per night – what a steal! You can check availability and book Hotel Secreto La Fortuna online on Booking.com here, on Hotels.com here, and on Expedia here.
Related Read: Be sure to visit some of the hanging bridges in La Fortuna while you’re here!
Stay just Outside of La Fortuna (near hot springs!)
While downtown La Fortuna is all nightlife and convenient amenities, the area outside of town offers a more secluded-in-nature vibe. You can find most of the best hotels in La Fortuna here, the majority of which boast volcano views and on-site hot springs. In fact, some of the best hot springs in La Fortuna are located at hotels (often referred to as Hot Springs Resorts.)
If you’re thinking about where to stay in La Fortuna, I recommend staying in this area as you’ll have the best of both worlds. You’ll be closer to the wildlife (and can easily join a sloth tour in La Fortuna to see lots!) but still be a quick drive away to downtown. If you have a car, getting around is super easy, and if you don’t, taxis are readily available in La Fortuna (although they can be pretty pricey for those on a tight budget.)
Advantages of staying just outside of La Fortuna town:
- The view is unmatched, something you won’t fully experience in downtown La Fortuna.
- You’re closer to nature.
- You’ll find lots of hot springs here.
- You’ll have a relaxing, peaceful stay.
Disadvantages of staying just outside of La Fortuna town:
- You won’t be close to many bars, restaurants, and stores.
- Hard to get around without a car.
- Hotel prices can be steep.
- The best La Fortuna hotels fill up fast, especially during the peak season.
The BEST Hotels near Hot Springs in La Fortuna
$ – Hotel La Pradera del Arenal
Hotel La Pradera del Arenal is a popular choice for budget-conscious visitors who don’t want to stay in a hostel. This property is located on the way to the volcano, just outside the town. Baldi Hot Springs are only 2 km (1.24 mi) away, so they are very accessible.
On the property, you will find a beautifully landscaped hedges, an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi with an incredible backdrop of Arenal, free parking if you come in a car, and free Wi-Fi access to keep you connected. There is a lovely reception staff where you can conveniently book tours from.
Hotel La Pradera del Arenal provides either a standard bungalow or a duluxe bungalow. The rooms, although simple, are all fitted with air conditioning, and a TV. All the rooms have a large deck with two comfortable chairs and face the volcano.
While staying at Hotel La Pradera del Arenal, you’ll be close to the mountains, within a half-hour drive to Arenal Volcano National Park and La Fortuna Waterfall. You can also find various restaurants within a 10-minute walk from the hotel. You will be a short drive from downtown La Fortuna.
Rates here start at $64 USD per night. You can check the availability and prices for your dates at Hotel La Pradera del Arenal online here.
$$ – Volcano Lodge, Hotel, and Thermal Experience
Amidst the vibrant tropical garden at the base of Arenal Volcano, Volcano Lodge, Hotel, and Thermal Experience gives the sense of being in the middle of the jungle but still just a short distance from all of the area’s attractions, activities, and nightlife.
You’ll find everything you need at this resort to have the best possible vacation in Costa Rica. There is a tropical botanic garden right on the property, two cold-water pools, two exclusive hot springs with varying temperatures (one with a swim-up bar), two hot spring-fed Jacuzzis, and a boutique spa.
If those aren’t enough to convince you, the hotel features a hiking trail on-site! They can also arrange tours for your convenience, such as a canopy excursion or a trip to nearby hot springs.
If you’d rather spend your time indoors, the lounge, billiards, and reading areas are all available to you. You can also spend your time digging into traditional Costa Rican food offered in their in-house restaurant and three bars.
There are over 60 rooms and suites on the property, all fitted with private terraces featuring full or partial views of the volcano, botanic gardens, or both. There are some with private plunge hot springs. Each room is also appointed with a coffee maker, cable TV, and a private bathroom.
If you plan to stay here, rates start at $223 USD per night. Be sure to book in advance as Volcano Lodge is often fully booked. You can check availability and book online on Booking.com here, on Hotels.com here, and on Expedia here.
$$$ – Baldi Hot Springs Hotel and Spa
Located a mere two-minute drive to Ecoglide Arenal Park, the Baldi Hot Springs Hotel & Spa provides you with more than just your standard hotel amenities. It boasts 25 thermal pools with crystalline waterfalls, lush gardens, and air-conditioned suites – it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is only of the very best hotels in La Fortuna and the area.
You can find four restaurants on the property serving free buffet breakfast and a mix of organic, vegetarian, and international dishes. There are also four bars, with some located by the pools. If you want to pamper yourself, head to the hotel’s spa and wellness center that will ease away your stress with full-service spa treatments.
The Baldi Hot Springs Hotel offers upscale rooms well-appointed with free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen cable TV, and even a mini-bar. You also have your own bathroom, complete with complimentary toiletries.
You can stay here for as low as $276 USD/night. You should secure your room at Baldi Hot Springs Resort online in advance to avoid missing out. You can make reservations on Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia.
$$$ – Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa
Featuring a sprawling and family-friendly property, Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa is set roughly 7 km (4.3 mi) outside of La Fortuna town. Although, you probably will never want to leave the resort since it has so much to offer, from its thermal-water pools and spa to its elegant restaurant and swim-up sushi bar.
You can find an on-site restaurant offering buffet services, along with à la carte meals. Other facilities available on the property include a tour desk, free parking, and a yoga deck. If you’re coming here with your partner, the restaurant and hot springs will be great places to hang out in, thanks to their romantic vibes.
But what I love about the property is that it is spread out and dotted with well-appointed bungalows with contemporary accents. The rooms here come with a flat-screen cable TV, air conditioning, a mini-bar, a covered outdoor seating area, and my favorite feature: a view of the volcano out front. Stone walls, skylights, and several tropical plants also provide a distinctive flair to the private bathrooms.
For a one-night stay, you can expect to pay at least $280 USD. Some rooms, depending on the features, may cost more. You can check availability and prices at Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa on Booking.com here.
Stay near Lake Arenal
About a 20-minute drive from downtown La Fortuna and west of Arenal Volcano, you’ll find the breathtaking Lake Arenal. It measures 12 kilometers (19 miles) long by 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) wide, making it Costa Rica’s largest landlocked body of water.
Lake Arenal’s surroundings are equally scenic and vibrant, with rolling hills of grassland and woodland and the Arenal Volcano’s peak visible on the eastern horizon. There are also a handful of hotels and restaurants on the paved road wrapping around the lake’s northern shore; however, expect them to be quite a drive from La Fortuna.
As a starting point for tourists, the lake provides a wide range of recreational opportunities throughout the year. A few of the activities you can do include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, windsurfing, and boat trips.
Thanks to the lake’s consistent and reliable wind, it has won the attention of windsurfers and sailboarders worldwide. In fact, many people regard it as one of the most popular windsurfing spots in the world. The lake’s waters are equally famous for fishing, with rainbow bass being the most sought-after catch.
It is essential to highlight that, despite increased development activities surrounding the lake, it is far from overcrowded or overdeveloped. There is still a sense of rurality and a slower pace of life in the area.
Advantages of staying near Lake Arenal:
- Offers a different experience from the downtown area.
- You’re closer to the Arenal National Park.
- Have better volcano views.
- Lots of fun water activities nearby.
- Much less touristy than staying in La Fortuna town or just on the outskirts of town.
Disadvantages of staying near Lake Arenal:
- Since there are few hotels near Lake Arenal, hotels get quickly booked.
- You’re further from La Fortuna and will likely need a car to get there conveniently. Some hotels are over an hour drive from La Fortuna town.
- Limited restaurants and services around.
The BEST Hotels near Lake Arenal
$ – La Ceiba Tree Lodge
Sitting at an elevation of 1500 ft (457 m), La Ceiba Tree Lodge is a secluded natural sanctuary located in Tilarán, 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) southeast of Nuevo Arenal. It features an expansive view of Lake Arenal that is undoubtedly unmatched.
The lodge’s name is derived from the towering tree that can be seen on the way to the property. This same tree was named the country’s “tree of the year” in 2006. It’s already 500 years old and overrun with bromeliads, ferns, and orchids of every kind you can imagine.
Once you get to the property, you will find free parking, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant serving à la carte or American breakfast on site. There are five spacious, brightly-lit rooms available, each with a private bathroom and a large balcony with hammocks from which you can enjoy the stunning lake views.
What sets La Ceiba Tree Lodge apart from the other La Fortuna hotels is that it is home to various tropical birds, including toucans and hummingbirds. This is all thanks to the lush greenery surrounding the property.
One thing to note is that this hotel is about an hour’s drive from La Fortuna town. So, it is best suited to travelers who are most interested in being near Lake Arenal than anything else.
$$ – Hotel Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge is nestled on 2,000 acres of lush tropical rainforest on the edge of Lake Arenal and just a 13-minute walk away from Arenal Volcano National Park. Within the lodge’s grounds are hundreds of different species of birds, butterflies, and frogs, as well as tropical flora and trees native to Costa Rica. What’s more, the view of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal is unmatched from this vantage point.
Even right on the property, you won’t run out of things to do. The lodge comes complete with a bird-watching garden featuring various species, a fitness center, a steam room, and two spa tubs. Indoor and outdoor play areas for kids are also available.
Of course, you won’t need to head out to dine as the lodge has an in-house restaurant dishing up daily specials including fresh fish, meat, and pasta. It’s also worth mentioning that the dining room provides you with stunning views of the volcano.
When it comes to the chalets and suites, you’ll find them well-appointed with cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms. There are also rooms with volcano views.
Things to do While You’re in La Fortuna
Of course, now that you have a place to stay in La Fortuna, you’re going to want to explore! There are so many things to do in La Fortuna you won’t want to miss! These are just a few of our top picks:
- Visit La Fortuna Waterfall – One of the things Costa Rica is famous for is its waterfalls. Top among them has to be the stunning La Fortuna Waterfall. The water shoots out of a tall cliff into the pool below surrounded by lush forest. You can swim in the natural pool here and see wildlife! Entrance is $18 USD and you can buy a skip-the-line ticket online.
- Hot springs – One of the best free activities in La Fortuna is the natural hot springs! The Free Natural Hot Spring River is a public river running through the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort. It’s only 15 minutes outside La Fortuna and feels amazing after a day of hiking! If you don’t mind paying for a soak, there are tons of other amazing hot springs in La Fortuna to choose from too.
- Hanging bridges – Make sure to walk among the treetops! The Mistico Hanging Bridges are some of the best around here. There are 14 total bridges here with 6 of them being hanging bridges. It’s a fantastic place to spot wildlife especially if you join this guided tour!
- Arenal Volcano – Arenal Volcano is the centerpiece of La Fortuna! You can wander the trails at Arenal Volcano National Park on your own or as part of a hiking tour. For more unique volcano views, take to the sky aboard the Sky Tram, fly by on an ATV ride, or take a leisurely sunset cruise on Lake Arenal.
- Drink great coffee – It’s no secret some of the best coffee in the world comes from Costa Rica! You can grab a cup of coffee at one of the restaurants in La Fortuna or take it a step further with a coffee tour. We had the freshest cup of coffee and tasted amazing homemade chocolate on this Costa Rican coffee and chocolate experience that takes place on a small family-owned plantation.
Related Read: While in La Fortuna, you should consider one of the fun chocolate tours – read more about the best ones here!
Getting Around Costa Rica
How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level.
Renting a Car
Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.
One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.
Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.
Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.
You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.
If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.
Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)
To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway!
You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.
Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!
The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!
It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Paying out of pocket for trip interruptions or medical treatment will add to what might already be a stressful situation. We always travel with SafetyWing travel medical insurance.
The best part is that it costs only a fraction of what most insurance policies charge, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, long-term travelers (like us), and budget travelers. It only costs $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country. We usually purchase it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada from Colombia before the border closed!
And there you have it, the best places to stay in La Fortuna. From the bustling downtown area to on-site hot springs to Lake Arenal, you really have it all in this area of Costa Rica. I really hope this blog has helped you decide on the perfect area and hotel for your holiday in La Fortuna – you’re just going to love it there!
Be sure to comment below if you have any questions, and take a minute to look around our website more – we have tons of blogs about Costa Rica we’d love for you to read including the ones listed below!