A close view of a volcano with blue sky and clouds above

Visiting Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna | Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts some of the most spectacular volcanoes in the world. Visitors from all over the globe come to see Costa Rica’s 60+ volcanos and experience the culture, flora, and fauna surrounding them. But Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica continues to draw more guests than any other volcano… and for good reason! If you’re considering visiting Arenal Volcano and its surrounding attractions in Costa Rica, this post is for you!

Arenal Volcano is located in north-central Costa Rica in the province of Alajuela. It is roughly 55 miles from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

My husband and I had an amazing vacation in Costa Rica, but our time around Arenal Volcano was by far our favorite part! This post will share lodging options around Arenal Volcano, highlight the history of Arenal Volcano, and provide suggestions on things to do in the area while visiting Arenal Volcano.

For a complete guide to Costa Rica in One Week, check out our post!

Where Should I Stay While Visiting Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica?

There are so many hotel and resort options to choose from! However, those that follow our blog know that we have some dietary restrictions that make eating out challenging. We chose to rent an Airbnb where we could cook our own food. (This is a great tip for those traveling with food restrictions!)

We stayed in the most amazing rental home in La Fortuna! A cabin high up on a ridge with hammocks on the front porch and a BEAUTIFUL view of the volcano, this rental was phenomenal! Plus it was so quiet!

Wild flowers and bushes in the foreground with a volcano and blue sky in the background, a view from an Airbnb while visiting Arenal Volcano
The view of Arenal Volcano from our Airbnb!

Tip: If you have food restrictions as we do, check out Organico Fortuna in downtown La Fortuna. They offer plant-based and gluten-free options. And there are a few grocery stores in town. We went to Mega Super for fruits, veggies, eggs, and meat that we could take to our rental to cook.

Other hotel and resort options include…

The Springs Resort and Spa (a luxury hotel)

Hotel Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa (a luxury hotel)

Baldi Hot Springs Hotel Resort and Spa

Hotel San Bosco

History of the Volcano

Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano is estimated to be around 7,000 years old, causing it to be considered a “young” volcano.

In 1968, Arenal Volcano experienced the largest eruption in hundreds of years. Due to inactivity, many locals had come to the conclusion the volcano was inactive. But on July 28, 1968, Arenal Volcano erupted with force! 87 people were killed, and 3 small villages were obliterated.

It is currently considered an active but dormant volcano. In 2010, Arena Volcano began a resting period. It has not erupted since that time.

View of Arenal Volcano  in Costa Rica from the 1968 lava trail

Things To Do Near Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna

Arenal Volcano is located near La Fortuna, Costa Rica, a bustling small town with numerous activities for visitors. View the volcano while exploring the surrounding ecosystem, taking in a sloth tour, or lodging and relaxing at your hotel or rental home. There is so much to do in La Fortuna!

Hike on Lava Trails While Visiting Arenal Volcano

A very steep incline with dark rock below and bright green plants. The view while visiting Arenal Volcano Lava Trail
The Arenal 1968 Lava Trail

One of our favorite activities in La Fortuna was hiking the lava trails.

There is a lava trail that takes visitors on some of the paths the lava formed during its 1968 eruption. While there are trails in the national park, most visitors prefer this trail for the views of the volcano.

Hiking the Arenal 1968 Lava Trail is a fantastic experience!

We woke up early one morning to hit the trail and beat some of the heat. The trail was much rockier than we expected, but the views were amazing!

Large rocks prevent hikers from having a great footpath, so plan to wear shoes that support your ankles or move slowly on the trail. However, the rough terrain will all be worth it when you get to the lookout spot and have a completely unobstructed and beautiful view of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal!

A close view of a volcano from the 1968 lava trail while visiting Arenal Volcano with blue sky and clouds above
Another View of the Arenal Volcano!
A clear blue lake in the distance with green all around, a great view of Lake Arenal
Our view of Lake Arenal from the 1968 Lava Trail

Experience the Hanging Bridges While Visiting Arenal Volcano

Mistico Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, a great activity while visiting Arenal Volcano

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges was by far our favorite activity in Costa Rica!

The two-mile walk through the dense forest takes visitors over 16 bridges (6 hanging bridges), through a tunnel, and past a few waterfalls. We were amazed! Not only can visitors see the volcano while on some of the hanging bridges suspended in the air, but they will surely see more species of plants and animals than one could ever count!

Here were a few of our favorites…

• A baby viper resting on a tree next to the hanging bridge as we crossed

• A family of monkeys swinging from the trees as we crossed another hanging bridge

• Flowers of wide varieties, including many ginger flowers

• Mushrooms growing on the trees next to us, thanks to the high humidity of the rainforest

Several red, pink, and orange flowers as well as some mushrooms on a tree in a collage at Arenal Hanging Bridges in Costa Rica while visiting Arenal Volcano
These beautiful flowers were all viewed at the hanging bridges in La Fortuna

Both of the photos below were taken while hundreds of feet in the air on a hanging bridge.

A baby viper at Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
A baby viper
A baby monkey in a tree at Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
A baby monkey

To read more about our experience, check out our post on Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges. It was truly an experience of a lifetime!

Take a Sloth Tour in La Fortuna

There are a few sloth tours to choose from in La Fortuna. We chose this Sloth Watching Trail in La Fortuna. When we arrived they told us earlier in the day they had spotted a 6 ft boa on the property and invited us to pay extra for a guide to help us find the sloths and other animals along the trail. We chose not to pay the extra fee and soon regretted our decision.

While we found several iguanas and birds along the route, we didn’t see even one sloth! Because we had seen one on our coffee and chocolate tour, it did not disappoint us too badly. However, if you want to ensure you see a sloth, pay the extra for a guide!

Take a Coffee and Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna

Kaleb grinding coffee on a coffee and chocolate tour in La Fortuna, Costa Rica while Visiting Arenal Volcano

As with the sloth tours, there are a few coffee and chocolate tours to choose from in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. We went on a tour by Don Juan Tours and were very impressed! The 2- hour tour was led by a very knowledgeable guide who taught us how to recognize cocoa and coffee growing in the wild, how they’re harvested for consumption, and how they’re prepared for just the perfect flavor.

We were thoroughly impressed with our tour guide. He even pointed out birds flying overhead, a sloth asleep in a tree, and a tree frog resting on a huge leaf right at dusk. We learned so much more about coffee and chocolate than we ever expected. And we even got to add ingredients and form our own chocolate bar to take home.

The gift shop was also a great place to grab a few Costa Rican gifts to take home to family and friends.

Dip in the Hot Springs While Visiting Arenal Volcano

This is one activity we did not do in La Fortuna. However, there were several places to enjoy the hot springs, some right on the main road often taken to the volcano, 142.

Hot springs could be a great relaxing way to spend an afternoon in La Fortuna.

Go Ziplining While Visiting Arenal Volcano

While my husband and I did not go ziplining around Arenal Volcano, we did go ziplining in Costa Rica. This could be a unique way to enjoy the area. When we originally looked at ziplining in La Fortuna, we were most interested in Sky Adventures’ ziplining experience. Because we didn’t end up using them, I cannot vouch for them. However, this would be a great place to begin your research!

Ziplining in Costa Rica was an experience we will never forget. I encourage you to add it to your bucket list!

A close view of a volcano with blue sky and clouds above
Another View of the Arenal Volcano!

Is It Worth Visiting Arenal Volcano?

If you’re considering visiting Arenal Volcano, do not turn up the opportunity! It is very much worth visiting! I would recommend any individual or family (especially those with older children) add La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano to their Costa Rican bucket list. There’s so much to do in the area while still experiencing the flora and fauna of the area. It’s truly a nature lover’s dream!

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Tammy Horvath
2 years ago

I’d love to visit Arenal Volcano and the surrounding attractions in Costa Rica. Your view is impressive from your rental. Unfortunately, since I’m afraid of heights, the ziplining is out, but I’d definitely go to the hot springs. Also, the coffee and chocolate tour needs to be added to my growing list. But the most important thing on my bucket list would be the swinging monkeys. This is a must-see.

Keirsten Morris
2 years ago

Oh my goodness I have been wanting to plan a Costa Rica trip for awhile now. Not only do I want to visit the volcanos like Arenal Volcano but I also want to experience all of the vegan & plant based foods like you mentioned! They have an entirely self sustaining vegan village in Costa Rica too. I love all of the attractions you guys got up to. Zip lining must be surreal in that environment.

Barbara
2 years ago

What a cool place to explore and have an adventure! Arenal Volcano looks impressive and the area surrounding is beautiful!

Suzan
Suzan
2 years ago

Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna Costa Rica is an amazing place! This took me right back to visiting the area.

Megan
2 years ago

We just got back from Costa Rica and got to do most of these things you mention! I agree that you definitely need a guide to get the most out of your hikes!

Kristen W Allred
2 years ago

I was so excited to read this article. My family has been to Costa Rica twice, but I haven’t been able to see any of the volcanoes. Visiting the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna is at the top of my list the next time I visit Costa Rica.

Stacey Billingsley
2 years ago

Costa Rica looks beautiful, and the Arenal Volcano looks so majestic in your pictures. If I were to go, I’d definitely want to see a sloth. I’m glad you got to see one on the coffee and chocolate tour, which also sounds great.

Cindy Moore
Cindy Moore
2 years ago

Arenal Volcano and the surrounding area are so beautiful! Costa Rica is on my travel list.

kmf
kmf
2 years ago

I’ve got Costa Rica high on my list. And adding the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna to my itinerary. I had no idea the country had that many volcanoes. Would love to hike on the lava trails and the hanging bridges!

marvette critney
2 years ago

Costa Rica is on my list of places to visit. I think I could even manage to do some zip lining. The hot springs sound devine.

Tiffany
Tiffany
1 year ago

I want to visit Costa Rica so badly!! Sign me up for Arenal Volcano- sloths, snakes, and coffee? YES!!!

Lisa Manderino
Lisa Manderino
1 year ago

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica looks amazing! I would love to go ziplining, that would be amazing!

Chelsea
Chelsea
1 year ago

The hanging bridges at Arenal Volcano look awesome. I’d love to walk along those through all that greenery!

Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog
Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog
1 year ago

We were just talking yesterday about Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing.