Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2-day budget itinerary for La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a dream destination for many and for good reason. Known for its dense rainforests, unique wildlife, formidable volcanoes, and startling seaside, there are so many experiences available to visitors.
During my 9-week backpacking trip of Central America, I only had five days of our itinerary allotted for Costa Rica (although I would have loved to spend much longer!). So in the lead up to my visit, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Costa Rica. I wanted to make sure that I made the most of my short time in this famed vacation destination.
After considering many recommendations, I choose to spend the majority of my time in La Fortuna. I was particularly excited to see Arenal Volcano. A seemingly perfectly formed volcano that dominated the skyline and thick jungles surrounding it. Another positive was that La Fortuna is also very accessible from the capital, San Jose.
In total, I spent three nights in La Fortuna. As traveling goes, I was sick for the better part of my first day. Therefore, the following is my recommended itinerary for two days rather than squishing everything into one day, as I did. After all, when in Costa Rica you should be on Tico time.
Day 1: La Fortuna
Breakfast on the patio
During my stay in La Fortuna, I stayed in Villas Josipek. Nestled in the lush rolling hills above La Fortuna, Villas Josipek offers cozy bungalows with the option of a fully equipped kitchen. The cabins are available with one and two bedrooms or there is even a four bedroom house available. I choose to stay in the one bedroom with kitchen. This came with a double bed and two bunk beds, so it would be a great choice for small groups or families.
After being on the road for the better part of the past three months, I was so thrilled to have a fully equipped kitchen to cook my own meals in. My favorite part of the day was sitting on the patio of the bungalow, sipping coffee and looking out into the gardens of Villas Josipek. Cooking is also a great option for those who are budget conscious (aren’t we all?).
As I was pretty sick during my stay, I really appreciated staying in a private bungalow with all the required amenities to be comfortable. It was nice to rest in the double bed, under the cool bedroom fan and catch up on recent movies. This is also a great way to unwind after you have had a busy day full of adventure activities. Villas Josipek provides cable TV and WiFi right to your cabin, which is pretty impressive considering we were in the middle of the jungle.
Catarata Rio Fortuna
While visiting La Fortuna, you are probably going to want to visit La Fortuna Waterfall or “Catarata Rio Fortuna”. The waterfall is located a short drive from La Fortuna. Alternatively, if you have traveled without a car then you could consider a tour or catch a taxi.
The grounds of La Fortuna Waterfall are well maintained with stairs and a pathway leading through the jungle. It is about a fifteen-minute walk from the park entrance to the base of the waterfall. There are quite a few stairs so be prepared with the right footwear. It is also recommended that you take along plenty of drinking water, insect repellent, swimwear, a towel and change of clothes. There are restrooms available near the entrance so you can get changed before descending to the waterfall.
There is an entrance fee, however, the waterfall and the view during your short trek are very impressive. Make the most of your money by planning to stay a few hours. After reaching the waterfall, take your time taking snapshots then head into the cool water for a dip.
Day 2: La Fortuna
Baldi Hot Springs
Imagine a luxury spa, natural hot springs and a mammoth water theme park all rolled in one. That’s what you can expect at Baldi Hot Springs. The park is an architect’s delight of strategically placed cascading waterfalls. Starting from the back of the park, the hot spring water erupts from the top of a man-made mountain running down through a series of pools.
In all, there are twenty-five pools in the park ranging in design and water temperature. Each pool has a sign indicating what the depth and temperature are for the pool. Whether you want to stay ankle deep or be fully immersed under a waterfall, there is a pool for you. For those who fancy a drink without having to get out of the water, there are several swim-up bars in the park, including a sports bar showing the current big match.
Families are in luck, as there is a dedicated water park that will keep kids amused for hours. Tall water slides are available for children of all ages. For those looking for some pampering, Baldi Hot Springs has a dedicated spa with many treatments available.
I visited on a day pass and ended up staying over five hours. I had a great time trying out the different pools and relaxing in the sun chairs. If you are visiting and have some room in your budget, consider the “all you can eat” buffet lunch with an assortment of traditional foods as well as soup and pasta. I gorged myself on a late lunch, finishing with the sweet cakes and coffee. Be sure to come early and, if possible, on a weekday. We arrived around 11 am and there were only a handful of other visitors. After midday, however, bus loads of tourists started to arrive. Although the park is huge and can take many visitors without feeling full, it was still nice to have a pool to ourselves for a few hours.
Be sure to come early and, if possible, on a weekday. I arrived around 11 am and there were only a handful of other visitors. After midday, however, bus loads of tourists started to arrive. Although the park is huge and can take many visitors without feeling full, it was still nice to have a pool to ourselves for a few hours.
Exploring La Fortuna
The town of La Fortuna is a mishmash of hotels, restaurants, and shops selling tours. Large advertisements for adventure activities such as zip lining, hiking, horseback riding and everything in between, call out to you. The town is very walkable, centered around a cute little park and with a backdrop of Arenal Volcano.
This is a great place to come for lunch or even just a coffee. The restaurants range from low cost “sodas” (the name for local restaurants) right up to a full-service dining experience. I enjoyed a relaxed afternoon walking all over the town and treating myself to pastries and coffee in a “panaderia” (bakery).
Located just 10 kilometers outside the center of La Fortuna and a two-hour scenic drive from San Jose, Villas Josipek is a great place to make your jungle escape. The hotel provides a series of bungalows and a house on the edge of the jungle. The resort is also home to a well loved botanical garden, featuring both native and exotic flora.
Villas Josipek made my stay in La Fortuna truly memorable. The staff was so kind and attentive, going out of their way to make sure I had a comfortable stay. Even as I was leaving, the staff were offering recommendations for places to visit in San Jose. It is such a warm and welcoming place to be.
Location: Villas Josipek, Highway 702, Costa Rica (2km north of Chachagua)
Budget breakdown: La Fortuna
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Costa Rican Colones). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: Villas Josipek offers one and two bedroom bungalows as well as a four bedroom house. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms & Rates.
Food: I purchased groceries and bottled water from local supermarkets. For a couple of meals, I ate out at a local restaurant and bakery.
Activities: La Fortuna Waterfall ($28 USD). I received a day pass to Baldi Hot Springs as a gift from a friend. For the current prices for day passes, hotel accommodation, spa, and restaurant, please refer to Baldi Hot Springs.
Transport: Initially I had planned to travel to La Fortuna by bus, however, due to my cold and pinched nerve in my back (did I mention I was sick?), I decided to hire a car at the last minute. Traveling by car to La Fortuna was very convenient and made the trip so much easier. By having the car, I was able to explore the area at my own leisure and easily drive to pick up groceries. When looking for a rental car, make sure to obtain multiple quotes. Also, consult with your credit card company as you may already have insurance for car rentals and not have to pay extra for it. ($100.18 USD for 3 days car rental and 13,596 Colones for fuel).
Average daily spend: $39.40 USD each* ($52.45 AUD as of 5 July 2016) excluding accommodation and Baldi Hot Springs. This amount includes car rental for 3 days allowing for travel in and out of La Fortuna.
I was a complimentary guest of Villas Josipek. I also received a day pass to Baldi Hot Springs from a friend as a gift. However, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
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