Unfortunately, La Fortuna has become a very expensive travel destination in Costa Rica. Its beautiful landscape including a volcano, waterfalls, hot springs, rainforest walks and many more, have become very popular over the last decade. Therefore, locals decided to raise prices to a point where backpackers and budget travelers cannot afford seeing this beautiful landmark anymore. Just to name a few examples: La Fortuna Waterfall costs $18 per person; any hiking trail costs at least $15 per person; entrance to the Arenal Volcano National Park costs $15 per person, any tour will cost you at least $40 per person and so on and so forth. The list is long.
However, we went to La Fortuna and found all activities that are still free for you to enjoy so that your trip to La Fortuna will not exceed your budget.
1. El Salto Waterfalls with Rope Swing
Costa Rica and La Fortuna, especially, is very well known for its beautiful waterfalls. The El Salto Waterfall with its famous Rope Swing is the only waterfall in La Fortuna that is free to visit and enjoy. This is why you will find many locals relaxing next to the waterfall or swimming in the water. However, be warned; the water is VERY cold. You get used to it pretty quickly though. You will find the El Salto Waterfall south of La Fortuna by following Route 702. It’s only a short 20 minute (1.6 km) walk from the city center of La Fortuna.
For us, the Chocolate Museum or ChocoMuseo was a must visit in La Fortuna. The offered tour by the museum was completely free and lasted around 10-15 minutes. We got to try many different kinds of chocolates, cacao beans, bread spreads and liquors. All of this was COMPLETELY FREE. How awesome is that? A must do for every chocolate lover!
Unfortunately, this little gem has closed down in La Fortuna, but the ChocoMuseo does have a few other locations throughout Central and South America, so head over to their website anyway and see if you can fit a trip to the chocolate museum into one of your adventures!
You can’t go to La Fortuna and not experience at least one of its famous hot springs. The Free Natural Hot Springs River is the only one that is free! The water has the perfect temperature and the river offers many little pools to relax in.
You will find the Free Natural Hot Springs on road 142 right down the street from the Tabacon Resort. When coming from the Tabacon Resort, you will find the Free Natural Hot Springs River just a few meters down the street and on your left-hand side hidden in the rainforest next to the street. A narrow trail on the left will lead you right down to the water. Don’t miss it! Hitchhike or take the bus for 1,125 CRC (one way) at 8 am to the Free Hot Spring and back at 2 pm.
How do you get around La Fortuna for free? Almost impossible, but the answer might be obvious: Hitchhiking! Hitchhiking is totally safe and very common in Costa Rica. Many locals use it as their main means of transport. So put your thumb out there and get a ride! However, we only had to hitchhike once, as everything, but the Free Hot Springs, is within walking distance.
5. Take Pictures of The Arenal Volcano
This is an easy one, as you can see the volcano from literally everywhere. We found that the nicest pictures can be taken on the way to the El Salto Waterfalls as the landscape makes for some great volcano frames!
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