Enjoy a quick and eventful five days exploring two of Costa Rica’s best-known attractions. Begin in La Fortuna, where you can take some time to explore the village and dine in town. Then, discover Arenal Volcano on a nature hike, and soak in the natural hot springs. Next, float along scenic Lake Arenal to Monteverde. Mingle with the locals and then hike through the biodiverse Cloud Forest Reserve, which is home to many species of plants and animals—including plenty of exotic birdlife. Integrate this quick trip into other travel plans, or arrive and depart from San José, depending on your preference.


  • Enjoy local dining and explore the town of La Fortuna
  • Hike around Arenal Volcano and soak in the natural hot springs
  • Take a scenic boat ride on Lake Arenal to Monteverde
  • Discover the biodiverse flora and fauna in the Cloud Forest Reserve

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Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival/Travel to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Arenal Volcano Hike & Hot Springs Soak Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Transfer to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 4 Cloud Forest Reserve Hike Monteverde
Day 5 Departure From San José or Continue Your Travels  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival/travel to La Fortuna

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

If you are already in Costa Rica, you can launch into this adventure from several parts of the country. A travel representative can meet you and provide a ride to La Fortuna from any of the following destinations: 

  • San José
  • Papagayo Gulf
  • Guapiles or Siquirres
  • Jaco Beach
  • Manuel Antonio Beach
  • El Coco Beach (Guanacaste)
  • Potrero Beach
  • Samara Beach
  • Sarapiqui

After pick-up, start traveling in the direction of the northern plains, where the Arenal Volcano begins to crown. The rich land is covered with different crop plantations, including pineapple, cassava, bananas, and more.

Tonight, have dinner at the hotel or, if time permits, explore the village of La Fortuna. Consider the following restaurants in town:

  • Café Mediterraneo, a friendly osteria serving up homemade pasta and pizza
  • La Parrilla de María Bonita, a must-visit for perfectly cooked steak, as well as Mediterranean dishes, like falafel and baba ghanoush
  • Rancho Perla, a popular open-air restaurant (you may even spot sloths hanging from the nearby trees) serving well-prepared Costa Rican staples

Check out our list of the top places to eat in La Fortuna.

Day 2: Arenal Volcano hike and hot springs soak

Enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs
Enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs

After breakfast at the hotel, take advantage of some free time to enjoy the hotel facilities and amenities.

By midafternoon, a local representative will pick you up and take you to  Arenal Volcano National Park for a guided nature walk. An expert guide will explain interesting facts about the volcano and its history. There are many chances to see wildlife on the hike and, of course, experience the volcanic activity firsthand. The trail is easy and your guide will help with spotting and pointing out wildlife as you walk.

Next, reach the thermal waters of a natural hot spring, where you can swim and relax. Dinner is included at the hot springs restaurant, so you can enjoy more time soaking and decompressing. If you're interested in staying in a hotel with access to hot springs, read over this list of our top picks.

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Day 3: Transfer to Monteverde

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest

Once you have breakfast, it is time to travel to the inspiring Monteverde Cloud Forest in a particularly unique way. Board a Van-Boat-Van across the Lake Arenal to get to Monteverde. Take in spectacular views of the volcano and find different species of birds while you navigate through the tranquil lake. The staff will point out the many birds and other animals you may see.

Monteverde is home to one of the most important protected cloud forests in the world. There are just a few of these forests; therefore, it is crucial to conserve and protect the unique plants and animals here. Explore the area, and mingle with the friendly locals who live in this natural paradise. 

Upon arrival, the rest of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure. Check out this list of Top Experiences in Monteverde for more ideas of what to see and do.

Day 4: Cloud Forest Reserve hike

Look out for the quetzal on your hike through the cloud forest
Look out for the quetzal on your hike through the cloud forest

After breakfast, explore the incredible Monteverde Cloud Forest accompanied by an expert tour guide.

Departure from the hotel is early, providing more opportunities to see wildlife. Upon arrival, your guide will choose the best trail to follow, depending on the weather and the interest of the participants. The historical nature walk can take between 3-6 hours, so you can enjoy as much of the enchanting flora and fauna of the forest as possible. Learn more about the top nature experiences in Costa Rica.

Hike part of the 7.5 miles of trails that are in this private reserve of cloud forest while your guide explains how animals and plants coexist in this type of landscape. If you are lucky, you may spot a quetzal, a trogon, or the noisy bellbird. 

Following the hike, return to your hotel, and the rest of the day and night are yours to enjoy. 

Day 5: Departure from San José or continue your travels

Safe Travels!
Safe Travels!

Today, after breakfast, take advantage of a transfer within Costa Rica to continue your travels, or head back to the capital city. A travel representative can coordinate your transportation to the following destinations: 

  • San José
  • Papagayo Gulf
  • Jaco Beach
  • Manuel Antonio Beach
  • Montezuma Beach
  • El Coco Beach
  • Potrero Beach
  • Samara Beach
  • Santa Teresa Beach or Mal Pais Beach
  • Tamarindo or Conchal or Flamingo Beach

Enjoy the rest of your time in Costa Rica! 

Looking for other ideas for Costa Rica?

Looking for other ideas for your trip to Costa Rica? We have some great ideas for how to spend 5 days in Costa Rica, plus a list of family-friendly 6-day itineraries. Read more about how many days to stay in Costa Rica here.

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Our specialists can help you customize this itinerary or help you discover the perfect regions in Costa Rica to fit your travel style. Get started now


Map of Arenal Volcano & Monteverde Cloud  Forest - 5 Days
Map of Arenal Volcano & Monteverde Cloud Forest - 5 Days