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At 1,633 metres above sea level, Arenal Volcano has been until recently the most active in Central America and was considered to be one of the world's ten most active volcanoes! As you can imagine this is a popular spot for anyone wanting to visit Costa Rica therefore you should be aware, in peak season especially, this is by no means the peaceful area it once was. Despite the coach loads it can draw it is a stunning part of the country and well worth including on a trip to Costa Rica.

Although the volcano is no longer delivering its sporadic eruptions it is a magnificent peak and there is plenty to do in the area. The volcano can be difficult to see, especially in the dry season as it is often shrouded by cloud but it's an incredible sight if you are lucky enough and the surrounding lava fields are also fascinating.

You can explore the area by combining a multitude of activities such as canopy walkways, horse riding, canoeing and walking. The nearby hot springs, though busy, make for a special experience bathing beneath the stars and the nearby Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is well worth a day trip.

The volcano's growth over the ages has been characterised by a number of eruptions — the last major one of which occurred on 29th July 1968. This eruption blasted off the top of the volcano creating the volcano shape that can be seen today.

The nearby Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is well worth a day trip. This is one of the most densely populated areas of Costa Rica but we have found some fabulous accommodation in this scenic and beautiful region.

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who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Nik

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Arenal Volcano by contacting one of our Costa Rica specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Arenal Volcano

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Arenal Volcano, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Arenal Volcano

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Arenal Volcano

    Our expert guides to exploring Arenal Volcano

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Arenal Volcano, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Arenal Volcano at its best.

    • What to do in Costa Rica: our highlights guide
      Red eyed tree frog, Costa Rica

      What to do in Costa Rica: our highlights guide

      What to do in Costa Rica: our highlights guide

      One of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, Costa Rica attracts nature lovers and adrenaline seekers alike. Country specialist, Nik, picks out some of the country’s highlights, from white-water rafting to wildlife spotting in the cloudforest.

      5 min read

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    • Luxury holidays in Costa Rica
      Lapa Rios, Costa Rica

      Luxury holidays in Costa Rica

      Luxury holidays in Costa Rica

      Luxury in Costa Rica lies in the unrivalled wildlife that covers the country, from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast. With small hotels designed to make the best of the natural surroundings, this is barefoot luxury at its most pure.

      7 min read

      Read this guide
    • Family wildlife and adventure holidays in Costa Rica
      Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

      Family wildlife and adventure holidays in Costa Rica

      Family wildlife and adventure holidays in Costa Rica

      Audley specialist Nik, a former wildlife guide in Costa Rica, explains why the country is such a great destination for families interested in adventure and wildlife holidays. He suggests where to go and which activities would appeal to children.

      8 min read

      Read this guide
    • Honeymoons in Costa Rica
      Resplendent quetzal, Costa Rica

      Honeymoons in Costa Rica

      Honeymoons in Costa Rica

      Volcanic hot springs, cloudforest, beaches, rainforest reserves and white-water rivers: Costa Rica lends itself to couples seeking an adventurous, eco-conscious honeymoon with many chances to spot wildlife. Specialist Michael reveals where exactly to go, and the best places to stay.

      8 min read

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    • Why you should consider self-drive in Costa Rica (and what’s so good about it)
      Osa Peninsula

      Why you should consider self-drive in Costa Rica (and what’s so good about it)

      Why you should consider self-drive in Costa Rica (and what’s so good about it)

      Mark from our Costa Rica team shares his experience exploring Costa Rica from behind the wheel, explains why this country is well-suited to driving trips, and offers tips for how to make the most out of your rental car.

      6 min read

      Read this guide

    Accommodation choices for Arenal Volcano

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Arenal Volcano. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Arenal Volcano

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Arenal Volcano, and which use the best local guides.

    • Eco Termales Hot Springs
      Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

      Eco Termales Hot Springs

      Eco Termales Hot Springs

      The Eco Termales hot springs are a beautiful sanctuary surrounded by nature. The smallest of the hot springs in the Arenal area, Eco Termales is perfect for privacy and relaxation.

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    • Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
      Red-eyed tree frog, Costa Rica

      Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

      Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

      The Caño Negro refuge itself is located 25 kilometres south of Los Chiles in the northern area of the Alajuela province, approximately a two hour drive from Arenal. It has been declared a site of international importance for the nesting of migratory birds and occupies an area of 9,969 hectares in the Río Frío Basin.

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    • Arenal Volcano National Park Tour
      Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

      Arenal Volcano National Park Tour

      Arenal Volcano National Park Tour

      Embark on a journey of exploration through the beautiful Arenal Volcano National Park, spotting unique flora and fauna along the way and learning about the activity and history of the still-active Arenal Volcano.

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    • Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion
      Crossing Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

      Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion

      Lake Arenal Kayaking Excursion

      Take to the water of Lake Arenal in your own kayak and explore the shores to spot a multitude of different bird species, and perhaps hear the unmistakable call of a howler monkey.

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    • Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion
      La Fortuna waterfall, Volcan Arenal

      Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion

      Cerro Chato Hiking Excursion

      Ascend through dense primary forest, which is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, to the summit of Cerro Chato — Arenal Volcano's 'older brother'. Finish this half day walk with a refreshing swim at La Fortuna Waterfall.

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    • Peñas Blancas River Floating
      Three toed sloth near Arenal, Costa Rica

      Peñas Blancas River Floating

      Peñas Blancas River Floating

      Drift silently along the Peñas Blancas River, which winds through lush, verdant forest, and see a huge variety of wildlife including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, tortoises, crocodiles and several types of birds.

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    • Arenal Volcano Hike
      Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

      Arenal Volcano Hike

      Arenal Volcano Hike

      This easy and manageable hike will allow you to enjoy the most extraordinary view of the Arenal Volcano as you walk along the base of this marvellous 'Mountain of Fire'. See recent lava flows and rock formations and learn about the big eruption of 1968.

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    • Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour
      Canopy Walkway, Arenal

      Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour

      Arenal Hanging Bridges Natural History Tour

      Follow the hanging bridges through the Arenal rainforest canopy and the walking trails along the forest floor to spot numerous bird, animal and plant species. Clearings and open spaces in the forest canopy offer a glimpse of the magnificent Arenal Volcano in the distance.

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    • Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek
      Aerial tram, Costa Rica

      Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek

      Arenal Rainforest Sky Tram and Trek

      Enjoy a peaceful gondola ride above the Arenal rainforest and take in the breathtaking views of the volcano and the still, blue lake. Choose to return back to your starting point the same way or via the Canopy Tour; an exhilarating zip-line through the forest canopy.

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