Arenal Lake, two and a half to three hours drive north from San Jose is overlooked by the perfect cone of the Arenal volcano, rising out of the dense, tropical rain forest. The volcano is currently active, belching out clouds of steam, smoke and lava on a regular basis.
A spectacular night time display on a clear evening is a breathtaking sight. The local sign-happy town of La Fortuna sits at the foot of Arenal volcano. Offering a number of restaurants and souvenir shops it has become slightly commercialised.
It is possible to take guided walks to see the lava flows from a safe area, and also into the Arenal National Park. Other popular attractions include the local hot springs, suspension bridge walks known as the Hanging Bridges of Arenal and boat trips on Arenal Lake.