Planning your trip to Costa Rica? If you decide that you want to go straight to La Fortuna (and you should because it’s amazing) then read on for my guide to getting there from San Jose Airport.
The Cheap Way
As I’m sure you can appreciate the cheapest way isn’t always the easiest. Although this was pretty easy it did take me a very long time, mostly due to road works.
If you arrive before 11:30 then take a taxi from just outside the airport (it’s a really short walk and it will save you paying the airport taxi fee). To the bus station in Alajuela. The airport isn’t actually in San Jose so make sure you are clear that you DON’T want the bus station in San Juan. The taxi should cost $2-5 I paid $5 as I had no change!
From there go inside and ask for a ticket. If you arrive before the last direct but at 11:30 you can get a direct bus. If you arrive after you will need to change in Ciudad Quesada and from there get a second bus to La Fortuna. So buy a ticket to Ciudad Quesada for about $3.
Take the bus right to the end (you will go through the city) and get off at the bus station. I did feel a little on edge here as I had read a lot of things about keeping your bag close etc. So be aware. Don’t put anything down, keep an eye on your bag. Then ask someone for the bus to La Fortuna. You can then buy your ticket on the bus and it should be $2.
On average it should take 3-4 hours on the bus… It took me 6 as there was bad traffic.
I got the bus at 2:45 pm and arrived at Ciudad Quesada at 5:05 pm. There was a bus waiting there for La Fortuna that left at 5:15 pm. I arrived in La Fortuna at 8 pm due to the traffic!
I paid in dollars and the total cost including the taxi was $10
To Tourist Way
Book a shuttle direct from the airport to your hotel in La Fortuna. You need to book at least 24 hours in advance and be aware that it takes at least 1 hour to get through customs a lot of the time. If you are staying at one of the resorts outside La Fortuna, I would recommend choosing this option.
I stayed at Lost Iguana and it cost me $30 for a 20-minute taxi from La Fortuna to the resort. So it actually would have been almost the same price to get a shuttle as it was for the bus and a taxi!
The Best Way
Hire a car. This is my strong recommendation. Costa Rica is expensive to travel around and many places are not accessible by public bus. While I was in La Fortuna I felt so stuck as there was so much to see and do but I couldn’t get there without paying for an expensive tour. If I could do it all again I would hire a car 100%!
If you are visiting La Fortuna make sure you check out my posts on things to do there and where to stay.