Costa Rica Guides | How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

Costa Rica Guides | How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

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Traveling to Costa Rica and need to know how to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica? If you are staying in La Fortuna you are going to need to know how to get from the airport in San Jose to La Fortuna. In this guide, I am going to break down the different ways you can get from the airport in Costa Rica to La Fortuna.


Where is La Fortuna Costa Rica anyway?

The airport near La Fortuna Costa Rica is in San Jose. La Fortuna is k to the north-west of San Jose. It is a lovely quiet town also known as the ‘gateway’ to Arenal Volcano National Park. Within the park, there are 2 volcanos, one of which is still active. One of the volcanos you can still hike up with a guide. The other you can only walk around the perimeter. La Fortuna also boasts Hot Springs, a thermal river, and rainforest trails. There are plenty of things to do in La Fortuna.


How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica


The Cheap Way – Take the public bus from San Jose Airport to La Fortuna

As I’m sure you can appreciate the cheapest way isn’t always the easiest. Although this was pretty simple in theory it did take me a very long time, mostly due to roadworks. Making the journey a bit of a nightmare.

If you arrive before 11:30 am 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 San Jose airport isn’t actually in San Jose. So make sure you are clear that you DON’T want the bus station in San Jose. The taxi should cost $2-5 I paid with a $5 bill as I had no change. Good thing they were happy to take my USD in Costa Rica.

Once you arrive at the bus station in Alajuela go inside and ask for a ticket. If you arrive before 11:30 am 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 from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna. You just need to buy a ticket to Ciudad Quesada for about $3 from here. You will buy a second ticket on the second bus.

Take the bus right to the final destination Ciudad Quesada (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 from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna. You can then buy your ticket on the bus and it should be $2.

Thie trip back from  La Fortuna to San Jose airport was much the same.

How long does it take to get from San Jose to La Fortuna on the bus

On average it should take 3-4 hours on the bus to get from the airport in San Jose to La Fortuna. It took me 6 as there was bad traffic.

I got the bus at 2:45 pm and arrived in 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. As I said this was mostly due to traffic.

How much does it cost to take the bus from the airport to La Fortuna 

I paid in US dollars as that was all I had. The total cost of the bus from San Jose to La Fortuna including the taxi from the airport was $10 USD.

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The Tourist Way – book a shuttle from San Jose to La Fortuna

You can book a shuttle directly from the airport to your hotel in La Fortuna. Be warned you will need to book at least 24 hours in advance. I asked when I arrived and was turned away by everyone. It’s also a good idea to know that it can take a long time to clear custon=ms in San Jose Airport. It took me over an hour. It is a good idea to be conservative with your booking and give yourself at least an hour. 

Another option is to speak to your hotel or resort. If you are staying at one of the resorts in La Fortuna, I would recommend choosing this option if you have the budget. 

How long does it take to get from the airport to La Fortuna in a shuttle

It will take around 2-3 hours depending on traffic and if you are staying in the main town or at one of the resorts on the outskirts.

What is the cost of a shuttle from the airport to La Fortuna

You are going to be spending at least $50. I was quoted prices up to $150! In the airport, I did manage to talk a guy down to $50 but that was a lot of hard work.

The Best Way to get from San Jose Airport to La Fortuna – Rent a car

The best way to get from the airport to La Fortuna is to rent 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 rent a car in Costa Rica 100%. 

Final Thoughts

I stayed at Lost Iguana resort outside La Fortuna and it cost me $30 for a 20-minute taxi from La Fortuna town to the resort. So if you add this on to the $10 I paid for the bus for only an extra $10 I could have got a door to door ride that would have to take 2-3 hours. So in all honesty, unless you are staying in the town get a shuttle or rent a car in Costa Rica.

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Traveling in Costa Rica and Central America?

Take a read of my top articles:

Things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica | Mistico Park

Resorts in La Fortuna Costa Rica | My stay at the Lost Iguana Resort

What to pack for Central America

What to pack for The Rainy Season in Central America

10 Reasons to Travel Central America during Rainy Season




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  1. August 19, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    Good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site.


  2. August 31, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    Awesome Site. Very much enjoyed reading.

  3. claytonh
    January 2, 2018 / 11:56 am

    When you say hire a car, do you mean hire a driver or rent a car to drive yourself?

  4. Britt
    May 6, 2018 / 10:28 am

    Hi there, do you know where I would go to book a shuttle straight from the airport to my
    Hostel in La Fortuna? This was a very helpful site, I know you recommend driving yourself but I’m a bit concerned about the safety of the roads and the people. Thanks!

    • May 11, 2018 / 1:19 pm

      Hi Britt! I’m so sorry I’ve only just seen this. This was who I tried to book with
      I say try as I wasn’t able to book because it was too last minute. So be sure to book as much in advance as you can!

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