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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. This way once you arrive, you can relax and get ready to do the epic Rio Celeste Waterfall hike.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey MondoPassport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover.

Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. If you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre-load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

I also use Travel Insurance Master for short trips.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about all 4 companies. 

Where is La Fortuna Costa Rica anyway?

The airport near La Fortuna Costa Rica is in San Jose. La Fortuna is to the northwest 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. On 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 so it is well worth adding it to your Costa Rica Itinerary.

How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

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 to get from San Jose to La Fortuna 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.

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

How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica

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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Book a shuttle from San Jose to La Fortuna

If I’m totally honest, although the bus may be a bit cheaper if I had the chance to do this again, I’d book a shuttle! It is the safest and easiest way to travel as they will take you door to door. Be warned you will need to book at least 24 hours in advance. I asked when I arrived at the airport and I was turned away by everyone. It was really stressful, so don’t be like me running around the airport trying to figure out how to get to La Fortuna from the airport that wasn’t going to cost me a kidney! I strongly recommend booking a shuttle through GuateGo, they can pick you at the hotel or airport and drop you at where you need to go. I used them to travel all over Guatemala and they were fantastic!

Top Tip: Make sure you buy at least one day before your arrival; you can purchase the ticket on the GuateGO website. Make sure you write down From: Santamaria airport to: La Fortuna, then select how many tickets you want and your dates. It’s as easy as that to get door-to-door service in Costa Rica!

You can actually use GuateGO to book all your transportation in Costa Rica, not just between San José and La Fortuna. You can also book transport from Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Jacó, Monteverde, pretty much all the major destinations in Costa Rica. To book a shared shuttle from San Jose to La Fortuna click here.

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 $70. I was quoted prices up to $150! In the airport, I did manage to talk a guy down to $80 but that was a lot of hard work.

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

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%. 

San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica,san jose,la fortuna,costa rica
San Jose to La Fortuna Costa Rica,san jose,la fortuna,costa rica

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 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.

This post was proofread by Grammarly


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


Tuesday 12th of January 2021

"So make sure you are clear that you DON’T want the bus station in San Jose. " im so confused about this statement, but isn't the bus station is in San Jose

Claire Summers

Thursday 21st of January 2021

No. As I said in the post, the airport is;t in San Jose. So if you take a taxi to the San Jose bus station you are going out of your way as it's in the opposite direction.


Sunday 6th of May 2018

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!

Claire Summers

Friday 11th of May 2018

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!


Tuesday 2nd of January 2018

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

Claire Summers

Monday 8th of January 2018

Rent a car to drive yourself :-)

Yacon Root

Thursday 31st of August 2017

Awesome Site. Very much enjoyed reading.


Saturday 19th of August 2017

Good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site.