How to Get From
San Jose to La Fortuna

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Overview Compare Minivan Taxi Direct Bus Indirect Bus To Stay

La Fortuna is a quiet little town in Alajuela Province. Its name translates to “The Fortune,” a name given to it for its fertile lands and abundant natural wonders. And if you decide to explore this laidback paradise, you’ll enjoy this fortune, too.

Located northwest of the capital San Jose, La Fortuna is the gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park. You can find here 2 volcanoes – the still-very-active Arenal and the dormant Chato – as well as the 70-metre high La Fortuna Waterfalls. Both are tucked in lush jungle, making it a beautiful adventure to reach the falls.

How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna?

The driving distance from San Jose to La Fortuna is 130km (80 miles). You can travel this distance from San José to La Fortuna by a shared or private van (between 3 and 5 hours) and by a direct or indirect bus (between 4 and 6 hours). Ticket costs range from $4 (3000 CRC) to $145 (92000 CRC).

4 ways to get from San Jose to La Fortuna

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan 3-5 hours $38 (24000 CRC) Book a Shared Minivan
Private Transfer3 hours $145 (92000 CRC) Book a Private Transfer
Direct Bus4 hours$4 (3000 CRC)No Online Tickets
Indirect Bus via Ciudad Quesada5-6 hours$6 (4000 CRC)No Online Tickets

Shared minivans are the most popular way to get around in Costa Rica because they include hotel pick-up and drop-off. The air-conditioned minivans or shuttle buses are very comfortable and are faster than other modes of travel, taking only about 3-5 hours. Minivan rates start from $38 (24000 CRC). Free pick-up from the airport is also available.

If you travel with a group, a private transfer is often more convenient. There’s no need to pick up other guests and a private minivan is already cheaper if you travel with 3 or more people. Rates start from $145 (92000 CRC) for private vans that can accommodate 6 people. There are also private transfers that can fit up to 18 passengers.

The direct bus is the cheapest option for the San Jose to La Fortuna route, but keep in mind that you also need to travel to and from the bus terminal. Note that there are reports of scammers at the terminal and pickpockets on the bus, so always keep an eye on your belongings! Ticket prices start from only $4 (3000 CRC) for the 4-hour ride. There’s only one daily direct bus available though, giving you only one option for the day.

The indirect bus via Ciudad Quesada is a good alternative if you don’t like to plan and would rather just show up at the bus terminal. You will have to take two buses, but it comes with the advantage that buses depart more frequently. It’s just a dollar more expensive than a direct bus with combined rates from $6 (4000 CRC). With this option too, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings!

New to La Fortuna? Our compact La Fortuna guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to La Fortuna!

Itinerary from San Jose to La Fortuna

San Jose to La Fortuna by Minivan

Duration: 3-5 hours
Cost: $38 (24000 CRC)
Duration: 3-5 hours
Cost: $38 (24000 CRC)

Taking a shared minivan from San Jose to La Fortuna will be a comfortable ride. A shared minivan is a hassle-free drive that includes a door-to-door transfer from San Jose to La Fortuna.

Minivans (also called shuttle buses) only take about 3-5 hours and come with the advantage of free hotel pick up and drop off. Prices start from $38 (24000 CRC).

Coming from the airport? You can even book a van that picks you up for free at San Jose Airport. When you arrive, the driver will be waiting at the Arrival hall holding a sign with your name on it. This way, you won’t need to spend an extra night in the city of San Jose and also save yourself taxi costs.

There are several companies operating on this route from San Jose to La Fortuna. Below, we give an overview of the schedule of the recommended companies.

Shared minivan schedules from San Jose to La Fortuna

Minivan OperatorScheduleCosts
Interbus07:00-11:00$57 (36000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets
$45 (28000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets
Paradise Shuttle08:00-12:40
$38 (24000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets
Paradise Shuttle
(from airport)
$38 (24000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets
Volcano Travel13:30-17:30$42 (27000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets
Volcano Travel
(from airport)
14:30-17:30$42 (27000 CRC)
Check Van Tickets

These minivan operators get good reviews on BookAway, but note that some of them require a minimum of 2-3 passengers onboard before leaving.

San Jose to La Fortuna by Private Transfer

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from $145 (92000 CRC)
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from $145 (92000 CRC)

Are you travelling with family or friends? A private minivan is often a better choice when travelling in a group. There’s no need to stop at other hotels, and you don’t need to share your car with strangers.

The driver will bring you straight from your hotel or San Jose Airport to your accommodation in La Fortuna.

While a basic minivan fits up to 4 people, there are also vans that fit up to 6, 9 or even 18 people.

Private minivans for 6 people usually cost $145 (92000 CRC). If you’re travelling in a larger group of 18 people, you would need a bigger van, and these vans cost around $275 (174000 CRC). You can split the costs among your group and it’s already cheaper than taking a shared minivan!

Check private transfers with BookAway

San Jose to La Fortuna by Direct Bus

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $4 (3000 CRC)
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $4 (3000 CRC)

The bus is cheaper, but keep in mind that you will need to travel to and from the bus terminals. The buses on this route are also not air-conditioned.

For a direct bus, Autotransportes San Jose San Carlos operates the only direct bus trip from San Jose to La Fortuna at 08:40 daily.

Bus fares start from $4 (3000 CRC) for the 4-hour ride, but note that it can often take longer depending on traffic.

Departure & Arrival station

The bus departs from Terminal 7-10 in San Jose city centre. Upon arrival at the bus station, be aware of scammers! They will tell you that the bus has already left and will then offer expensive taxi rides! Immediately look for the bus or head to the ticket counter.

You will be dropped off at La Fortuna Bus Station, which is just within walking distance from most accommodations in La Fortuna.

Direct bus schedule from San Jose to La Fortuna

Bus OperatorScheduleCost
Autotransportes San Jose San Carlos08:40-12:40$4 (3000 CRC)

We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before departure time to secure tickets. You can buy the tickets at the ticketing centre on the terminal’s top floor or directly on the bus.

PRO TIP: Be very careful of your belongings. Put all your valuables in a small bag that you can store in front of you throughout the journey. As for your bigger bags, don’t lose sight of them as you buy your bus tickets and until they are safely loaded in the luggage compartment. And make sure to get your luggage ticket before boarding the bus.

San Jose to La Fortuna by Indirect Bus

Duration: 5-6 hours
Cost: $6 (4000 CRC)
Duration: 5-6 hours
Cost: $6 (4000 CRC)

If you want to travel by bus but the direct bus doesn’t match your schedule, you can also take an indirect bus route from San Jose to La Fortuna. For this option, bus departures are more frequent.

The indirect bus from San Jose to La Fortuna involves two buses: one from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada and then another one from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna. There are several departures throughout the day, so you can just go to the terminal and wait for the next bus departure.

Step 1: San Jose to Ciudad Quesada by Bus

Duration: 3hrs 40m
Cost: $3.50 (2000 CRC)
Duration: 3hrs 40m
Cost: $3.50 (2000 CRC)

Ciudad Quesada is a district located 95km northwest of San Jose.

The buses bound for Ciudad Quesada also depart from Terminal 7-10. These buses are available from 05:00 until 18:00 with a 40-minute interval.

There is also no need to purchase a ticket beforehand. You can buy them from the driver for around $3.50 (2000 CRC). Travel time from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada is almost 4 hours, but the ride can take longer depending on the traffic.

Bus schedule from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCost
Autotransportes San Jose San Carlos14x departures a day between
05:00 and 18:00
3 hours 40 minutes$3.50 (2000 CRC)

Upon arriving at Ciudad Quesada Bus Terminal, you can directly transfer to another bus heading to La Fortuna.

Step 2: Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna by Bus

Duration: 1hr 30m
Cost: $2.50 (2000 CRC)
Duration: 1hr 30m
Cost: $2.50 (2000 CRC)

For the second part of this journey, you can choose between 2 bus routes from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna:

  • via El Tanque to the north (a bit faster)
  • via Chachagua to the south (more scenic)

The routes via El Tanque and via Chachagua cost the same and take the same time.

Travel time from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna takes around 1.5 hours. If you cannot decide which route to take, just take the next departing bus.

Buses are available from 05:00 to 19:30. A ticket costs $2.50 (2000 CRC) and you can buy them from the bus driver.

Bus schedule from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCost
Transpisa Limitada15x departures a day between
05:00 and 19:30
1.5 hours$2.50 (2000 CRC)

All buses park at La Fortuna Terminal, situated in the town centre.


Our favourite places to stay in La Fortuna

Casa Luna Hotel - Treating yourself

This place is just wow! You’ll feel like you’re staying in a luxury resort, without paying those high prices you would normally pay at premium resorts. This eco-friendly hotel offers a number of outdoor pools, hot springs, a spa and a grill restaurant. All surrounded by tropical gardens.

Slip on your robe and enjoy the comfy bed after your spa treatment. The staff here are super friendly and will help you with anything they can. You won’t want to leave your private tropical oasis.

  • Hot springs and outdoor pools
  • Onsite grill restaurant
  • Large and luxurious rooms
  • Stunning gardens and views
  • Includes a very tasty breakfast

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Read More


Condo's Vista Al Volcan - Mid-Range

This hotel offers more than just a typical room. You’ll get to stay in fully equipped apartments, for a very reasonable price. Each apartment has its own sitting area, TV and kitchen.

On top of that, you’ll also have access to a really good gym that includes most of the equipment that goes way beyond the typical hotel gym! Then after you’ve worked up a sweat, you can relax on the hotel’s terrace or play a game of snooker.

  • Fully-equipped apartments
  • Amazing onsite gym
  • Great location
  • Games area

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

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Hotel Secreto - Mid-Range

Hotel Secreto feels like a mini oasis, surrounded by lush plants and views of Arenal Volcano. There are not many places where you can lounge in a swimming pool, or hot tub, and admire views of a 1,600m volcano. Well here you can!

The large glass doors of the rooms mean you’re never shut away from the glorious views and nature. They’re also large, modern and clean. Every morning you can start the day right by enjoying their delicious free breakfast.

  • Outdoor swimming pool and hottub
  • Breakfast included
  • Bright and clean rooms
  • Stunning hotel landscape and views

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

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Arenal Xilopalo - Budget Friendly

Just the view on Arenal Volcano should already be enough to convince you to stay at Arenal Xilopalo. Enjoy the breakfast with a direct view on the volcano while listening to the chirping birds in the surrounding trees.

The rooms match the vibe of La Fortuna, boasting a rustic and natural design. Each room is clean, spacious and also includes extras like a coffee machine and a fridge. The location of the hotel is also perfect.

  • Amazing view on Arenal Volcano
  • Bicycles for rent
  • Perfect location
  • Helpful and friendly staff

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

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Hotel Bijagua - Budget Friendly

If you manage to book a mountain view room at Hotel Bijagua, you’ll never want to leave your private balcony. The view is just too good!

The hotel's garden, the public terrace and the swimming pool also provide a peaceful place to relax after a busy day of activities in La Fortuna. There’s also a small kitchen available and free bikes for rent.

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Free bikes for rent
  • Great views of the Arenal Volcano
  • Large and clean rooms

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

Read More


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