La Fortuna Costa Rica

San Jose to La Fortuna

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Overview | Direct Bus | Indirect Bus | Minivan | Private Transfer

How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna?

La Fortuna is a quiet little town in Alajuela Province. Its name translates to “The Fortune” in English, given to it for its fertile lands and abundant natural wonders. And if you do decide to explore this laidback paradise, you’ll be among the fortunate ones!

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-meter high La Fortuna Waterfalls. These are all tucked in lush jungles that make hiking a bliss!

4 ways to get from San Jose to La Fortuna

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Direct Bus4 hours3,070 CRC ($5)

No Online Tickets

Indirect Bus via Ciudad Quesada4 hours3,765 CRC ($6.10)

No Online Tickets

Minivan4 hours34,694.02 CRC ($55)Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer3 hours86,212.45 CRC ($138)Book a Private Transfer

You can choose from 4 options when crossing the 130km from San Jose to La Fortuna: a 4-hour bus that can be direct or indirect, a 4-hour minivan, or a 3-hour private transfer. Rates range from 3,070 CRC ($5) to 86,212.45 CRC ($138).

The direct bus is the cheapest option for the San Jose to La Fortuna route. Ticket prices start from 3,070 CRC ($5) for the 4-hour ride. There’s only one daily direct bus available though so if you miss it, you’ll have to find other options.

The indirect bus via Ciudad Quesada is a good alternative for those on a budget. You will have to take 2 buses, but the transfer is simple and easy so you shouldn’t have any problems. It’s just a dollar more expensive than a direct bus with combined rates from 3,765 CRC ($6.10).

Looking for a more comfortable way to get from San Jose to La Fortuna? Minivans are the most popular way to get around in Costa Rica as it includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. They’re also very comfortable so you can really enjoy the changing scenery for the 4-hour journey. Minivan rates start from 34,694.02 CRC ($55).

A private transfer is the fastest way to get from San Jose to La Fortuna. It might look expensive with rates from 86,212.45 CRC ($138) for a car that can fit 6 persons. But when you split the cost, it’s actually even cheaper than a minivan ride. Also, you can complete the journey in just 3 hours.

Itinerary from San Jose to La Fortuna

Bus icon

San Jose to La Fortuna by Direct Bus

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 3,070 CRC ($5)

Transportes San Carlos operates the only direct bus trip from San Jose to La Fortuna. This bus departs at 08:40 in the morning from Terminal 7-10 in San Jose City Centre.

Bus fares start from 3,070 CRC ($5). We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before departure time to secure tickets. You can buy them at the ticketing centre on the terminal’s top floor.

The bus journey from San Jose to La Fortuna takes around 4 hours, but can often take longer depending on traffic. You are to get off at La Fortuna Bus Station, which is just within walking distance from most hostels in town.

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 even as you buy your bus tickets until they are safely loaded in the luggage compartment. And make sure to get your luggage ticket before boarding the bus.

Bus icon

San Jose to La Fortuna by Indirect Bus

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 3,765 CRC ($6.10)

If 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 frequent so you can be more flexible with your schedule.

This involves two buses: one from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada and then another one from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna.

Step 1: San Jose to Ciudad Quesada by Bus

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: 1,850 CRC ($3)

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

Buses bound for Ciudad Quesada are available from 05:45 in the morning to 17:45 in the afternoon at San Jose’s Terminal 7-10. There is no specific schedule, but bus departures normally have a 20 to 50-minute interval.

There is also no need to purchase a ticket beforehand. You can buy them from the driver for around 1,850 CRC ($3).

Travel time from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada Bus Terminal is around 3 hours. Here, you simply need to transfer to another bus heading to La Fortuna.

Step 2: Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna by Bus

Duration: 1 hour
Cost: 1,915 CRC ($3.10)

There are two bus routes from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna: via El Tanque to the north (a bit faster) and via Chachagua to the south (more scenic). Travel time, either way, is around 1 hour. If you cannot decide which route to take, you can just pick the earliest bus available.

Buses are available from 05:00 to 22:10. A ticket costs 1,915 CRC ($3.10) and you can just buy them from the driver.

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

minivan icon

San Jose to La Fortuna by Minivan

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 34,694.02 CRC ($55)

Looking for an option that will take you door-to-door from San Jose to La Fortuna?

Minivans are an expensive alternative to the bus. Rates start from 34,694.02 CRC ($55) when heading to San Jose city centre. This rate also includes free hotel pick-up and drop-off, so you won’t have to hassle finding your way to and from bus terminals.

Travel time with the minivan is around 4 hours.

Below, we give you a breakdown of minivan rates and schedules. You can choose from 4 different companies: Tropical Tours Shuttle, Desafio Adventure Company, Interbus, and Gray Line.

We already searched high and low for the cheapest rates, and you can find them in their respective booking links.

Minivan OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Book with BookAway
07:00-11:004 hours 34,694.02 CRC ($55)
Gray Line
Book with BookAway
6 hours38,960 CRC ($59)
Desafio Adventure Company
Book with BookAway
(from San Jose Airport)
3 hours 34,100 CRC ($55)
Tropical Tours Shuttle
(from San Jose Airport)
4 hours33,390 CRC ($54)

Tropical Tours is best booked through its own company website, while Interbus and Gray Line are cheaper when booked on BookAway. As for Desafio, it’s actually cheaper on its own website but there’s a minimum of 2 passengers per booking. In BookAway, you can book Desafio even when you’re travelling solo!

Check Minivan Tickets with BookAway


San Jose to La Fortuna by Private Transfer

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from 86,212.45 CRC ($138)

Are you travelling with family or friends? BookAway offers a variety of private vehicle choices depending on the number of persons on your group and your preferred level of luxury.

What we love about taking a private transfer from San Jose to La Fortuna is that it can be cheaper than a minivan ride when you divide the cost.

Rates start from 86,212.45 CRC ($138) for a 6-seater vehicle. Split that and it’s only about $23 per person, half the cost of a shared minivan ticket.

For bigger groups, there’s also an 18-seater bus with rates from 63,732.30 CRC ($262). Or if you want a more luxurious trip, you can get a 2-seater car for 175,000 CRC ($283)!

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway