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” 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. Both tucked in lush jungle which makes 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 2.5 and 3 hours) and by a direct or indirect bus (between 4 and 6 hours). Ticket costs range from ($5) – ($150).

4 ways to get from San Jose to La Fortuna (Sorted on popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan 2.5-3 hours 35,185 CRC ($55) Book a Shared Minivan
Private Transfer/Taxi 2.5-3 hours 96,000 CRC ($150) Book a Private Transfer
Direct Bus4 hours3,070 CRC ($5)No Online Tickets

Indirect Bus via Ciudad Quesada4-6 hours3,765 CRC ($6.10)No Online Tickets

Shared minivans are the most popular way to get around in Costa Rica as it includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. The air-conditioned minivans are very comfortable and only take about 2.5-3 hours. Minivan rates start from 35,185 CRC ($55). Free pick-up from the airport is also available.

If you travel with a group, a private transfer is often more convenient. No need to pick up other guests and a private minivan is already cheaper if you travel with 3 or more people. Private vans start from 96,000 CRC ($150).

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 from/to the bus terminal. Also are there reports of pickpocket thieves on the bus, so always keep an eye on your belongings! Ticket prices start from only 3,070 CRC ($5) for the 4-hour ride. There’s only one daily direct bus available though, so better not miss it.

The indirect bus via Ciudad Quesada is a good alternative if you don’t like to plan and rather just show up at the bus terminal. You will have to take 2 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 3,765 CRC ($6.10). But also here, keep an eye on your belongings!

New to La Fortuna? Check out this compact La Fortuna guide to show 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

minivan icon

San Jose to La Fortuna by Minivan

Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Cost: 35,185 CRC ($55)

Let’s start with the most comfortable option. A shared minivan provides you with a hassle free drive that includes a door-to-door transfer from San Jose to La Fortuna.

Minivans (or also called Shuttle buses) only take about 2.5-3 hours and come with the advantage of free hotel pick up and drop off.

Coming from the Airport? You can even book a van that picks you up for free at the airport. Once you arrive the driver will be waiting at the Arrival hall holding a sign with your name on it. This way you don’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 gave an overview of the schedule of the recommended companies.

Minivan Schedule from San Jose to La Fortuna

Minivan OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Paradise Shuttle07:30-10:05
2 hr 35m35,185 CRC ($55)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Paradise Shuttle
(from San Jose Airport)
3 hours35,185 CRC ($55)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Paradise Shuttle
(also from San Jose Airport)
4 hours33,390 CRC ($54)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Taxi from San Jose to La Fortuna

San Jose to La Fortuna by Private Transfer/Taxi

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from 96,000 CRC ($150)

Are you travelling with family or friends? A private minivan is often a better choice when travelling in a group. 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 Arport) in San Jose to your accommodation in La Fortuna.

With tarrifs starting from 96,000 CRC ($150), a private van/taxi is already cheaper if you travel with 3 or more people!

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

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway

Bus icon

San Jose to La Fortuna by Direct Bus

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

The bus is a cheaper alternative, but keep in mind that you will need to travel to/from the bus terminals. Also be aware of pickpocketing thieves that can be on the bus.

For the direct bus, 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 accommodations in La Fortuna.

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: 4-6 hours
Cost: 3,765 CRC ($6.10)

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 is no fixed schedule so i’ts best to just go to the terminal and wait till the next bus departure.

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, but can often take longer depending on the traffic. Fro the Ciudad Quesada Bus terminal, you can simply 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)

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

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

Travel time time for this second part takes around 1 hour. If you cannot decide which route to take, just take the next departing bus.

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

All buses park at La Fortuna Terminal, located 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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