How to Get From
San Jose to La Fortuna

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How to get from San Jose to La Fortuna

La Fortuna is located about 130 kilometres (80 miles) northwest of San José. You can travel this distance from San Jose to La Fortuna by a shared or private minivan (between 3 and 5 hours) and by a direct or indirect bus (between 4 and 6 hours). Ticket costs range from $4 (2,000 CRC) to $145 (84,000 CRC).

Read on for a detailed breakdown of how to get to La Fortuna by minivan, taxi, private transfer or bus— including schedules and where to book your tickets.

TIP: 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 vacation to La Fortuna!

4 ways to get from San Jose Costa Rica to La Fortuna

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan 3-5 hours $38 (22,000 CRC) Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer3 hours $145 (84,000 CRC) Check Private Transfers
Direct Bus4 hours$4 (2,000 CRC)Read article for more info
Indirect Bus via Ciudad Quesada5-6 hours$6 (3,000 CRC)Read article for more info

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 comfortable and are faster than other modes of travel, taking only about 3-5 hours. Minivan rates start from $38 (22,000 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 (84,000 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 you also need to travel to and from the bus terminal. There are also reports of petty thieves at the terminal and pickpockets on the bus, so always keep an eye on your belongings! Ticket prices start from only $4 (2,000 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 (3,000 CRC). With this option too, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings!

Where to stay in La Fortuna?

Still looking for accommodation? Don’t forget to check out our favourite places to stay in La Fortuna at the bottom of this page.

Itinerary from San Jose to La Fortuna

San Jose to La Fortuna by Minivan

Duration: 3-5 hours
Cost: $38 (22,000 CRC)
Duration: 3-5 hours
Cost: $38 (22,000 CRC)

Taking a shared minivan from San Jose, Costa Rica, to La Fortuna will be a comfortable ride. A shared minivan 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 (22,000 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 schedule from San Jose to La Fortuna

Minivan OperatorScheduleCosts
Interbus07:00-11:00$57 (33,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
$45 (26,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
Paradise Shuttle08:00-12:40
$38 (22,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
Paradise Shuttle
(from airport)
$38 (22,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
Volcano Travel13:30-17:30$42 (24,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
Volcano Travel
(from airport)
14:30-17:30$42 (24,000 CRC)
Check Minivan 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 (84,000 CRC)
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from $145 (84,000 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 (84,000 CRC). If you’re travelling in a larger group of 18 people, you would need a bigger van, and these vans cost around $275 (159,000 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 (2,000 CRC)
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $4 (2,000 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 (2,000 CRC) for the 4-hour ride, but note that it can often take longer depending on traffic.

Departure and 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 (2,000 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: Local travel links, including the bus station in San Jose, can attract thieves, so keep your belongings in sight. Don't board the bus until your bigger bags are inside the luggage compartment, and be sure to get your luggage ticket. It's best to keep smaller bags, containing your valuables, in front of you or between your feet, instead of in overhead storage.

San Jose (Costa Rica) to La Fortuna by Indirect Bus

Duration: 5-6 hours
Cost: $6 (3,000 CRC)
Duration: 5-6 hours
Cost: $6 (3,000 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 (2,000 CRC)
Duration: 3hrs 40m
Cost: $3.50 (2,000 CRC)

Ciudad Quesada is a district located 95 km 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 buy a ticket beforehand. You can buy them from the driver for around $3.50 (2,000 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 (2,000 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 (1,000 CRC)
Duration: 1hr 30m
Cost: $2.50 (1,000 CRC)

For the second part of this journey, you can choose between 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)

The routes via El Tanque and 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 (1,000 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 (1,000 CRC)

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

Frequently asked questions

What to expect when visiting La Fortuna?

Located northwest of the capital San Jose, La Fortuna is a quiet little town in Alajuela Province. Its name translates to” The Fortune”, referring to its fertile lands and abundant natural wonders.

La Fortuna is also the gateway to the famous 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 an adventure to reach the falls while keeping an eye out for the wildlife. The park is home to an abundant amount of birds and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot a few sloths and toucans in La Fortuna’s rainforest.

What are the top things to do in La Fortuna?

There are so many different activities to do in La Fortuna. You can go white-water rafting, go off-road with an ATV tour, climb a volcano or two, relax at Tabacon Hot Springs, go zip lining or become a kid again and visit one of the best waterparks in Costa Rica. If you love adventure,

Make sure to have a look at our blog post with the top 17 things to do in La Fortuna. It’s truly amazing how much La Fortuna has to offer.

How is the nightlife in La Fortuna?

La Fortuna is a small town in Costa Rica and is mainly known for its famous vulcano and national park. Therefore, don’t expect the same vibrant nightlife you’ll find in other Costa Rican destinations like Santa Teresa or Tamerindo.

Most of the bars in La Fortuna have a more laid-back culture. You can enjoy your food while listening to live music and mingle with other travellers and locals. If you want to dance till late in the night, you can visit Volcan Look Discotheque, which is about a 5km ride from La Fortuna centre. It’s one of Costa Rica’s larger clubs and is open from Thusrday to Saturday.

Our favourite places to stay in La Fortuna

Casa Luna Hotel – Treating yourself

This place is just wow! It’s the epitome of luxury, all whilst being surrounded by nothing but nature and tropical gardens. This eco-friendly hotel offers a number of outdoor pools, hot springs, spa and a grill restaurant.

After a relaxing treatment at the spa, slip on your robe and flop onto your comfy bed in your spacious room. The staff here are super friendly and will help you with anything they can. You won’t want to leave this private tropical oasis.

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

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Check Latest Price

Condo’s Vista Al Volcan – Mid range

This hotel offers more than just a standard room. You’ll get to stay in a fully equipped apartment, for a very reasonable price. Each apartment has its own sitting area, TV and kitchen. It’s your private space to retreat to after a day of adventure in La Fortuna.

On top of that, you’ll also have access to a great 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

Check Latest Price

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 either. They’re large, modern and clean. Every morning you can start the day right by enjoying their delicious free breakfast.

  • Outdoor swimming pool and hot tub
  • Delicious breakfast included
  • Bright and clean rooms
  • Stunning hotel landscape and views

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

Check Latest Price

Arenal Xilopalo – Budget friendly

The view on Arenal Volcano should already be enough to convince you to stay at Arenal Xilopalo. Enjoy the tasty breakfast with a unobstructed view of the volcano whilst listening to the chirping birds in the trees.

The rooms match the vibe of La Fortuna, boasting a rustic and natural design. Every room is clean, spacious and includes extras like a coffee machine and 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

Check Latest Price

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Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.