La Fortuna Bus Schedules

I’ve found that some times the bus schedules here can be a bit confusing or difficult to find. So here is some information that will be helpful for traveling to and from the La Fortuna area. Schedules to change from time to time, but I do my best to keep the schedules updated as much as possible.

Once you get here why not check out the various attractions the area has to offer. Contact us and we can help you get special discounts on tours. Even if you don’t want to book a tour check out the restaurant discounts listed on the sidebar.

Departing La Fortuna by Bus

The bus station is one block south of the Park/Church in La Fortuna (if you stand at the edge of the park facing the church, go left one block). From La Fortuna to San José there are four direct buses each day. They depart at 9:10 AM, 12:45 PM, 2:45 PM, and 4:10 PM. This bus requires buying tickets in advance at the Red Lava Tour Office.

La Fortuna Bus Terminal

La Fortuna Bus Terminal

The “direct” bus actually makes a 20 minute stop in the county seat of Ciudad Quesada where you will want to stay on the bus (the majority of the locals will get off here). While only four “direct” buses go to San José there are various ways to get there only changing buses once in either Ciudad Quesada or San Ramón. The buses that go to Ciudad Quesada through Chachagua take a bit longer, but it is also more scenic. [Schedule Updated June 2017]

CQ por ChachaguaCQ por El TanqueTo San RamonTo Tilaran
5:15 AM6:00 AM5:30 AM7:30 AM
7:15 AM6:10 AM9:00 AM12:30 PM
8:00 AM6:30 AM1:00 PM5:00 PM
9:45 AM7:40 AM4:00 PM
11:30 AM8:00 AM
12:15 PM10:10 AM
3:15 PM12:45 PM
5:30 PM2:00 PM
7:30 PM2:30 PM
4:40 PM
4:50 PM
6:30 PM

If you go to San Ramón the bus will end on a corner near the hospital. Just ask for the bus to San José and you will get directions (even if you don’t speak Spanish just say “bus San José dondé” and someone will help you find it). The bus station is only two or three blocks away.

If you go to Ciudad Quesada there is a ticket office where all the buses pull in that lists the times for the San José buses (which run about every 45 minutes until late afternoon), and you can get your ticket there.

Also included in this schedule are buses for Tilarán which will help you get to the North Pacific Coast.

Arriving to La Fortuna

If you are in San José itself or coming by bus to San José you will want to go to the “Terminal San Carlos” to get the buses to La Fortuna. If you are coming from the airport you will want the bus station in Alajuela.To clear up a misconception, San José airport is not actually in San José. It is actually about 20 km outside the city in the city of Alajuela. However, the buses going to La Fortuna from the airport pass very nearby the airport. 

If you are arriving at the airport you have a few options to get to the bus station. Even though it’s only a mile I’d not recommend walking as there is no sidewalk and you have to cross some major roads. When you depart the airport there are all kinds of Orange Airport Taxis. They usually speak English and have stricter standards of operation, but that also means they’re more expensive. They’re the only taxis than can enter the airport as well. If you walk out the airport and walk fifty meters to the main road you can flag down a red taxi. They’re also safe and well maintained, just not as touristy as the airport taxis. This is the option I usually go with.

Make sure you ask for the bus station in Alajuela, not San José unless you want a needlessly long and expensive taxi ride. It’s only about a two minute drive, you should get on and immediately off the highway and drive past the Walmart.

There are most likely many ways to get to La Fortuna by getting buses going to various points along the highway, but these are the ones that actually go to the Zona Norte where La Fortuna is located. All the buses below go to Ciudad Quesada, those that continue direct to La Fortuna are marked as such. [Updated February 2017]

Depart San JoséDepart AlajuelaCQ-Fortuna
por Chachagua
por El Tanque
5:00 AM5:30 AM9:30 or 10:00 AM
5:30 AM6:00 AM10:30 AM10:00 AM
6:15 AM (Direct)6:45 AM (Direct)DirectDirect
7:15 AM7:45 AM11:40 AM
7:45 AM8:15 AM11:40 AM
8:40 AM (Direct)9:10 AM (Direct)DirectDirect
10:00 AM10:30 AM3:30 PM3:30 PM
11:00 AM 11:30 PM (Direct)3:30 PM3:30 PM
11:50 AM (Direct)12:20 PM (Direct)DirectDirect
12:50 PM1:20 PM6:00 PM
2:00 PM2:30 PM6:00 PM
3:00 PM3:30 PM8:00 PM
3:15 PM(Direct to CQ no Stops)
4:40 PM5:10 PM9:30 PM
6:15 PM6:45 PM9:30 PM or next day
7:30 PM8:00 PMNext day 6:00 AMNext day 5:30 AM

Note: The bus typically arrives from Alajuela to Ciudad Quesada in about 3 hours, but this varies depending on traffic. The suggested bus to take is based off a 3 hour estimate. Additionally some buses are filled up before their departure time and so arriving “just in time” may mean waiting for another bus. Below is the full table of Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna Buses. [Updated February 2016]

Por ChachaguaPor El TanqueOther Options
5:00 AM4:20 AM6:30 AM (Tilarán)
6:00 AM5:30 AM2:30 PM (El Abanico)
8:00 AM7:30 AM3:55 PM (Tilarán)
10:30 AM9:00 AM
12:20 pm1:00 PM
3:30 PM3:30 PM
5:15 pm5:00 PM
8:00 pm6:00 PM
7:30 PM
9:30 PM

51 thoughts on “La Fortuna Bus Schedules

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      There are several bus companies; Transpisa, Transportes San Carlos, Transportes Upala, etc. Just get a ticket at the station or even just pay as you board the bus depending on which bus it is.

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      You’d probably have to go Jaco to San José, then San José to Jaco. There are also shuttle buses for like $50, I can help set you up with one of those if need be.

  1. Randee

    Leaving from Alajuela to la Fortuna on that direct bus ride at 6:45am, how long would the ride be ? and how much would the bus ride be.

      1. Kristine Lentz-Johnston

        Could you tell me the name of the bus station in Alajuela that takes passengers to La Fortuna, and where is it located? Thanks so much in advance. I may be able to change my plans to go from Alajuela to San Jose just for the bus terminal because of your post. I appreciate it!

  2. Maude

    Im leaving from San Jose to go to La Fortuna and i dont know which bus to take and where to take it?
    How much it is (the cheapest way)?
    Thank you

  3. Lara

    Hi. I am trying to catch a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna after 4 PM. I am not clear on the connection, as none of them are direct at this time. Where is the connection? And how do I make sure I catch the second bus (and not wait for another).
    Please advise.

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      In Ciudad Quesada, the buses run until like 9:30 PM from there to Fortuna. Look for the buses that say to San Carlos. The bus terminal is pretty small and well marked, plus plenty of people there to tell you where yo go if you can’t figure it out.

  4. Steven Gingras

    Where exactly is the terminal station in La Fortuna for the buses that go directly to La Fortuna? Also is there a bus that can take me from the terminal in La Fortuna to Arenal, or from San Jose to Arenal?

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      It’s 100 meters south of the park. There are a few buses to Nuevo Arenal (there is no such thing as Arenal, it is an extinct town now under the lake). If you’re referring to La Fortuna the buses leave and arrive at that terminal; from San José I believe the terminal is called Terminal San Carlos.

      1. Jim Douglas

        The San Jose bus terminal terminal is the 7-10. There is also a bus leaving from there to La Fortuna at 1150am which you will not need to change busses.

  5. Jasmine

    Hi! Thanks for all the helpful info! About how long is the ride from La Fortuna to San Jose (the direct bus at 12:45 and 2:45 PM)? Thank you 🙂

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      Take the public bus, the schedule I have listed shows what times, you should be out of the airport by 2 pm and its less than 5 minutes to the bus stop.

  6. Holly Gillott

    Where abouts is the bus station in alajuela? Which bus company should we use? And are the bus times up to date?

  7. D

    hey Tyler.
    Thanks for that awesome overview !

    Are you also experienced in how to come from Santa Teresa / Mal Pais / Cobano to La Fortuna ?

  8. Crystal

    Hi, I am just wondering where in La Fortuna does the bus stop? My son in law will be meeting us in La Fortuna, but were not sure where the bus stop is located.
    Also, do you think this schedule will be the same in December?

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      Unless you’re traveling on Xmas or New Years it should be. The bus stop is on the map at the bottom of the page. It is one block south of the church, next to Mega Super and Red Lava Tourist Service Center.

  9. Felicia

    Thank you for the valuable information you provided here Tyler. I’m a bit nervous traveling
    by myself for the first time. Can I pay by American dollars? Or do I need to exchange? Where’s the best place to exchange? Thank you in advance

  10. Kristine Lentz-Johnston

    Hi there!

    Looking to travel from La Fortuna to Puerto Jimenez on Christmas Day. Want to confirm buses operating that day, and that we should go La Fortuna-San Jose-Pierre Jimenez. There seems to be an option to go toward the coast rather than through San Jose. Would like to take the fastest, least complicated route.


  11. Gaurav Gite

    Does the 11:50 am direct bus from La fortuna to San Jose stop near the Airport (Alajuela)? Thank you for the wonderful information you have provided here. Extremely helpful!

  12. Natalia

    Hello! Thanks for your great post and all your responses. They’ve been very helpful.

    My sister and brother and I are trying to get from San Jose to La Fortuna on the 26th! We will not be in SJ until that day though and so will not be able to purchase tickets ahead of time and are worried that we will not have seats because it is such a busy time. Is there a way to purchase tickets or reserve seats online?

    We also looked at shuttle services but noticed they are expensive, around $50 per person. Is there a shuttle service that is $50 per shuttle instead and then we can all split the price?
    Or is there a reliable ride-share site that you have used? Thank you for any help!!

    1. Tyler Wenzel Post author

      I believe bus service is back on a normal schedule on the 26th; as long as you’re at the bus station not too late in the day you should be able to get to La Fortuna without too much hassle. Especially if you’re starting from the station in San Jose instead of trying to get one in route.

      $50 is about the normal price for a shuttle; the shared private shuttles are about $150 so pretty much the same price if all three of you go (but at least you’d have a private shuttle which will stop where and when you want to).

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