In about an hour, visitors from San Jose can be amidst the volcanic splendor of Arenal/La Fortuna. The most direct mode of transportation is a domestic flight into Arenal Airport. A few different carriers operate these daily flights so you can fly out of San Jose International or Tobias Bolanos Airport. Most people come to this area for its famous volcano, of course, but this guide will give you insight into other highlights and activities.
The next best way to cover the 81 miles (130 km) between the two cities is by car. Several routes will get you there but taking Route 1 to Route 702 is fastest. The entire trip should take about three hours. The other highways to the east are slightly longer, skirting around Juan Castro Blanco and Braulio Carrillo National Parks.
Taxis and buses are abundant in the capital city of San Jose. There are several stations throughout the city center as well as pick up points from the airport. They are the least expensive alternatives but be prepared for waiting around and possible delays.
Duration: 1-1.5 hours
From San Jose, it's best to catch a flight out of Tobias Bolanos Airport. The capital has four airports but this one offers the most flight options for La Fortuna. It's a short drive out of the city center and the flight itself is only 30-minutes. You'll arrive at Arenal Airport which is a few miles east of town and easy to get to by bus or taxi.
Duration: 3-4 hours
There's much to see along the way to Arenal/La Fortuna so traveling by private transfer is a great option after flying. It does add more travel time to your itinerary but you'll be on good roads most of the way with the freedom to stop as you wish. There are a few places where tolls must be paid. The drive is only a few hours and will have you winding through small towns and rural back roads. If you decide to take the scenic route, you can detour for cloud forests and waterfalls at either of the national parks.
Duration: 5-6 hours
This is a popular route for tourists so plenty of shuttle services are available from San Jose. The ride will take about four hours (if you choose a direct line) and the buses operate from the airport as well as downtown stations. These buses run frequently but check the operators' websites for accurate schedules and information. Public buses will also get you to La Fortuna but they are much smaller and more crowded, not to mention usually making multiple stops.