There are quite a few different ways to get to Arenal from San Jose. Which way you decide to travel is a matter of preference and time. You can get there by taking a car, a bus, or a plane. Decide whether you are interested in looking at the sights or getting there the quickest.
This is a lovely area to experience and no matter whether you drive, ride, or fly. Besides the Volcano there are so many sights to see while in the La Fortuna-San Jose area. There are also hot springs, the largest lake in Costa Rica and lush rainforests. So enjoy your stay and take in all they have to offer.
Check out these indie travel tips for San Jose
Flights from San Jose (airport code: SYQ) to Arenal
If time is key and you are looking for a way to get from San Jose to Arenal quicker than taking land transportation, then you may want to consider air travel. Fly from San Jose to the La Fortuna-Arenal area from Tobias Bolanos National Airport (SYQ) in San Jose. Flights from San Jose to Arenal are operated by Nature Air.
Once you reach your destination you can take a taxi, rent a car, or take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. One-way flights from San Jose to Arenal cost around $75 to $80. Round trip airfare starts at about $150. You also need to factor in the costs to and from the airport no matter which mode of transportation your take.
>>read more about Cheap Flights to San Jose
Getting from San Jose to Arenal by Bus
If traveling by bus is your preference that option is available as well. There is a regular bus service that will take you from San Jose to La Fortuna. From La Fortuna you can take a taxi the rest of the way.
Various bus companies also offer shuttles between San Jose and La Fortuna, with departures every morning. The travel time is about 3 hours. These shuttles cost more than public buses and rates start at US$40 per person, one way.
>>read more about Bus Travel in Costa Rica
Driving from San Jose to Arenal
If you choose to take a car then the decision becomes whether to take your own car or rent a car. Be careful navigating through some of the one-way streets of San Jose.Whether taking a rental car or driving your own, the sights between San Jose and Arenal are beautiful. You will be passing through some of the most scenic areas of the country on this route. From Rolling mountains and meadows to patches of lush clouds and rainforests.
There are dairy farms and fields of papaya, citrus and cacao. Along the way you can stop at some of the villages such as Grecia, Sarchi, and Zarcero for souvenirs. Here are the driving directions from San Jose to Arenal: Take Panamerican Highway #1 North towards the airport. Once you pass the toll booth and the first street light take the Exit to Alajuela just in front of the airport and continue driving on that road until you go through downtown Alajuela. Once you pass the town of Alajuela you will start to climb the mountains and see the coffee plantations that will lead you to the Poas Volcano. Before you get to the Volcano you will see a sign to Varablanca. Turn right and continue straight ahead until the next stop sign. Once you get to that stop sign take a left to Cariblanco and San Miguel. Before reaching San Miguel follow the sign to Aguas Zarguas, Muelle, Tangue and into La Fortuna. After La Fortuna follow the signs to Arenal. Be prepared and enjoy some of the villages along the way because this is about a three hour drive.