Guide to Driving from San Jose International Airport to Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna l
If you are planning to travel to Costa Rica and plan to drive to the Arenal Volcano, here are some detailed driving directions from San Jose international airport to the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna, going through San Ramon, the shortest route, and the roads are in good condition all the way.
I wrote this because roads in Costa Rica are not always well marked and directional signs often are missing. Distances look short when really the driving time takes longer than it looks .
From San Jose international airport head north on the inter american highway (Highway 1) Go 33.5 km -21 miles to the San Ramon exit..here you exit to the right. Go straight on through and you will see a hugh Cathedral on your left..keep on going straight about 8 blocks until the road dead ends-take a left and then an immediate right- here there is a sign that says to San Juan and Villa Blanca. Now you continue on straight until you see a green church- here you take a left. A sign says San Juan-Villa Blanca. The road becomes narrow and very winding passing thru areas with small homes. You will come to a little community called Los Angeles, also the small community of Villa Blanca. Keep going (it is usually foggy in these areas) You will see on the right a tourism destination called Lands in Love and a small restaurant on the right hand side of the road called Loves Eat in a lovely setting. This is a good place to have breakfast or lunch. Full breakfast is around $6 and looked delicious. We had coffee-very good for $1 per cup. Service was excellent. A young woman from Israel was the waitress, very friendly and efficient. Place was spotless. Up to now you have been driving around 1.5 -2 hours.
Just down the road on the left is a Tico soda if you want tortillas and cheese, or something light. Now from the San Jose international airport you have been driving around 1.5-2 hours.
You come to a town called La Tigre (no signs to let you know its name) but a sign says 41 km -26 miles to Arenal Volcano. Here you turn right , then an immediate left. Follow this road and it takes you to La Fortuna. You will pass a small community called Chachagua, just keep going on same road. In Chachagua there is a gas station, if you need to gas up.
In La Fortun, a very small town, look to the northwest and you will see the mighty Arenal Volcano. There is a road that heads out of La Fortuna- the main road thru town which goes along the base of the volcano for about 6 miles -3.7 km until you come to Lake Arenal. Along this road are located most of the hotels and attractions. La Fortuna also has a good number of small hotels.
Driving at a moderate speed the trip from the international SJO airport to La Fortuna is around 3.5 hours.
In the small communities the speed limit is 45 km per hour and when you see a school it is reduced to 25 km per hour. And there are usually hugh speed bumps just before the school.
What do I see along the way? After you leave San Ramon the scenery gets nice with mountainous terrain. Large farms which grow many varieties of ornamental plants can be seen along the way. This region is very lush and tropical because of the vast amount of rainfall and the rich volcanic soil. You see coconut trees, banana trees, papaya, pineapple, platanos, and hundreds of varieties of flowers. You may even see a toucan. These birds are prevalent in this region.
1. Road conditions-good all the way. Some mountainous terrain
2. Try not to drive after sunset. Mountainous areas are foggy
3. Drive the speed limit in the small towns and school districts- 45km per hour -30 miles per hour Speed limit in school districts is 25 km per hour or 16 miles per hour
4. People walk in the road, animals such as dogs and chickens walk in the road so be watchful and aware of this.
5. Costa Ricans don’t drive like north Americans and Europeans. They tend to be more reckless and break the driving rules. So keep this in mind.
6. Stop and ask directions if you feel lost. Costa Ricans are very helpful and friendly.
7. Don’t leave car unlocked if you stop. Don’t leave cameras and such in the car where they are visible. Petty theft is common. And breaking a window to enter the car can happen.
8. Very good detailed maps of San Ramon area as well as La Fortuna and Arenal can be found:
www.costa-rica-guide.com Go to the sections on maps of Costa Rica-on left hand side of page one. Also your car rental company should have given you a map of Costa Rica. These areas are easily viewed on these maps.
Here at costaricalearn we would like to hear if you had a good experience driving from the central valley of San Jose international airport to Arenal and La Fortuna. We would love to share this with our readers. At the end of this post simply click on comment or reply.