Getting Here and Around
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Getting Here and Around
Nature Air has daily flights from its own airport in San José to La Fortuna (FTN). Most travelers to this region fly into San José's Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría or Liberia's Daniel Oduber Airport. Monteverde and Arenal are equidistant from both. Base your choice of airport on which other areas in Costa Rica you plan to visit in addition to this one.
Buses in this region are typically large, clean, and fairly comfortable, but often crowded Friday through Sunday. Don't expect air-conditioning. Service tends toward the agonizingly slow: even supposedly express buses marked directo (direct) often make numerous stops.
Road access to the northwest is by way of the paved two-lane Pan-American Highway, which starts from the west end of Paseo Colón in San José and runs northwest to Peñas Blancas at the Nicaraguan border. Turn north at Naranjo or San Ramón for La Fortuna; at Lagarto for Monteverde; and at Cañas for Tilarán. Calle 3 heading north from downtown San José becomes the Braulio Carrillo Highway and provides the best access to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí and environs.
This region manages to mix some of the country's smoothest highways with some of its most horrendous roads. (The various roads to Monteverde are legendary in the latter regard, but the final destination makes it worth the trip.) Four-wheel-drive vehicles are best on the frequently potholed roads. If you don't want to pay for 4WD, at least rent a car with high clearance. (Many rental agencies insist you take a 4WD vehicle if you mention Monteverde as part of your itinerary.) You'll encounter frequent one-lane bridges; if the triangular "CEDA EL PASO" faces you, yield to oncoming traffic. Driving in this region can be slow going if you get behind a large truck transporting sugarcane. As the north is prime sugar country, they ply the highways up here.
It is possible to rent a car in La Fortuna, but for a far better selection, most visitors pick up their rental vehicles in San José or Liberia.
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