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Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

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Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

I'm planning a trip to Costa Rica for late June of this year. We'd like to fly into San Jose, rent a car, and drive to Arenal for the first leg of our trip.

After we visit Arenal for a few days, we are planning on driving to Montezuma and staying there for 5 days before heading back to San Jose for our flight home.

I've read that the driving (and the car rental process) can be a hassle in Costa Rica and I'm wondering if anyone who is familiar with the terrain and these destinations could offer me some advice.

Does this sound like a reasonable trip, driving-wise? Are the roads along these routes safe to travel? Or would we be better off taking shuttles from place to place?

Thank you so much for your help!

Level Contributor
15 posts
1. Re: Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

I'm leaving on Sunday and flying into SJ then driving > Arenal > Monteverde > Montezuma then flying from Tambor to SJ and home (I'd definitely suggest looking into this flight on Sansa - we basically got an extra day because we weren't interested in staying in SJ). We were able to book a car to pick up in SJ and return in Montezuma without a fee. I hope it's reasonable, driving-wise. I'll let you know how things turned out!

Hamilton, Bermuda
Level Contributor
2 posts
30 reviews
2. Re: Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

We would like to do the same thing in August. Rent a car from San Jose and go first to Arenal area, then Montezuma and back to San Jose. Please let us know how it goes. Or any other recommendations. BTW our hotel in Arenal recommended Mapache car rental service.

Level Contributor
16 posts
294 reviews
3. Re: Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

Just starting to explore a visit to Costa Rica. I've noticed a lot of people are planning to rent a car. At first that terrifies me. Why all the interest?

I would also love to fly into SJ, do a few days at Arenal, and then relax a few days at Montezuma before flying Sansa or Nature to SJ and then flying home.

I've been looking at interbus, which seems to be $45 per person per leg. That's not bad. Any thoughts? Anybody know what a good price for a one way ticket from Tambor to San Jose would be?

Dearborn, Michigan
Level Contributor
583 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

Car rentals are overpriced in Costa Rica, the roads are awful and poorly marked. I think it's safer than most people talk, but they cost isn't worth it to me.

Most of the shuttle buses are $40-$45-ish depending on the season. I usually use Montezuma Expeditions, they cover Arenal, Montezuma & San Jose. They can also book you a Alajuela hotel at a better rate and includes SJO Taxi fees. I've been a few places they put you up at (not very fancy) but I now insist on Casa Tago in Alajuela, I love it but sometimes they charge me $5 extra (maybe $10) and it's worth it.

The shuttles (usually) don't go on the ferry, you catch a different one on the other side, so you don't need to worry about lines on the ferry, they drop you off (I think they always make room for passengers). Sometimes (holidays) the cars have to wait (hours sometimes) to get on the ferry.


5. Re: Driving from Arenal > Montezuma & Montezuma > San Jose

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