By Car: From San José, you can either take the Inter-American Highway (CR1) north all the way from San José to Cañas, or first head west out of San José on the San José–Caldera Highway (CR27). When you reach Caldera, follow the signs to Puntarenas and the Inter-American Highway (CR1). You will actually follow signs for Liberia and San José, which are, in fact, leading you to the unmarked entrance to CR1. This road (CR23) ends when it hits the Inter-American Highway. You’ll want to pass under the bridge and follow the on-ramp, which will put you on the highway heading north. This latter route is a faster and flatter drive, with no windy mountain switchbacks to contend with. In Cañas, turn east on CR142 toward Tilarán. The drive takes 3 to 4 hours. If you’re continuing on to Nuevo Arenal, follow the signs in town, which will put you on the road that skirts the shore of the lake. Nuevo Arenal is about a half-hour drive from Tilarán. You can also drive here from La Fortuna, along a scenic road that winds around the lake. From La Fortuna, it’s approximately 1 hour to Nuevo Arenal and 1 1/2 hours to Tilarán.
By Bus: Transportes Tilarán buses ((tel) 2222-3854) leave San José for Tilarán roughly five times throughout the day between 7:30am and 6:30pm from Calle 20 and Avenida 3. The trip lasts from 4 to 5 1/2 hours, depending on road conditions; the fare is C4,500.
Morning and afternoon buses connect Puntarenas to Tilarán. The ride takes about 3 hours; the fare is C1,350. (For details on getting to Puntarenas.)
The daily bus from Monteverde (Santa Elena) leaves at 7am. The fare for the 2 1/2-hour trip is C1,200.
Buses from La Fortuna leave for Tilarán daily at 8am and 12:15 and 5:30pm, returning at 7am and 12:20 and 4:30pm. The trip takes around 2 to 3 hours; the fare is C2,350.
Direct buses to San José leave from Tilarán beginning at 5am. Buses to Puntarenas leave at 6am and 1pm daily. The bus to Santa Elena (Monteverde) leaves daily at 12:30pm. Buses also leave regularly for Cañas, and can be caught heading north or south along the Inter-American Highway.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.