Costa Rica Transport

Get in


Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) is the major international airport, and most visitors choose. SJO is serviced daily by Air Transat (Seasonal) American Airlines, Canjet (Seasonal), Condor, Delta, Frontier Airlines, Iberia, Interjet, JetBlue Airways, Thomas Cook, Spirit Airlines, United, US Airways, Air Canada, Avianca, Taca, Copa Airlines and AirPanama. Visitors from Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Newark, Toronto, Montreal, Madrid, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Bogotá, Medellín, Caracas, Lima, Guayaquil, Quito and all Central America can land this airport. Note a USD32 exit fee at the Juan Santamaría Airport must be paid in cash or by Visa. The fee can also be paid in advance at some hotels or Banco Credito Agricola de Cartago and Banco de Costa Rica.

Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) is closest to the Pacific Northwest coast. Connecting the airport with Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Newark, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, London, etc.

Tobías Bolaños International Airport primarily serves as the gateway linking to local Costa Rican domestic flights or nearby international destinations of Nicaragua and Panama.


There is an extensive network of bus routes within the country with reasonable fares. The bus system is a safe and fun way to see the country. The line services from the neighbouring countries of Panamá, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala.


There is twice daily boat service from Los Chiles to San Carlos, Nicaragua, and usually leave San Carlos at 10:30 and 16:00. Some cruises visit popular National Parks such as Manuel Antonio but also visit remote beaches and coastline not accessible by road, usually for 7-10 day tours.


The Pan-American Highway runs through Costa Rica and is the main entry point by car. Virtually all travel out of the capital (except to the Caribbean side) will involve travelling this road. The border posts are Penas Blancas and Paso Canoas. The highway speed is 80km/h, but when passes through innumerable small towns, the speed usually drops to 50 or even 30km/h in a school zone.

A brand new highway known as Autopista Del Sol (Highway of the Sun) that stretches from the beaches around Orotina all the way into San Jose. Unfortunately, parts of it are sometimes closed for repairs.

Due to the unpredictability of road conditions and lack of safety features, driving at night is highly inadvisable. If you see a tree branch or pole poking out of the middle of a road, that is a "sign" that there is a deep sinkhole, pothole or manhole without a cover. Stay away from it.

Get around


The NatureAir and Sansa are two internal airlines that connect the major tourist towns. Tobías Bolaños International Airport serves domestic flights.


Most major tourist destinations in Costa Rica are serviced by at least two daily buses from and to San José. They cover most towns around the country, but nearly the entire bus system is based on routes in and out of San José and this can add significant travel time. There no reservation system so once you buy a ticket at the station and so get there early to be sure you get your seats.


One great advantage of renting a car is that you can visit many of the secluded beaches and mountain areas. In the airports and big cities, or online is easy to get a rental car. Remember make sure to check the car carefully before you sign off on the damage sheet. Ask them to write down all the minor damages, not just check on the drawing, and keep a copy of this document on you.

Another easy way to get around Costa Rica is to use the services of mini-vans at most of the hotels. The vans are clean and comfortable, and they take you from door to door.