Though Costa Rica is not a fairly large country, it still takes a good amount of time just getting around the country. Especially with the roads and traffic. Depending on where you are going… you’ll land in one of the two international airports here. You can either rent a car, take the bus or hire a shuttle to get around.
Here’s a quick run-down of the various means of transportation in Costa Rica so you know where you’re going and how to get there.
Getting around by air
Costa Rica has two international airports, one in Alajuela and one in Liberia.
The one in Alajuela, Juan Santamaria International Airport is more commonly known as SJO even though it is actually not located in San Jose. If you are planning to visit Puntarenas, Arenal, Monteverde, the Caribbean or the Central Valley, you will fly into this airport. As the main international airport of the country, more flights go in and out of SJO.
LIR, or Liberia International Airport is located in Liberia in the province of Guanacaste. If you plan on visiting this province, you will fly into this airport. LIR has been recently remodeled and is continuously expanding to bring more flights into Guanacaste, as the tourism in this province explodes.
Costa Rica also has domestic airports throughout the country so you can also take a local flight to your destination. The two local airlines, Nature Air and Sansa Air has flights from many of the major destinations such as Liberia, Tamarindo, San Jose, Corcovado, Drake Bay and Limon.
There are many rental car companies in Costa Rica from local to international ones. Renting a car is fairly simple, However when requesting a quote, always make sure to include the mandatory insurance required by law in the country.
Visitors can rent a car at the airport when they land, ask their hotel to book one for them or pre-book a car online.
Public transportation is fairly efficient and very affordable. Costa Rica has a public bus system and are bringing their train system back From San Jose. You can take a bus to almost every major tourist destination. It’s cheap and easy getting around the Central Valley cities taking the bus.
If you plan on going to more rural or lesser visited destinations it can get confusing taking the bus. There are not always routes to exactly where you want to go. Many destinations require a change of at least 2 buses. Many routes don’t run more than 1-3 times a day depending on where it is. There is a bus schedule online but remember you are in Costa Rica where it is normal for things to be late and not run on time.
Some bus companies are Pulmitan and Deldu. There are also private bus companies that can take you all throughout Central America like Ticabus.
Hiring a shuttle is not the most wallet friendly option but it’s more efficient and relaxing than the bus. There are several shuttle companies in the country and many tour companies offer this service as well. Some hotels even offer a complimentary shuttle if you’re close to the international airports.
Taxis are found all throughout Costa Rica and are noted by their bright red cars. There are taxis dedicated for every province and separate taxis for the airport. Getting around in a taxi is quick and easy but they are expensive, so it’s not recommended to take one for long journeys.