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Transportation in Costa Rica

There are plenty of options for getting around Costa Rica – domestic flights, rental cars, private transfers, shuttles, public bus, taxis and train.  Each one of these options varies in flexibility, budget and comfort, providing different ways to experience and admire the country’s beautiful scenery.

Rental cars are very common in Costa Rica.  One can have a car rental waiting for them at the airport, the capital city of San José and/or other popular tourist destinations throughout the country.  Many of these cars are 4x4, used mainly for rural roads.  San Jose’s midtown traffic is often heavy and although road conditions are generally pretty good, there are large deep potholes on some of the roads. Taking this into consideration, many tourists opt for using public transportation while exploring the Metropolitan Area, and then rent a car when heading out to the countryside.

Buses and taxis offer excellent service and they are much cheaper than in other countries.  The bus service is a good option for budget travelers and they are abundant, however, they can get very crowded at times to the point where people have to ride standing and holding on to a rail.  Also, luggage space is limited in most public buses, unless they are a specialized tourism bus such as a private transfer. On the other hand, all authorized taxis must have a meter, which you must make sure is turned on when entering the vehicle.  Like buses, taxis in the city are also plentiful.

Trains are a great option for more adventurous tourists and they’re relatively fast and cheap.  Railroads in Costa Rica operate suburban commuter trains from San José to San Pedro, Universidad Latina (4 km East) and to Pavas (6 km West). There are also trains heading to Heredia, plus commercial trains San José - Caldera (Pacific port, 91 km). A private company - AmericaTravel - organizes occasional weekend tourist trains (The Tico Train Tour) from San José to Caldera.

For those who can afford a faster and more comfortable means of transport, there are local airlines that offer domestic flights to several Costa Rica destinations, as well as to neighboring countries like Panama and Nicaragua.  The three reliable and well-known national airline companies that currently operate in Costa Rica are Nature Air, Paradise Air and Sansa.  If you’re in San José, flights leave from either Juan Santamaría International Airport or the local airport Tobías Bolaños, located in Pavas. 

Even though Costa Rica offers many different and for the most part cheap options of transportation, some travelers are not confident in driving in a foreign country and would rather avoid overall stress related to getting around the country.  For this reason, shuttle and private transportation services in Costa Rica have gained immense popularity throughout the years, and are now available in almost every corner throughout the country.


San Jose Airport Express

Shuttle Service

Shuttle service is a shared transport alternative on a minibus or coaster – a convenient and even economical way to travel, especially for people traveling in small groups.  They operate daily between popular destinations across the country, and in many cases there’s more than one departure time a day.  Shuttles are subject to availability and must be booked in advance. 
In many cases, shuttle service includes direct service, that is hotel-to-hotel transportation.  Nearly all shuttle transportation routes have a short stop along the way, where passengers can use the facilities and even get a snack.

Private Transfers

Private transportation is the safest and most convenient way to get around Costa Rica.  It is incomparably flexible - private transportion can be planned anytime you wish, to and from anywhere in the country. This service can be customized to fit your travel needs, allowing you to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery that Costa Rica offers, while being driven by reliable and professional drivers in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle.

Aside from being a worry free way to traverse the countryside, private transportation is also a better value per person, especially when traveling in groups of 6 or more.

Contact Us

Feel free to contact us at www.costaricaguides.com, or toll free at 1-877-281-8515, useful information to help you learn more about Costa Rica, and assist you in planning your trip to Costa Rica, such as recommending hotels, tours, transportation, not to mention the special offers for the month of September.

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