Getting Around, San Jose Travel, Transport and Car Rental

(San Jose, Costa Rica)

Picture taken at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)As the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose is easily accessible by air and road transport. Flights arrive from the USA, Canada and Europe daily, while dozens of inexpensive buses regularly travel here from regional capitals and make their way to San Jose each day.

Once in the city, travelling around San Jose by taxi and local bus transport is both easy and cheap. If you are over 21 years old you may prefer to rent a car for greater flexibility, but be aware that driving conditions can be challenging.

Photo of traffic approaching Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)

Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) / Arriving by Air

Address: Pan American Highway, Alajuela, Costa Rica, CR
Tel: +506 2437 2400
Conveniently located just 17 km / 11 miles west of the city centre, Juan Santamaria International Airport can be accessed from downtown by local bus or taxi transport in just 20 minutes. As Costa Rica's primary air facility, the airport serves numerous international flights to Canada, the USA and Europe, as well as limited domestic flights. Facilities at the Juan Santamaria Airport are quite adequate, with ATMs, duty-free shops, a food court and other essential amenities on hand.

Central image

Car Rental

For flexibility, many visitors choose to hire a car for the length of their stay in San Jose with rental agencies represented at the airport and in the city centre. Driving here presents few problems, although extra caution is certainly required. Street signs can be lacking, local drivers may ignore road rules, and roads may be poorly maintained, making night-time driving inadvisable. Costa Rica accepts driver's licences obtained in other countries, so there is no need to arrange an international driving permit.

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Image of airport buses

Buses and Coaches

Buses serve neighbouring countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador, arriving at the city's Tica bus terminal, near the Mercedes Tower. Aside from Tica, there are two other popular bus operators, King Quality and Transnica, which operate long-haul services from their respective terminals. In general, bus transport is both reliable and comfortable. Local buses operate across the city with each bus terminal serving a different part of the city.

Photo of local taxis in the city centre


Metered taxis are widespread and inexpensive in San Jose. It is helpful to know a major landmark near your final destination as drivers rarely know street names, which are often not signposted.


Rail service in Costa Rica is limited to the Atlantic region and trains do tend to travel fairly infrequently. If you wish to use the train during your stay, contact a local travel agency for up-to-date information on services and schedules.