Getting around San Jose

Public transport

San José has an extensive network of inexpensive city buses. There are no comprehensive bus maps, but any hotel or tour office can point you toward your parada (stop). Pay as you board the bus; coins are appreciated.

Taxis

Official red taxis are safe and inexpensive, but make sure that the meter is running. Avoid unlicensed pirate taxis, which may be cheaper for locals but often take merciless advantage of tourists. Your hotel can call a trusted driver, or try Taxi Rojo (tel: 2214 0083).

Driving

Driving in San José is not for the faint-hearted, and most tourists take taxis. Note that addresses are often given using a cryptic system of directionals (eg, 300m east of Roosevelt School) that you’ll probably need a local to decipher anyway. Taxi drivers know where you’re headed. If you do drive, always use guarded parking.

Car hire

You must have a valid driver’s license from your home country and, in most cases, a major credit card. Most rental companies only rent to drivers over 25, but local agencies may be more flexible. Mandatory insurance can add US$20 per day to your total.

Local companies include Avis (tel: 2293 2222; www.avis.co.cr), Budget (tel: 2436 2000; www.budget.co.cr), Hertz (tel: 2221 1818; www.costaricarentacar.net), Thrifty (tel: 2257 3434; www.thrifty.com), and Hola! (tel: 2520 0100; www.hola.net).

Bicycle hire

While bicycle rental and tours are common elsewhere in Costa Rica, San José’s chaotic traffic makes urban biking dangerous. Hotels and tour offices can help locate rental bikes if you’re determined.

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