Travel to San Jose

Flying to San Jose

Flights to San José are served by Air Canada, American, Avianca, Copa, Continental, Delta, Iberia, JetBlue, Spirit, TACA, USAirways, among others. Domestic flights are available with Costa Rica’s NatureAir. If you’re looking for cheap flights to San José, the best time to travel is from May to mid-November during the winter. September-October, when rainfall is heaviest, is particularly good for cheap flights to San José.

Flight times

From London - 11 hours; New York - 7 hours, 30 minutes; Los Angeles – 6 hours; Toronto - 5 hours; Sydney – 33 hours, 25 minutes.

Travel by road


While San José’s roads don’t require a 4-wheel drive car, potholes, narrow one-way streets, confusing traffic circles, and lack of signs challenge even the best drivers. Road rules, when followed, are similar to the USA and EU. Cars drive on the right. In the city, the speed limit is usually 40kph (25mph), while freeways have signed speed limits of up to 90kph (56mph).

Emergency breakdown service:

Costa Rica Asistencia (tel: 2242 2600; is the national auto club, but most rental companies offer assistance. For general emergency services, call 911 or 112.


San José lies at the crossroads of the country. The Panamerican Freeway becomes the city’s major east-west artery, called Paseo Colón and Calle Central. East of the city, it becomes Highway 2 south to Panama. To the north, the highway passes Guanacaste en route to Nicaragua.

New Highway 239 connects the capital to Jacó and the central Pacific beaches, while Highway 141 heads north to La Fortuna and Arenal. Take Highway 32 west from Barrio Amón to the Caribbean coast.

Driving times:

From Jacó – 1 hour; Quepos (Manuel Antonio) – 2 hours; Golfito - 9 hours; Liberia – 3 hours; Tamarindo – 5 hours; La Fortuna (Arenal) – 3 hours 30 minutes; Limón – 2 hours; Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – 4 hours.


Several international bus lines serve the Central American capitals and Mexican border, including Ticabus (tel: 2221 0006;, Transnica (tel: 2223 4242;, and King Quality (tel: 2241 8787; Buy tickets in advance, in person, with your passport. International buses are air conditioned, with reclining seats and Hollywood blockbuster movies.

Most domestic buses leave from the chaotic Coca Cola Bus Terminal (Avenida 1 and Calle 16). The neighbourhood is not safe; take taxis and keep your belongings secure.

Buses to the Caribbean leave from Terminal Atlantico del Norte (Avenida 12 and Calle 7). Other buses leave from paradas (stops) throughout the city. Ask at your hotel or check The Bus Schedule (

Travel by rail


Most of Costa Rica’s once extensive railway system, which operated from the 1880s until the 1980s, has fallen into disrepair although this is improving.

There are three recently re-opened sections all departing from San José.


INCOFER (tel: 2221 0777; operates two inexpensive commuter trains, traversing San José weekdays 0600-0830 and 1600-2000.

The first runs from Pavas (Pavas Station; 7km (4 miles) west of San José) east through San José (Mata Redonda Station) to San Pedro (U Latina Station; 3km (5miles) east of San José) and neighbouring suburb of Curridabat (Curridabat Station). In 2011, the line will be extended to Cartago.

The second train runs from San José (Atlantic Station) east to Heredia (Heredia Station; 12km (7.5 miles) northwest of San José), stopping in Tibás (Colima Station); Santo Domingo (Santa Rosa Station), and Miraflores (Miraflores Station).

Journey times:

San Pedro to Pavas – 1 hour; San José to Heredia – 25 minutes; San José to Caldera (Punta Arenas) – 4 hours.