World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > Costa Rica

Travel to Costa Rica

Flying to Costa Rica

Flights to Costa Rica are roughly the same prices throughout the year, with costs rising noticeably only for major holidays. The main national carrier is Avianca ( Lots of major international airlines fly to Costa Rica, such as Delta (, Jet Blue ( and United ( British Airways ( flies direct to San José from London Gatwick.

Airport Guides

Liberia International Airport




The airport is 8 km (5 miles) west of Liberia.


Juan Santamaría International Airport




Juan Santamaría Airport is located 17km (10.5 miles) northwest of the city centre just outside the city of Alajuela.


+506 2437 2400


Flight times

From London - 11 hours 35 minutes; New York - 5 hours 30 minutes.

Departure tax

US$29, payable if staying more than 24 hours and leaving by air. Many airlines (including Delta, United, British Airways, Air France and American Airlines) include the departure tax in their airfares. Note that if paying the tax by credit card there is an extra fee.

Travelling to Costa Rica by Rail

Driving to Costa Rica

Coming into and leaving Costa Rica is by way of the same road – the Pan-American Highway. Getting in and out is all very accessible, but have your passport and entry card handy because stop-and-checks are frequent. For getting in, out and around the country, the Tica Bus (tel: +506 2296 9788; has routes running from Mexico down to Panama, and TransNica (+506 2223 4242; services Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The international buses can get chilly, so bring a jumper.

Getting to Costa Rica by boat

Puntarenas, the main port in the Costa Rican Pacific coast, is a major port for cruise-liners and is situated about 100km (62 miles) from San José. There are hourly public buses to San José from Puntarenas' main bus station. When crossing the Gulf of Nicoya from Puntarenas to Paquera to explore the southern regions, be aware that although the final ferry leaves quite late, the roads on the other side are bumpy and take a while – you may well end up arriving at your destination in the middle of the night, so allow plenty of time.

Cruise ships

Costa Rica is a major tourist destination and as such is a favourite for cruises. The proximity of the Panama Canal means plenty of cruise ships are heading to or from Costa Rica. The larger ships dock at Porto Caldera or Puntarenas, giving you a day or so to explore. Some cruises (usually the shorter routes) stop at national parks en route or remote beaches that are not easily accessible, which can be a wonderful way to see a more secluded part of the country. Puerto Limón receives cruise ships on the Caribbean side.

Ferry operators

Princess Cruises ( runs cruises with stops in Costa Rica. However, there are plenty of Costa Rican ferry companies for smaller and more local trips that can be found at any tour operating company in any city or town you travel to.

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