Apr 07

How to get from San Jose Costa Rica to Guanacaste

How to get from San Jose Costa Rica to Guanacaste


Guanacaste on the Pacific coast of has beautiful and luxurious resorts, amazing tropical beaches and a lot of for visitors. There is an international in Liberia (the capital town of Guanacaste) but the vast majority of visitors enter through Juan SantaMaria International Airport in San Jose. Some people find it challenging to get from the Capital to any of the resort towns on the Pacific, at the end it is not too hard, here are some considerations to keep in mind.



There are two kinds of taxis in Cost Rica: the orange ones are the taxis in the airports, most drivers speak some english, they are very familiar with tourist spots, and the fleet is normally very well maintained. All this come with a higher price tag, these taxis normally charge 20 or 30 % more and expect a tip.

The red taxis are the official public taxis, drivers are generally very friendly, they know how to go around, the cars are mostly in good condition and they do not expect a tip. Using a cab to go from the airport all the way to Guanacaste or any of the other towns in the Pacific can be really expensive, but a safe and fast way to go, just keep in mind that one has to negotiate the price before starting the trip.


Renting a car:

This is probably what makes the most sense, car rental itself is not that expensive, insurance can add up to double the price of the rental, gas is more expensive in Costa Rica than in the United States but not as bad as in Europe. Streets are narrow, and in some areas it is mountainous, but it is a nice experience and it gives more flexibility. Addresses may be challenging, and the street signs are not that abundant, but people are extremely friendly and always ready to help. There are some toll roads so remember to carry cash.


Public Buses:

This is another great option, and really not that complicated. Once one arrives to the Airport in San Jose, it is possible to catch a taxi and ask them to take you to the bus terminal in San Jose downtown where the buses leave to Guanacaste, the taxi will charge you around 30 USD, more adventurous people can take a public bus from the airport to San Jose Downtown for around 2 USD and from there a cab to the terminal for around 10 USD. There are several bus companies that travel to different areas and beaches in Guanacaste. Schedules are good and buses depart on time, prices can be different according to the place one will visit, but it is really affordable compared to other options, it is around 25 to 30 USD. Some of the main bus companies are Tralapa it travels to Liberia, Playa Hermosa, Conchal and Flamingo. Their phone numbers are (506) 2221-7202 or 2680-0392 or 2654-4203. Pullmitan travels to Playa del Coco  (506) 256-9552, 222-1650 Empresa Alfaro travels to Tamarindo and another areas (506) 222-2666. Another good option is to catch a bus to Liberia (the Capital of Guanacaste) and from the terminal there to take one of many buses leaving to the different resorts and beaches. The trip lasts around five or six hours total, but it is a really nice experience and a unique opportunity to interact with locals. 




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    • DJ on 28 September, 2015 at 7:17 pm
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    We will arrive SJO 15 Nov and hope to catch a bus from Alejuela to Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. It looks like one leave San Jose at 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon. Would we be able to catch this bus from the Alejuela bus stations. Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi
      You can indeed take the bus from Alajuela to San jose. These buses arrive to La Merced, but from there you need to catch a cab (a red official one) to take to the terminal from where the buses to Playa hermosa leave. The taxi will be very cheap probably around 4 or 5 USD and please be sure he is using the taximeter. Buses to Playa Hermosa leave from the TRALAPA Terminal Calle 20,Ave. 1-3. Tralapa
      Tel.: 2221-7202, 2680-0392, 2 654-4203
      If you have any other question please send us a message.
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    • bree on 26 July, 2016 at 12:53 am
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    hello. I need to get to tamarindo from san jose airport. What would you suggest would be the safest and affordable transportation for a solo traveler? What companies canyou reccomend that pick you up right at the airport after 3 pm??

    1. Hi Bree,

      Many of the companies in Costa Rica provide this kind of transfer service all the time. To be honest there are many, however we usually rent a car or take a combination of buses. If you want a shared van service look up any company with a reputable site with reviews. It really depends what your budget is. Please let us know if you have further questions.

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    • Raj on 22 October, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    Hi there.. I am landing at San Jose airport and want to get to Westin hotel, playa conchal, guanacaste. What would be cheapest and easiest way? Also, if I rent a car from San Jose, then can I drop it at the hotel or liberia airport? Please help. Raj

    1. Hi Raj,

      There are buses to Guanacaste and Playa Conchal, you would have to take one of these and most likely a taxi. This would probably be the cheapest way. Car rentals are very affordable however and you can inquire about dropping the car off at the nearby town or airport. Most likely it will be possible and a little more efficient with time.

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    • Jamillah on 11 November, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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    Hello! Thank you for your great advice! I am traveling from Puerto Viejo to Guanacaste. Can you tell me the best way to make that trip. We will not have a rental car. Thank you again 🙂

    1. Monteverde or TransNica buses will take around 9 hours and are the most direct ways to get between the areas if you are not renting a car. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Lisa B on 16 January, 2017 at 7:00 pm
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    hello I am travelling from San Jose airport to Guanacaste March 17th, 2017. Can you advise how long would it take with taxi and the cost?

    1. It would probably take 4 and a half hours, we don’t have an idea on the price. You might look at an Uber or negotiating directly with the driver.

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    • chantelle potter on 1 February, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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    Hello, I am going to Guanacase on Sunday, Feb 19th from SJO airport. What is the best way to get there, cost and travel time in hours?

    1. Best travel time would be renting a car or renting a hired driver through Uber or a car agency. Most affordable would be a taxi from the airport to the bus station. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Otts on 8 March, 2017 at 8:21 pm
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    Leaving in two weeks. Flying into San Jose taking bus to cahuita, but now I’m hearing alot of bad things about caribbean coast. Especially cahuita. anyone been there lately? Is it safe to travel there?.

    1. We have not heard anything especially bad, we find Costa Rica quite safe, of course avoid the type of places that would be troublesome anywhere, use normal prudence. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Danielle on 20 September, 2017 at 3:19 am
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    My cousin and I will be traveling to Costa Rica in to San Jose in November. We need to get to Liberia for a tour we are taking. Would it be easiest to take a taxi from the airport to the downtown bus station and take a bus from there to Liberia? Is there any reasonable shuttle service that is not too expensive?

    1. A taxi is the most direct way, we are not aware of any regularly running shuttle bus options. There is Uber too. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Stephen Eldridge on 14 October, 2017 at 5:01 pm
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    Hi, we are staying in Guanacaste and want to go to San Jose for a couple of days, is there a bus or should we rent a car….thanks! Steve

    1. Renting a car would be the quickest option but there are buses as well. We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

    • Joey Torres on 5 March, 2018 at 1:48 am
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    Traveling to playa azul after arriving in san jose. What is your recommendation in getting to our hotel from airport?
    Bus, car rental, etc.

    1. Hi Joey, we hope you have an excellent trip. If you are a good driver there should be no reason to hesitate with a car rental. The GPS and roads overall are easy to navigate. Sometimes traffic and potholes can be bad, but otherwise its the best way to get around. Buses are running from around 5am onwards and are cheap and very easy to use too.
      We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

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