SJO airport is not actually located in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, as many might think so, but in a city right next to it, called Alajuela. About 20km from downtown San Jose, the journey takes approximately 35 minutes. It’s simple and easy to get from SJO to San Jose by various means of transport. You have as many as five different options. Bus from SJO to San Jose is your cheapest option. However, depending on your circumstances you might want to choose one that suits you most.
Listed in the order from the cheapest to the most expensive options.
Bus From SJO To San Jose
To get a bus, you need to exit the airport, cross the street toward the parking lot, turn left and follow the sidewalk around as it skirts right. You will end up on the main street. Stay on the same side of the road as the airport and walk about 20 meters and you’ll see the bus stop and people waiting.
All buses have signs on the front with the name of their final destination. You need to catch the one with ‘San Jose’ written on it, but be sure to confirm with the driver. There are different bus companies. The most popular one is red bus Tuasa. They run frequently, approximately every 10 minutes in the hours between 4:30am and 11pm.
The bus fare from SJO to San Jose costs around 500 colones ($1). You buy the ticket from the driver as you enter the bus, It’s better to have colones than dollars. Although some bus drivers accept dollars, but they will give you change back in colones. This can be more expensive as they use their own exchange rate. It’s easier and better to have local currency ready. You can take cash out from one of the ATM’s available at the airport terminal.
Uber operates in San Jose area. You need to have uber app installed on your phone in order to book one. You can connect to the wifi at the airport, so you can book it as soon as you land. Just remember, as soon as you exit the airport, you will be disconnected! Best to book an uber and wait for it while you’re still at the airport. The fare should cost you around $8, and it’s taken directly from your card via the app, so you don’t have to worry about having cash.
As soon as you exit the airport you will be approached by the taxi drivers. The fare will cost you around $25. One thing you should know when travelling to Costa Rica is that taxi drivers will always put higher fares for the tourists. The ride from SJO to San Jose will probably take shorter time than by bus (approx. 25 mins). Always agree on the price with the taxi driver before getting into the cab! There’s also a taxi booth just as you exit the terminal which will arrange a licensed cab for you.
Hotel/ Hostel Shuttle
Some hostels and most hotels will offer shuttle service to/from the airport to their address. This is usually for an extra fee, especially if you’re staying in a hostel. You will need to contact your hotel/ hostel directly and ask them for the price and availability. The price is usually similar to taking a taxi from SJO to San Jose.
There are also private companies offering shuttle services. For example, Interbus offers shared or private shuttle services. You will need to book these online in advance.
Rent A Car
You can rent a car online beforehand or at the airport from one of the car rental booths. The main thing you should know about renting a car at the airport is that there is an additional 12% concourse fee to cars that are picked up at the terminal. To avoid this additional fee, it’s best to pick up the car close to the airport, so take a walk four or five blocks away. Rent a car with GPS to get directions to your designated address. Otherwise if you follow the General Cañas Highway, you will get to San Jose.
Fancy discovering more of Costa Rica? Check out my post on things you must do in La Fortuna!
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