So you read my Costa Rica Itinerary for 10 days and now you wonder how to get to and around Costa Rica? Here are some transport tips, especially for budget backpackers.
How to get to Costa Rica and around
- By plane: Fly into San José. Cheapest tickets from Europe are offered by Iberia and they’re actually not too bad on these long distance flights. Already in Central or South America? Usually traveling by plane is really expensive so try to plan your trip so that you can take buses and shuttles.
- By bus: Rather easy from Panama and Nicaragua but time consuming. Cheapest option to travel around Costa Rica but not always possible.
- Costa Rica – Nicaragua: Take the bus towards Barranca from in front Tranquilo Backpackers around 6 am every morning (5 hours). The price of CRC 7,800 includes the journey with the ferry. From Barranca, take a bus to Liberia (4 hours, CRC 2,800). Note that they dropped us off at some cross roads where we had to wait for the next bus to Penas Blancas (border crossing), it costs CRC 1,700 (1.5 hours). But you will be approached by other bus companies telling you the bus is booked out or the next one will be in 3 hours just to get you on their much more expensive private bus – don’t let them scare you! You need to get an exit stamp from the Costa Rican border ($4), then walk across to the Nicaraguan border and get a stamp there ($12). This whole process took around 2 hours. By the time we were done (6.30pm), there were no more buses to San Juan del Sur so we shared two cabs with several backpackers for CRC 5,000/person (30 minutes).
- San José – La Fortuna: Take a bus for CRC 2,900 and you’ll arrive in La Fortuna 5 hours later. Buses leave regularly but only until the early afternoon.
- La Fortuna – Monteverde: Do the Jeep-Boat-Jeep option for CRC 11,000. It’s the most convenient option, otherwise you’d have to go all around the lake. Leaves 8.30am, arrives 12pm.
- Monteverde – Montezuma: Take the 6am bus to Puntarenas (CRC 1,480) and the ferry from there to Paquera at 11am (CRC 810) – you should take a taxi from the bus station to the ferry (around CRC 2,000/taxi). Another bus will take you to Montezuma and you will arrive around 2 or 3pm (CRC 1,800).
- Montezuma – Playa Santa Teresa: Several buses depart from opposite Hostal Pura Vida to Cóbano until around 3pm. They leave very irregularly – so be prepared to wait an hour or more. From here, it is probably most convenient to take a taxi to Playa Santa Teresa (7km will take around 1 hour… yes, the roads…).
- By shuttle:
- Usually more convenient than the bus option but much more expensive. From Monteverde to Montezuma, you would pay around $55 for the shuttle whereas the bus/ferry option costs you $8. You (might!) save an hour or so. Shuttles also need to wait for the ferry, they drop off and pick up people along the way…
- Shuttle might be a smart option for going to San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua but I wasn’t aware of any when I was there in 2014…
Looking for good hostels and restaurants in Costa Rica – read here.