The Best Ways to Travel Around Costa Rica

Couple biking on the beach at sunset in Costa Rica

Couple biking on the beach at sunset in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is small but with diverse topography that makes getting around both easy and an adventure. Communities adhere to the Pura Vida lifestyle making the country incredibly friendly and welcoming. Accepting ambiance and accessible towns, cities, monuments, national parks, and beaches show how the different methods for traveling give you plenty of opportunities to find the right mode of exploration for you. A Zicasso Costa Rica travel expert makes exploring the country a comfortable and immersive experience while simultaneously making it easy to navigate. The following guide offers more information on Costa Rica’s transportation options.

Best for Long Distances: Trains & Flights

Train in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Train in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Trains:

Costa Rica has trains but it is not as easy to travel around the country on the rail network as it is in other countries you may be familiar with. The trains were built in the late 19th century to increase access to the natural resources eventually linking to the Nicaraguan and Panamanian railways. While trains are available in a city like San Jose that will connect to places like Heredia and Pavas, the passenger routes are minimal across the country.

Flights:

Flying around Costa Rica is easy, efficient, and circumnavigates the winding roads shaped by the diverse terrain. Small airports are scattered across the country for quick connections from international hubs like San Jose or Liberia to with two domestic airlines linking approximately 12 different destinations. Traveling by plane gives you faster access to distant and even remote locations so you can spend more time enjoying your trip and less time traveling between destinations.

Best for Short Travel: Private Chauffeur, Cars, and Buses

Vintage VW Bus at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort

Vintage VW Bus at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort

Travel by Private Chauffeur:

Costa Rica’s landscape is gorgeous and borders the roads, highways, trails making a private driver one of the best ways for you to both travel and enjoy the natural beauty simultaneously. With a private driver, you can sit back, relax, and learn more about the culture of the country with some drivers doubling as guides who also know how to avoid the typical potholes, diverging routes, and possible traffic. A private driver is worth the comfort and peace of mind giving you door-to-door service between airports, hotels, and sites across the country on your schedule and pace.

Car Rental:

The reality of driving in Costa Rica is somewhere between a nightmare and bucolic often consisting of unmarked roads and enchanting countryside. Traveling by car rental in Costa Rica gives you the luxury of freedom so you can move at your leisure and on schedule. A car gives you the ability to reach remote corners of Costa Rica to which bus routes and airports don’t connect. Driving around winding roads and through the city traffic can feel daunting but renting a car in Costa Rica is safe and can be part of the adventure.

Buses:

Buses are the most common form of transportation in Costa Rica. The services are comfortable, easy to navigate, and make long-distance travel easy from coast to coast.  The network of buses is well developed and reliable with long routes both starting and ending in San Jose. It also makes it easy for travelers who don’t want to manage the tricky mountain roads or city traffic on their own. At the same time, you must travel on the bus’s schedule and can only reach as far as the bus line will take you removing the freedom of movement.

Best for Urban Travel: Taxis, Buses, and Ridesharing Apps

Sunrise over Escazu suburb in San Jose, Costa Rica

Sunrise over Escazu suburb in San Jose, Costa Rica

Taxis & Local Buses:

Navigating taxi services in Costa Rica is easy and taking taxis around the country is quick, reliable, and gives you a sense of freedom to travel around a certain destination at your pace and on your schedule. It can be a great way to travel inside larger cities like San Jose. A red taxis with a yellow sign means the taxi is government-sanctioned and a taxi can only pick you in the province it is registered. You may find orange taxis outside airport terminals, which are exclusively for airport use.

Ridesharing Apps:

Ridesharing apps are available across Costa Rica with different variations with apps providing services from private transfers to aggregates for various transportation services in real-time. Ridesharing apps are spotty at best in Costa Rica with the majority of drivers concentrated within San Jose or the San Jose area. The number of drivers in remote sections of Costa Rica is growing but slowly making other transportation options much easier, faster, and still more cost-effective.

More Travel Informations & Tips

Airplane view of Costa Rica

Airplane view of Costa Rica

Costa Rica has plenty of transportation options that can easily fit any travel style. The best times to visit Costa Rica may depend on what you want to experience, from spotting wildlife in Corcovado National Park to lounging on a pristine beach, trundling through whitewater to searching for elusive quetzals. Zicasso’s Costa Rica Travel Guide has helpful tips and information on ways you can plan your perfect vacation. Thinking of planning a trip? You can speak to a Costa Rica travel specialist for free by filling out a Trip Request Form or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.