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How to get from San Jose Airport to City Centre

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Transfer Options from Juan Santamaría Airport to San Jose City Centre

San José, Costa Rica's capital, is located in the Central Valley. It is a worldwide travel destination with its impressive volcanoes, beautiful greenery and an abundance of natural richness that reigns throughout the country. It also boasts well-known museums, parks, grand hotels and theatres, bringing in a great number of visitors per year.

So, when arriving at San Jose International Airport (SJO), you have 4 different travel options in order to get to the San Jose city centre; you can either take a taxi, a bus, a shuttle bus or a train. Taking a San Jose airport taxi is always the easiest and most convenient travel method to get to downtown San Jose, as they provide 24/7 services. Moreover, various taxi companies operate from the airport and are easy to recognise as all taxi vehicles are red with a yellow triangle on both sides of the doors. Your other, more affordable travel method is to take the bus. Two buses operate the "airport to downtown San Jose" route - the Tuasa bus and the Station Wagon bus. If you want a door-to-door service that is more cost-savvy than a taxi, you can take the San Jose airport shuttle bus. And lastly, if you don't mind getting a taxi to the Alajuela train station (2.50 km away from San Jose airport), a train to Atlantic Railroad Station will take you to downtown San Jose.

Comparison of the options

PRICE FOR 2PASSENGERS
OPTION PRICE DURATION AVAILABILITY
Taxi €24 35min 24/7
Bus €2 35min 24/7
Shuttle Bus €34 30min 07:00–21:00
Train (indirect) €3.20 50min 05:45–18:30

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How to get from Juan Santamaría airport to city centre by taxi

Taking a Juan Santamaría airport taxi to San Jose city centre is a great travel option. Various taxi operators can be found at the airport, and you can also pre-book a taxi online or on the phone. Not only do San Jose taxis provide a door-to-door service taking you to your downtown hotel in just 35 minutes, but they allow up to four passengers carrying up to three pieces of luggage.

Taxi fare from Juan Santamaría airport to San Jose city centre

SJO airport taxis calculate their fares using a taximeter, based on the time and distance travelled to your San Jose hotel. Moreover, taxi fares vary according to the time of day and if you are travelling on a holiday or weekend. However, your taxi fare from the airport to downtown San Jose will cost around €24 (15,000 CRC) during the day, and €32 (20,000 CRC) at night, traffic conditions dependant.

Taxi prices
Day time
(05:00–24:00)
Night time
(00:00–05:00)
Duration
FROM SJO TO CITY CENTRE
€ 24
€ 32
35 min
FROM SJO TO HOTELS IN CITY CENTRE
€ 24
€ 32
35 min
FROM SJO TO ARENAL
€ 150
€ 150
2 h 30
FROM SJO TO JACO
€ 115
€ 125
1 h 30
FROM SJO TO LA FORTUNA
€ 150
€ 150
2 h 30

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Convenience

Taking a taxi is always the best option when arriving in a new city, especially after a long flight. Choosing a San Jose airport transfer to get to your hotel in the city centre is by far the most convenient travel option. Not only do they offer door-to-door services 24/7 from SJO airport, but you will also be travelling in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle. Moreover, Costa Rican taxis accept both the local currency, colón, and US dollars.
Nevertheless, if you wish to travel with an English-speaking driver, at a fixed rate price with no hidden charges the it is recommended to book your private airport transfer online, in advance.

Editor’s Note

Taxi drivers in San Jose may pressure you to change your accommodation arrangements. However, you just have to be firm but polite to your driver and insist they take you to the hotel of your choice.

Useful Tips

Taxis in San Jose are very comfortable and even provide Wi-Fi.
It is important to always use the official San Jose airport red taxis, in order to avoid scams.

How to get from Juan Santamaría Airport to city centre by bus

A very cheap option to get to the city centre is to take the bus. There are two main bus options from San Jose airport to the Costa Rican capital: the Tuasa bus company and the Station Wagon bus company.
Tuasa buses run every day from 04:30 to 23:00, whereas the Station Wagon buses run 24/7. The journey to downtown San Jose takes around 35 minutes.

How much is a bus ticket from Juan Santamaría Airport to the city centre?

A one-way bus ticket into the city centre of San Jose from SJO airport costs €1 (665 CRC). You can buy your bus ticket directly from the bus driver in the local currency, Costa Rican Colones (CRC).

Cost

€1

Trip Duration

35 Min.

The late night service to San Jose city centre is less frequent; buses may leave every 20 minutes.

Convenience
Safety
Value for Money

The Tuasa bus runs daily from 04:30 to 22:00 and the Station Wagon buses run 24/7.

Where do I get it from?

Both bus stops are located opposite the main terminal exit at San Jose airport. As you exit the building, you will need to cross the road and follow the signs. When you reach the buses, make sure to get onto the bus with a "To San Jose" sign and you can then alight at the "Avenia 2" stop, which is very close to Merced Park.

Convenience

Taking a bus from Juan Santamaría airport to the city centre of San Jose is a great cost-savvy travel option. The bus stop is easy to locate and close to the airport's terminal exit. Moreover, the bus ride is short and the city centre drop-off is very central.
Nevertheless, you may have to walk a bit longer, depending on where your hotel is located in downtown San Jose.

Editor’s Note

Although there is a 24/7 bus service to the city centre of San Jose, it is a lot slower during the night shifts.

Useful Tips

If your hotel is quite far from the city centre bus stop, it is best to take a taxi as it is not recommended to walk long distances within the centre. Although most neighborhoods are perfectly safe it is possible to end up in a more dangerous area if you do not know the city.
It is important to always have the local currency on you, especially if you want to take the bus from San Jose airport or during your trip.

How to get from Juan Santamaría Airport to city centre by shuttle bus

If you still want a door-to-door service but can't afford to take a taxi, then taking the San Jose airport shuttle to downtown is a perfect option for you.
Quite a few shuttle companies operate to-and-from SJO airport, such as the Interbus. Moreover, shuttle buses are easy to book online and can be booked before your arrival, allowing you to simply make your way to the airport shuttle stop when you arrive. The airport shuttle bus trip takes around 30 minutes to reach San Jose's city centre.

How much is a shuttle bus ticket from Juan Santamaría Airport to San Jose city centre?

A one-way ticket on the airport’s shuttle bus to downtown San Jose Costa Rica costs €17 (10,800 CRC), depending on the provider. You can pre-book your ticket through the shuttle bus company’s website.

Cost

€17

Trip Duration

30 Min.

Travel time can be affected by traffic conditions, as well as your exact drop-off location in the centre.

Convenience
Safety
Value for Money

Shuttle buses run daily. All individual companies offer their own route, so it is important to check each shuttle company's specific timetable.

Where do I get it from?

You can easily find the shuttle bus stop outside Juan Santamaría airport's main terminal exit. You can also find useful shuttle bus information leaflets at the airport's arrival area.

Convenience

Choosing to take a San Jose airport shuttle bus to get downtown is a convenient transport option, as they offer door-to-door services, meaning you won't have to wander the streets looking for your hotel with heavy luggage. Going further, the shuttle vehicles offer enough luggage space and they are a very safe travel option.
The only drawback is that you may have to wait for your booked service if you arrive early, or you might miss your shuttle bus trip if your flight is late.

Editor’s Note

During airport peak hours, San Jose airport shuttle buses are more frequent. It is worth having a look at all available providers in order to choose the best times for you before booking your ticket.

Useful Tips

Even though you probably want to rush off to your hotel and start your San Jose Costa Rica holiday, it is wise to book a slightly later shuttle bus time; this way, you won’t risk missing your shuttle if you are slightly late.
Remember to include the name of your hotel when booking your ticket, as the shuttle bus driver will drop you off directly at your hotel.

How to get from Juan Santamaría Airport to city centre by train

There is no direct train connection between Juan Santamaría airport and San Jose's city centre. If you prefer to travel by train you will need to get to the nearby city of Alajuela, which is located 2.50 km away from the airport. Trains leave Alajuela station and get to Atlantic Railroad station in San Jose city centre Monday to Friday from 05:45 to 18:30 and Saturday from 06:30 to 13:30. The train ride takes 50 minutes to reach the centre.

How much is a train ticket from Juan Santamaría airport to San Jose city centre?

A one-way train ticket from Alajuela train station to downtown San Jose costs €1.60 (1,005 CRC). You can buy your tickets at the train station's ticket counters.

Cost

€1.60

Trip Duration

50 Min.

There is an average waiting time of 10 minutes for the train during peak hours.

Convenience
Safety
Value for Money

Trains from Juan Santamaría airport to San Jose city centre are available Monday to Friday 05:45 to 18:30 and on Saturday from 06:30 to 13:30.

Where do I get it from?

Unfortunately, SJO airport does not have a train station; you will need to get a taxi and make your way to Alajuela railway station in order to take the connecting train to downtown (the taxi ride takes around 10 minutes to the station).

Convenience

Getting from SJO airport to downtown San Jose Costa Rica by train is definitely not your most convenient travel method as the airport itself does not have a train station. So having to make your way to the nearby town, Alajuela by taxi and then waiting for your train can cost you extra money and time. Also, the train does not operate during night hours.

Editor’s Note

The San Jose train online information is mostly available in Spanish. If you're not comfortable with the language it will make this option a lot more difficult. However, you can always ask the train station employees for help.

Useful Tips

Many train connections can be made at the Atlantic Railroad Station in San Jose. You can always plan your trip ahead to make the most out of the San Jose train network.
Beware of pickpockets in the San Jose public transportation system, as there are plenty. It is important to not have any visible valuables on you and to not leave your luggage unattended.

Frequently asked questions

How much is a taxi from San Jose Costa Rica airport to downtown?

The taxi fare from San Jose Airport Costa Rica to downtown San Jose costs around €24 (15,000 CRC), depending on traffic conditions.

How far is San Jose airport from downtown?

San Jose International Airport (SJO) is located 20 km west of downtown San Jose.

Are taxis expensive in Costa Rica?

Taxis in Costa Rica are averagely priced, meaning you can afford to take a taxi for medium distances. Taxis are metered and they implement tariffs. However, if you want to travel at a fixed price with no extra charges, then pre-booking a private transfer online is a great option.

Do you tip taxi drivers in Costa Rica?

It is not mandatory to tip your Costa Rica taxi driver, however it is always appreciated.

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