Getting Around Costa Rica

  • Great view caught from our flight over Sierpe area
    Great view caught from our flight over...
    by BEETLE_VERTE
  • By Taxi around San José
    by Tom_In_Madison
  • Transportation
    by BLewJay

Most Viewed Transportation in Costa Rica

  • BEETLE_VERTE's Profile Photo

    Private bus...

    by BEETLE_VERTE Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    And then there's also private bus. We never used them as they are much more expensive (probably by a factor of ten... a 4$ ride would cost 40$) and we never had a use for them. But they could offer a schedule that better suit your needs.

    But don't go for them just because you don't know the public service!

    Okay, we used the private shuttle in our 2005 trip! We used it from Alajuela to Jaco. A bus ride would have been around 3-4$ each, the shuttle was 17$ each but pick us up at our hotel (we saved the taxi fare). The trip was so much more enjoyable than a public tour (the road to Jaco can be difficult!), comfy seats, air conditioned, music, 30 minutes stop for lunch, friendly staff, ...

    We also used a private shuttle when our bus was an hour late in Jaco. They pick us up at the bus station, saying they were going empty to Quepos. We paid 10$ each.

    I recommend the private shuttle for the long bumpy rides (still use the private bus to catch the color of the country on short easier itineraries).

    I'm posting the web site of the company we use, but there must be a lot more available.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel

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    Renting a car in Costa Rica

    by SanguiniA Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There are lots of options for car rental in Costa Rica. You can either book online or find a car rental agency once you get there. I think it is best to rent a car once you get there so that you can bargain for the price! It is probably cheaper as well.

    There are a few warnings though before you decide to rent a car. Certain roads are in terrible condition (e.g. Monteverde area) and you will most of the time, especially in the wet season, need a 4 wheel drive.

    You will also need to get the vehicle insured - read the policies very carefully as in the case of an accident you are still expected to pay hefty sums even with the insurance!

    The price you pay to rent a car is not really cheap - but compared to certain prices you pay in Europe it can be considered quite cheap.

    It is not essential to have a rental car. Getting along by buses and taxis (which are cheap!) is possible so budget travelers need not worry at all.

    To find online rental cars just give "car rental Costa Rica" in Google and it will return plenty of results. Maybe the most popular options are summarised in the web page given below.

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    Cruise Ships

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Ships that include Costa Rica as part of their itinerary can be as small as 6 cabins (prices from $4095 each for 9 days along the Pacific Coast) on a 'Motor Yacht' to a 'Small Ship' with 70 staterooms which will give you 9 days along the west coast of Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal for $2850 each.

    I have seen the brochures for some of these cruises, but I have NOT taken one. I give a phone number and URL below, but I have NO PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with this company.

    Related to:
    • Cruise
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Car rental

    by codobai Written Dec 27, 2010

    We rented a 4X4 from Vamos and things went smoothly w/o a hitch. They pick us up at the airport upon arrival and dropped us off at the time of departure. Their rates are better than the other national brands when comparing rates. They provide us w/ a cooler for the ice/cold drinks, a cell phone to call them in cases of emergency, and (for a fee) a Garmin GPS navigator. For tourists, it would be foolhardy to drive in Costa Rica w/o such a device since road/street signage in Costa Rica is minimal and quite confusing as well.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Driving in Costa Rica

    by bocmaxima Written Dec 7, 2010

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    Driving in Costa Rica is much easier and more pleasurable than in any other Latin American country. The highways are generally in very good condition, there are many directional signs, it's relatively safe, and people generally respect most of the traffic laws (except the speed limits).
    The main road throughout Costa Rica is the Pan-American Highway, which is signed as Highway 1. Compared to other highways, the traffic is heavy, although it is still a two-lane road. Along the highway, you will have to deal with buses, long trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and cars, all trying to pass one another.
    The arterial highways are generally signed although, especially in towns, the road will sometimes take a sudden turn without notice. If you wind up on what is obviously a small street, then that's probably not the highway and you need to turn around.
    It is not advisable to drive at night unless you are already familiar with the road. This is mainly due to a lack of signage on the highways in regards to hazards. Washouts, especially in the mountains, are common and can be especially dangerous at night as they are more often than not unsigned.

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    Taxis & buses - cheap and dependable

    by caminoreal Written Oct 16, 2009

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    San Jose has more taxis per capita than just about any city in the world.
    Always get one of the RED taxis with the official logo on the side, to avoid over-charging pirate taxis.
    The one exception is: when coming from the airport into town, always hire one of the ORANGE Airport Taxis. There is an airport taxi booth on your left, just before you exit the airport terminal building into the crowd of waiting vans and taxis. And if the booth is unmanned, then when you exit turn to your left and find the ORANGE taxis with the airport taxi logos on them.
    It'll cost you 18 dollars to go into the center of downtown San Jose from the airport, no matter whether you're alone or have a car-full of peope in your party.

    San Jose buses are very cheap and reliable also. The trick is finding out where to catch the right bus. If you speak Spanish, it's easy to ask people at the bus stops for directions. If you don't, it can be more difficult. Each bus is priced differently, but you can usually go from one end of town to the other for a couple hundred Colones or less. Most city bus fares run about 40 cents or so.

    And if you want to go to Cartago or other nearby cities for sightseeing, you can usually get a bus for only a dollar or two.

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    Odyssey Tours with Diego and Alvaro

    by arg323 Written Aug 6, 2009

    They offer private transportation in their brand new vans with a/c and comfortable room, their rates for private sharters are more than reasonables and they include beverages on the van and great stops on the ways to enjoy the higlilights of Costa Rica, we used them in our last visit and we saw more wildlife and nature on the trips with them than in the parks and hotels. We did also the jeep, boat. horse from Arenal to Monteverde and it was a blast.
    Really good service!

    Related to:
    • Cruise
    • Adventure Travel
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • if going for a short trip, rent a car

    by eracki Written Jul 22, 2009

    Costa Rica has a really extensive bus network but if you're on a limited schedule consider renting a car. It will be well worth it. Unless your short trip is comprised of all guided tours where they pick up/drop off at your hotel then you don't need it, but if not a car makes a lot of sense if you don't have weeks or months to travel around.

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    • Road Trip

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    Traffic Jams-Winding Roads

    by BruceDunning Updated Jun 15, 2009

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    Two lane road is the mode for most of the island. In fact going across between oceans, there is only the one two lane road. They used to have a train that handled some freight shipment, but the tracks are broke, so now many trucks also use the roads. That can make for some real slow and backed up traffic. We only experienced a wait a couple of times of 20-30 minutes, but when on tour coming form cruise ships, time is valuable. They will wait, they say if book with them; not others. The driving habits leave something to be desired, and passing is norm even on curves.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    Beware of the Roadwork

    by jjorge Updated Mar 4, 2009

    During the wet season, the roads get pretty much soaked; many potholes appear and many portions do slide away. All these get fixed during the dry season. The already narrow lanes get reduced to their half which requires a flow control by the construction workers. So be prepared to be stopped for long intervals at almost every main road during the dry season.

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    • Road Trip

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    San Jose is a walkable city

    by kastoriani Written Mar 2, 2009

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    Taxi fares are not very expensive (or, at least they weren't in 2007) but for a round of basic site-seeing and to get a feel for the city walk around. It'll be easier if you stay somewhere central. I found it safer than what I heard from most people. Use common sense as you would in any unfamiliar city, such as stay on the main streets and avoid dark alleyways at dark.

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    San Jose is a walkable city

    by kastoriani Written Mar 2, 2009

    Taxi fares are not very expensive (or, at least they weren't in 2007) but for a round of basic site-seeing and to get a feel for the city walk around. It'll be easier if you stay somewhere central. I found it safer than what I heard from most people. Use common sense as you would in any unfamiliar city, such as stay on the main streets and avoid dark alleyways at dark.

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    Problemas! (problems!)

    by Mailo Updated Mar 1, 2009

    Be prepared for a real delay in the customs at Peñas Blancas Border with Nicaragua, we spent there about 4 hours in it just to cross the border, many trucks, and many paper work if you are going in your own car or by bus.

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    Car Rental - U-Save Car & Truck Rental

    by monica71 Updated Feb 26, 2009

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    We used this company twice: once in 2008 and the second time in 2009.

    In 2008, we have decided to rent a car for our last day in Alajuela. Isabel, the owner of the Hotel Vida Tropical, called the car rental company and got us a good deal on a Suzuki 4X4. They came and pick up my husband from the hotel in order to do the paperwork and get the car. The next day, when we returned the car, the gave us a ride free to the hotel.

    In 2009, we rented a car from them again and drove on our own. This time we also rented a GPS from them since we knew we were going to less touristy places and since we knew the signs on the road are not always that great. The GPS system was great and I would recommend getting one. Robert, the owner of the Hotel La Rosa de America took care of the car rental details prior to our arrival (as we have agreed during the emails we have exchanged with him) and delivery on our behalf. We had the car delivered at his hotel the next morning after our arrival. We also had the company pick up the car from the hotel the night before our departure to Chicago. We really liked this option better than the one we had in 2008, when we had to go get the car and also drop it off at the rental place.

    In case you want to consider renting a car from them, they can be reached at:
    U-Save Car & Truck Rental
    Las Cuatro Vias S. A.
    Cedula Juridica 3-101-233229
    P. O. Box 187
    San Jose, CR, 1005
    Phone: 24304647
    Fax: 24304648

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  • lea10's Profile Photo

    Use Interbus To Get Around In Costa Rica

    by lea10 Written Feb 5, 2009

    A cab would be expensive. The bus system would be a little scary. Renting a car can also be scary as the roads are not in top condition. Lots of pick pocket artists and often very crowded. There is a van/shuttle service (I think it is called Interbus) that is probably your best option. Very affordable and trustworthy.

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