How to get to Costa Rica

By | May 4, 2022


Emerald rainforest, pastel hummingbirds, smoldering volcanic peaks, roaring rivers and freshly harvested oranges still warm from the sun: if nature could ever be accused of showing off, it’s here in Costa Rica. This green patch of earth north of the equator is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Costa Rica has an almost breathtaking variety of landscapes, microclimates, flora and fauna. Costa Rica’s pride and joy is its national parks, which cover a third of the country and best showcase incredible nature. See other countries in North America on eningbo.

Getting there

Arriving by plane

Avianca (AV) flies via El Salvador (San Salvador) or Colombia (Bogotà) from the USA (Los Angeles, New York), from Cuba (Havana) and from Ecuador (Quito, Guayaquil) to Costa Rica (San José). The following airlines fly to San José from European cities: – Lufthansa (LH) in cooperation with Air Canada (AC) via Toronto and Condor (DE) via Santo Domingo from Frankfurt/M.; – Iberia (JK) non-stop from Madrid (connecting flights from Germany, Austria and Switzerland); – Edelweiss Air (WK) non-stop from Zurich; – United Airlines (UA) from Zurich and Geneva and in cooperation with Austrian Airlines (OS) from Vienna, each via Newark (New Jersey, USA); – KLM (KL) in winter non-stop from Amsterdam (feeder flights from Germany,

Flight times

Frankfurt/M. – San Jose: 14 hours 45 minutes; Vienna – San José: 15 hours 20 minutes (each including a stopover); Zurich – San José: 12 hours 20 minutes (non-stop).

Departure fee

Approximately €26 (US$29) airport tax payable upon departure in dollars or in colones in cash or by credit card. Many airlines include the fee in the ticket price. Transit passengers leaving Costa Rica within 12 hours do not pay any fees.

Arrival by car

The Panamericana runs from La Cruz on the Nicaragua border to San José and on to Canoas on the Panama border. Long-distance bus: Tica Bus buses connect Costa Rica with Panama and Nicaragua. Tolls: Many stretches of highway in Costa Rica are subject to tolls and have to be paid in cash. There is an electronic payment system only on the route between San José and Caldera. Documents: For stays of up to three months, the national driving license is sufficient. However, it is advisable to carry an international driver’s license with you to avoid misunderstandings in the event of any police checks.

Arrival by ship

Costa Rica seaports are Caldera, Golfito, Golfo Dulce, Puerto Limon, Puntarenas and Quepos.

Cruise ships

Costa Rica is called at by the shipping companies Phoenix, Cunard and Hapag Lloyd Cruises on their world cruises that start in Hamburg or Southampton. Coming from Europe, P&O Cruises, MSC, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Princess Cruises and Oceania Cruises, among others, also have Costa Rica on their cruises.


Traveling by plane

The airline SANSA (RZ) serves regional air traffic and connects San José with numerous locations in the country.

Traveling by car/bus

The road network has a total length of approx. 36,000 km; only about 6,500 km are paved. The two-lane Panamericana crosses the whole of Costa Rica from the border to Nicaragua to the border to Panama and leads via San José. Well-developed roads connect San José with all major cities. Tolls: Many stretches of highway in Costa Rica are subject to tolls and have to be paid in cash. There is an electronic payment system only on the route between San José and Caldera. Petrol stations are mostly open around the clock; payment is usually only possible in cash. Travelers should use fueling options, since the gas station density is often rather low.

Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic


Condition of the roads

The Panamericana and the roads from San Jose to other major towns are paved. Numerous potholes are to be expected on secondary roads; four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended here.

Car rental

Rental cars are available at airports and in cities. Drivers must be at least 18 years old (depending on the vehicle category) and have held a driver’s license for at least one year. A young driver fee is often charged for drivers under the age of 25. Some car rental companies state a maximum age of 75 years.


Red cabs are plentiful in San Jose; orange taxis only go to the airport and are more expensive. Travelers should make sure that the taximeter is on or agree on the fare in advance to avoid surprises at their destination.


From San José there are regular bus connections several times a day to the most important tourist locations. Buses also connect most of the country’s cities at reasonable prices. San José is the hub here; there are usually no direct connections between the other cities. Numerous round trips are also offered; often with hotel pickup. Information can be obtained from the tourist office in Costa Rica (see addresses).


Traffic regulations: – alcohol limit: 0.5 ‰; – for motorcycles and mopeds, lights are compulsory all day; – Motor vehicles must be equipped with two warning triangles, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher; – Children under 1.45 m and under the age of 12 may only be carried in the rear seat in age-appropriate child safety seats. Speed ​​limits: – in built-up areas: 40 km/h; – on secondary roads: 60 km/h; – on main roads: 80-100 km/h (observe the signs!).

Roadside Assistance

The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; for vehicle damage: Tel. +49 (89) 22 22 22, for illnesses: +49 (89) 76 76 76. The ADAC partner club is the Automóvil Club de Costa Rica (ACCR) in San José, Tel. +506 (2nd ) 220 04 43.


For stays of up to three months, the national driver’s license in conjunction with the passport is sufficient, but in order to avoid difficulties it is recommended that you also have your international driver’s license with you.

Traveling in the city

Public transport in San Jose is served by private bus companies, which operate a network of regular buses in most parts of the city.

Locally on the way by train

Intercity and freight trains run between San José and Heredia, Pavas, Belén, Cartago, Alajuela and Paraíso.

Traveling by ship

Inland, boat trips are offered on various rivers. In Tortuguero National Park, travelers can cruise through the canals on boats.

How to get to Costa Rica