Bus and Coach Travel in Costa Rica

Information on getting around the country using the bus and coach networks...

Costa Rica's bus system is inexpensive and there are many bus routes with frequent busses. Direct busses with few stops are known as directo; normal or corriente busses have many stops along the way and take longer. Popular routes to tourist areas and larger towns such as Liberia, Limón, Jacó and San José have regular busses, sometimes hourly, from early in the morning to late evening. Busses small towns and other destinations may only run once or twice a day. For busses traveling longer distances it is advisable to book seats a few days in advance.

Bus travel and fares are regulated by ARESEP.

The timetables for domestic bus travel in Costa Rica change frequently.

Local busses

There is a large network of local bus services throughout the country, and the network is divided into zones. These zones may include different provinces. The Central Valley has the largest bus network. To travel between cities, or provinces there are specific bus companies different to the ones that work within San José, and each province.

The different bus zones are:

  • Central Valley
  • Central Pacific
  • North Zone
  • Guanacaste
  • Nicoya Peninsula
  • Caribbean
  • South Zone
  • For a comprehensive guide to bus routes throughout the country: Click here

Fees are relatively cheap for local busses and are paid in cash when boarding the bus. Passengers should let the driver know when they want to get off the bus, either by pulling the cable to signal to the driver, or by calling out "parada por favor".

International busses

International bus travel throughout Central America is provided by companies such as:

  • Tica Bus - operating throughout Central America, with busses daily to and from San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City, Managua and Tapachula
  • Espreso Panama - service between Panama City and San José (in Spanish)
  • TransNica - operating between Managua (Nicaragua) and San José (in Spanish)

Shuttle busses

As well as a number of regular bus services operating throughout the country, there are also privately owned shuttle busses that are available for airport pickups and other private hire.

Taxis

As a rule, taxis are red with yellow triangles on their doors. The license number of the taxi is painted in the triangle. Specially licensed airport taxis are orange. Taxis generally accept both colones and US dollars.

Drivers are obliged to carry visible identification in the cab that includes their name and photograph. Drivers must use the taxi meter for short trips under 12 Km, while fares for longer trips are usually negotiated beforehand.