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San Jose, Costa Rica

Will I need a car in San Jose, Costa Rica?

I've been thinking of staying in San Jose, Costa Rica, sometime next year.  I was wondering -- what's transportation like there?  Will I need a car and will it be easy for a U.S. driver to adapt?

6 Answers

top answer by
Ross from Fort Collins

The most dangerous thing you can do in CR is get in a car! I have done It a few times but I prefer public transport in Central America. If you are just going to be in the city (which I don't recommend) having a car is a hassle. If anything I would just rent one to travel outside San Jose. Any were out side S.J. Will be an improvement. I know C.R. Better than any other place so let me know if you need more help.      

4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Carlyle from Washington, DC

I would say if you're going to be only in San Jose you don't need a car but traveling anywhere else in Costa Rica it's not a bad idea. Having said that I've been to CR multiple times and relied on taxis and buses to travel the country. Less stressful.

3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Audrey from Philadelphia

Hi!  If you are staying within the city most of the time it's easier to not have a car.  The bus system is great, and taxis are safe, readily available and not too expensive. Driving in Costa Rica is definitely an adventure, and you will find it takes some adjustment for a US driver.  If you do use a car, GPS (or a GPS phone app) is highly recommended as directions here are tricky (few street signs, no real addresses).  If you do plan to venture outside the city often to explore more rural areas, you will need a car.  Adobe Rent a Car and Mapache Rent a car are good rental options for short term use. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Adobe Rent a Car (attraction)
  2. Mapache Rent a car (attraction)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Rocio from Costa Rica

Hello Juliana. San José is a bustling city inside a tropical paradise; San José sits in the center of the country in the Central Valley and is surrounded by gorgeous untouched cloud forests. Serving as a hub to the rest of the country, San José is the perfect place to use as a base camp to tour Costa Rica.

With the Juan Santamaria International Airport just 20 minutes from dowtown San Jose, there are plenty of tour bus companies based here that run buses throught the country. 

San José dowtown is the busiest part of town. A maze of streets and avenues, here you can find most of the city's museums as well as a number of hotels and plazas. Dont miss to visit our National Theatre of Costa Rica. As you can image, due to heavy traffic here, there is a lots of noise and congestion. However, this is not a problem, as it will be the best way to explore the city and get along with "the ticos" (as we are known ww). Taxis are all over San José and this mean of transportation is very secure.

If you plan to visit other beautiful and interesting places of Costa Rica, i.e.: GuanacasteMonteverde Cloud ForestArenal VolcanoJacoOsa PeninsulaCahuita, etc., to rent a car will be a must.

I am sure you will enjoy my country and my people, who are generally gentle, friendly, educated, and polite, with exceptions, but you can expect to be welcome wherever you go.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Juan Santamaria International Airport (attraction)
  2. San Jose (city)
  3. National Theatre of Costa Rica (attraction)
  4. Guanacaste (region)
  5. Monteverde Cloud Forest (attraction)
  6. Arenal Volcano (attraction)
  7. Jaco (city)
  8. Osa Peninsula (region)
  9. Cahuita (city)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered first by
Rita from Santa Ana (Costa Rica)

Hi - I see you asked about a car in San Jose.  If you are staying in the city then you do not need a car.  There are many taxi's.  Depending on where you plan on traveling to outside the city you might need a car.  Your options are car, shared shuttle, private driver and small flight.  We have a B&B outside the city 20 minutes if you need any help.  It's called Casa Bella Rita Bed and Breakfast.  Let me know if you need more help and check out our website - it has lots of in.  Rita

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Casa Bella Rita Bed and Breakfast (hotel)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Allan from Panama City, Florida

Driving in CR is wild and scary. Make sure you get a GPS. The local police like to pull over gringos too.

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