Costa Rica isn't all rainforests and sandy beaches. The capital of San José is one of the country's cultural hubs, and thousands of visitors come here every year to learn more about Costa Rica and its fascinating heritage. Some people take taxis everywhere, but tourists who want to experience the real Costa Rica - and save some money in the process - may want to take the bus to see the sights of this remarkable country.
Traveling by bus in Costa Rica is the most inexpensive method of travel. Each province has different bus routes that run between major settlements, but traveling between cities can be time-consuming. For example, if tourists want to take the bus from an outlying area like the Osa Peninsula, they will probably have to return to San José mid-route. This can result in lengthy journey times. Some routes operate express buses to popular destinations, which may be faster.
Tourists who want to buy a bus ticket may find that knowing a few Spanish phrases could come in handy. Travelers should also remember that credit cards are not accepted at bus terminals, so visitors shouldn't forget to bring some cash, especially coins and small bills. Terminals can get pretty crowded, especially at weekends, so visitors may want to try and purchase their tickets earlier in the day to beat the rush.
Bus stations in more popular areas will not always sell passengers a return ticket at the beginning of their journey due to the popularity of the route, so tourists should always buy a return ticket as soon as they arrive at their destination. It's also a little tricky purchasing a return ticket to San José on Sunday afternoons, as many travelers are heading back to the city after the weekend, so tourists may want to plan accordingly.
Most bus companies don't post their schedules online, and sometimes getting hold of an operator by phone can be difficult. However, tourists should be able to find out when to expect the next bus by checking the printed timetables at major bus stops and terminals.
Buses run anywhere from once every 10 minutes to once an hour, depending on where they're headed. However, travelers should probably bear in mind that schedules are subject to delays and late-running buses, so tourists probably shouldn't worry if their bus is running a little behind schedule.
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