Public bus near Puerto Viejo
Public bus near Puerto Viejo

Many people who visit Costa Rica depend on rental cars, but there's no better way to explore the country than by doing as the locals do and taking public transit. One of my favorite parts of riding the bus in Costa Rica is the fact that I get to meet so many new people and hear great stories about their travels across the country. Plus, you don't have to worry about paying attention to the road when taking advantage of public transportation. You can sit back and enjoy the beautiful landscape and biodiversity of Costa Rica! Don't be scared, hop on public transportation with me!

Costa Rica's bus system is incredibly inexpensive, sophisticated and a very popular method of getting around for local Ticos. I recommend taking the bus for a lot of travelers, because although the road system is vast, it can be a bit confusing to traverse unsigned roads. One of the best places to take public transportation is in San Jose, but you can take buses just about anywhere.

Tired after bus ride to Santa Cruz
Tired after bus ride to Santa Cruz

Getting Tickets

There is no central terminal or bus station at which to pick up tickets in San Jose, but you can get passes in advance at the numerous offices are scattered throughout the city. After you've picked up your tickets, you'll want to check the bus schedule for the next departure time and check with the person at the ticket counter. Make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare, because if a bus arrives early, you could miss it. You can pick from the two types of bus services offered: Colectivo and directo. Colectivo buses tend to run much more slowly than directo buses, which are nonstop and charge a more expensive rate.

Caribbean Bus Station in San Jose, Costa Rica
Caribbean Bus Station in San Jose, Costa Rica

Local buses

If you are staying in a big city like San Isidro, Golfito, Puntarenas or Puerto Limon, you'll have access to a bus route. Buses will either depart from a bus station or just from the street, so make sure you are paying attention when waiting to be picked up.

Travel light

When you are planning to take public transportation throughout your trip, try to pack as lightly as possible. Many people utilize the buses here, so they can get pretty crowded, leaving you little room for your luggage. Some of the modern buses will have concealed storage space available, so you can ask at the ticket counter if you will have access to these types of amenities.

There's no reason to shy away from riding buses in Costa Rica, because it's one of the most fun ways to get around! Do you have any exciting stories from riding the bus during your trip?


Buses in Caribbean Station in San Jose
Buses in Caribbean Station in San Jose