International flights into Costa Rica are currently served by two airports: Juan Santamaria International Airport
in San Jose and Daniel Oduber International Airport
in Liberia. Flights from all over the world land at these airports, supporting a booming – and growing – tourism economy in Costa Rica. International visitors are able to arrive at either of these central Costa Rica locations and then catch short domestic flights to their end destination or start exploring Costa Rica by land. These main portals of Costa Rica are a hub for lodging, transportation and even local activities.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) is better known as the San Jose International Airport. This is the larger of the two international airports in Costa Rica, and is located about 20 minutes north of downtown San Jose
, in the Central Valley region. This airport was previously located in La Sabana Park next to downtown San Jose until 1958, but was moved to its current location to retain the central placement while allowing for more expansion to keep up with the growing demand for longer runways to accommodate flights from bigger airplanes. Most any part of the country can be reached in no more than 1 hour on a domestic flight from this airport.
The airport is named after Juan Santamaria
, who served as a drummer boy in the 1856 Battle of Santa Rosa. Juan gave the ultimate sacrifice to his country as he perished in the battle, but he has since become a national hero.
While there is a bus stop outside the airport, it is recommended that visitors inexperienced with travel in Costa Rica, or staying further than the downtown San Jose area, pre-arrange transportation. There are a variety of transportation services that can be booked easily and serve all areas in the country. There are also licensed taxis available, this is an option best for the traveler who has not setup any transportation upon arrival.
The Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) is better known as the Liberia International Airport. This airport is located in the Guanacaste province
in north Costa Rica, in Liberia
, the provincial capital. This airport is a fast-growing, modern travel hub that is becoming a top-choice for those travelers that are heading to Costa Rica for the sunshine, white-sand beaches and natural beauty of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula
. The weary traveler can find themselves on a beach in Tamarindo
within an hour. Now that is one way to cure jet lag! This airport is also convenient for those staying at the all-inclusive Papagayo Gulf
, and is ready for major expansion soon to be able to accommodate even more international flights.
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The Daniel Oduber International Airport is named for the man that served as the president of Costa Rica from 1974 to 1978.
Both of the international airports in Costa Rica are served by US airlines as well as other international airways. US airlines that fly to Costa Rica include Alaska Air, US Airways, American Airlines, Frontier, Delta, JetBlue and Spirit. International airways that have routes to Costa Rica include Copa, Air Canada, Mexicana, Avianca and more.
Travel tip! It’s good to know that upon leaving Costa Rica, you will be charged a $29 (USD) departure tax. This tax applies to any international flight that is exiting the country. Your payment options include cash and credit, though beware that paying with credit will be treated as a cash advance. It is best to set aside cash for this tax; Costa Rican colones and/or US dollars will be accepted. As of recently some airlines will include your airport tax in the cost of the ticket but not all airlines do this so it is best to be prepared to pay the $29 / person tax upon arrival to the airport. Your airline will instruct you to pay it if needed.