Were you aware that there are currently two international airports in Costa Rica? The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela, which is located within the Central Valley region north of the capital, San José. The other airport is Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, the largest city in the northwestern Guanacaste region.
What are the principle differences between Costa Rica airports?
As we mentioned above, the Juan Santamaria International Airport is located in the Central Valley region. If you are planning to visit the Central Valley Region (San José, Cartago, Escazú, Heredia, Naranjo) the Limón Province on the Caribbean coast (Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita, Manzanillo, Limón); the Central Pacific Region (Jaco, Manuel Antonio National Park, Puntarenas, Playa Bejuco, Playa Hermosa), the South Central Region (San Gerardo de Dota, Santa Maria de Dota, San Isidro de El General) the South Pacific Region (Drake Bay, Dominical, Carate, Corcovado National Park, Cabo Matapolo), this is the airport for you.
If your destination is the Guanacaste Region (Tamarindo, Rincon de la Vieja, Gulf of Papagayo, Bahia Salinas, Tenorio and Miravalles Volcanoes) or the Nicoya Peninsula Region (Mal País – Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Nosara, Samara, Tambor), choose the Daniel Oduber International Airport, as Liberia offer easy access to these destinations.
The Northern Highlands (Arenal Volcano, Boca Tapada, Cano Negro, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, La Fortuna) and the Central Highlands (Monteverde, Bajos del Toro, Vara Blanca, San Ramón, La Paz Waterfall) are reachable by both the SJO and LIR airports.
If you are planning to go to the beach in Northern Costa Rica, we recommend that you choose The Liberia Airport as it is only an hour and a half away from beautiful beaches. Depending on the hour your flight arrives to SJO, you may have to stay in the city or the surrounding area for the night before going to your next destination.
2) Size and Flights
The Juan Santamaria International Airport is the largest airport in Costa Rica, it has lots of shopping and dining options and consists of two stories. The Daniel Oduber International Airport services less travelers on a daily rate and consists of one story, with arrivals and departures in separate sections. There are a higher number of daily flights to SJO than LIR. In the past, airfares for Liberia were a lot higher than those to San José, but now it is possible to find good deals for LIR. Finally, it is important to mention that all domestic flights are only available in the Juan Sanatamaria Airport. If you want to fly elsewhere in Costa Rica, SJO is the airport for you.
When you leave Costa Rica, you will have to pay a departure tax. In the SJO Airport, the tax is paid to the right of the main entrance. There you will pay one of the officials with U.S. dollars, Costa Rican colones or a Visa/Mastercard). In the LIR Airport, the tax is paid to the left of the main entrance. You can pay with dollars, colones or Visa/Mastercard there as well.
Which major airlines serve the SJO and LIR Airports?
Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO): Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Transat, Air France, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Avianca, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Iberia, Interjet, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Volaris, WestJet)
Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR): Air Canada, Air Transat, Alaska Airlines, America Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Thomson Airways, United Airlines, WestJet)
Are there domestic airports in Costa Rica?
Are you planning to travel from San José to another destination in this fascinating country? We have good news for you, there are a wide variety of airports around the country:
Limon Province: Barra del Colorado Airport, Guápiles Airport, Limón Airport, Tortuguero Airport
Puntarenas Province: Coto 47 Airport, Drake Bay Airport, Golfito Airport, Palmar Sur Airport, Puerto Jiménez Airport, Quepos Airport, Tambor Airport
Alajuela Province: Arenal Airport, Juan Santamaria International Airport, Los Chiles Airport, Upala Airport
Guanacaste Province: Carrillo Airport, Nosara Airport, Punta Isilita Airport, Tamarindo Airport
San José: San Isidro de El General
Sansa and Nature Air regularly operate flights to more than 12 destinations around the country. These flights are a great option for travelers who do not have the time to travel by car or bus. The flights are moderately priced, averaging at $100 USD one way. Remember that flight prices (domestic and international) tend to go up during the peak tourist season and holidays.