The Best Airports in Costa Rica (Essential Guide to the Airports in Costa Rica)

Where Are The Best Airports in Costa Rica?

Are you heading to Costa Rica? We have put together all the essential information you need to fly there!

International Airports in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has two international airports, San Jose and Liberia. Both airports have daily flights from Europe, the USA, and Canada.

San Jose International Airport (SJO): 
Alajuela, also known as Juan Santamaria International Airport, is 17 km northwest of San Jose.

Juan Santamaria International Airport is the main airport serving San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. It is situated in the municipality of Alajuela, about 20 kilometers away from downtown San Jose. The airport serves both domestic and international flights. It can be reached by taxi or public transportation. It is important to note that this airport was once called San Pablo Airport. In the early 1970s, it was named for the first President of Costa Rica, Juan Carlos Montserrat de Santamaria.

Juan Santamaria International Airport has four terminals. The busiest terminal, the West Terminal, is serviced by two long-distance and one local flight. The next two terminals, the East and South Terminals, are serviced by local flights. The terminal area is served by the local bus system and by taxis. The last terminal, the Main terminal, is not serviced by the airline.

San Jose is close by and easily accessible by road. The nearest train station is in Manzanillo. An international airport also serves the city. However, San Jose is served by more international flights than the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is situated about a half-hour drive from the airport. Flights to these destinations fly into the San Francisco International Airport, which is close by.

Liberia International Airport (LIR): 
Daniel Oduber International Airport, also known as San Pedro Sula, is located 10 km southwest of the city of Liberia. It is among four major international airports serving the West Coast of Costa Rica: San Pedro Sula, Liberia International Airport, and Colon International Airport.

It serves as a major tourism center for those from the Western and Central coast of Costa Rica to the Pacific coast. Like the rest of the terminals, the airport is mostly air-conditioned and features many restaurants and other food outlets. It is a well-connected area, with the main airport servicing several major destinations in Central America and North America.

The airport has some medical facilities, including hospitals and clinics. There are some international flights to Liberia from the airport. The airport is served by several flights that fly daily into Liberia and from other major cities around the globe. There are direct flights to Liberia from the United States, Europe, Japan and South Africa. There are flights daily from the USA and Canada to Liberia. Flights that fly daily from other countries, such as China, India and the Middle East, serve other parts of the country.

The Liberian national football team is based at the Liberia International Stadium. This stadium is located at the city’s eastern end. There is a separate section which is accessible to players only. The venue is regularly used as a venue for soccer tournaments, including the Liberia National Cup. There is also an international cricket tournament that takes place here on several occasions. 

Airports in Costa Rica

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Domestic Airports in Costa Rica

There are also 14 domestic airports in Costa Rica that service every province of Costa Rica.

  • Barra del Colorado Airport
  • Playa Sámara – Carrillo Airport
  • Coto 47 Airport
  • Drake Bay Airport
  • Golfito Airport
  • Guápiles Airport
  • Arenal Airport
  • Los Chiles Airport
  • Nosara Airport
  • Palmar Sur Airport
  • Puerto Jiménez Airport
  • Punta Islita Airport
  • Quepos La Managua Airport
  • San Isidro de El General Airport
  • Tamarindo Airport
  • Tambor Airport
  • Tortuguero Airport
  • Upala Airport

Flying Into Costa Rica

Are There Any Non-Stop Flights to Costa Rica?

Yes! Many destinations offer nonstop service to Costa Rica. Options are available from the USA, Europe, and Central America.

Direct flights from San José to the US

Alaskan Airlines: seasonal flights to Los Angeles.
American Airlines: There are seasonal flights to Charlotte, year-round flights to Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, and seasonal flights to New York City and Phoenix.
Delta Airlines: year-round to Atlanta with seasonal flights to Los Angeles.
JetBlue Airlines: year round to Fort Lauderdale, seasonal to Los Angeles, New York City & year round flights to Orlando.
Spirit Airlines: seasonal to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
United Airlines: year round to Chicago, seasonal to Denver, year round to Houston. Seasonal flights to Los Angeles, year-round flights to New York and seasonal flights to Washington.

Direct flights from San José to Europe

Air France: year round to Paris.
KLM Airlines: seasonal to Amsterdam.
British Airways: seasonal to London Gatwick.
Edelweiss Air: seasonal to Zürich.
Lufthansa: all year to Frankfurt.
Iberia (Oneworld): All year to Madrid.

Direct flights from San José to South America

Avianca Airline: All year to Bogota.
LATAM: seasonal to Lima.

Direct flights from San José to Canada

Air Canada: seasonal to Montreal & all year to Toronto.
Air Transat: seasonal to Montreal.
West Jet: seasonal to Toronto.

Direct flights from San José to Central America

KLMKLM: seasonal to Liberia.
Alaska: year-round to Liberia.
Sky Greece: all year to Quepos & Tambor.
Avianca: all year to San Salvador. Seasonal flights to Guatemala City & Panama City.
Volaris Costa Rica: all year to San Salvador, Guatemala City, Cancun and Mexico City.
Copa Airlines: all year to Guatemala City & Panama City. Seasonal to Tegucigalpa & Managua.
Air Panama: year-round to David, Chiriqui.
Aeromexico: all year to Mexico City.
Volaris: all year to Cancun.

Thinking of Moving to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is popular with digital nomads, expats as well as retirees. If your thinking of moving to Costa Rice, see the pros and cons. This might help make your decision a bit easier.

Does It Really Matter Where You Fly To?

When it comes to getting to Costa Rica, it doesn’t really matter where you fly into. As you can see, Costa Rica is very well connected internally, and it is easy to move around by plane. 

When is The Cheapest Time to Fly to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s high tourist season is December – April. Flights are the cheapest in December and January. When booking flights to Costa Rica, we recommend being flexible with your dates and looking for a mid-week flight for the best deal! 

Which Airport is Cheaper?

Typically, San Jose (SJO) is the cheapest airport to fly into in Costa Rica. This is because more airlines service this airport. 

Is it Better to Fly Into Liberia or San Jose Costa Rica?

Liberia is closer to some of the world’s best surfing and leisure beaches, but flights are typically more costly. San Jose is closer to nature activities and the excitement of the capital city. Flights into San Jose are generally cheaper but with more expensive local transportation and accommodation. So it depends exactly on what you are after and where you are coming from. 

Flying to Costa Rica From Nicaragua or Panama?

You can fly into San Jose International Airport from Nicaragua and Panama. From Nicaragua, you can fly from Managua, and from Panama, you can fly from Panama City. 

What are the most popular destinations in Costa Rica?

  1. Arenal Volcano National Park & La Fortuna
  2. Corcovado National Park & Drake Bay
  3. Tamarindo, Playa Langosta & Playa Grande
  4. Manuel Antonio & Manuel Antonio National Park
  5. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
  6. Tortuguero National Park
  7. Santa Teresa & Mal Pais
  8. Matapalo
  9. Puerto Viejo & Cahuita National Park
  10. Nosara & Playa Guiones

Do I need a visa to enter Costa Rica?

Most countries do not require a pre-approved visa before entering Costa Rica for less than 90 days. However, please check here on the Costa Rica Embassy before traveling to ensure that you do not need a pre-approved visa before you fly.

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