How to Get to San José from Puerto Viejo: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Costa Rica is the perfect intersection of breathtaking natural beauty and bustling city life. Suppose you’re traveling from the laid-back charm of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to the country’s vibrant capital, San José. In that case, we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide for a seamless transition from one paradise to another.

Here is all you’ll need to know to get to San Jose from Puerto Viejo:

What to Expect When Visiting San José

San José is Costa Rica’s business and cultural capital in the Central Valley. With a bustling urban landscape, it’s not a typical tropical destination. But dig deeper, and you’ll find that San José has charm and is worth a few days of your itinerary.

Exploring the colonial buildings turned museums at Barrio Amon, dining at some of the famed restaurants at Barrio Escalante, or partying the night away at a dance club like El Pueblo are just a glimpse of what San José offers. Outside the city limits, there is bountiful scenery– be sure to check out Poas Volcano National Park and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens!

Travel Preparations: San José from Puerto Viejo

Before embarking on your journey from the relaxed charm of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to the vibrant capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, there are a few essential travel preparations to consider:

  • Packing Essentials: The tropical sun in San Jose can be intense, so pack sunscreen, a hat, and swimwear for those sunny adventures. Also, ensure you have comfortable walking shoes for city exploration.
  • Accommodation Reservations: San Jose offers a range of accommodations, from boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Booking your stay in advance is recommended to secure your preferred choice, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Currency: Always carry some local currency, Costa Rican Colón (CRC), for convenience. While credit cards are widely accepted in San Jose, some smaller establishments may prefer cash.
  • Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers unexpected events, such as flight cancellations or medical emergencies. It’s a wise precaution for any traveler.

How to get to San Jose from Puerto Viejo

Option 1: By Bus

Duration: 4.5-5 hours

Cost: $10 

The bus is the cheapest option with rates from $10 (5,000 CRC). The bus is a good choice if you’re on a budget and want to travel like a local. Aside from one bathroom break, buses from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to San José don’t make extra stops. Travel time is 4.5-5 hours.

Autotransportes MEPE is the only bus company operating from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to San José. 

The company offers six daily trips from 04:50 to 16:00, which means you’ll have a lot of choices for when to depart. Buses make one stop at the MEPE Terminal in Limon for a bathroom break about 1 hour into the journey. The break takes around 15 minutes.

Departure and Arrival

Buses depart from the MEPE Bus Stop in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca city center, just by the main beach. The arrival station is at Terminal Atlantico Norte in San José city center after around 4.5-5 hours.

Option 2: By Minivan

Duration: 4-5 hours cost: $51

You can book a shared minivan for $51 if you want a door-to-door service. This saves you the hassle of traveling to and from San José and Puerto Viejo bus terminals. The minivan journey takes 4-5 hours.

Minivans are safer and more comfortable than taking a bus. We recommend the upgrade if you don’t mind spending more on these perks.

Option 3: By Shuttle

If you want a comfortable and stylish journey from Puerto Viejo to San José, consider MyPinkBus. 

MyPinkBus is one of the companies operating a minivan shuttle from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to San José city center.

Here, you can find all the information about the Puerto Viejo to San Jose shuttle.

Option 4: By Taxi

Taxis are also available for this long-distance journey. Fares for a 3- to 4-seater car are a bit cheaper, starting from $200 (107,000 CRC), but we can’t guarantee the reliability of both the car and the driver. If you take a taxi, you must agree on the rate before getting on board!

While San José may not fit the traditional image of a tropical paradise, it offers its unique allure as Costa Rica’s cultural and business hub. Whether exploring colonial museums, savoring local cuisine, or experiencing the vibrant nightlife, spending a day or two in San José can be a rewarding addition to your Costa Rican adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive a rental car from Costa Rica to Panama?

No, most rental car companies in Costa Rica do not allow their vehicles to be driven into Panama. You would typically need to return the rental car to Costa Rica and explore Panama using other transportation methods.

Can you do a day trip from Costa Rica to Panama?

While day trips between Costa Rica and Panama are possible, they often involve border crossings and can be time-consuming. It’s advisable to plan a more extended visit if you want to explore both countries thoroughly.

What is the cheapest way to get from Costa Rica to Panama?

The cheapest way to travel between Costa Rica and Panama is usually by bus. Various bus services connecting the two countries offer budget-friendly options for travelers.

Is it cheaper to go to Panama or Costa Rica?

Generally, Panama is considered a more affordable travel destination than Costa Rica, especially regarding accommodation and some everyday expenses. However, the cost of your trip will depend on your preferences and activities. Both countries offer unique experiences worth exploring.

New to San José?

Our compact San José guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss, and many more tips for visiting San José!

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