Getting around San Jose

Public transport

San José has an extensive network of inexpensive city buses. There are no comprehensive bus maps, but any hotel or tour office can point you toward your parada (stop). Pay as you board the bus; coins are appreciated.


Official red taxis are safe and inexpensive, but make sure that the meter is running. Avoid unlicensed taxis, which may be cheaper for locals but often take merciless advantage of tourists. Your hotel can call a trusted driver, or try Taxis Guaria (tel: +506 2226 1366).


Driving in San José is not for the faint-hearted, and most tourists take taxis. Note that addresses are often given using a cryptic system of directionals (eg, 300m east of Roosevelt School) that you’ll probably need a local to decipher anyway. Taxi drivers know where you’re headed. If you do drive, always use guarded parking.

Car hire

You must have a valid driving licence from your home country and, in most cases, a major credit card. You must be at least 21 years of age to hire a car in Costa Rica but many car hire companies only rent to drivers over 25. Local agencies tend to be more flexible.

Local companies include Avis (tel: +506 2293 2222;, Budget (tel: +506 2436 2007;, Hertz (tel: +506 2221 1818; and Adobe (tel: +506 2542 4800;

Bicycle hire

While bicycle rental and tours are common elsewhere in Costa Rica, San José’s chaotic traffic makes urban biking dangerous. Hotels and tour offices can help locate rental bikes if you’re determined.

While cycling in the city itself is a challenge, a glance into the green, volcanic mountains around town is a tad more tempting. Bike CR ( offer customised day trips and multiple day treks around the region on top quality mountain bikes. Excursions can be combined with other outdoor adventure as well, such as rafting, volcano climbing, and zip-line canopy tours.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.