Airports of Costa Rica, which is good for me? There are substancial differences and it truly depends on you which to choose. Find here all the details.
When thinking about coming to Costa Rica, the question comes up, undoubtedly: Which airport? Liberia (LIR) or San Jose (SJO).
They seem so close in the map!
However… hmmm no. They are not that close. Behind that little straight line on the map, there are winding roads, driving hours and many places where you will want to stop, either to try an exotic fruit you never saw before, or to contemplate in awe a sloth passing from one branch to another.
So, first of all, we have to realize that the differences between one airport to the next are mainly the activities you want to do.
If you are into all-inclusive -or not all inclusive-, beach resorts, big franchised hotels and just lying on the beach while simply relaxing Liberia is for you.
If you are into nature, adventures, the luscious green rainforests, wildlife sightings, beaches and Costa Rican culture, Sjo is for you.
And we are not implying here that if you go to Liberia, you won’t have rainforests or wildlife, or adventures… Oh yes! But the type of activities is different, and the North Pacific is a tropical dry forest environment where the focus, mainly has been put on the beach.
Therefore, the first stage to take the decision is to know what do you want to do, see and experience while you are in Costa Rica.
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LOCATION of the Airports of Costa Rica
Let’s start by saying where are the International Airports of Costa Rica:
As you can see on the map (Below) the San José International Airport known as SJO and officially known as Juan Santamaría International Airport is in the center of the country, in the Central Valley, surrounded by mountains and very close to the capital city.
In the case of Liberia Airport known as LIR and officially known as Daniel Oduber International Airport, you will find that it is up on the North Pacific area and close to the most beautiful beaches of the country and its famous resorts.
SJO is an approximate 20-25 minute drive from downtown San Jose (Central Valley)
LIR is an approximate 10-minute drive from downtown Liberia (Northern Pacific Coast) and a half hour from the Papagayo Gulf.
SJO is Costa Rica’s main international airport providing services to a high number of travelers
LIR is Costa Rica’s smallest international airport checking significantly fewer passengers than SJO
SJO is a two-storey building – departures are managed on the second floor, and arrivals are met on the first floor
LIR is a single story building – departures are operated on the right-hand side of the first floor, and arrivals are met on the left-hand side of the first floor
SJO is very convenient if you are into Arenal, Sarapiqui, Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio or the South Caribbean or Pacific. It is even convenient if you want to go into the North Pacific with a combination of these destinations and the Nicoya Peninsula Beaches.
The LIR airport is best if you plan to visit the North Pacific beach resorts, go for water sports and activities and enjoy occasional tours to the tropical dry forest and the surreal Rincon de la Vieja volcano, for instance.
SJO and LIR
It is recommended that you arrive 2 ½ hours prior for international flights and 90 minutes before scheduled departure for check-in and security processing for domestic flights and 2 hours before international flights.
Only ticketed passengers allowed past security checkpoints. Photo I.D. and airline boarding pass are required. Carry-on luggage will pass through detector equipment.
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SJO – As soon as you get in, to the right-hand side, you will find a line of booths where you can pay it
LIR – As you get in, to the left of the entrance – there is a small both with 1-2 employees waiting to take your payment
(Payments can be made in USD, Costa Rican Colones, or with VISA/Mastercard)
Almost all airlines have it included now. Please check with yours.
AS YOU COME OUT OF THE AIRPORT:
In both airports, you will be received by Camino Travel staff with your name or group name and will be taken to where the transportation is. The walk is very short.
SJO: Free WiFi is available at San Jose Airport. Connect to the “CR_Airport_Free” Network.
LIR: WiFi is available at Liberia Airport for a fee. Free WiFi in the Airside Café with purchase.
SJO: ATMs are located in the main lobby, in baggage claim and beside gates 2 and 6. In the hallway, there is also a BAC branch where withdrawals can be made in colones, US Dollars, and Euros.
LIR: Scotiabank – Location: Landside, near Main Entrance
SJO provides a variety of dining options once inside the airport (after passing through the security checkpoint):
Dining options at SJO:
Brioche Doree Café (Gate 23) European style pastries, coffee, tea, sandwiches and salads
The Brit (Gate 20) San Jose’s premier British pub and restaurant with traditional and modern dishes
Flames Eatery & Bar (Gate 27)Casual dining serving food and drink
Jamba Juice (Gate 23)Fresh juices and smoothies
Le Boulanger (Gate 20)Fresh bread baked on site, sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (Gate 19)
Peet’s Coffee & Tea (Gate 25) Specialty coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries
Pizza My Heart – (Gate 19)
San Jose Joe’s (Gate 23) Authentic Italian cuisine based on the local icon Original Joe’s
Santa Cruz Wine Bar (Gate 23) Wine bar and casual dining, specializing in wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains
Sharks Cage (Gate 19) San Jose Sharks sports-themed bar and grill serving pub favorites
Smashburger (Gate 22)
Starbucks (Gate 22 and Baggage Claim)
Sushi Boat (Gate 23)
Fresh sushi and Japanese cuisine with vegetarian dishes and specialty teas
The Soup and Salad Station (Gate 23)
Una Mas (Gate 22) Innovative, heart healthy, quick Mexican food
-LIR offers one restaurant for dining at once inside the airport (after passing through the security checkpoint):
Below you will find a list of the flights that come to both airports right now. There will be other flights next year, like Edelweiss that will start in May 2017.
Flights from these airports right now are:
|United Kingdom||London (Gatwick)||San José||Two flights per week (Wed., Sat.)|
|Alemania||Frankfurt||San José||One flight Mon., Thu.|
|Spain||Madrid||San José||One Daily Flight|
|Reino Unido||Londres||Liberia||One flight Sun.|
|México||City of México||San José||Two daily flights|
|Panamá||City of Panamá, Paitilla||San José||One Daily Flight|
|David||San José||One flight Mon, Wed. And Fri.|
|Colombia||Bogotá||San José||Two daily flights|
|San Andrés||San José||One flight Wed., Fri and Sun.|
|El Salvador||San Salvador||Liberia||One flight Tue., Wed., Thu. and Fri.|
|San Salvador||San José||Four daily flights|
|Guatemala||City of Guatemala||San José||Two daily flights|
|Honduras||Tegucigalpa||San José||One Daily Flight|
|Panamá||City of Panamá||San José||Two daily flights, plus one flight Mon., Tue., Thu., Fri., Sat. And Sun.|
|Perú||Lima||San José||One Daily Flight|
|Guatemala||City of Guatemala||San José||One daily Flight plus one flight Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu. And Fri.|
|Honduras||Tegucigalpa||San José||One Daily Flight|
|Nicaragua||Managua||San José||Two daily flights|
|Panamá||City of Panamá||Liberia||One flight Thu. And Sun.|
|City of Panamá||San José||Nine Daily flights|
|México||City of México||San José||One daily flight a flight the Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri and Sun|
|Nicaragua||Managua||San José||One Daily Flight|
|Nicaragua||Rivas||Liberia||Two flights the Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat, and Sun|
|Nicaragua||Managua||San José||Two daily flights|
|Panamá||Bocas del Toro||San José||One daily Flight|
|El Salvador||San Salvador||San José||One daily Flight|
|México||Cancún||San José||One flight Thu. And Sun.|
|Guadalajara||San José||One flight Thu. And Sun.|
|Canadá||Montreal||Liberia||One weekly flight on Tue.|
|Canada||Toronto||Liberia||One flight Sat.|
|Canada||Toronto||San José||One flight Tue., Fri.|
|Canada||Toronto||Liberia||One flight Mon.|
|Canada||Toronto||Liberia||A flight Mon and Thu|
|Canada||Toronto||Liberia||One flight Fri|
|Canada||Toronto||San José||One flight Tue. And Sun.|
|United States||Los Angeles||Liberia||A flight the Tue, Thu, Sat. And Sun.|
|United States||Los Angeles||San José||A flight of the Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat.|
|United States||Charlotte||Liberia||One flight Sat.|
|United States||Charlotte||San José||A daily flight|
|United States||Dallas||Liberia||A flight Sat. And Sun.|
|United States||Dallas||San José||One daily flight Sat. Flight and a flight a Tue|
|United States||Miami||Liberia||A daily flight|
|United States||Miami||San José||Four daily flights|
|United States||Phoenix||San José||One flight Sat.|
|United States||Phoenix||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Atlanta||Liberia||One daily flight a flight Sat|
|United States||Atlanta||San José||Two daily flights and One flight Sat.|
|United States||Los Ángeles||Liberia||One flight Mon., Wed. And Fri.|
|United States||Los Ángeles||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||New York||Liberia||One flight Tue., Thu. And Sat.|
|United States||Fort Lauderdale||San José||One daily flight a flight the Thu, Fri or Sun|
|United States||New York||Liberia||A flight the Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun|
|United States||Orlando||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Baltimore||Liberia||One flight on Sat.|
|United States||Baltimore||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Houston||Liberia||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Houston||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Los Angeles||San José||One Daily Flight|
|United States||Fort Lauderdale||San José||One daily flight a flight the Tue, Fri, and Sat.|
|United States||Houston||San José||A flight Mon, Thu, and Sat.|
|United States||Chicago||Liberia||A flights on Sat.|
|United States||Chicago||San José||One flight Fri and Sat|
|United States||Denver||Liberia||A flights on Sat.|
|United States||Houston||Liberia||Two daily flights more two Sat flights and a flight Sun.|
|United States||Houston||San José||Three daily flights, plus one flight Fri. and Sun., and two on Sat.|
|United States||Houston||San José||A flight Sat and Sun|
|United States||Newark||Liberia||One daily Flight plus one flight on Sun. And two on Sat.|
|United States||Newark||San José||One daily flight a flight Sat|
|United States||Washington||San José||A flight Sat.|
Additional information regarding either airport can be found at
-SJO – www.aeris.cr (official)
-LIR – www.liberiacostaricaairport.net (unofficial)
Written by Olga Sáenz for Camino Travel. If you need any further information you can write to email@example.com