Getting around Costa Rica is generally easy. Buses remain the main method of transportation, particularly for the budget travel. Renting a car and driving to the desired destination is also a good idea, but it’s advisable to plan such trips during the dry season.
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Getting around Costa Rica by plane
While Costa Rica doesn’t lack airports – 4 of them handle international traffic and almost 20 airports handle domestic flights – , choosing a flight to get between Costa Rican cities is usually an expensive and complicated affair. For longer distances you can take into account a flight but with little to no competition between domestic low cost carriers, you’ll probably decide it’s better to take a long bus ride than pay a premium for flying.
Getting around Costa Rica by train
Unfortunately, rail service in Costa Rica is now limited to two commuter routes: Heredia to San José and Pavas via San José and San Pedro to Curridabat. The service is limited ; trains travel only at peak times or in the morning and evening.
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Public transport by bus in Costa Rica ranges from large coach companies, such as Tica Bus or Transnica, which offer large, comfortable buses, with air conditioning, to small companies which offer tiny shuttles which get packed and you really ask yourself why you decided to choose this method of transportation.
Bus travel in Costa Rica is inexpensive and fun, particularly if you know what to expect. And there are good connections between the capital of San Jose and the rest of the country, as well as between the cities.
San Jose has privately run bus services and the fares change according to the zone (there are two zones in the city).
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Getting around Costa Rica by car
The roads in Costa Rica range from very good (the Pan-American Highway and those linking the major cities) to a mix of dust, gravel and potholes which are very common particularly in the mountainous roads. That’s why it is advisable to plan to rent a car and drive on such roads only during the dry season.
A speed limit of 80 kmph (50 mph) is enforced on most highways. The use of seat belts is mandatory. However, driving in Costa Rica can be quite dangerous as the locals are known to pay little attention to the speed limits or traffic regulation.