San Jose Airport (Costa Rica)
The airport of the Costa Rican capital is 17 kilometers northwest of San José, by the city Alajuela. The airport is officially called Juan Santamaría, after the soldier who was killed in the battle against the Americans in 1856 (Battle of Rivas). The airport was recently privatized, the new owner, Alterra, is starting to expand and renovate the airport.
The local currency is the colon (CRC), but in Costa Rica you can also pay with American dollars in many outlets, but you receive the change in colons, CRC 100 = €0.14, CRC 700 = €1.00 (December 2006).
You must pay a tax of $26.00 when you leave Costa Rica, this amount is not included in your ticket.
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Airport transfers & parking
There is no train connection with the airport.
Car and bus
The airport is along the Autopista General Cañas that leads to San José. Outside the Arrivals Hall,buses from the company TUASA (tel: +506(0)442 6900) travel to San José. Sometimes you have to transfer when going to the center of the city. All buses from San José to Alajuela and vice versa pass by the airport, but you must inform the driver that you would like to get off, this also applies to the long distance buses over the Pan-American Highway from Liberia and Monteverde.
Car rental - San Jose Airport
At San Jose Airport you can find rental counters from eight car rental companies among which are a number of local companies, the well known international companies are: Alamo, Europcar and Budget. You can also reserve a rental car in advance using the service EasyTerra provides, they compare the rates of several providers in a single quote.
The official airport taxis are orange. You can purchase a ticket at the kiosk in the Arrivals Hall for these taxis. Other official taxis (red with yellow triangles) have a meter (maría) and their prices are lower. A ride to San José costs between $12.00 and $15.00. Avoid the collectivos (mini buses) that frequently transport as many people as possible to several hotels, you not only have to sit in a tight space, but you are also in transit for a long time. Unofficial taxi drivers sometimes charge less, but often charge more than the current prices. You can purchase tickets from one of the kiosks in the Arrivals Hall.
There is no information available.
Facilities & services
There are no hotels at the airport. Between the airport and San José there are several hotels including the Marriott 3 kilometers (tel: +506 298 0000), Hampton Inn & Suites, 1 kilometer (tel: +506(0)436 0000), Hotel Aeropuerto (tel: +506(0)442 0354) and Los Volcanes Bed & Breakfast (tel: +506(0)441 0525).
Shops and restaurants
There is a limited range of shops, the majority being souvenir shops. For eating and drinking you are referred to one of the fast food chains such as Burger King, Church's Chicken and Papa John's, that have quite high prices.
Baggage handling is not very efficient, you often have to wait half an hour or longer for the first suitcases to appear on the baggage band, especially if your airplane arrives after 18:00. There is a counter for lost and found items in the Arrivals Hall. You cannot store baggage.
For flights with small planes of the Costa Rican companies, Nature Air and Sansa count on strict baggage limits. You may only take 11 kilos per person, this weight includes your hand baggage, heavy baggage is simply refused.
In the Arrivals Hall you can find a general information counter and several windows from travel agencies and tour operators.
There are no business facilities. The owner, Alterra, plans to build a business lounge with limited business facilities.
The terminal is reasonably accessible for the disabled. There are adapted restrooms and elevators. In the new terminal there will be more services for disabled travelers.
There are three ATM's in the terminal, one by Boarding Room 4, one in the International Arrivals Hall and one by the exit, on the exterior of the building. Exchange only a small amount of money at the money exchange office in the Arrivals Hall as the exchange rate at the airport is very unfavorable compared to the banks in the city. Ask for smaller denominations (up to 20 dollars) because larger amounts are often not accepted.
Airport Contact Information
Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría
PO Box 5026-1000
Telephone, fax, email
Telephone: +506(0)443 0840
Fax: +506(0)443 1244
Email: through the contact form
IATA airport code: SJO
ICAO airport code: MROC