Getting around in Costa Rica, be it by way of driving or public transport, can be a frustrating endeavour. Streets aren’t always named or well signposted and, in most cases, locals will give directions using well-known buildings, stores or landmarks as references instead of street names. For this reason, it is advisable that expats keep a map on hand until they've found their bearings.

The public transportation infrastructure in Costa Rica is poorly developed. There are a handful of commuter train lines still in operation, but buses are the main mode of public transport. While journeys are long and can be uncomfortable, the network is extensive. Taxis are relatively inexpensive and are often the least stressful way to get around in Costa Rican cities. Driving in Costa Rica is also something that will take expats a while to get used to.


Public transport in Costa Rica

Buses

Buses are a cheap mode of transportation and Costa Rica’s bus network is extensive, but long-distance routes can be time consuming due to frequent stops and slow driving. Only a few bus services allow in advance reservation of tickets, so during peak season, it's best to get to the bus terminal early to secure a seat.

Trains

Costa Rica's railway system is still largely underdeveloped, but there are plans to introduce an electric passenger train service that runs between east and west San Jose. This project is nearing completion and should be running in the near future.


Taxis in Costa Rica

Taxis are a good transportation option in Costa Rica and are available in most large cities. They are inexpensive but expats should be sure to always ask the driver to put the meter on when getting into the vehicle. Alternatively, if outside the capital city, agree on a fixed price before starting a journey.

Official taxis in Costa Rica are red vehicles with a yellow triangle on the side. These taxis are regulated and required to use the meter. Unlicensed taxis are prevalent in many Costa Rican cities and expats should avoid taking taxis other than the official ones. 

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and local equivalents are also available.


Driving in Costa Rica

Expats in Costa Rica are allowed to drive with their existing driving licence issued in their home country for the first three months, after which they’ll need to convert it to a local licence. The process can be complicated, so it’s best to get it done as soon as possible.

Driving one’s own vehicle is a convenient way to get around Costa Rica, as it allows expats to explore far and wide and on their own time. That said, those who decide to drive should do so with caution. Road infrastructure in many parts of Costa Rica has been poorly developed. Roads are often unpaved and potholes are common. Streets tend to be incredibly narrow and signage isn't always clear. Local driving behaviour can be erratic, so it's important to be alert at all times and drive defensively.


Domestic flights in Costa Rica

By far the quickest and easiest way to travel in Costa Rica is by flight, but domestic airlines tend to only service major tourist hubs, so the network is somewhat limited. Expats travelling to these destinations will find that domestic flights are fairly cheap, especially when booking in advance.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global

Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

Get a quote from Cigna Global

Moving Companies

Sirelo logo

Moving Internationally?

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes now!

Reloadvisor logo

Free Moving Quotes

ReloAdvisor is an independent online quote service for international moves. They work with hundreds of qualified international moving and relocation companies to match your individual requirements. Get up to 5 free quotes from moving companies that match your needs.

Get your free no-obligation quotes now!