Costa Rica Blog
Costa Rica Blog

Costa Rica’s Two International Airports Offer More Options for Travelers

Home to two international airports, Costa Rica welcomes more than two million tourists annually. The country has witnessed a huge boom in eco-tourism over the past decade and visitor numbers have been steadily climbing, with an anticipated 2.3 million travelers anticipated in 2013. When planning your next Costa Rica vacation – consider the various benefits of flying into the Juan Santamaria aiport (SJO) in San Jose, versus the recently expanded Daniel Oduber terminal in Liberia (LIR). Both feature easy access to popular beaches like Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, and more airlines have added direct flights from major U.S. hubs.

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Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose Costa Rica
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Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)

Situated on the outskirts of San Jose in the bedroom community of Alajuela, the SJO airport handles the majority of Costa Rica’s tourist traffic. One of the country’s domestic carriers – SANSA airlines – is located adjacent to the SJO terminal, which is convenient for visitors who’ll be taking connecting flights to destinations like the Osa Peninsula, Tortuguero or the Nicoya Peninsula. When planning your itinerary, flying into the SJO airport makes most sense if you:

  • Are traveling strictly within the Central Valley, as the terminal is centrally located close to tourist attractions like La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Poas Volcano and the cultural highlights of San Jose.
  • Have booked a hotel or vacation rental home in Manuel Antonio, which is just 3.5 hours by car.
  • Want to explore the Central Pacific Coast, including beaches like Jaco, Esterillos, Bejuco , Manuel Antonio and Dominical.

Daniel Oduber (LIR) Airport

This international terminal finished a $42 million overhaul in 2012, and is the terminal of choice for travelers who are planning a holiday on the sun-dappled beaches of Guanacaste Province – in northwestern Costa Rica. Why choose this airport over SJO? It all depends on your travel plans. Liberia is recommended if you:

  • Are staying in a beach vacation rental or luxury villa in hotspots like Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, Playas del Coco or Papagayo.
  • Want quick access to your ocean view accommodations, as LIR airport is an hour’s drive from most popular beaches.
  • Have not included the Central Valley or beach destinations farther south on your vacation itinerary.
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Travel Tips

There are two travel seasons in Costa Rica that coincide with the weather. The high tourist season, which runs from early December through late April is the dry season. Prices may be a bit higher for both accommodations and flights, but tourists can expect sunny skies with little rain. The low tourism period runs from May to late November and tempts travelers with discounted prices on everything from airline tickets to great deals on beachfront condos and vacation rentals. While tropical showers grace the countryside during this green season, visitors can enjoy the lush scenery and fantastic low prices.