Costa Rica is a small but perfectly-formed country in Central America. Its capital city is San Jose, where you'll find the main international airport.
This country is a favorite among well-informed tourists, especially backpackers and budget travelers. It is less visited than some neighboring countries, which usually means more affordable accommodations and attractions!
There are many incredible things to see and do in this beautiful country. Whether you want to try hiking, zip lining, river rafting, or something more relaxing, you'll find plenty of opportunities in Costa Rica. Check out this perfect Costa Rica itinerary to help you get the most out of your trip!
The country is also a haven for animal lovers. You'll have a great chance of spotting incredible animals like monkeys, toucans, and two-toed and three-toed sloths in their natural habitat.
Now that you're excited to discover Costa Rica let's take a moment to learn about the airports you might fly into on your trip.
Learn more from the rest of our Costa Rica series…
- Find the best areas to stay
- Stay at a Costa Rica hostels that won’t disappoint
- Don’t miss out on these local spots—the best places to go in Costa Rica
- Add these exciting things to do to your trip plan
- Make time for a few guided tours during your adventure
- Spend the night out enjoying Costa Rica’s nightlife
- Want to simplify your planning? Follow this 5-day itinerary or 7-day trip plan
- Get our tips on budget travel in Costa Rica
- Discover the best advice for backpackers going to Costa Rica
- Find more helpful information if you’re a solo traveler
- Remember, camping in Costa Rica is also a great option!
- Dive into our snorkeling guide—essential tips and advice before you go
How Many Airports Are There in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has quite a few airports, but if you're flying in from outside the country, you'll likely fly into one of Costa Rica's four international airports:
- Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
- Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR)
- Tobias Bolaños International Airport (SYQ)
- Limón International Airport (LIO)
You'll find international and domestic flights at all these airports, but the busiest are SJO and LIR.
There are several more airports in Costa Rica serving domestic routes:
- Barra del Colorado Airport
- Carrillo Airport
- Coto 47 Airport
- Bahia Drake Airport
- Golfito Airport
- Quepos La Managua Airport
You can see the locations of all these airports on the map below:
Is it Better to Fly into SJO or LIR?
For this post, I will look at the two busiest international airports in Costa Rica: SJO and LIR. So, which of these two is a better option when booking your flight? Depends on where you plan on traveling to once you arrive in Costa Rica.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) is in the city of Alajuela. It is the largest and busiest airport in the country. You'll find ATMs, currency exchange centers, coffee shops, duty-free shops, and a VIP lounge in this airport.
SJO is about 30-45 minutes from downtown San Jose, so it's a great choice if you're planning a city stay. It's also centrally located, so it is handy for traveling to most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) is in the more northern city of Liberia. It's the newest international airport in the country and approximately 30 minutes from major hotels in Guanacaste and other popular Costa Rica resorts. More and more airlines are adding flights to this airport, so it's likely to get busier over time.
Which Airport Should I Fly into in Costa Rica?
There is no right or wrong answer about which of these airports you should fly into. It all depends on your interests, itinerary, and timing. Here's an overview of a few factors that could help you decide:
- Location: If you're staying in one of Costa Rica's all-inclusive beach resorts, choose LIR. But if you want to explore San Jose and the downtown areas, choose SJO.
- Cost: Airfares tend to be slightly higher at LIR as there are fewer flights. This could change as the airport becomes busier.
- Connections: More domestic and international flights fly into SJO. If you have a connecting flight to catch, it will be easier to fly there.
- Timing: If you have a long layover between flights, LIR is perfect. This airport gives you easy access to beaches and resorts, while SJO means you'll have to deal with downtown traffic when leaving the airport.
Tips When Flying into Costa Rica Airports
Fly into SJO for Easy Domestic Flight Transfers
Most, if not all, domestic flight routes start there or at nearby domestic airports. If you choose this airport, you'll save time and make it more convenient to transfer to your next flight.
Airports in Costa Rica Near Turrialialba
There is a very slight chance of flight delays if small eruptions from the nearby Turrialba Volcano happen. In 2018 and 2019, volcano eruptions caused slight delays, so to avoid hiccups like this, always keep an eye on the news.
There is no surefire way to predict when volcanic eruptions might happen, but they are more common during the dry season. Take note of this when planning where to fly into Costa Rica and when to book your flights.
Can You Fly Directly to Costa Rica?
Easy answer, yes! You can book direct or non-stop flights to Costa Rica from any major US city or many other parts of the world.
For example, British Airways has flights from London Gatwick Airport to San Jose Airport.
Which Airlines Currently Offer Flights to Costa Rica?
Many US and European airline companies offer flights to and from Costa Rica, including all major national airlines. Here are just a few of the airlines flying to at least one of the Costa Rican airports:
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Air France
- Air Canada
- British Airways
Streamline this process by booking your flight through Skyscanner. Skyscanner allows you to find the best flight deals with almost all airlines. This is not a tool you want to sleep on!
Once you've booked your flight to Costa Rica, check out this guide to the best areas to stay in Costa Rica. You can also compare seven recommended hostels to find the best place to stay in this incredible country!
Ready to Fly to Costa Rica?
With this information on the top airports in Costa Rica, you're all set to kick off your trip planning and book that flight! If you're ready to go, check out these local spots to hit during your visit, and don't forget to add everything to your Pilot trip planner.