Deciding between San Jose and Liberia Airports
Flight to San Jose or Liberia Airport - how to decide
Liberia International Airport
Liberia International Airport was inaugurated for international flights in 1995 and since then has been steadily increasing its traffic particularly in the last couple of years. And with the proliferation of resorts and top-end hotels that are currently populating the Gulf of Papagayo we can only expect that the number of flights straight into Liberia will increase.
Visiting Northwest Costa Rica | Nicoya Peninsula
Liberia airport is most convenient for people visiting Costa Rica’s Northwest , including Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula . So if you are going on vacation in this area we would suggest getting a flight here. To give you an example, Tamarindo beach , one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica is only 45 minutes drive from Liberia Airport as are the resort hotels of Papagayo such as the Allegro Papagayo and the Four Seasons.
Visiting most of Costa Rica
If your vacation is going to take you far and wide in Costa Rica it's probably best to fly into San Jose, as more domestic connections can be made from here. Likewise if you are heading to the Caribbean, central valley or southern Costa Rica.
Visiting Monteverde first
We have been asked many times whether San Jose or Liberia Airport is best to fly into if visiting the famous Monteverde Reserve first. It actually takes about the same amount of driving time from either Liberia or San Jose, 3 ½ hours. It can be beneficial, however, to fly into Liberia as the Pan-American highway heading south is rather easier than the road north from San Jose. There is a winding stretch of road between San Ramon and Esparza, the Combronero Section, which is highly prone to road accidents. While this obviously means there is a need for extra caution if renting a car it also means that you are more likely to get stuck in deadlocked traffic as in most places the Pan-American is a 2 lane highway. This writer once got stuck for 2 hours in this manner, on the bright side she was able to take a nap on the back seat for the duration. The chances of this happening to you are relatively slim, however some kind of hold up is not unlikely! Given the choice it’s probably better to fly into Liberia.
Visiting Arenal first
If your first stop is the popular Arenal we would recommend flying into San Jose as this is a 2 ½ hour trip while from Liberia it is about 3 ½ hours. However, bear in mind again that there are nasty sections of road on both of the two main routes driven between San Jose and Arenal. On one, there is the Naranjo to Ciudad Quesada section and on the other there is the San Ramon to La Tigra section. Both sections of road are prone to mist and fog due to the geography of the region as well as being winding and narrow in places. Our advice, if driving yourself – definitely don’t drive at night. The route from Liberia to Arenal has a less dangerous road but this is largely due to the fact that no one is getting up to any great speed as to describe it as potholed would be an under estimation.
If you are now confused by information overload - in summary:
Fly to Liberia Airport if:
- You’re heading to the Pacific Coast and the Nicoya Peninsula, or the National Parks of Santa Rosa and Rincón de la Vieja.
- Also if heading first to Monteverde as the road is better and it is the same travel time.
- The plane ticket is cheaper!
- Liberia Airport Transportation Quote Form
Fly to San Jose Airport if:
- You are heading to the Central Valley, the Caribbean or the most southerly Pacific beaches.
- You are going to Arenal as it’s a shorter trip.
- You fancy checking out a certain kind of night time entertainment before heading elsewhere (sorry, but we do get asked!).
- San jose Airport Transportation Quote Form