A quick guide to the main airport in Costa Rica (Juan Santamaría International)

According to reputed travel publications, Costa Rica is an international destination on the rise for world adventurers, digital nomads and travelers looking for unconventional experiences such as staying in an eco-lodge instead of a resort to spend their vacation learning about environmental care, promoting sustainability and looking after nature in an unparalleled setting. The primary airport serving its capital city –San José- is named after national hero Juan Santamaría and lies roughly 20 kilometers from the downtown. It welcomes passengers who fly into the country, one of the seven that make up Central America, from airports in South America, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and Europe

If you have fallen under the spell of its tropical forests and the dreamy coastlines along both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and whether you want to visit La Fortuna, Puntarenas, Copey, Playa Hermosa, Boca Tapada, Tamarindo or all of them, your flight to Costa Rica will probably land in San José airport, that is, in Juan Santamaría International. The vast majority of its operations within Latin America are operated by Avianca, Copa Airlines, Green Airways, Sansa and Volaris, whereas flights to and from major hubs in North America and Europe are handled by American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada, Iberia, Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa, among others.

Terminals of Juan Santamaría airport in San José, Costa Rica

Since 2018, when the domestic terminal was inaugurated, San José airport in Costa Rica has two terminal buildings: Terminal M (main terminal), also known as the international building, and Terminal D (domestic terminal) exclusively dedicated to Sansa flights. The international terminal of Juan Santamaría airport is divided into three levels, each of which accommodates the arrivals zone, the departures area and the VIP lounges respectively.

COVID-19 prevention measures in place at San José airport

Travelers flying to Costa Rica and landing in Juan Santamaría International airport (SJO) must comply with the rules and regulations in effect aimed at preventing the spread of covid. Due to the changing nature of the global pandemic situation, requirements are constantly being modified, so it is strongly recommended that you check and confirm with both the destination and the airline what you need to do before travelling and upon landing in San José. In the recent months, visitors have been required to submit a digital Health Declaration form, show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival and present evidence for having purchased travel medical insurance. Quarantine measures might apply as well.

Ground transportation options at Juan Santamaría airport of Costa Rica

Travelling by taxi in Costa Rica. The fastest way to commute from Juan Santamaría airport to San José downtown is by taxi; you will find officially licensed taxi cabs outside the terminals and it is likely that you are approached by some drivers too. In order to identify a reliable vehicle, look for either the red with yellow triangles fleet or the orange fleet. They typically charge around $20.

Travelling by bus. The same route can be covered by bus if you hop on the public line “Montezuma-San José” from the airport. The journey lasts about 20 minutes and one-way ticket fares are under $1. Note that this service may be affected by covid-19 restrictions.

*Boarding buses and shuttle services towards Puntarenas, Guanacaste and other regions of Costa Rica is also possible from both the airport and downtown San José.

Hotels near the facilities of SJO

If you are travelling for business or need to spend an overnight layover close to the terminals, you may consider staying in one of the hotels near Juan Santamaría airport in San José, Costa Rica. We recommend:

Holiday Inn Express hotel SJO

Only 1,5 kilometers from the airport, this hotel provides confirmed guests with complimentary transfers to and from the terminals, breakfast is included in the nightly rates and double, triple or family rooms are available for booking. Enhanced disinfection and social distancing measures are currently in place due to covid-19.

Courtyard by Marriott San José airport / Alajuela

This hotel near Juan Santamaría airport in Costa Rica is equally striving to ensure the safety of their guests throughout their stay, and the use of face masks is mandatory in all communal areas of the premises. Its rooms and suites are conveniently located less than one kilometer away from the passenger terminals and shuttle transfers are operated at no extra charge.

Passenger services in San José airport of Costa Rica

Should you need to connect your device to the WiFi network, eat, drink, buy a last-minute gift, withdraw cash in the local currency or spend the wait at an airport lounge, Juan Santamaría International has you covered. See a quick guide to the available services and amenities below.

WiFi. Passengers going through SJO can use the free WiFi connection for a limited period of time (3 hours) whether they are on the public landside zone or the restricted airside area.

ATMs. There are BAC San José and Scotiabank ATMs in the arrivals zone and they remain operational 24 hours a day so that you can withdraw your “colones”.

Restaurants. The majority of eateries in Juan Santamaría airport of Costa Rica are found in the Departures area after security. Malinche and Imperial serve traditional Costa Rican dishes, but many international franchises also have presence here such as Cinnabon, Starbucks, Lavazza Coffee, Teriyaki Express and Smashburger.

Duty free stores. They are strategically situated by boarding gates 4, 5 and 8 and boast a wide array of top quality jewelry, watches, liquors, fragrances, make up and accessories for kids, women and men.

VIP lounges in San José airport. There are two airport lounges in SJO, namely the VIP Santamaría –a Star Alliance lounge managed by Avianca-, which stays open from 4:30 to 20:00 every day of the week and is located on the upper floor of the main terminal, and the Copa Club lounge, with the same opening hours and located near Gate 5 on the lower level.

Do you plan to travel soon? If you will be venturing abroad and catching international flights in the times of covid-19, visit this website for tips and advice on how to protect yourself.