Manuel Antonio to San Jose

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Overview Compare Minivan Taxi Bus Flight To Stay

Located in the Central Valley is Costa Rica’s business and cultural capital: San Jose. It’s a vibrant urban landscape often neglected by tourists. But give it a chance and you might find that it has a unique charm worth discovering for 1 or 2 days.

We recommend trying out the famed restaurants at Barrio Escalante, checking out the colonial buildings turned museums at Barrio Amon, or partying the night away in El Pueblo. You can even venture outside the city limits to visit Poas Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens!

How to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose?

The driving distance between Manuel Antonio and San José is 172km. If you take a flight via Quepos, the distance is 61km. The Manuel Antonio San José shuttle van is the most popular way to travel this route and is about a 4 hours drive. Getting from Manuel Antonio to San José by bus takes around the same time. However, this doesn’t include hotel pick-up. Tickets cost between $9-$209.

Another option is to fly from Quepos Airport (XQP) to San Jose Airport (SJO) which takes 30 minutes.

4 ways to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose (Sorted on popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan4 hours32,000 CRC ($46)Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer3 hours144,000 CRC ($209)Book a Private Transfer
Bus3.5 hours6,000 CRC ($9)Read article for more info
Flight1.5 hours71,000 CRC ($103)Check Flights

If you want the perk of being picked up and dropped off at your hotels, the minivan is the best option. Another reason why a shared shuttle (minivan) is most popular is that they are safer than the bus (from pickpockets and petty thieves). Ticket prices start from 32,000 CRC ($46).

Are you travelling with a big group? Then we recommend booking a private transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. Rates start from 144,000 CRC ($209) for a 7-seater private vehicle. What we love about this option is that it can be cheaper than a shared minivan when you split the cost.

The bus is definitely the cheapest option, although not as reliable as the minivan. Buses in Costa Rica are a magnet for petty thieves. Bus tickets from Manuel Antonio to San Jose cost only 6,000 CRC ($9), but you may end up losing more money when you fall victim to these robbers.

When taking a flight from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, you’ll have to fly from Quepos. However, for this short journey that only takes 3.5 hours by bus, we don’t see the advantage of flying.

If you decide to fly though, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to help reduce your impact on the environment. Especially short-haul flights have a relatively high negative effect on the environment compared to land transfers.

New to San Jose? Our compact San Jose guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to San Jose!

Itinerary from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Minivan

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 32,000 CRC ($46)
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 32,000 CRC ($46)

A convenient way to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is the shared minivan shuttle.

You can choose from 4 minivan companies: RideCR, Interbus, Gray Line, and Desafio Adventure Company. All are very reliable, so you can just choose depending on your schedule and budget.

Ticket prices start from 32,000 CRC ($46). It’s more expensive than the bus as the rates include hotel pick up and drop off. On the bright side, you can save on the possible taxi ride going to and from bus terminals.

Due to the pick-up and drop off times, it may look like this journey lasts longer than the bus, but in reality, it’s actually quicker to travel by minivan.

Minivan schedule from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Minivan OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
RideCRAlmost every hour from
13:30 to 18:00
4.5 hours32,000 CRC ($46)
Buy Your Van Tickets
InterbusAlmost every hour from
12:30 to 17:00
4.5 hours38,000 CRC ($55)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Gray LineAlmost every hour from
06:30 to 10:30 and 12:30 to 16:30
4 hours40,000 CRC ($58)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Desafio Adventure CompanyEvery hour, 24/74 hours41,000 CRC ($60)
Buy Your Van Tickets

It’s best to book online beforehand when it comes to minivan tickets as they sell out really quick. All of the abovementioned options can be booked through their respective company websites. But we recommend purchasing your tickets through BookAway for cheaper rates and a more user-friendly interface.

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Private Transfer

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from 144,000 CRC ($209)
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from 144,000 CRC ($209)

Taking a private transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose can be cheaper than a minivan ride when you split the cost.

For example, a 7-seater car costs 144,000 CRC ($209). Divide that by 7 and it’s only $29.85 per person!

Cars can be more luxurious or more spacious, depending on your preference and the number of persons in your group. Just check out BookAway for all the private transfer choices!

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Bus

Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: 6,000 CRC ($9)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: 6,000 CRC ($9)

Tracopa operates 6 daily trips from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. These are available from 04:05 to 17:00 at the Tracopa Bus Terminal in Manuel Antonio town centre.

A ticket costs 6,000 CRC ($9) and you can only buy it at the bus station. So we recommend arriving there around 30 minutes prior to departure time to be guaranteed a seat. Alternatively, you can drop by the terminal at least a day prior to purchase your ticket.

Travel time by bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is around 3.5 hours. You can see the bus schedules below.

Bus schedule from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
6,000 CRC ($9)

These schedules are for the direct (directo) buses. Be careful to take the direct ones and not the collective (colectivo). Otherwise, travel time can take 1 to 2 hours longer due to the colectivo’s many stops to pick up and drop off passengers.

PRO-tip: As beautiful and relaxing as Manuel Antonio is, try to be mindful of your luggage! The bigger ones will be stored in the luggage compartment. Make sure they’re in before boarding the bus and don’t forget to get your luggage ticket. As for your smaller bags, this is where you can keep your valuables, but put them somewhere you can see them all the time, instead of the overhead bin.

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Flight

Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: 71,000 CRC ($103)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: 71,000 CRC ($103)

Manuel Antonio doesn’t have its own airport, but you can still easily take a flight from Quepos, located some 10km north.

Travel time by flight from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is around 1.5 hours, already including transfers to and from the airports.

Step 1: Manuel Antonio to Quepos Airport by Taxi

Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($15)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($15)

Quepos Airport is only 15 minutes away from San Antonio when you take a taxi. We recommend this when you’re in a hurry and travelling with a group. Rates start from 10,000 CRC ($15).

An alternative option is to take the bus, but there are no direct buses from Manuel Antonio to Quepos Airport. You’ll first have to take one bus to Quepos city centre, and then another bus from there to Quepos Airport. Travel time may take up to 1 hour, but it’s worth noting that the combined cost is only around 2,000 CRC ($3).

Step 2: Quepos to San Jose by Flight

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 60,000 CRC ($87)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 60,000 CRC ($87)

A flight from Quepos to San Jose takes only 30 minutes. You can choose from 2 carriers: Sansa Regional (available all year round) and Costa Rica Green Airways (available only on the off-peak season).

Departure times vary depending on what season you’re visiting. Ticket prices start from 60,000 CRC ($87).

Check Flights with Skyscanner

Step 3: San Jose Airport to San Jose City Centre by Bus

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.10)
Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.10)

We prefer taking the bus from San Jose Airport to the city centre. Buses offered by either TUASA (coloured white and red) and Station Wagon (yellow and orange) are cheap and comfortable. A ticket costs 1,000 CRC ($1.10) for the 40-minute journey.

To take the bus, you’ll have to hail one from the main road just outside the airport. They are available every 10 minutes from 04:00 to 23:00. Buses park at TUASA Terminal in San Jose city centre.

Alternatively, you can take a 30-minute taxi. There are taxis inside the airport, but they come with extra fees. To avoid that, you can also just easily hail a taxi from the main road. There’s also Uber, although they’re not 100% reliable. Rates start from 17,000 CRC ($25).

PRO-Tip: Many locals still question the legality of Uber in Costa Rica. Although lots of tourists have had great experiences with them, every now and then there would be a case of a car being stopped in the middle of the journey. In which case the passengers are forced to transfer to a regular taxi.


Our favourite places to stay in San Jose

Barceló San José - Treating yourself

Barceló hotel blows most other city hotels out of the water. It has amenities usually only found in resorts and for extortionate prices. Here you’ll find an outdoor pool, spa, gym, 3 squash courts and 2 tennis courts. Plus they offer a free airport shuttle.

If you don’t fancy venturing out of the hotel to get some food, no worries! There’s 3 restaurants and a bar on site offering a variety of different cuisines. The rooms are spacious and clean, offering comfortable beds for a good night's sleep.

  • Outdoor swimming pool and spa
  • Tennis courts
  • Free airport shuttle
  • 3 onsite restaurants and a bar

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Read More


Isla Verde Hotel - Mid-Range

Isla Verde Hotel is a real gem within the urban jungle that is San Jose. They have so many extras that you wouldn’t expect for the price - a gym, free shuttle to the airport and a great breakfast every morning.

The hotel is ultra-modern, boasting some beautifully designed rooms and seating areas. All of which are very clean and comfortable. If you don’t feel like venturing too far for food, their onsite restaurant selling Cantonese food is highly reviewed!

  • Free airport shuttle
  • Breakfast included
  • Onsite gym
  • Modern and clean rooms

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

Read More


Eco Stay Hostel - Budget Friendly

Eco Stay Hostel can start to feel like home after a while as it has a shared living room, communal kitchen, a lovely garden area, and even barbeque facilities. You can also spend your evenings having a friendly competition of snooker or darts.

The friendly hosts also make you feel at home. Making sure that your room is clean and comfortable, whilst offering their help in any way that they can. The rooms are basic, but nicely decorated and have everything you could need whilst in San Jose.

  • Shared living room
  • Communal kitchen
  • Good location
  • Friendly hosts

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

Read More


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