Tamarindo to San Jose

Overview Compare Minivan Taxi Bus Flight To Stay

What to expect when visiting San Jose

As Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose is a bustling urban landscape. It may not be as pretty as the beach and jungle destinations that the country is known for. But if you are stopping by anyway, might as well explore for a few hours or a day before moving on to your next stop.

Within the city, you can check out the colonial buildings turned museums at Barrio Amon, try out the famed restaurants at Barrio Escalante, or party the night away in El Pueblo. If you want to venture outside the city limits, we recommend visiting the Poas Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

How to get from Tamarindo to San Jose

The 4 ways to travel from Tamarindo to San Jose in 4 ways are a 4-5 hour shared or private minivan, a 6-7 hour bus or a 1.5-hour flight.

4 ways to get from Tamarindo to San Jose (Sorted by popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan4-5 hours$60 (36,000 CRC)Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer4-5 hours$223 (135,000 CRC) Check Private Transfers
Bus6-7 hours$9 (5,000 CRC) Check Bus Tickets
Flight1.5 hours$121 (73,000 CRC)Check Flights

The minivan is the most convenient way to get from Tamarindo to San Jose, especially for tourists. You get a 4 to 5-hour door-to-door ride for $54 (33,000 CRC). Apart from the free hotel pick-up and drop-off, shared minivans are faster than the bus because they don’t make as many stops.

If you want a private ride, you can rent your own minivan. This can already accommodate 7 people. Bigger vehicles are also available for larger groups.

The bus is the cheapest option when travelling from Tamarindo to San Jose with fares from $9 (5,000 CRC). However, they are not as reliable as minivans. Although the schedules show a duration of 5 hours, the number of stops and level of traffic along the way make it really more like a 6 to 7-hour journey.

In a hurry? A flight from Tamarindo to San Jose takes only 50 minutes. Add to that the transfers to and from the airports and you can complete the journey in just 1.5 hours. Combined rates start from $180 (109,000 CRC).

TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to help reduce your impact on the environment.

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!

Where to stay in San Jose?

Still looking for accommodation? Don’t forget to check out our favourite places to stay in San Jose at the bottom of this page.

Itinerary from Tamarindo to San Jose

Tamarindo to San Jose by Minivan

Duration: 4-5 hours
Cost: $60 (36,000 CRC)
Duration: 4-5 hours
Cost: $60 (36,000 CRC)

Minivans from Tamarindo to San Jose are shared door-to-door transfers. This means you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel.

These minivans are more expensive than the bus, but we can assure you that they are safer, faster, and more comfortable.

Interbus, Gray Line, Desafio Adventure Company, and Tropical Tours Shuttle are the minivan operators for this route. Fares start from $55 (33,000 CRC) for the 4 to 5-hour journey. Also here, it’s best to buy your ticket online well beforehand to be assured of a seat!

We already found the best minivan rates for you and you can find them in the table below.

Minivan schedule from Tamarindo to San Jose

Minivan OperatorScheduleCosts
Paradise Shuttle 07:00-11:0538,000 CRC ($60)
Check Minivan Tickets
Paradise Shuttle (to San Jose Airport)07:30-11:3038,000 CRC ($60)
Check Minivan Tickets
$48 (29,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
Interbus07:00-11:00$53 (32,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets

We recommend booking your ticket online at least a few days prior to your trip to secure seats.

We recommend taking Paradise Shuttle if you’re heading to San Jose Airport. Interbus and Caribe are cheaper when booked via BookAway, but the journey will take a bit longer.

Tamarindo to San Jose by Private Transfer

Duration: 5 hours
Cost: from $241 (146,000 CRC)
Duration: 5 hours
Cost: from $241 (146,000 CRC)

Travelling in a group? BookAway offers various vehicle choices for private transfers from Tamarindo to San Jose.

Rates start from $241 (146,000 CRC) for a minivan that can fit 7 people. If you’re with a larger group, you can even rent an 18-seater bus for $455 (275,000 CRC).

With a private transfer, you won’t have to worry about unnecessary stops. And when you split the cost, fares are even cheaper than that of a shared minivan!

Check Private Transfers with BookAway

Tamarindo to San Jose by Bus

Duration: 6-7 hours
Cost: $9 (5,000 CRC)
Duration: 6-7 hours
Cost: $9 (5,000 CRC)

Empresa Tralapa and Empresa Alfaro are the two bus companies operating on the Tamarindo to San Jose route. Their advertised travel time is 5 hours 15 minutes. Don’t count on that though! Buses on this route are known to make a lot of stops, thus, longer journeys!

Also, some of them take the route via Liberia, located 90 km northeast of Tamarindo. So in reality, travel time can take 6.5 to 7 hours.

Bus schedule from Tamarindo to San Jose

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Empresa Tralapa2 departures a day from
07:10 to 14:10
6-7 hours$9 (5,000 CRC)
Check Bus Tickets
Empresa Alfaro3 departures a day from
03:00 to 10:30
Every Sunday from 12:00-17:30
6-7 hours$10 (6,000 CRC)

Tickets are available at their respective bus stations. You can find Tralapa buses at Pacific Park while Empresa Alfaro has its own small bus stop. Both are located in Tamarindo city centre.

If you’re travelling on a weekend or during the peak season (December to April), we recommend booking your ticket at least a day before. It would be easier if you can do that online. Tralapa is available for online booking on BookAway for $9 (5,000 CRC).

Tralapa buses park at the Tralapa Bus Station, while Alfaro’s last stop is at Terminal 7-10. Both are located in San Jose city centre.

PRO TIP: Do be careful with your luggage. If you can, put your smaller bags with your valuables in front of you instead of the overhead bin. Bigger bags will be stored in the luggage compartment below. Wait until it is safely inside before you board the bus. Also, get your luggage ticket from the driver.

Tamarindo to San Jose by Flight

Duration: 1hr 30m
Cost: $121 (73,000 CRC)
Duration: 1hr 30m
Cost: $121 (73,000 CRC)

Taking a flight from Tamarindo to San Jose is definitely the fastest option, but also the most harmful to the environment. We don’t think short-haul flights like these are not worth their excessive emissions.

But if you’re really short on time, read on for a step-by-step guide!

Step 1: Tamarindo City Centre to Tamarindo Airport by Taxi

Duration: 10 minutes
Cost: $5 (3,000 CRC)
Duration: 10 minutes
Cost: $5 (3,000 CRC)

Tamarindo Airport is located some 5 km northeast of the city centre. The only way to reach it is by taxi.

It’s a short ride, so you can get to the airport in 10 to 15 minutes. Rates start from $5 (3,000 CRC).

Step 2: Tamarindo to San Jose by Flight

Duration: 50 minutes
Cost: $115 (70,000 CRC)
Duration: 50 minutes
Cost: $115 (70,000 CRC)

There is only one daily flight from Tamarindo to San Jose. This is operated by Sansa Regional. Travel time is 50 minutes and airfares start from $115 (70,000 CRC).

Flights arrive at San Jose Airport, also called Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Check Flights with Skyscanner

Step 3: San Jose Airport to San Jose City Centre

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: $1.10 (1,000 CRC)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: $1.10 (1,000 CRC)

From San Jose Airport, you’ll then have to travel 17 km southeast to get to the city centre. You have two choices: a 40-minute bus or a 30-minute taxi.

The bus is the cheaper option at $1.10 (1,000 CRC). You can choose from two bus companies: TUASA (coloured red and white) and Station Wagon (coloured yellow and orange). You can hail them outside the airport, on the main road.

Buses are available every 10 minutes from 04:00 to 23:30. They park at TUASA Terminal in San Jose city centre.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi for $25 (15,000 CRC). They are available 24/7 from the airport. If you have an Uber app, then you can also try hailing one through it. Fares are similar to that of a taxi.

PRO TIP: Although Uber has been gaining public and government trust in Costa Rica in the past few years, it is still technically “illegal.” Many have had great experiences using them. But every now and then there would be an incident of the car being stopped and the passengers forced to find another ride.


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

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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

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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

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the driving distance from Tamarindo to San José?

The driving distance between Tamarindo to San José is 260 km (162 miles). The flight distance is 192 km (120 miles).

How long does it take to travel overland from Tamarindo to San José?

u003cstrongu003eThe bus drive from Tamarindo to San José takes around 7 hours. By car or shuttle van takes between 4.5-5 hours.u003c/strongu003e Costs range from $9 – $60.

Can I fly from Tamarindo to San José?

You can also take a 50-minute flight (excluding transfers) from San José Airport (SJO) to Tamarindo. Flights cost around $121 (73,000 CRC).