Manuel Antonio to San Jose

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Overview Compare Minivan Taxi Bus Flight To Stay

Located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, San Jose is the business and cultural capital of the country. It’s a vibrant urban landscape often neglected by tourists. But give it a chance and you might find that San Jose 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!

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!

How to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

The driving distance between Manuel Antonio and San José is 172 km, or 61 km if you take a flight via Quepos. The Manuel Antonio San José shuttle van is the most popular way to travel this route and is about a 4-hour drive. Taking the bus to San José takes around the same time, but doesn’t include hotel pick-up. Rates cost between $9.50 (5,785 CRC) and $132 (76,000 CRC).

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 by popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan4 hours$40 (23,000 CRC)Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer3 hours$132 (76,000 CRC)Check Private Transfers
Bus4 hours$9.50 (5,785 CRC)Read article for more info
Flight1.5 hours$132 (76,000 CRC)Check Flights

If you want the perk of being picked up and dropped off at your hotel, the minivan is the best option. The other reason why the shared shuttle (minivan) is most popular is that they are safer than the bus (from pickpockets and petty thieves). Ticket prices start from $40 (23,000 CRC).

Are you travelling in a big group? Then we recommend booking a private transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. Rates start from $132 (76,000 CRC) for a 10-seater private vehicle. What we like 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 $9.50 (5,785 CRC), 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 4 hours by van, we don’t see the advantage of flying.

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

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 Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Minivan

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $40 (23,000 CRC)
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $40 (23,000 CRC)

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

You can choose from four minivan companies: RideCR, Interbus, Gray Line, and Desafio Adventure Company. All of these companies receive good reviews, so you can just choose depending on your schedule and budget.

Ticket prices start from $40 (23,000 CRC), which is more expensive than the bus because 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 OperatorScheduleCosts
Paradise Shuttle08:00-11:45
$40 (23,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
$45 (26,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
$51 (30,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets
$58 (34,000 CRC)
Check Minivan Tickets

It’s best to book online beforehand when it comes to minivan tickets because they sell out really quickly.

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Private Transfer

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from $132 (76,000 CRC)
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: from $132 (76,000 CRC)

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 10-seater car costs $132 (76,000 CRC), which comes down to about $13 (8,000 CRC) per person when you’re in a group of 10.

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

Check Private Transfers

Manuel Antonio to San Jose by Bus

Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: $9.50 (5,785 CRC)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: $9.50 (5,785 CRC)

Tracopa operates 8 daily trips from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. These are available from 04:00 to 17:00 at the Tracopa Bus Terminal in Manuel Antonio town centre.

A ticket costs $9.50 (5,785 CRC) and you can only buy it at the bus station. So we recommend arriving there around 30 minutes prior to departure time for a better chance of getting a seat. Alternatively, you can drop by the terminal at least a day prior to buy your ticket.

Travel time by bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is close to 4 hours. You can see the bus schedules below.

Bus schedule from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Tracopa8x departures a day from
04:00 to 17:00
3hrs 45m$9.50 (5,785 CRC)

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: $132 (76,000 CRC)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: $132 (76,000 CRC)

Manuel Antonio doesn’t have its own airport, but you can still easily take a flight from Quepos, located some 10 km 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: $15 (9,000 CRC)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: $15 (9,000 CRC)

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 in a group. Rates start from $15 (9,000 CRC).

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 an hour, but it’s worth noting that the combined cost is only around $3 (2,000 CRC).

Step 2: Quepos to San Jose by Flight

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: $116 (67,000 CRC)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: $116 (67,000 CRC)

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

Departure times vary depending on what season you’re visiting. Ticket prices start from $116 (67,000 CRC).

Check Flights with Skyscanner

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

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

The bus is a cheap way to get from San Jose Airport to the city centre. TUASA (coloured white and red) and Station Wagon (yellow and orange) offer comfortable rides for only $1.10 (1,000 CRC). Travel time is about 40 minutes.

To take the bus, you can 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 $25 (14,000 CRC).

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 this case, the passengers are forced to transfer to a regular taxi.

Our favourite places to stay in San José

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, three squash courts and two 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 are three restaurants and a bar on site offering a variety of different cuisines. The rooms are spacious and clean, providing comfortable beds for a good night’s sleep.

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

Double rooms start from $90 per night

Check Latest Price

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 serving Cantonese food is highly reviewed!

  • Free airport shuttle
  • Delicious breakfast included
  • Onsite gym
  • Modern and clean rooms

Double rooms between $50-$90 per night

Check Latest Price

Eco Stay Hostel – Budget friendly

Eco Stay Hostel starts 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 even spend your evenings at the hotel having a friendly competition of snooker or darts.

The friendly hosts add to the welcoming atmosphere. 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

Check Latest Price

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Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.