Our first foray out of San Jose was to the Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo. That’s Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It’s definitely Caribbean. It’s very laid back. And it’s a great place to chill out for several days or longer. We hiked to a wildlife sanctuary, we rode bikes along the coast. We headed into Cahuita National Park. But first, we had to get there. The most common route to Puerto Viejo is from San Jose, although some come from Limon. We went to Puerto Viejo from San Jose, and it’s pretty straightforward, although there are a few gotchas. Here’s how to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo.
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#1 WAY TO TRAVEL
The easiest + most comfortable way to travel to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is to take a shuttle. You can opt for private or shared. Book early to confirm your times.
Let’s start with some basics. There are two Puerto Viejo’s in Costa Rica. There’s the one that you want, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, located on the Caribbean coast, and Puerto Viejo Sarapiquí, which is about 134 miles (216 kilometers) from San Jose. In this guide, we’re detailing how to go to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca from San Jose.
How to Go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo – Transport Options
In this guide on how to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, I’ll cover which bus station you need to go to, and where you’ll end up in Puerto Viejo. This is a simple route and you have several options. It takes between 4 and 5 hours to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. Our guide on the best things to do in Puerto Viejo is here.
You have several options for going to Puerto Viejo. I’ll start with the easiest and work through the others.
Private Transfer from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
The quickest and easiest way to go to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is a door-to-door transfer, and this makes sense if you are in a group. It will take around 4 hours to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, and you obviously benefit from pickup and drop off directly from your accommodation. You can obviously choose the time you wish to depart, which is another big bonus. The cost depends on the size of the vehicle that you need. You can check the rates for transfers from San Jose to Puerto Viejo here.
An alternative is to rent a car and drive yourself – and this guide covers what you need to know about renting a car in Costa Rica.
The next quickest option for this route is to take a minivan.
San Jose to Puerto Viejo Shuttle
Minivans to Puerto Viejo from San Jose are another great option for transport, benefiting from pick up and drop off at your accommodation in both locations. Multiple companies run this route, all going at roughly the same time each day. There’s a set schedule for these shared shuttles.
There are different options for the time that you leave San Jose. And if your hotel or hostel is not covered on their pick-up route, then there will be one REALLY close that is. Ticket prices for shared shuttles to Puerto Viejo from San Jose start at US$50, but you can check the most current prices here.
08:30 > Check tickets and availability here. This is the most popular time to leave, you’ll want to book early.
Some of the options offer pickup from San Jose Airport, and the travel time is between 4 hours and 5 hours, depending on the option that you take. The cheapest shared shuttle to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is My Pink Bus. You can book that here.
San Jose to Puerto Viejo Bus
The cheapest way to go to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is to take the public bus. And the biggest challenge you’ll have is getting from your hotel to the bus terminal. Don’t worry, it’s just a walk, and we did it with no problems at all. There are lots of different bus terminals in San Jose, you might have noticed that from our guide to getting from San Jose airport to the city.
The public bus will cost you about 7,000 colonies in 2023. (It’s about US$12) and the bus is run by Transportes MEPE. You CANNOT book tickets online. You simply get to the bus station, buy a ticket and get on the bus.
Tickets are sold at the ticket office, NOT on the bus. The ticket office is easy to spot in the bus terminal. Tickets do, occasionally sell out, and you might then be able to get a standing ticket (urgh) or wait for the next bus.
The buses that go DIRECTLY to Puerto Viejo from San Jose leave from the Terminal de Autobus Atlantico Norte. You’ll find this in Barrio Mexico on Calle 12 in between Avenidas 7 and 9. We found it easily by walking. If you want to take a taxi, then order through your hotel. This bus station is sometimes called “Antigua Parada de bus de San Carlos” just to confuse things.
The bus takes about 5 hours to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and leaves at the following times
10:00 (we took this bus)
Noon – This only runs on Friday and Saturday
The Transportes MEPE bus to Puerto Viejo makes a short stop at Limon for toilets and the stop in Puerto Viejo is at the Mepe bus stop. (You can see our map for where that is). Easy.
Map of How to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
You can see the live map of How to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo here.
The quickest way to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
The quickest way to get to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is to take a private transfer. It takes about 4 hours to take a door-to-door transfer to Puerto Viejo from San Jose and you can book tickets from San Jose to Puerto Viejo here.
The cheapest way to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
The cheapest way to get to Puerto Viejo from San Jose is to take the local bus. You’ll need to get to the bus terminal in San Jose and you’ll be dropped off at a central bus stop in Puerto Viejo, so factor this into your timings.
Popular Routes Around Costa Rica
Here are our guides to some of the popular routes around Costa Rica.
- How to go from La Fortuna to Monteverde
- How to go from Monteverde to Nicaragua
- How to get from SJO Airport to San Jose
- How to go from San Jose to Manuel Antonio
- How to go from San Jose to Tamarindo
- How to go from Puerto Viejo to Cahuita
- How to go from San Jose to Jaco
- How to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
- How to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
- How to go from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero
- How to go from San Jose to La Fortuna
Final Words on How to Go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
There’s a cheap way to go to Puerto Viejo from San Jose, the local bus. There’s also a quick way with a private transfer. A middle-of-the-road option is to take one of the shared shuttles, it all depends on how much time you have. We took the public bus and made our way to the Terminal de Autobus Atlantico Norte by walking and buying our ticket about an hour before the bus departed. On arrival in Puerto Viejo, we then hiked to our accommodation. There are easier ways to do this!
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