The Juan Santamaría International Airport is the primary air gate of Costa Rica and handles more than 60% of the air traffic of the country. It is a small 20 gates airport with construction going on for several years now. It has 13 Jet-bridge gates and seven remote gates that handles more than 7000 passengers every day, or more than 2.5 million passengers a year.
Arrivals Area Map
The arrival area is a corridor that connects all the gates, and at the center, you will find the immigration hall, where several lines await you. Passing the immigration booths there is a big shopping store where you will find liquor and handcrafts, and then you take to your left to the Baggage carousel hall with four lanes. There you will find luggage claims, money exchange booths, and tourist information booths.
After you claim your luggage, you go to the Customs lines. Passing Customs, you will find some car rental desk and taxi office, and the ONLY door that will take you outside. Once you go out, you can´t get back in. At the outside sidewalk, you will be picked up by your tour operator, or your taxi, and across the street, on the main floor of the parking lot, you will find some rent-a-cars. You can see a more detail map at the airport official website here.
Lines at immigration are sometimes long and slow, but there are several booths. The real problem is when you arrive at customs because there are only two lines, so be patient. If you have somebody picking you up, they will wait for you. Everybody is used to the time that takes from the arrival of the plane and the time you get outside the airport.
If you made a reservation for a taxi, we would be waiting for you at the airport exit door, with a sign with your name and our logo. Please look for Max. If you haven’t made your reservation, you can make it on our website here
Departures Area Map
When you arrive at the upper street, you will get to the Lobby, and to enter the Lobby, you will have to pass over one of the three bridges.
There you will find all the airlines front desk, money exchange booth, and departure tax booth, if you haven´t pay that with your airline ticket. On the left, you will find airport security clearance, and then you get to the gates area, where you will wait in one of the ten waiting rooms.
There you can find restaurants, gift shops, bars, pharmacy, ATM, SPA, Duty-free, and fast food court. There are a couple of VIP lounge and an information booth. Again, you can find a more detail map at the airport official website here.
Depending on the time you have to spend here, there is a lot to do, and to buy. You will find that the prices are going to be higher, probably as it is all around the world in airports.
What to do in SJO Airport
At the airport, you will find several gift shops with souvenirs, and a couple of Duty-Free shops. You can also buy chocolates and technology, and of course, Cofee. There is also a beauty and cosmetic shop and a kids shop. There is also a couple of VIP Lounge open from 4:00 am to 8:00 pm.
There is also a couple of spas open from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm with massage, treatment, and personal care. You can find a couple of bars, some restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, and deli.
Outside the airport, there is the City of Alajuela where you can spend some time walking around and discovering. There is close enough a big shopping mall with a food court, bars, lots of shops with international brands, banking, cinemas and more. You can find nearby also a Casino and two hotels with restaurants and coffee shops. If you talk to the taxi driver, they can take you to a couple of souvenir shops with restaurants, all at a small taxi ride distance.
Where is San Jose Airport in Costa Rica?
One of the most frequently asked questions is where is San Jose Airport in Costa Rica. Turns out is not located in San Jose, but in Alajuela, which is a different city of a separate province. Since this is the only International airport that receives passengers from all around the world for many years, when they put the name on it, they consider SJO like San José is the Capital of the country. But in reality, it is located in the next city. However, the city has grown so much that now it is all part of the same big area.
SJO airport is located some 12 miles northwest from the center of the city, San Jose. If you want to find a close hotel from the airport, you should look for it in Alajuela city. However, any hotel at San José will claim to be 20 to 30 minutes from the airport. The taxi will charge you from $30 to $35.
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The first airstrip was in a place called Santa Ana, some 15 miles west from San Jose, in 1931. Then the airport was located more in the center of the city at a place called La Sabana. Now at what was the airport building, we have the art museum. This airport was built from 1938 to 1940, and it is a beautiful building.
From 1951 to 1958 we build the next airport, which was located where now is the Juan Santamaría International Airport, but it was called El Coco Airport.
The new building was started to build in 2001, but the company had some troubles, so they stop the construction, and the started again in 2009 with Aeris Holdings, which they operate the airport until now.
Construction is still ongoing, and the holding will keep operating and constructing until 2026.
Frequently Ask Questions
Which airport should I fly into in Costa Rica?: There are two main international airports in Costa Rica. One is the Juan Santamaría International Airport or SJO Airport at Alajuela, and the other is the Daniel Oduber International Airport or LIR in Liberia, Guanacaste.
If you go to the north or northwest of the country, it is better if you go to the Lir Airport, for the rest of the country you can arrive at SJO Airport, but anyway, if you get one or the other, you can get around quickly.
What is the best time to visit Costa Rica?: The best climate in Costa Rica is from November to April, in the dry season. So some people will say that that is the best time of the year to visit Costa Rica, but in the rainy season, you will find all vegetation greener and more exuberant. In Guanacaste, the dry season extends a little more, until July. Every season has its beauty. Additionally, there is a dry season on the Caribbean coast in October, and that is a beautiful place to be on that season.