About the International Airports of Costa Rica

International Airports of Costa Rica: What are their differences and what needs do they respond to is what we will answer in this blog post

Premio DMC Airlift Flyer

Premio DMC Airlift Flyer

This is our Air Lift map (Left). If you take a look at it, you will see both airports get many airlines, and they both seem to be rather close in the map.

Because, well, in Costa Rica, as small as it is, everything appears to be very close. But don’t let the maps fool you, Costa Rica and its topography, turn a straight line on a map into long driving hours on very winding roads.

Therefore, depending on what sort of activities do you want for your group and which type of stay would you like participants to enjoy, that will help you decide which airport are you to use for your upcoming trip to Costa Rica.



Let’s start by saying where are the International Airports of Costa Rica:

As you can see on the map (Below) the San José International Airport known as SJO and officially known as Juan Santamaría International Airport is in the center of the country, in the Central Valley, surrounded by mountains and very close to the capital city.

In the case of Liberia Airport known as LIR and officially known as Daniel Oduber International Airport, you will find that it is up on the North Pacific area and close to the most beautiful beaches of the country and its famous resorts.

SJO is an approximate 20-25 minute drive from downtown San Jose (Central Valley)

LIR is an approximate 10-minute drive from downtown Liberia (Northern Pacific Coast) and a half hour from the Papagayo Gulf.


SJO is Costa Rica’s main international airport providing services to a high number of travelers

LIR is Costa Rica’s smallest international airport checking significantly fewer passengers than SJO


Liberia Airport

Liberia Airport



SJO is a two-storey building – departures are managed on the second floor, and arrivals are met on the first floor

LIR is a  single story building – departures are operated on the right-hand side of the first floor, and arrivals are met on the left-hand side of the first floor



SJO is very convenient if your group is into the Central Pacific Area (Los Sueños, Villa Caletas or Manuel Antonio) or in the city of San José.

Close by you can find museums, volcanoes, and stunning rainforests. If you are going to the Central Pacific, you can also find water sports and abundant wildlife sightings (Going on some tours and National Parks). And, of course, if there is any activity planned around government or business centers.

The LIR airport is best if you plan to visit the North Pacific Resorts like Four Seasons, Secrets, JW Marriott, Andaz or Mangroove

Close by you can find great water sports and adventure tours, volcanoes and tropical dry forests.


Juan Santamaria International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport




Arrival Time

It is recommended that you arrive 2 hours prior for international flights and 90 minutes before scheduled departure for check-in and security processing for domestic flights and 2 hours prior to international flights.

Terminal Access

Only ticketed passengers allowed past security checkpoints. Photo I.D. and airline boarding pass are required. Carry-on luggage will pass through detector equipment.


SJO – As soon as you get in, to the right-hand side, you will find a line of booths where you can pay it

LIR –  As you get in, to the left of the entrance – there is a small both with 1-2 employees waiting to take your payment

(Payments can be made in USD, Costa Rican Colones, or with VISA/Mastercard)

Almost all airlines have it included now. Please check with yours.


In both airports, you will be received by Premio DMC or Premio M&E staff with your brand signs and will be taken to where the bus is. The walk is very short.


SJO:  Free WiFi is available at San Jose Airport. Connect to the “CR_Airport_Free” Network.

LIR: WiFi is available at Liberia Airport for a fee. Free WiFi in the Airside Café with purchase.


SJO: ATMs are located in the main lobby, in baggage claim and beside gates 2 and 6. In the hallway, there is also a BAC branch where withdrawals can be made in colones, US Dollars, and Euros.

LIR:  Scotiabank – Location: Landside, near Main Entrance


SJO provides a variety of dining options once inside the airport (after passing through the security checkpoint):

Dining options at SJO: 

Brioche Doree Café (Gate 23) European style pastries, coffee, tea, sandwiches and salads

The Brit (Gate 20) San Jose’s premier British pub and restaurant with traditional and modern dishes

Flames Eatery & Bar (Gate 27)Casual dining serving food and drink

Jamba Juice (Gate 23)Fresh juices and smoothies

Le Boulanger (Gate 20)Fresh bread baked on site, sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (Gate 19)

Peet’s Coffee & Tea (Gate 25) Specialty coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries

Pizza My Heart – (Gate 19)

San Jose Joe’s (Gate 23) Authentic Italian cuisine based on the local icon Original Joe’s

Santa Cruz Wine Bar (Gate 23) Wine bar and casual dining, specializing in wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains

Sharks Cage (Gate 19) San Jose Sharks sports-themed bar and grill serving pub favorites

Smashburger (Gate 22)

Starbucks (Gate 22 and Baggage Claim)

Sushi Boat (Gate 23)

Fresh sushi and Japanese cuisine with vegetarian dishes and specialty teas

The Soup and Salad Station (Gate 23)

Una Mas (Gate 22) Innovative, heart healthy, quick Mexican food


-LIR offers one restaurant for dining at once inside the airport (after passing through the security checkpoint):

Player’s Café


Additional information regarding either airport can be found at


-SJO – www.aeris.cr (official)

-LIR – www.liberiacostaricaairport.net (unofficial)


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