Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
Costa Rica Border - San Jose
Costa Rica

Costa Rica Border – San Jose

DRIVING TIME: 5 hours
KILOMETERS: 289
MILES: 179
HWY: CA 1

Costa Rica Border - San Jose

Follow the signs toward Alajuela and San Jose. This road leads you away from San Mateo and up into the highlands. The road is well-marked, but the ascent is steep. When close to San Jose, you will pass the airport, about 15 minutes from town. Plan your drive into San Jose on a weekday and not during the rush hour. The traffic can be horrific. Like all Latin American capitals, driving in San Jose is not for the weak or impatient. The roads are congested and confusing. Expect to pull over several times to ask for directions. Attendants at gas stations are always helpful.

Hotel & Eats

If you have been driving for some time and want a great place to lay your tired bones, try Hotel Cacts. As you enter San Jose on Paseo Colon, you will pass Pizza Hut. Turn right at the next corner and travel 4 blocks to Hotel Cacts. The cost is $80 per night. It includes a hot shower and a light breakfast. They have 24-hour security for your car, a travel agency on-site, and storage for your luggage. When you pass the Pizza Hut, turn left and drive 4 blocks.

Learned Lessons

Watch your personal items in the coastal towns and San Jose. Never leave anything of value in your vehicle unattended. There are plenty of car parks in San Jose, but don’t trust them and never leave your keys with them. 

Driving Around San Jose

One must be very patient driving in San Jose and around the city. There are radar traps on most roads, and in many instances, the police will pull you over and ask to see your papers, passport, and driver’s license. In most cases, unless you were speeding, the police will check your documents and let you go on your way. The city center is arranged on a grid. Avenidas run East-west and calles North-south. Street numbers are rarely given in San Jose. Instead, the nearest intersection is given. Thus you can assume that the directions to any particular local are not exact, but at least in the general vicinity. The downtown area is dirty and congested, parking is difficult, and vehicle break-ins are common. Find a safe place to park your vehicle and pay to have it watched. There are plenty of places to stay, though the better B&Bs tend to be booked well in advance. Thus if you have a particular place in mind, it is wise to reserve a room.

Next Section of Drive

San Jose - Caribbean

San Jose – Caribbean