How to get to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: A short guide

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If you’re visiting Costa Rica, no doubt you will travel to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. But what’s the best way to get to Puertjo Viejo from San Jose or from the Pacific coast? Read on to find out.

If you’re looking to find places to stay in Puerto Viejo, check out our article here on the most fun accommodation options.


Is Puerto Viejo worth visiting?

Puerto Viejo is absolutely worth visiting. As part of a trip exploring the whole of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo is an excellent stop off. The town is on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and has a totally different vibe to the Pacific Coast area.

As part of our three week trip to Costa Rica (find our itinerary here), we spent around 5 or 6 days in Puerto Viejo, cycling, exploring, doing yoga and soaking up the sun with cocktails. Divine.

How to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo by Public Bus

The bus company MEPE operates a direct bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (also called Puerto Viejo de Limon). You can find the bus stop in San Jose on Google Maps, referred to as “parada del bus de MEPE” or, Terminal de Autobus Atlantico Norte located on Calle 12. The bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo is in the direction of “Sixaola”, which is the last point you can reach on public transport in Costa Rica before crossing the border into Panama.

It takes around 4.5 hours, but it will often take a little longer than this due to traffic and road conditions. The bus leaves 5 times each day in both directions, from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and back again. You can confirm the bus times by contacting MEPE online or via Whatsapp, they will provide you with a timetable. Tickets cost around $10 and can be purchased at the bus stop on the day of travel. Just make sure you get there early to secure your place.

Please note, there is another “Puerto Viejo” in Costa Rica. Make sure you ask for tickets to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca or Puerto Viejo de Limon and not just “Puerto Viejo.”

You can book all Costa Rica buses that you might need in advance through Book Away.

How to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo by Shuttle

If you would rather pay a little more for a comfortable ride, you can book a shuttle. This could be private, or a semi-private. The semi-private will mean you join other travellers on a small shuttle bus. This will cost around $60, as opposed to $10 if you got a fully public bus.

There are three main companies offering this route by Shuttle – Caribe Shuttle, Interbus or Airport Express. Book early to avoid disappointment.

How to get to San Jose to Puerto Viejo by car

If you choose to hire a car in Costa Rica, you can drive from San Jose to Puerto Viejo.

There are two routes that you can take, the first goes slightly North of San Jose and then along the coast. This route is approx 217km and will take around 4 hours 15 minutes, the shortest of the two routes, but includes a toll road.

The second option, is to drive slightly South of San Jose and then along the coast. This route is approximately 225km and will take just short of 5 hours on Route 10 and Route 32 roads. There are no toll roads on this route.

How to get from the Pacific Coast to Puerto Viejo by Public Bus

If you are trying to travel from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean Coast, you will need to travel via San Jose. This is because Chirripo mountain lies in the middle of Costa Rica and you can’t drive through it, instead needing to drive around it.

If you are in Uvita, Ballena or Dominical on the Pacific coast, it is relatively easy to get a public bus to San Jose. The bus runs multiple times per day, but you will need to book in advance as it’s a popular route. You can do this at the bus station (in Uvita) for example, or online. Tracopa is the bus company running buses from Uvita to San Jose, their website with bus schedule can be found here.

Change bus in San Jose

From San Jose you can connect to another bus to Puerto Viejo. However, there are a number of bus stations in San Jose. From the pacific coast, you will arrive into the Tracopa Bus Terminal, and to get a bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca you will need to transfer to Terminal de Autobus Atlantico Norte located on Calle 12.

Although you could walk between the two buses (it would take 30 minutes), we would recommend taking a short taxi ride from one to the other, especially if you are in a rush. There is no shortage of taxis, in fact, you will be greeted by many keen taxi drivers as soon as you arrive at the bus stop.

It is possible to complete this journey in one day, but just be aware that the 4.5 hour journey from Uvita can take longer than expected so there is a risk that you could miss your connection.

You can book all Costa Rica buses that you might need in advance through Book Away.


Long journeys don’t get any easier, here are some ideas we had to make the road more pleasant. Find them here on Amazon.

Silk Sleep Mask, 2 Pack 100% Real Natural Pure Silk Eye Mask

MLVOC Travel Pillow 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow

ZIHNIC Bluetooth Headphones Over-Ear, Foldable Wireless

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Naturals with Plant Based Alcohol, Citrus Scent

Neutrogena Cleansing Fragrance Free Makeup Remover Face Wipes

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Oat Lotion for Dry Skin, 3 x 2.5 fl. oz

WATERFLY Crossbody Sling Backpack Sling Bag Travel Hiking Chest Bag Daypack

Anker Portable Charger, 313 Power Bank (PowerCore Slim 10K) 10000mAh Battery Pack with USB-C

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