A beautiful view from within central San Jose-mobile

How to get from
Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Manuel Antonio to San Jose Trip Overview

Distance66 km (41.3 miles)
Ride Duration4h
Earliest Departure14:30
Latest Departure20:00

There are two primary ways to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose. You can travel the most affordable way which is by bus, or you can save yourself two to three hours and take a shuttle. Bring your camera and walking shoes to San Jose as there is lots of sightseeing in the country’s capital. It’s known for its beautiful cloud forests, volcanoes, and waterfalls. You can also walk through town and visit their museums, parks, and historic buildings. If you want to go during the green season, try and book in May, June, or November.

Travel Schedule Options from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Taking a bus from Manuel Antonio to San Jose



The fastest: 4h

The cheapest: $49




Reclining Seats

English Speaking Staff



Pets allowed




English Speaking Staff


A beautiful view from within central San Jose

How to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Leaving the pristine wildlife and tranquility of Manuel Antonio is a difficult feat. With one of the country's most iconic national parks, an unspoiled coastline, and warm Tico hospitality, Manuel Antonio is one of those once-in-a-lifetime destinations. 

However, you're on to your next adventure! The buzz and history of Costa Rica's capital awaits. 

In a country filled with diverse nature, San Jose doesn't always stand out. But don't just pass through this city. Dive into its electrifying markets and intriguing museums and soak up the laidback nightlife scene. You'll be surprised at what you find in this underestimated city. 

Before you uncover San Jose's secrets, you'll need to plan your journey. Manuel Antonio and San Jose are 41.3 miles (66 km) apart. Traveling between them typically takes two to four hours, so make sure you have half a day set aside for travel. 

Most departures from Manuel Antonio are from hotels or the Manuel Antonio Bus Station. It's a small town, so finding your departure point will be a piece of cake. 

Arriving in San Jose takes more planning, though. Common arrival points include the San Jose Bus Terminal (7-10), San Jose Airport (SJO), or directly to hotels. 

Start planning a stress-free pura vida journey from Manuel Antonio to San Jose.

Vibrant sights and sounds in San Jose

Whether you're ready for a city break weekend or need to fill some time before your flight, San Jose has plenty of things to do and see. Here are the highlights:

  1. Gold Museum — Unofficially known as the best museum in the city, the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum houses some stunning sculptures and jewelry from 400 BC to 1550 AD. This is a must if you want to learn more about Costa Rica before European colonialism.

  2. Mercado Central One of the most famous things to do in San Jose. It's a vast market filled with street food, crafts, and souvenirs. You can even book walking tours that take you through the market to get a local's take on it.

  3. MADC — Since your Costa Rica trip probably revolves around nature, spend your time in the city soaking up art and culture at the Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo. Exhibits include sculpture, installations, video, photography, and more.

  4. Barrio Escalante — Want to browse cute design shops and sip hipster coffees and craft beers? The trendy Barrio Escalante neighborhood should be on your radar.

  5. Arenal Volcano — While the immense Arenal Volcano isn't in San Jose, you can easily book day tours from the city. This will take up a full day, so make sure you have enough time before you book.

How to get from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

The road from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is well-traveled. There are plenty of daily departures and travel options, including bus, minivan, and car. Here's the inside info on each to help you decide.

By bus

Buses from Manuel Antonio to San Jose are reliable and regular. If you aren't fussed about a private transfer, this is an option to consider. 

Standard buses provide individual seats and A/C. 

All passengers can take one bag and handbag on the ride. 

Pro tip: Depending on your departure time, the bus may hit traffic coming into San Jose. Bring snacks, water, and a pillow to ensure you're comfortable if faced with delays!

By minivan

If you want to easily zip from Manuel Antonio to the big city, a minivan could complete your plans. 

Standard minivans start at $39 per person but can shoot up to $140 per person, depending on the amenities and if they're a private transfer. 

Private transfers guarantee you won't have to share your ride with other travelers. Note that unless the minivan states "private transfer," it's a shared ride. 

Typically, standard minivans have A/C, space for a 25 kg bag per passenger, and provide airport meet-and-greet services or hotel drop-offs. 

WiFi and chargers are subject to availability. 

Most drivers have basic English skills and will stop for bathroom breaks or to pick up snacks.

By car

Cars from Manuel Antonio to San Jose are more expensive (starting from $282). Still, they're perfect if you want a guaranteed private transfer and a luxurious journey. 

SUV Cars provide hotel pick-ups and drop-offs, free cancellations, two pieces of luggage per passenger, and anytime pick-ups. They also have A/C, water, English-speaking staff, WiFi, and toilet stops upon request. 

About the ride from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

The ride from Manuel Antonio to San Jose takes you northeast from Puntarenas Province to San Jose province in the country's center. 

Most of this drive is on main highways, meaning the views are limited. However, you will pass some pristine landscapes, quaint villages, and farmland. Grab a window seat if you want to see authentic Costa Rican life!

This route and general travel within Costa Rica is secure for international tourists. Whether you're alone or with a group of friends, this journey is safe to make. 

Look for transport options with A/C for an extra comfortable ride. While San Jose has a cooler climate, Manuel Antonio sees an average of 27°C/80°C all year round. There's also an 80% humidity level all year round. A/C is your BFF!

The best time to travel from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

The best time to travel from Manuel Antonio to San Jose is December to April. This is the sunniest period; you can expect blue skies and no rain. Temperatures average at 27°C/80°F. 

The weather isn't as clear in the capital from May to November. There's a high chance of rain, with the peak falling in June and October. The temperature also dips to 23°C/73°F, which isn't cold, but some days it sinks to 16°C/60°F, so have a jacket ready if you're visiting during this period.

Is San Jose worth visiting?

Yes! There's a common misconception that San Jose is a city to pass through but not stay. 

But this couldn't be farther from the truth. 

San Jose is filled with cultural museums, great food and drinks, and a brilliant nightlife scene. It offers a significant change of scenery after your adventures through Costa Rican wildlife. 

Where to visit after San Jose?

Don't want to stop? We get it. 

After San Jose, consider seeing the other side of the country — the Caribbean coast. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a laidback town with golden beaches, lush jungle scenery, and a sloth sanctuary. Animal lovers, this one's for you.

The route from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes 3.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on your ride. 

Companies Operating from Manuel Antonio to San Jose

Average time


Average price



Popular stations and stops in Manuel Antonio and San Jose

Departure stations in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio - Hotel List

Manuel Antonio - Any hotel

Arrival stations in San Jose

San Jose Airport (SJO)

San Jose - Hotel List

San Jose Airport (SJO)

San Jose Alajuela - Hotel List

San Jose - Any hotel

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