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5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

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Miami, Florida
posts: 72
reviews: 77
5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Hey folks,

I am traveling to Peru in July and we have a 5 hour layover in SJO (San Jose) airport due to an airline change. We are trying to make the most of our vacation time and want to know if there are places or things to do for a little while in that amount of time. Any ideas?.

Costa Rica
posts: 24,321
reviews: 26
1. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Lots to do.

You can visit The Butterfly Farm or Zoo Ave or take a coffee tour or visit Poas Volcano (depending on the time of day.)

Or -- you can just take a taxi to the center of Alajuela and walk around a bit, have a meal, do some shopping, get an ice cream cone and sit in the Central Park.

Keep in mind -- the airport is actually located in Alajuela and not San Jose.

Edited: 1:45 pm, May 21, 2013
Miami, Florida
posts: 72
reviews: 77
2. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Thanks a lot for the pointers. I am aware 5 hours is not a lot of time but if I can help it i'd rather do something around there. So you think we have enough time for that?. That is a good suggestion.

I understand we have to be back at airport about 1 hour before our flight. (or more). Do you think we have enough time to go to Alajuela and walk around?. I will check the butterfly farm link.

How far from the airport is it?. Can we just take a cab there?. Thanks!!

Costa Rica
posts: 24,321
reviews: 26
3. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

The Butterfly Farm is not far from the airport. You can Google Alajuela and get several kinds of maps that will show various things. And yes, you can take a taxi.

If you have your boarding pass for your next flight, an hour ahead of your flight will be about right. Figure 45 minutes or so to get through passport control and customs. (Customs is easy - just put your carryon onto the conveyor belt for xray.)

This might be helpful to you: anywherecostarica.com/destinations/sjo-airpo…

Edited: 2:54 pm, May 21, 2013
Costa Rica
posts: 24,321
reviews: 26
4. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Sorry I wasn't clear in my post above: Figure about 45 minutes UPON ARRIVAL to get through passport control, etc. So you would be ready to exit the terminal in about 45 minutes. Maybe less....

Miami, Florida
posts: 72
reviews: 77
5. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Than.ks .the link is great!.

I should mention we have luggage :(, and not sure if we have to get our luggage and check in again for our connecting flight to Peru, so I will find out. I just hope we have enough time to go to Alajuela.

Costa Rica
posts: 24,321
reviews: 26
6. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

You should be able to check your luggage through to Peru. Unlike the US, you won't have to retrieve your luggage and then re-check it. It will wait for you!

So that makes it easier to get out of the airport and do a few things.

When you return, go directly to the security/boarding area and show your passports and boarding passes.

Huntsville, Canada
posts: 322
reviews: 1
7. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Keep in mind you have immigration to deal with, luggage ( not sure if luggage will go directly to outbound flight or you have to do it yourself) Then checkin for outbound and security etc. Maybe your inbound flight will be late. IMO you have very little time. If you want to go look around for an hour or two is the cab fair etc really worth it with frazzled nerves thinking about maybe missing your flight. It aint worth leaving the airport.

Costa Rica
posts: 24,321
reviews: 26
8. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

The luggage should be checked through. Never heard of anyone EVER having to retrieve their luggage during a layover at SJO.

Getting through immigration and customs will take 30-45 minutes tops.

So which would you rather do:

1. Spend the next four hours in the airport?

2. Grab a taxi and do something for three hours that could include a visit somewhere or a nice meal or a walk around town. It's about 10-15 minutes from the airport to the center of Alajuela and the Central Park, etc.

If you have a boarding pass, you won't have to check in for the next flight. You already have it. You just return to the airport and go through security.

Edited: 3:38 pm, May 21, 2013
Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
posts: 1,507
reviews: 13
9. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Keep in mind that you have to set aside at least an hour to get back in through security and if there are many flights leaving around the same time, that could take a bit longer. So, not only do you have to be back1 hr. before your flight leaves, you have to allow time to get back in. That will leave you at least 2.5 hrs for looking around Alajuela.

Would it be worth the stress? It's up to you. Hanging around SJO is not very exciting and the few food venders are very pricey and the food is not at all appetizing.

I hate hanging around airports, but I usually find some wifi and pull out the laptop or read a book or people watch or wander around the souvenir shops. It is amazing how time flies.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 43,416
10. Re: 5 hour layover in SJO . Anything to do?

Maybe a short city tour...

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