Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport or more commonly known as Guanacaste Airport (formerly known as Liberia International Airport) is the second main international airport in Costa Rica. It is in the Guanacaste province near Liberia city and this is the airport you should fly into if you plan to visit the Guanacaste province.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the Guanacaste Airport.
Since it is less than an hour away from popular beaches and tourist attractions in the Guanacaste province, the Guanacaste Airport is the ideal airport for those wanting to visit the Pacific coast, the Guanacaste mountain corridor and the Nicoya Peninsula.
Guanacaste Airport is 11.5 kilometers (7 miles) from Liberia, the capital city of the Guanacaste province. It’s 25 minutes from the Gulf of Papagayo beaches of Coco, Hermosa and Panama and 1 hour from Tamarindo, Flamingo and Conchal.
The Guanacaste Airport code is LIR.
Should I Fly Into San Jose or Guanacaste Airport?
- If you’re going to Guanacaste (destinations like Conchal, Flamingo, Tamarindo, Avellanas, Grande, Brasilito, Potrero, La Cruz, Dreams Mareas, Samara, Nosara, Ostional, Playas del Coco, Gulf of Papagayo, Hermosa, Ocotal, Riu, Four Seasons, Westin) then LIR Airport is the one you want to fly into as it is the closest.
- You can also fly into Liberia Airport for Montezuma, Paquera and Santa Teresa.
- For those going to Rincon de la Vieja, Bijagua, Nuevo Arenal or Nicoya, Liberia International Airport is best.
- Going to Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Puerto Viejo, San Jose, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, Puerto Jimenez, Sarapiqui, Bajos del Toro, San Isidro de Perez Zeledon or Drake Bay? Fly into San Jose International Airport as that is closest.
- If you’re going to La Fortuna or Monteverde, then you can fly to either airport because the driving time is the same for both airports, around 3 hours.
There are some pros and cons to flying to SJO and LIR Airport however
San Jose International Airport is right by San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. This is where most of the country’s population lives and works so the traffic is terrible. It is a lot more hectic and stressful to drive in San Jose than Liberia.
Liberia is in Guanacaste and it is super easy to drive there as there aren’t nearly as many people and the roads are well paved.
SJO Airport sometimes may be cheaper than LIR since Liberia is a much smaller airport, so I would check for both airports first.
As for hotels, there aren’t many hotel options by Liberia Airport but a ton by San Jose International Airport. For Liberia, there is only one, the Hilton, that has a free shuttle and is only a two minute drive away. The rest of the hotels are smaller and further away so you will have to pay for a shuttle or taxi.
Read more about which international airport in Costa Rica you should fly into.
About Guanacaste Airport
This airport is not as busy as the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San Jose but it is a full airport with a duty free store, car rentals, souvenir shops and some food. It’s a small airport and waiting times are not super long because of this.
Local airlines such as Sansa fly into Guanacaste Airport and their check in is inside the same terminal as the international terminals. You can read more about taking local flights in Costa Rica here.
Guanacaste Airport Food, Shopping, Duty Free, Currency, Services
There are a couple of food places inside Liberia Airport and souvenir stores. Once you past security, you will see several souvenir shops, a jewelry store and an art gallery. There is also the duty free store inside Liberia International Airport that sells alcohol and normal duty free items.
For food, there isn’t a whole lot. There is a cafe, bakery, a bar and two restaurants.
There is a duty free and currency exchange right after you finish immigration. You will see both places when you are at immigration. At the duty free, they told me foreigners can buy 8 bottles of alcohol and they have all sorts.
We made a short video tour of Guanacaste Airport which you can watch below.
Transportation from Guanacaste Airport
Public bus: The Liberia public city bus between the airport and Liberia runs every hour on the hour from 5 AM to 9 PM. From the bus station in Liberia, you can take a bus to the border, San Jose, Playas del Coco and other destinations. Read more about taking the bus in Costa Rica here.
Airport shuttle: You can book a private shuttle to meet you at LIR Airport. Private shuttles will meet you outside the airport when you land and take you directly to your destination. This is a good option if you’re not renting a car and coming in a large group. Contact us if you’d like a private airport shuttle!
Shared shuttles: You can also take shared shuttles but they can’t meet you directly at the airport. They will request you to go to the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel down the street for pick up. You can read more about taking shuttles in Costa Rica here.
Taxis: There will always be airport taxis waiting outside the arrival gate. Remember that taxis are going to be more expensive than shuttles and they can charge even higher rates for holidays. There is an official taxi stand outside the airport. Read about taking taxis in Costa Rica here.
Ride share: Unfortunately Didi and Uber are not common at Guanacaste Airport and police are constantly looking to catch Uber drivers. Do not count on using ride shares at this airport.
From Guanacaste Airport
Here are our articles on how to get to destinations from Liberia Airport.
How to get to Playas del Coco/Gulf of Papagayo from Liberia Airport
How to get to Tamarindo from Liberia Airport
Guanacaste Airport Car Rentals
If you are renting a car in Costa Rica, you will find all the car rental companies inside Guanacaste Airport. They will be in the baggage claim area and you can find companies like Alamo, Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, Thrifty and more.
However, since Guanacaste Airport is too small for the car rental offices, most companies will shuttle you to their airport office close by. Some companies will bring the car to the airport parking lot but there may be an extra fee for it.
We have a partnership with Adobe Rent a Car who has an office two minutes away from Guanacaste Airport to give discounts and lots of extra benefits (free cooler, free SIM card, free surf racks, etc.). You can check out our Costa Rica car rental discount here.
You can also watch in the video below the process of picking up the car from Guanacaste Airport. See what the airport looks like and if you’re renting a car with Adobe, what the process is to meet the team. (We highly recommend reserving a car in advance instead of booking at the airport since you will be able to research about the insurances, fees and taxes).
Please note that nobody is allowed inside the airport terminal for arrivals anymore except a few shuttles. The Adobe agent will be waiting for you outside the exit.
Guanacaste Airport Hotels
If you need a place to stay close to the airport, there is one hotel that is just across the road from the airport, the Hilton Garden Inn Guanacaste Airport.
Although more expensive, it is the closest and really the only true “airport hotel” offering free airport transportation and being just right down the street. For a cheaper option, check out Hotel Santa Ana further away but more budget friendly. Or you will have to look for hotels in Liberia city, which is about a ten minute drive away.
Want to read about other options? Click here to read our article for best hotels near Liberia Guanacaste Airport.
Other Important Information
- You no longer need to pay the $29 exit tax, it is included in many airline tickets. There is a board and payment office for you to check since some airlines have not included it yet.
- Find out what it’s like to go through customs and immigration in Costa Rica.
- Arrive at least 2-3 hours early for an international flight.
If flying on Sun Country Airlines get to the Libera airport 3 hours in advance. Be aware there’s no ac and the terminal is very warm so bring water, there were people passing out while waiting in line. Also Sun Country does not add the departure tax so you will need to pay at the airport.
I need to pickup someone at the Liberia airport soon. Where can I park the car while I go meet them inside the terminal?
Liberia Airport has a free parking lot, when you turn inside the road, you’ll see another turn to the left to the parking lot
Just came through Liberia airport. Was told there’s no longer a Kolbi kiosk. Have to go into Liberia or wait until you get to your destination. We ended up getting ours at a mini supermarket in Playa Hermosa. The sim cards are somewhat complicated to activate–very complicated if you are not fluent in Spanish. Fortunately the staff at this little market was super helpful.
Can u buy alcohol at the duty free when arriving in Costa Rica to take to your hotel? How many bottles can Canadians buy?
Yes, there is a small duty free store at the airport after immigration, they told me up to I think 6 liters a person (not sure exact amount).
I will be heading to Costa Rice for my honeymoon at the end of June. When leaving Costa Rica the LIR website suggests arriving 3 hours before your scheduled flight. Has this been your experience? Our departing flight takes off at 7am and I really am not wanting to have to wake up my future wife early enough to get to the airport by 4 am as I prefer keeping my head attached to my body and changing the ticket isn’t possible.
Hi Michael, you don’t need to be there 3 hours before. Liberia Airport is tiny (I think only 8 gates) and only a handful of flights a day so security is fast and it doesn’t take that long. In the morning, there are several flights at once but you can perfectly arrive 2 hours before.
Do you happen to know the approximate cost of an official taxi to Playa Hermosa? My hotel has not gotten back to us regarding transport yet, but I want to explore this option. It looks like a shuttle is approx. 50 USD?
It’d be around $55, a private shuttle is $50 for 1-4 people.
are the prices at the inside duty free and post customs duty free the same? I hear that there are differences.
To be honest I am not sure, I have only bought things at the duty free after immigration, not the duty frees in the airport waiting areas.
Hi. Any advice appreciated. I have a hire car (Alamo) and after a month I leave at 6.45am (United). The car office opens at 5.00am. I had an idea as I am on my own to drive to the short term car park mentioned and take my bag to check in (guessing 3 hours before the flight at about 4.00am). Then return to the car and take it to the offsite office and get the shuttle back. Do you think this will work? Any other suggestion?
Hi Paul, you really don’t need to be at Liberia Airport 3 hours before, it’s a tiny airport that’s rarely busy so 1.5-2 hours before is perfectly fine and you can drop your car off at 5 AM, that’s what we do when we rent with Adobe and have an early morning flight except Adobe office starts receiving cars at 4:40 AM.
If you are going to Tamarinda would you suggest a shuttle or a rental car. We will be doing excursions also.
Hi Karess, it depends. You can just shuttle and do day trips with a tour company if you don’t want to drive. Or if you want to explore more and go off on your own, then I recommend a car. But if it’s for a short trip and you don’t want to drive, then shuttle and booking tours is perfectly fine.
Does Liberia airport provide Special Assistance. I have a broken foot and need an assistant. How do I arrange that?
They can arrange a wheelchair for you, let the airport agents know
We arrive at LIR on a Saturday around noon and plan to pick up our rental car. Will we have time to drive to La Fortuna before it gets dark? If not, any suggestions on where to stay along the way. We’d like to get close so we can get the most out our our day on Sunday without using up daylight (and dry hours) driving. Thanks!
Hi Jennifer, you can read this post for the route from Liberia to Arenal and get recommendations here: Driving Guanacaste to Arenal If you’re landing at noon, you’ll be able to have enough time to get to La Fortuna before dark (it gets dark by 6 PM). I would just not highly recommend it if you’re coming in our very rainy months like September and October but generally it’s dry and cloudy in the day and rains at night.
Cheryl Matheson says
How about driving to Monteverde?
Please check our Monteverde road conditions post.
Jennifer Johnson says
How can I contact the Duty Free store to place preorder?
I honestly have no idea but here is the number for the airport: +506 2666 9600. They should be able to transfer you over to the duty free store.
Is there a safe lot to park a car for a week?
Liberia Airport doesn’t have a long term parking lot and I don’t recommend leaving it there for a week at all. You can contact your car rental company if you’re renting a car if you can leave it or I know some people have left it at the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport but they were guests. You can reach out to them and see if they have any options for non guests and see how much it costs.
Can you please tell me what the arrivals duty free hours are? As well can you recommend a cheap shuttle to Tamarindo?
I am not sure what the hours are, but I have been there at 6 AM and it wasn’t open yet so maybe it opens around 7. You can email our friend who runs a tour/transportation in Liberia for a quote to Tamarindo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi guys! So happy to have stumbled upon your blog, I think I’ve read every word on all the Costa Rica posts! We are coming down from Seattle in 2 weeks! Looking for current concrete advice that there is a kiosk to purchase SIM cards for our iPhones when we arrive at LIR? I’ve been searching everywhere to make sure.
Thank you for all your posts and great info! I’m loving it all, especially from a fellow PNW kid!
Since noone else has replied, when you arrive, can you let me know if there is a kiosk to purchase the SIM cards? We will be traveling in Feb and I want to verify. May of 2013 was our last trip and there was not a Kiosk at that time – we had to ask the shuttle driver to stop on the way to our resort.
Yes, there should be one. Last time I was there (2014) there was.
Hi Abbie, yes there is a kiosk when you leave customs. Have a great time in CR and enjoy the fall in Seattle for me, I miss it terribly!
Loren Reed Brothers says
Thanks Sammi for your reply to Nancy. I assume your friend Randall can provide transportation for 2 to Casa Conde del Mar? Is that $50 for one way? I will probably drop him an email. 🙂 I also want to clarify that there is no public transportation directly from the LIR to the coast? We are working on a tight budget (oh BTW Go Huskies! We are up in Concrete, WA in the North Cascades.)
Hi! Yep he can, it’s $50 one way and feel free to shoot him an email for all the details. There is a public bus that goes from LIR to the beaches like Coco but I don’t think there is one directly to Playa Panama where Casa Conde Del Mar (I’m not positive). I do know there is 3 (I think) buses a day that go through Hermosa/Panama area.
Ohh a Husky fan!! I miss UW so much. Go Huskies!! 🙂
Thanks for the awesome website! We are arriving at LIR on October 2 and heading to Vista Perfecta in Coco. We would like to pre-book a shuttle. Is there a company you can recommend, and what should we expect to pay? We are a family of four.
Hi Nancy! We always use Shaman Tours, it is run by a Costa Rican and they do tours, shuttles, etc. It is $50 for four people, his email is email@example.com and his name is Randall. Let me know if you have other questions!
Thank you so much for getting back to me! We will email him for sure and we’ll let you know if we have any more questions.
Great information – it has been soooo helpful to us! We are set to arrive at Liberia airport on July 5 and will go to Villa Serena. We have a pickup scheduled to take us there but thought their rates were pretty high – $50 plus tip in cash. Is this normal and is it ok to pay in US dollars? Would a taxi be more economical?
Thank you for your info and thank you for elevating our excitement for this trip with all the wonderful information you provide!
Hi Liz! That’s the right price. It’s usually about $50 if you hire a shuttle and it’s OK to pay in dollars. It is a bit expensive :/ Hope you have a great time here!
Does anyone know the names and phone numbers of the two jewelry stores in Liberiia LIR airport terminal in Costa Rica?
United Airlines flys direct from Chicago on Saturday and Sundays in high season.
Awesome! Thank you, I’ll add that to the list.
Costa rica girl says
I LOVED the old airport, so much fun to watch people come in with “deer in headlights” syndrome. Had so much more character….
Hehehe yes I remember that … One time I saw a person getting out of the airplane with rubber boots, and a Poncho … ready for the jungle!
Thanks for stopping by.
Lindsey Monge says
When we landed in Costa Rica, we arrived at Liberia airport, but this was before the new renovation. I was afraid because it was only my second flight ever and they parked the plane on the runway and had us comb down and walk the pavement toward the main building. It was my first time physically on a runway and there were security guards with big guns. It’s kind of funny now looking back on it though 🙂
I remember the first time I ever got to walk on the runway (in Bahamas) I was SO excited but at least I didn’t have men with guns haha. The new airport is super nice now and was a much needed upgrade from the old one.