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 tourist attractions and best beaches 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 30 minutes from the Gulf of Papagayo beaches of Coco, Hermosa, Ocotal 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, Tambor, Mal Pais 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.
However, the closest beach town to the airport, Playas del Coco is only about a 25-30 minute drive so you can definitely stay there for your last night before your departure instead of near the airport.
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. They now have 10 gates and are slowly expanding to add more services.
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
In the departure terminal, there are 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, ice cream stand and two restaurants.
Most seats now have charging hubs and there are dedicated working stations. There is even an eco-friendly paddle your own power bikes!
Arriving to Guanacaste Airport
When you land at Guanacaste Airport, you will need to follow the signs to go through immigration and customs. Immigration is for people and you will go through immigration first. They will ask your full name, occupation, place you’re staying in Costa Rica, how long you’ll be in Costa Rica and proof of exit.
Then after passport control, you will then go to baggage claim to collect your luggage and go through customs. When you go through customs, make sure to put EVERYTHING in the scanner including backpacks and purses. Do not put duty free.
After customs, pick up your luggage and exit through the double doors into the airport. Then straight ahead through the glass double doors, you can find your tour company/hotel/car rental agent/driver/etc.
Read more about going through customs and immigration at San Jose and Liberia Airport here.
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. There is an official taxi stand outside the airport.
Parking at Guanacaste Airport
This airport has its own parking lot but it is not covered under roof at all nor has any facilities. It’s completely open with no shade.
The first couple lanes are for car rental, tour companies and private shuttles only.
The last couple sections are for guests who need to park (picking up/dropping off people). It’s getting paved so it may be under construction or closed. A lot of people who live in Guanacaste leave their car in this section. It is free but there is no security or anything so it’s under your own risk and discretion. Plus it’s very hot so if you leave your car there, make sure to get a windshield sun shade.
Guanacaste Airport Arrivals Video
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. There are a couple of public buses that pass right by the airport (Tamarindo/Nosara) but not many of them. You most likely will need to walk out to the main road Route 21 where the bus stop is to flag down your bus (~30 minute walk). Read more about taking the bus in Costa Rica here.
Private 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. Shared shuttles have limited schedules and cannot wait for you if you are late so make sure you have plenty of time between landing and your shuttle pick up time. You can read more about taking shuttles in Costa Rica here.
Taxis: There will always be orange airport taxis waiting outside the arrival gate at the official airport taxi stand. Remember that taxis are going to be more expensive than shuttles and they can charge even higher rates for holidays. 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.
Here are our articles on how to get to destinations from Liberia Airport.
Guanacaste Airport Car Rentals
If you are renting a car in Costa Rica, you will find car rental company counters 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 and it is not comfortable since the Guanacaste Airport parking lot is open.
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 except a few resorts. 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.
Read more Costa Rica travel tips below!
Costa Rica Vacation Checklist
- First time to Costa Rica? Read our First Time in Costa Rica guide.
- Not sure how to move around Costa Rica? Read our How to Get Around Costa Rica guide to find the best transportation method for you.
- Click the link to get our detailed Costa Rica Packing List so you know what essential items to bring.
- Do not forget to purchase Travel Insurance for your trip to Costa Rica.
- Stay connected by purchasing a prepaid SIM Card in Costa Rica.
- Save money with Mytanfeet Deals for tours and hotels. Save more money with our Costa Rica Car Rental Discount.