Costa Rica (Republic of Costa Rica)

Languages: Spanish

Currencies: CRC · Costa Rican colón (₡)

Capitol: San José

Continents: North America

Borders: Nicaragua, Panama

More useful information

Area: 51,100km2

Population: 5,094,114

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +506

Timezones: UTC-06:00

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Last updated on March 24, 2024

Crossing the land border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua by public bus is very easy and once you have all relevant information you are ready set for this great adventure! After few weeks in magnificent Costa Rica, we were heading toward wild Nicaragua with many adventurous destinations in mind.

If you’re planning on visiting Nicaragua from Costa Rica, taking a public bus is an affordable and authentic way to experience the journey. Below you’ll find all useful information on how to cross land boarder from Costa Rica to Nicaragua using public buses, which are the cheapest, amazing and most adventurous way of traveling, especially in this region.

The most important thing that you need to avoid is expensive private buses like Tica bus and board the right comfortable public bus.

Getting from Costa Rica to Nicaragua by public bus.

Firstly, you need to determine your starting point in Costa Rica and decide which bus terminal you’ll be departing from. The two main bus terminals in San Jose are the Coca Cola Terminal and the Terminal 7-10. Both terminals offer a variety of bus routes to Nicaragua, but Terminal 7-10 is the most popular option. Where possible – purchase tickets in advance – I always do it whenevr I travel – you never know how popular is the route and last thing you want is to find out the tickets have been sold out! I had plenty of situations like that, and there’s nothing you can do 😉

Keep in mind that the bus schedules may vary, and it’s best to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled departure time.

There are plenty of buses from Costa Rica to Nicaragua from different cities with different operators, including international, which offer decent transportation (like Tica bus) – I am not saying it’s bad but you need to know they are extremely overpriced. It is your choice of course but it is just a pity to miss the friendly and authentic journey from Costa Rica to Nicaragua by public bus – the real one. And don’t count these drivers will tell you which is the cheap local bus.

How to get to Poas Volcano in Costa Rica - magnificent crater lake.

Never travel without medical insurance, this is really essencial to have full coverage and feel protected, and SafetyWing is simply ideal option. 

Public bus from La Fortuna to Nicaragua border.

The first bus from La Fortuna leaves at 6:30am so be there at least at 6:15am. After driving 7 km get out at the cross road (if you’re not sure ask a driver for Penas Blancas and he will stop to let you out). He will know that you want to reach the border. Most likely there will be other people traveling toward the border. 

Once you get off oatthe cross road – change the bus stop – and ask for a bus to Penas Blancas. From this point it takes 5 hours to reach the boarder. The road condition is terrible but the trip is unforgettable, so don’t sit yourself in a comfy airconditioned van, take the bus and live thr adventure!

You shoul reach the border approximately for 12.00 (noon). 

Whenever is your starting point he journey may be long, but it’s also a great opportunity to take in the stunning scenery of Central America. You’ll have the chance to see beautiful landscapes, small villages, people in the bus and local people going about their daily lives.

Crossing land boarder from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

At the boarder there are hundreds of local people giving you blank forms to fill in for customs office. It’s free so never pay for this! 

As you cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, you’ll need to go through customs/quite small office. They will check you passport, declaration form and pay 8$. From there you will go to the main building and go through a control office. 

On the entrance you pay 1$ and in the customs window another 12$. When you leave the building the locals with displayed ID card will offer you a bus ticket to Nicaragua for 15$ or 20$ or 35$ or even more! They will also tell you this is the only bus going to Nicaragua. It is NOT true and don’t trust them. 

Hiking Telica Volcano without a tour guide-Nicaragua

Land border crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

Everything happening at the border is in order and feels safe. Drivers are not too pushy and there is no reason to worry. 

Once you’ve crossed the border, you need to get a bus to your destination in Nicaragua. Granada and Managua are two most popular destinations for tourists.

Remember that roads in Nicaragua can be bumpy and uneven, so be prepared for a potentially rocky ride. 😉

Bus from Costa Rica & Nicaragua border to Managua.

There’s a mess at the border but it’s a safe mess. Just ignore the drivers and ask for local bus. During few weeks in Costa Rica we were never tricked by any locals.

Pass the border and walk another 100 meters – there’s a local bus station with plenty public buses going to Managua, Rivas, Granada and other cities. Bus to Managua leaves at 2 pm. and costs 3$ per ticket. It’s a 3 hour drive, you’ll be arriving to Managua for around 5 pm. 

People waiting for a local bus

Land border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua opening times.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW IS – land border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua is opened from Monday to Saturday from 6 am to 10 pm and on Sunday it closes at 8 pm.

How to get from Costa Rica to Nicaragua?

For me the most precious thing is traveling by local transport and getting to know people by their daily local life and habits. However sometimes you might be short with time and understandably you’ll prefer to fly. This is a great option, which only takes 2.5 hours and cost between 140USD – 400 USD – so book in advance for best rates on

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!

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