Driving in San Jose

From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips

Jump to: navigation, search

Driving in San Jose Costa Rica

Driving in San Jose is not for the meek, you need a Type A personality to navigate San Jose. I normally wouldn’t say this and it’s not politically correct, but I don’t agree with the travel books, I believe you need to be somewhat aggressive driving in San Jose, this is where a good offense will be your best defense. Let me explain:

First and foremost, Tico’s in general are NOT known for their driving skills. As a matter of fact, most SUCK. Often oblivious to their surroundings they will make sudden u-turns, sudden stops, dangerous passing with little or no regard to other drivers. The irony is- it’s not like they are aggressively blatant about it, they just seem to believe there’s no one else on the road but them.

Apart from the regular everyday drivers, there’s the taxi’s and buses to contend with, and they ARE aggressive. They will squeeze in and have no problem squeezing YOU out. Drive like you’re driving a taxi.

A defensive or timid driver will find themselves pushed off to the right or left, frequently stuck behind buses, or stopped and or parked cars, or sitting at traffic lights for longer periods of time or going in a direction you didn’t intend. You gotta get out there and drive.

There is NO real semblance of ‘lanes’ in the city streets. Cars dictate how many lanes there are, so feel free to make your own.

San Jose does utilize roundabouts, be familiar with them or be prepared to be pushed in a direction you did NOT intend to go.

Little or no street signs to help you find your way.

Numerous one Ways, and most are NOT marked, you can easily find yourself headed towards oncoming traffic.

Highways and some city streets have lanes that just end, with little or no warning- this can be extremely dangerous to say the least.

Pedestrians weave in and out of traffic, whether you’re moving or waiting for a light. Helpful Hint: Watch your designer sunglasses. Ditto for motorcycle drivers.

A yellow light means GO. Well, not really……but really.

At night, traffic lights are often ignored or at the very least, ‘rolled through,’ so proceed with caution.

Ceda signs mean the other person has the right of way.


Parking your car- Do NOT leave anything in your car unless you have it parked where you can keep an eye on it. Also, the parking garages in San Jose are excellent options if you do have stuff in your car and don’t want to worry about it. The people that help park your car in the city (shopping malls, store and restaurant parking lots, along the city streets etc., will also keep an eye on it, but again, don’t leave anything of value when doing this and they are expecting a tip. Also, never, ever, never leave your car full of belongings parked outside your hotel; take your stuff into your room. This includes the trunk. Actually, we recommend a vehicle where you can see into it, which means no trunks. Trust me on this. Be warned that thieves can easily recognize a rental car. So, if you leave anything of value inside the car for any amount of time, you may not see it again. With all that, if you still want to rent a vehicle, driving in San Jose is a MUST do, especially if you like to drive and enjoy the challenge.

'''Also see, Driving in Costa Rica.'''