Guide to Liberia International Airport (LIR) in Costa Rica

liberia airport taxi
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Hi! We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica.

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Liberia Airport in Costa Rica is located in the Guanacaste Province on the Pacific coast of the country. It is one of the two main international airports in the country.

The airport was previously known as Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (named after a former Costa Rican president). Recently, the name was changed for branding purposes and it is now referred to as Guanacaste Airport. The airport code is LIR.  

If you are considering flying into Liberia or would like to know what you can expect at this airport, this guide is for you.

So, let’s get to it!

Liberia International Airport Location

The Liberia International Airport is located in the northern Pacific corner of the country near the Nicaragua border. 

As you can see from the map above, the San Jose Airport is instead located in the central part of the country. 

Liberia is a good jumping-off point for exploring Guanacaste, Nicoya, or the Northern Mountains.

If you would like to visit the Caribbean Coast or South Pacific, we suggest flying into San Jose instead.

For more info, we have a guide to choosing the best airport for your needs

Booking Flights to LIR Airport

In the past, very few airlines flew to this airport and it was cheaper and easier to fly into the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. 

Well, times are changing! It is now very easy to fly into LIR if coming from the United States, Canada, or Europe. 

The airlines that fly here are: 

Air Canada – From Toronto and Montreal

Alaska Air – From Los Angeles

American Airlines – From Austin, Charlotte, Chicago–O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami

Delta Airlines – From Atlanta and sometimes from Minneapolis

Edelweiss/ Swiss Air – From Zurich

Fronteir – From Orlando

JetBlue – From Los Angeles, Boston, and New York (JFK)

KLM – From Amsterdam (if coming from Europe KLM is usually your best option)

Southwest – From Denver and Houston

Sun Country – From Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul

TUI Airways – From London (Gatwick)

United Airlines – From Houston–Intercontinental, Chicago–O’Hare, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco

West Jet – From Toronto

If you need some tips for booking your flight, check out our guide to finding the best flight deals. We usually have great luck with Skyscanner.

Landing at the Airport

Once you land you will first need to go through Customs (border control). This is usually fairly fast, but if another large plane lands at the same time as yours, you may find that you will wait up to 30 minutes. 

At border control, they will likely ask you three questions.

  1. How long will you be in Costa Rica? You are only allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days. They may ask to see your return flight info.
  2. What is your job? This is just for their system. Just keep in general. 
  3. Where are you staying tonight? You just need to give them the name of your first hotel 

They will then stamp your passport and you are free to go get your luggage. After getting your luggage you can exit the airport. 

Check out our guide to entry requirements for Costa Rica if you need more info.

Note: There is a currency exchange place at the airport, but in my experience they will give you a really bad exchange rate. Instead, we suggest depending on your credit card and if you would like to get colones you are usually better off finding an ATM for a better rate. 

You can find out more with our guide to Costa Rica currency

Ground Transportation

Just be prepared, when you exit the airport you will likely be bombarded with people asking if you need a taxi. 

Here are your options for getting from the Liberia Airport to your next destination.

Car Rental

This is our preferred transportation method. In our opinion, having a car gives you the most flexibility when exploring the country.

We suggest our favorite local rental car company Adobe.

They have an office located about two minutes from the airport. When you exit, an adobe representative will be waiting with a shuttle and will take you to their nearby office.

We love Adobe because they are honest, up front with their costs, and just an all-around great company. Unfortunately, before we discovered Adobe we had some nightmare rental experiences and we don’t want that to happen to you.

Because we love Adobe we asked if they would give a discount to our readers and they said, “yes!” So, if you book your car through us you will get a 10% discount plus other great perks. You can find out more here.

adobe car

Taxi

If you are planning to stay at a resort and won’t need a rental car, taking a taxi is most likely your most affordable transportation option.

We know a great family of registered Costa Rican taxi drivers located in Liberia that we trust completely and they would be happy to help you out.

If you would like a quote from them, you can get one here.

Private Shuttle

We suggest a private transfer if you are a large group or are going to a resort where you won’t need a rental car to get around.

Adobe now runs a private transfer company and they will take great care of you.

You can get a quote for your transfer here

Public Bus

This is the cheapest, but least convenient transportation method because they run infrequently. We aren’t experts on the public bus here, so check out this website for more info.  

Domestic Flights from LIR

From Liberia it is possible to take a domestic flight to:

San Jose– San Jose is the capital city of the country.

Note, the domestic terminal is not located in the main airport. So, if you need to connect to an international flight we suggest giving yourself at least two hours of time after landing to get off the plane, walk five minutes to the main airport, and go back through security.

Quepos – Quepos is located next to Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast. If it makes the most sense for you to fly into Liberia and you would like to get to this area, we highly suggest flying. This will save you approximately a five-hour drive.

Nosara – Nosara is a popular surf and yoga destination on the Pacific Coast. You can also fly here if going to Samara or Ostional.

Tambor – Tambor is located on the Nicoya Peninsula. You can fly in here if going to Montezuma or Santa Teresa.

For more info, please refer to our Domestic Flight Guide.

Departing from Liberia Airport

When your vacation ends and it is time to go back home you will find yourself back at Liberia Airport.

We suggest arriving two hours early for your flight, but in our experience, things tend to go pretty smoothly here.

First, you will drop your bags off and get your boarding pass at your airline counter (if you don’t already have it). 

Next, you will go through security. This usually moves quickly. 

You normally don’t have to take your shoes off (unless they are heavy). But, you will need to take your electronics and toiletries in a less than 2-quart zip-lock bag out of your luggage. 

After that, you will be in the main terminal area. 

This is a small airport. There are three food places, but to be honest, none of them are that great. So, if you have the option of eating before, we suggest that. 

Players Cafe – Serves burgers, sushi, and sandwiches.

Britt Cafe – Bakery items, sandwiches, coffee

Imperial Bar – Serves beer, and bar food such as burgers and nachos.

Nearby Hotels

hermosa

If you have an early morning flight or get in late in the evening we suggest staying at the Hilton Garden Inn located directly across the street from the airport. There is a free shuttle to the hotel. 

Otherwise, we suggest staying in the small beach village of Playa Hermosa. From here it is about a 20-minute drive to the airport and you can enjoy nice beachfront restaurants and calm waters for swimming. 

In Playa Hermosa we suggest the following accommodation options:

Villa del Sueno | Hotel El Velero | Hotel Bosque del Mar | Papagayo Golden Palms | MoonShadow 

Nearby Restaurants

Near the airport we suggest:

Ticoffia Cafe – A great place for sandwiches, coffee, and breakfast. They are open from 7:30am until 5:30pm

More Than a Coffee Shop – Another good breakfast, sandwich, and coffee shop.

Piso’e Tierra – This is our suggestion if you are looking for dinner or a warm meal. They serve mostly traditional food as well as meat dishes. 

In Playa Hermosa we suggest:

Aqua Sport | Ginger | Che Sirloin | Buzzed Monkey | Robertos Bar & Restaurant

Nearby Activities

Go on a Catamaran Trip – From Playa Hermosa, it is possible to take a sunrise or sunset catamaran trip with snorkeling. We suggest taking your trip with Kuna Vela on their sailboat. They are amazing and you will have a great time. 

Visit Llanos de Cortez Waterfall – This waterfall is located about 20 minutes away from the airport. It is very affordable to enter (about $7 per car) and you can swim under the fall. Just don’t leave anything of value in your car. In other words, we don’t suggest stopping here on your way to your destination with all of your luggage. There are people watching the parking lot, but you never know.

Visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park – Rincon de la Vieja is located north of Liberia Airport. It is always fun to stay here for a few nights and enjoy all the fun activities. Another option is to stay in one of the beach towns and just do a day trip up here. Here are some options with transportation from Tamarindo.

Relax on the Beaches – There are many nice beaches on the Guanacaste coast. If you have a rental car we suggest just driving and stopping off as you like.

Planning Your Trip from Liberia

From Liberia it is easy to get to any place in the Guanacaste Province, the Nicoya Peninsula, or the Northern Mountains. 

If you are trying to plan your itinerary, we suggest a combination of beach and jungle to get the most of the area. 

For one week, we suggest two destinations so you have enough time to enjoy both. 

So, for example, three or four nights at a resort in Papagayo or a hotel in Playa Hermosa, Tamarindo, or Playa Flamingo and then three or four nights in La Fortuna would be perfect.

Other Things to Note

– The Guanacaste region of the country has some of the best weather year-round. The rainy season here is usually not overly drastic. However, be prepared that if you are visiting in January through late April it can be insanely hot. It is not unusual for there to be forest fires in the hills above some of the beach towns because it gets so dry.

So, load up on all the SPF!

-If you plan to cross from the Liberia area into Nicaragua, check out our guide to the border crossing for everything that you need to know.

And that is all for the Guanacaste International Airport in Liberia. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out.

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