Back to top

From San Jose (Costa Rica) to Ciudad de Panamá (Panamá). Tips, suggestions and advices please.

21 posts / 0 new
Last post
WS Member WS Member's picture
From San Jose (Costa Rica) to Ciudad de Panamá (Panamá). Tips, suggestions and advices please.

Hello. I´m planning to do a cycle touring from Costa Rica to Panama next year. But that will be my first time in both countries. So, if there is someone here that had already been there or is from one of these countries, i´d like some help :).
I have some questions:
- Is it possible to carry my bicycle on the buses? if i need to.
- Is it possible to do wild camping?
- Are there trains from Siquirres to Límon (city)? If so. May i take my bicycle inside too?


WS Member WS Member's picture
Costa Rica questions

Thiago, about Costa Rica:
- Is it possible to carry my bicycle on the buses? if i need to.
Bicycle on buses is OK. You might have to pay and additional fee, $10.00 for the bike.

- Is it possible to do wild camping?
Possible....maybe. Recommended, probably not. Not common to see people doing wild camping in Costa Rica.
Best bet would be to ask at homes and see if you can wild camp in their property.

- Are there trains from Siquirres to Límon (city)? If so. May i take my bicycle inside too?
No train from Siquirres to Limón. Plenty of bus lines throughout the country. Very well organized (feedback from another tourist) and inexpensive.

Good luck!

WS Member WS Member's picture
Thanks my friend!

Hello Rolando, thank you very much for the help.
The possibility of carrying my bicycle on buses is perfect. I don´t intend to do this, but... never knows! If i need, it sounds to good to know i can :).

I did some research on "where to stay in costa rica" and found out that The "Bomberos" are used to help cycletourists and maybe this is going to be a good option some nights.

The way from siquirris to Limon seems to be quite boring, i mean no good sightseeing, but the bus will be a good way out.

Sorry for bothering you some more times if i need more information ok?

Thanks :)

WS Member WS Member's picture
Cyclotourism in Costa Rica

The bus option is good. Some roads are very dangerous, such as Route 1 between Peñas Blancas and Puntarenas, or route 27 between Orotina and San José, or Route 32 between San José and Guápiles.
In Costa Rica you can check as your first option, couchsurfing as a second option and the firemen, it seems can let you camp or help you find a place to camp. Most towns also have low cost ($20) motels for travelling salesmen.
You are right, Siquirres to Limón might be boring. Limón is not an attractive town. The route from Limón to Puerto Viejo should be pretty nice, as much of it is next to the ocean and pretty flat. Puerto Viejo is a nice town with a lot of bars and restaurants and very nice National Parks close by.
To learn about Costa Rica, places to go and lodging options, I would recommend you buy the Lonely Planet guide.
When you have an idea of what you want to do in terms of routes, you can ask me and I can validate the route you are considering. Just be aware that terrain in Costa Rica is very irregular, so a lot of climbing, even when going from the Central Valley to the Pacific or Atlantic coast, as the central Valley is surrounded by mountains.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Costa rica -> Panama

Here is my route at google Maps:

I´ve already used a website to calculate the altimetry and the days with uphills i´m going to ride less than 60km per day.

Please, may you take a look and tell me what you think about this route and if something has to be changed..?

Thanks a lot. Muchas Gracias :)

WS Member WS Member's picture
Route 32 is too dangerous in the mountains

Check message I sent to you, commenting your route.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Costa Rica - Panama

Thanks Rolando. I just checked it now.
Yeah, i researched on volcan Barva and it´s not so far from my way so i´ll try to schedule a visit to this place also. I found this Laguna Azul at Tenorio Volcano National Park terrific man! But it´s really far away from my route, maybe i´m going to change my plans and instead of going from costa rica to panama, i´ll start my trip at Nicaragua and them enter Costa Rica trought Panamerican Highway and end my trip at San Jose.
Costa Rica is much richer than Panama comparing to sightseeing, volcanos, parks and wildlife. So i think i should stay more in Costa Rica. And Nicaragua seems to be flatter and have a lot of volcanos and this big Nicaragua Lake also.
This is the other plan:
And the other good thing is that i´m going to ride around 300km less and have more time to visit the places and maybe change a little bit the route in the middle of the way and cycle all the time instead of taking buses.
I checked lonely planet website about Costa Rica. Thanks, really a lot of information and good tips.

Keep in touch man. By the way. Do you live in Costa Rica? Where?

WS Member WS Member's picture
Nicaragua to Costa Rica

I know Nicaragua well. They have very many volcanoes and lakes, although the tourism infrastructure is somewhat lacking, it shouldn't be much of a problem for a cyclotourist.
Not much to see in Managua.
Don't miss:
In Nicaragua
[ ] Masaya Volcano, active volcano you can see the crater from the top.
[ ] Granada, colonial town. Hire a ride on a horse buggy.
[ ] Ometepe island, two volcanoes make the island. Kayak at Charco Verde in Ometepe.
In Costa Rica
[ ] Volcán Arenal. Active Volcano.
Do NOT take route 32 (on a bicycle) take route 141 or 126 instead (big climb).
If you take 126, you can go past Waterfall Gardens and Poás Volcano. By the time you reach Vara Blanca, you are going to want to go to sleep. You can then go to Poás Volcano and Waterfall Gardens early the next day. This would be a whole day activity. So I would advice staying at a hotel nearby (be aware it might be wet and cold, so camping might not be first choice for this area of the country).
I live in Costa Rica, west side of San José.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Laguna Azul

Laguna Azul in Volcán Tenorio is very beautiful, yes.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Nicaragua -> Costa Rica

Ok. Rolando. You helped a lot my friend.
I changed my plans. I´m going from Nicaraga to costa rica, trying to pass by the more vulcanos and parks as much as i can. I´ll follow your tips and take route 126.
Nice to here that you know well nicaragua :).
When i finish my new map plan i´m going to post here to have more advices from you.
It´s going to be nice, if possible, to visit you before leaving Costa Rica.

Thank you. I´ll keep in touch.

WS Member WS Member's picture
New route (Nicaragua <-> Costa Rica).

Hello Rolando.
When you have some extra time, please take a look at this and tell me what you think.
Another doubt is beginning the trip at Nicaragua or Costa Rica.
To Costa there are direct flights from Brazil, to Nicaragua i´ll have to change flight. I´m asking that because of the fear of having my luggage (bike) lost inbetween...


WS Member WS Member's picture
Nicaragua - Costa Rica

This route seems pretty good.
The lagoon in Bosques de Xiloá is pretty cool (Route 46).
In Nicaragua:
You can add going to Puerto Momotombo (intersection between 26 and 22) to see the volcanoes across the lake and do a quick visit to the ruins of old León.
You MUST visit Volcán Masaya, great crater view, at the intersection of Routes 4 and 11.
If you will sleep in Masaya, the market might be interesting to you.
After Masaya, I would recommend visiting Granada.
The Laguna de Apoyo is nice, extinct volcanic crater.
Ometepe Island is a great place to go.

In Costa Rica:
Route seems very good.

I would advice you start in Nicaragua. Copa and Avianca/Taca fly into Managua; possibly stopping by Panama City, San José or San Salvador. If not, you can land in San José or Liberia and then take a plane to Nicaragua (Nature Air, Copa, Avianca) or bus (TransNica, TicaBus


WS Member WS Member's picture
Nica -> Costa

Rolando my friend! I made my plans according to your advices. Thank you very much.
Here is my new route:
At Costa Rica i´ll have to deal with some uphills, but no way out and at those days i´m going to ride less.
I´ll choose Copa to go to Managua, the price is good and they accept bicycles with no extra costs if well packed.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Nicaragua - Costa Rica

Thiago. Instead of sleeping in Sapoá, you might want to consider sleeping in San Juan del Sur, at the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. San Juan del Sur is a pretty popular beach, so that should be better than Sapoá.
I think that after all the relatively flat riding in Nicaragua, you'll be better prepared to deal with the mountains in Costa Rica, which will be pretty steep on some of the routes.
I'm currently considering doing a ride in Nicaragua, but on the other side of the Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca).
It's good to know about Copa not charging for the bikes, I wasn't aware of that, good news!

WS Member WS Member's picture
Ok. I didn´t know there is

I didn´t know there is the possibility to cross the border from the downside, near Pacific Coast. Thanks Rolando.
I´ll pass by San Juan Del Sur, maybe at Playa el Coco (there is a nice lodge there) and try to see some turtles (Playa de La Flor is nearby also).

I read at copa airlines website that they don´t charge extra for bike if it weights less than 23 kg, mesures less than 1,5 x 0,5 x 0,5 m (something like that if unmounted) and is well packed. They consider it like a regular luggage. But i think i will have to pay because i will have my alforges also.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Border Crossing

Thiaga: I am afraid you misunderstood. You have to go through the border in Peñas Blancas; but San Juan del Sur might be a nice place to stop by and to spend the night.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Border crossing.

There is a Tourist Border Crossing near the coast, going by the Carretera Costa Del Pacífico de Turismo, some km after San Juan del Sur. There is a sign at Google maps pointing this, But do you know if i can cross the border there??

WS Member WS Member's picture
Border Crossing

I investigated that border post and found out it is only available to the local costarican and nicaraguan neighbors, not an option for foreigners.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Border Crossing.

Yeah. You are right. I read something about that and also a cycle tourist blog where he says that he tried to cross but no way... The only way is crossing by Peñas Blancas. I´ll see what i´m going to do...
Gracias Rolando :)

WS Member WS Member's picture
How did this go? I would like to do the same.

Hi Thiago,

How did your bike trip go from Costa Rica to Panama? I will be working in Costa Rica (Turrialba) for the next three months and then would like to bike south to Panama City. How did you like the trip? Do you suggest it?

Also, I see that when you enter Costa Rica you have to have proof of onward travel. If you are planning to bike, how do you get around this? Should I buy a bus ticket showing exit to Panama?

Thank you!


WS Member WS Member's picture
Costa Rica to Panama

Hello Molly, nice to hear that another cycle tourist is going to cycle this path, you won´t gona see cycle tourists over there... hehe
I sent you a warmshowers message.

Topic locked