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how to get from Costa Rica to Nicaragua border crossing

Getting around Central America is fun. Flights are slightly more expensive, yet some buses take you almost everywhere. You can book bus tickets online, too. Today, I’ll tell you how to get from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and save time.

This article will be for those planning on traveling from Costa Rica to Nicaragua by bus. It’ll explain the entire process step-by-step, from booking your tickets to crossing the borders, the documents you need, and where the bus stations are located.

I traveled from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and made the entire journey on my own. So here is all the information from my experience.

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How To Get From Costa Rica To Nicaragua

The best way to get from Costa Rica to Nicaragua is by Tica Bus. Another option is to fly from San Jose (Costa Rica) to Managua (Nicaragua).

Flying To Nicaragua

You can fly from San Jose (Costa Rica) to Managua (Nicaragua). It’s the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to get to Nicaragua. Once you land, get a taxi to your hotel. However, flights to Managua are quite expensive. But if you don’t mind, you’re good to take a flight.

Get the best flight deals to Nicaragua (Managua) by clicking this link.

Getting To Nicaragua By Bus

Tica Bus is an official company operating in the entire Central America. No matter where you are, you can travel from Panama to Costa Rica or Nicaragua via El Salvador and Guatemala to Mexico. Tica Bus will take you to every country.

Three different bus companies are operating the route from Costa Rica To Nicaragua:

Tica Bus
Central Line
Nica Expresso

Tica Bus is the biggest one with the most buses and schedules. I traveled from Costa Rica to Nicaragua with Tica Bus. Even though you’ll find many bad reviews online, I didn’t have any single issue. The bus was clean, departed, and arrived on time. The border passing went smoothly, stopped on the way, and everything went well.

Costa Rica to Nicaragua Bus Time: about 10 hours.
It departs from San Jose from this location: Tica Bus, Transversal 26, Pitahaya, San Jose.

Is It Safe To Travel From Costa Rica To Nicaragua?

Yes, it’s very safe to travel from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. I made this journey on my own and didn’t have any problems. People are friendly; they advise you on what you need to bring, take care of your luggage, the bus stops on the way, and everything runs smoothly. There is nothing to be afraid of.

how to get from costa Rica to Nicaragua Tica Bus
Me boarding Tica Bus In San Jose, Costa Rica

Getting To Nicaragua By Boat

The last option is to take a boat from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. It’s one of the most adventurous yet longest ways to get to the country.

You can take a boat from San Carlos port in Costa Rica and travel to Granada, Nicaragua. The entire journey takes 16 hours because the boat stops on many islands along the way. It costs around $10 for the entire ride.

I haven’t made this journey as we took the bus, but I’ve heard from other travelers that it’s possible.

Shuttles From Costa Rica To Nicaragua

There are also shuttles that will take you from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. It’s one of the most convenient ways because it’s easier and faster than taking a bus. You’ll be directly in contact with the shuttle company, and it’ll answer all your questions and doubts.

So, if you prefer taking a small shuttle to Nicaragua, check out Caribe Shuttle and request a ride.

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How To Book Tickets To Get From Costa Rica To Nicaragua

Assumming, you’ll take a bus, you can book tickets directly at the company office or on the Tica Bus website. I suggest buying tickets online. Because until you get to Costa Rica to their office, tickets might be sold out. As I have experienced, they sell out quickly. So, it’s better to secure your spot before buying it online.

When buying tickets online, you’ll have to fill out the form they ask you for (name, occupation, passport number, etc.). There are different departure times throughout the day (usually 3 connections in the morning), so select one, pay for the ticket online, and you’re good to go.

I recommend printing your ticket and showing it to them once you board the bus.

Documents You Need To Travel From Costa Rica To Nicaragua

To get from Costa Rica To Nicaragua, you’ll need the following documents:

Passport
Visa
Fill out the entry form online
Printed bus ticket
Confirmation of your hotel/hostel in Nicaragua (printed)

I recommend you have all documents in the printed version. You never know; sometimes, they don’t accept it from your phone, or it may die. Just be prepared.

Check if you need a Visa to Nicaragua online.

Before traveling, you must also fill out an official form on the Nicaraguan government website. You can do so at this website. After you fill it out, it’ll generate a code for you. I recommend printing this paper with the code on it. You’ll also get a confirmation email. They didn’t ask me for this code anytime when crossing the border.

They’ll ask you where you’ll be accommodated in Nicaragua. Some might want a printed confirmation. So be sure you also print your hotel or hostel booking.

Check if you need Visa for Nicaragua by clicking this link.

Border Crossing Between Costa Rica & Nicaragua

The border crossing went pretty smoothly. Yet it takes more than 2 hours to finally get through. Because there are few people at the border control, it takes ages to get to the counter.

Here is how the border crossing works step-by-step:

  1. Costa Rican border – pay $8 to leave Costa Rica & get a stamp (no need to carry your luggage from the bus), + there are toilets at the border.
  2. Nicaraguan border – pay $14 to enter the country, take everything from the bus with you (luggage, carry-on, nothing stays on the bus), wait until you get to the counter inside the Terminal, get your passport stamped, go through security check (luggage scan), go back to the bus.
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Costa Rican Border Information

Before boarding a bus in Costa Rica, they usually check all your documents at the office (passport and Covid documents). To leave Costa Rica, you have to pay a fee of $8. Before boarding the bus, I paid for this at the Tica Bus office in San Jose.

Just know that you must pay this fee, so have US dollars. They may ask for it at the office (and give you a confirmation). Or you’ll pay it directly at the Costa Rican border. So keep the confirmation that you’ve paid with you.

Otherwise, it’s straightforward. You go to the border counter, the police stamp your passport, ask you if you’ve paid the fee of $8, and you’re good to go.

Then you’ll hop on the bus again, and once everyone is done at the border, you’ll drive to the Nicaraguan border.

border crossing Costa Rica
Border crossing Costa Rica to Nicaragua

Nicaraguan Border Information

The process at the Nicaraguan border is slightly longer.

Once you arrive, you’ll have to take all your stuff from the bus. Don’t leave anything inside. Take your backpack, luggage, carry-on, and everything you have. Then you’ll walk towards the Terminal. Wait there until you get to the counter.

To enter Nicaragua, you’ll have to pay a fee of $14. While standing in front of the Terminal in line, a random guy was collecting $1 from everyone in the line. Don’t worry, he’ll give you a small paper confirmation that you paid it. You’ll pay the rest, $13, directly at the border counter inside the Terminal.

What To Do At The Nicaraguan Border Counter

Once you reach the border counter, they’ll ask you for your passport, occupation, and where you’ll stay in Nicaragua. Afterward, they’ll give you stamps with paper confirmations (keep them in your passport) and ask you to pay the fee of $13.

Once you have your passport back, you can proceed to security. It’s right in front of you. They’ll scan all your luggage. After, you can leave the Terminal and go to the bus.

There’ll be one more policeman in front of the bus, who will control your passports with the paper confirmations you obtained at the border counter. He’s just checking if you went through the border.

Then wait until everyone is on the bus, and… welcome to Nicaragua :). The border passing is done.

The bus will arrive in Nicaragua at the Tica Bus station. You’ll see the location when you type Tica Bus Managua into Google Maps. There will be many taxis, so you can ask one to drive you to your hotel. Negotiate the price. They almost always tell you more if you’re not local.

how to get from Costa Rica to Nicaragua Nicaraguan border crossing
Nicaraguan border crossing

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Nicaragua Itinerary: 7 Days With Map & Tips

FAQs

I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you prepare for your journey from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. Check them out below.

What Is The Best Way To Get To Nicaragua?

The best way to get to Nicaragua is to fly or take a bus.

Flights to Managua, Nicaragua, are pretty expensive, but it’s the fastest and easiest way to get to Nicaragua. It only takes about an hour by plane. You can also take the Tica Bus, which takes over 10 hours. It’s the cheapest and most secure option.

Can You Take A Bus From Costa Rica To Nicaragua?

Yes, you can take Tica Bus from San Jose (Costa Rica) to Managua (Nicaragua). The entire bus journey takes 10 hours. Make sure you have all the necessary documents for the border crossing to Nicaragua.

Can I Cross From Costa Rica To Nicaragua?

Yes, you can cross from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. Whether you’re walking, taking a bus, or driving a car, it’s possible. Just follow the steps on each border. If you’re walking, once you get out of the Nicaraguan border, there are even some people or shuttles that will take you to your destination in Nicaragua.

Can You Take A Boat From Costa Rica To Nicaragua?

Yes, you can take a boat from San Carlos (Costa Rica) to Granada (Nicaragua). The entire boat ride takes about 16 hours and costs approx. $10 and leaves every Tuesday and Friday. The boat stops on several islands, so it takes such a long time.

WRAP-UP: How To Get From Costa Rica To Nicaragua

This is how to get to Nicaragua from Costa Rica. It’s a pretty nice journey and isn’t stressful at all, even if it looks like it. As long as you have all the documents prepared, you’ll be fine. Also, the companies you’ll travel with are super helpful. So they’ll also make sure you have everything to enter Nicaragua.

If you have any questions or need a customized travel itinerary, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

NICARAGUA: Interested in more articles for Nicaragua?
Check out my Nicaragua Travel Page.

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