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21 Greatest Issues to do in San Jose, Costa Rica

Whereas many individuals make San Jose a fast pit cease on their Costa Rica trip, we’re right here to inform you to verify to place it in your itinerary. With a cool vibe and loads of points of interest, there are various issues to do in San Jose, Costa Rica making it the right starting or ending to your journey.

So why must you go to San Jose? San Jose is the Capital metropolis of Costa Rica, it’s Costa Rica’s largest metropolis and it’s full of stunning structure, pleasant locals, and an thrilling array of actions. San Jose is house to 1.5 million Costa Ricans who get pleasure from one of many highest requirements of dwelling in Latin America. There are many museums and galleries to discover and its hip city vibe makes for a wonderful place to make a base as you discover a few of Costa Rica’s high points of interest.

Prime Issues to do in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose could be overwhelming once you first arrive. Town is a sprawling metropolis, as crowds of individuals fill the varied strolling streets, and the eating places are full of younger and hip urbanites. When you look previous the congestion and chaos, you’ll uncover a cultural metropolis full of loads of issues to do.

When touchdown at San Juan Santamaria Worldwide Airport, take the stress out of journey and guide your non-public switch to your resort. Your driver will greet you at arrivals and take you on to your resort hassle-free. This airport can also be the place you’ll fly into when visiting the Arenal volcano space and Monteverde cloud forest.

The place to Keep in San Jose

Where to stay in San Jose Costa Rica

We propose staying close to Avenida Central (Central Avenue) in downtown San Jose. Situated within the heart of town, it’s simple to stroll to lots of the high San Jose points of interest. There’s a big focus of motels on this space to go well with all budgets and we stayed on the Gran Resort San Jose Hilton.

I wouldn’t counsel staying on the Juan Santamaria Worldwide Airport despite the fact that there may be loads of lodging right here. It’s just a bit too far out of city and also you gained’t actually be capable to absorb all of San Jose’s nightlife and points of interest. We beloved with the ability to go for a stroll on Avenida Central at evening and early within the morning. That being mentioned, the Hampton Inn & Suites is gorgeous. It’s a little bit extra inexpensive and Ubers are fairly affordable to get round San Jose. If you’re doing day journeys and guided excursions, the airport space could possibly be a great possibility. Test it out on TripAdvisor

Gran Resort San Jose

Gran Hotel in San Jose Costa Rica

The Gran Resort San Jose Hilton made for an excellent base to discover all of San Jose’s high vacationer points of interest and it was an excellent property with excellent views of town. We had some journey factors to make use of so we looked for essentially the most handy luxurious resort we may discover and it was excellent. We walked in every single place and its bar had the perfect views within the metropolis. Even with out journey factors, it’s an inexpensive luxurious resort by any metropolis requirements. Take a look at costs and availability on TripAdvisor / Reserving.com

If you’re in search of a extra native possibility be certain to take a look at this cool Air B&B proper within the heart of city.

What to do in San Jose Costa Rica

things to do in san jose costa rica
Get your hyperlink to the perfect issues to do in Costa Rica right here

Okay, now that we’ve advised the place to remain within the metropolis, let’s check out all of the wonderful issues to do in San Jose Costa Rica to entice you so as to add it to your bucket record. Let’s go!

1. Avenida Central – Central Avenue

Avenida Central in San Jose Costa Rica

Avenida Central (Central Avenue) is a strolling avenue that goes proper by means of the core of downtown San Jose. It’s full of eating places, retailers, and points of interest. One of the simplest ways to begin your day is to discover a native espresso store to have some flavorful Costa Rican espresso take it away with you, and begin strolling alongside the avenue. Avenida Central is quiet within the mornings and strolling alongside the road in solitude is the right approach to get your bearings.

We took an extended stroll from finish to finish to begin planning our day. There are a number of strolling streets beside Avenida Central in San Jose, and there are various strolling streets that department of from the primary Central Avenue so get misplaced and stroll so long as you want alongside the auto-free streets to really feel the vitality of town. There’s nice purchasing alongside right here as properly.

In case you get pleasure from strolling, this meals and strolling tour is an excellent approach to find out about Costa Rican tradition and meals the place you’ll meet within the morning for espresso at a café in Borbon Market earlier than setting off to one in every of San Jose’s high points of interest, Central Market to pattern native meals and fruits.

2. Plaza de la Cultura

Plaza de la Cultura San Jose

The Plaza de la Cultura is the primary sq. of San Jose and an excellent place to start your San Jose exploration. Within the coronary heart of the plaza, distributors promote crafts, avenue performers present their expertise, and locals promote birdseed to feed the pigeons flocking to the sq.. In order for you that basic {photograph} of a swarm of birds hovering off at your toes, that is the place to do it.

There are many issues to do on this space of San Jose you can simply stroll to from the plaza. Lots of the high sights just like the Central Market, Museo de Jade, Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, and Gold Museum are all inside strolling distance of this plaza. It’s right here you’ll discover typical fast-food chains present in each metropolis on the planet and it’s an excellent place to seize some ice cream to take with you as you discover.

Don’t be alarmed by all of the police strolling round wielding weapons, they’re there as a deterrent. Plaza de la Cultura could be very secure and it’s a spot the place many tour teams meet up. The police are there to verify everybody feels secure and due to that, it’s in all probability the most secure place in all of San Jose.

3. Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica – Nationwide Theater of Costa Rica

National Theater of Costa Rica in San Jose
Exterior Nationwide Theater

The Nationwide Theater of Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica) is the centerpiece of San Jose and one of many metropolis’s high points of interest. It’s a gathering spot for excursions and buddies to satisfy up for espresso and it’s the Grande Dame of the city. Courting again to 1897, this historic constructing is a must-see for anybody visiting San Jose.

The espresso barons of the nineteenth century went all out importing marble from Italy, and commissioning opulent frescoes and statues of Beethoven and Spanish Playwright. The unique statues have been moved inside for worry of earthquakes and erosion so be certain to go in for the complete expertise.

The grand theater is gorgeous from the surface with its neoclassical facade, stone columns, however inside you’ll discover an ornate inside. The very first thing you’ll discover is a portray by Aleardo Villa. Alegoría al Café y el Banano (Allegory of Espresso and Bananas) is devoted to the Costa Rican espresso and banana harvest.

Guided Excursions

Excursions are provided for $11 USD and are provided hourly in each Spanish and English. You’ll study concerning the historical past and structure and so they take you on a backstage tour to see each nook and cranny. In case you don’t need to take a tour, you may see a efficiency. That is the premier theater in Costa Rica and also you’ll be capable to watch every part from classical music to comedians and dance performances. Be aware: No photographs are allowed within the theater.

4. Espresso Store at Nationwide Theater

Coffee Bar inside National Theater San Jose

In case you don’t have time for the 45-minute tour, or should you don’t need to spend the $11, there’s a espresso store within the foyer the place you may get pleasure from a scrumptious Costa Rican espresso. In case you ask to make use of the toilet, you may take a peek contained in the theater itself. They’ll offer you a move to get by safety, however don’t spend too lengthy lingering otherwise you’ll get caught! The espresso store is busy, so you should definitely seize a desk as quickly as you see one.

5. Take a Free Strolling Tour

Free Walking tours in San Jose Costa Rica
Free excursions spotlight San Jose’s high points of interest

Every day at 9:00 am, there’s a free strolling tour led by native guides. They’re provided in each Spanish and English. Patrons meet in entrance of the Teatro Nacional and be part of their information with the pink vest and umbrella for a cultural tour of San Jose. The free excursions don’t ever go away at 12:30, they go away at 9:00 am daily.

Taking the free strolling tour of San Jose is among the finest methods to get acquainted with town. We propose doing this in your first day. It takes you to all town highlights so you will get your bearings and resolve the place to return again to within the coming days. The native guides are educated and pleasant and provide ideas and knowledge on the place to eat and what else to see in San Jose. The tour is free, however be certain to point out your information some love on the finish. Recommended Tip: $10 USD per particular person.

In search of Day Excursions from San Jose Costa Rica? These are the most well-liked!

San Jose is a superb place to make a base for Costa Rican day journeys. With its central location, you may simply get to see the cloud forest, volcanoes, and waterfalls.

We now have a full description of San Jose’s finest day journeys on the finish of this submit. You possibly can skip right here to browse San Jose day journeys

Beware, there’s a copycat information that stands out in entrance of the theater publicizing his personal strolling tour. He almost received us the day earlier than telling us that the free strolling tour begins at 12:30. We popped as much as our resort room to drop some stuff off and seemed up how a lot we should always tip. The very first thing we noticed was his face warning that he was a fraud.

6. Museo Nacional de Costa – Nationwide Museum

Costa Rica National Museum in San Jose
Museo Nacional de Costa from Plaza de la Democracia

San Jose is full of museums showcasing Costa Rican historical past and tradition and the Nationwide Museum (Museo Nacional de Costa) is San Jose’s premier museum. The Nationwide Museum was initially a fortress and these had been its military barracks that give a pleasant overview of the historical past of Costa Rica with pre-Columbian artifacts to the abolishment of the Costa Rican Military in 1948. We discovered this reality fascinating. Costa Rico has not had a army since its civil battle in 1948.

Navy Historical past and Bullet Holes of Nationwide Museum

Military Museum in San Jose Costa Rica

In case you aren’t a museum fan, you continue to should stroll alongside the surface of the Museo Nacional de Costa to see the bullet holes within the partitions and watchtowers. It was a fierce battle and the scars nonetheless present from the 1948 Civil Struggle.

As the previous president, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Oscar Arias Sanchez mentioned, “Navy options to conflicts needs to be the final, final resort, Right here, conflicts are resolved at a negotiating desk.”

7. Stone Sphere – Nationwide Museum

Stone Sphere in San Jose Costa Rica

The mysterious stone spheres of Costa Rica date again to 200BC and there have been greater than 300 of them found all through the nation. You don’ must go in the hunt for them although, there may be one positioned proper downtown San Jose within the Nationwide Museum. The almost completely easy sphere sits on show in a glass encasement.

The stone spheres round Costa Rica vary in dimension from just a few centimeters to 2 meters in diameter and so they weigh as much as 15,000 kg (16 tons). They’re so spectacular that some are on show all over the world together with two in america. Our information advised us that treasure hunters blew them up after they had been first found pondering that gold was hidden inside.

8. Pre Columbian Gold Museum of San Jose

Gold Museum in San Jose
Pre Columbian Gold Museum

Situated within the coronary heart of downtown San Jose beneath San Josés principal sq., The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is among the hottest museums to go to in San Jose. A number of the metallic objects on show date again to 500 AD. Right here you’ll study of what on a regular basis life was like centuries in the past. It additionally traces Costa Rica’s historical past from 500 AD to the 1500s when the Spanish arrived. This museum focuses on the aim and makes use of of gold spanning from Pre Columbian occasions. The Gold Museum is among the high points of interest in San Jose with greater than 1600 items of gold artifacts on show.

9. Jade Museum

Jade Museum in San Jose
Jade Museum San Jose

The Jade Museum is yet one more museum that’s price visiting in San Jose. It homes the biggest assortment of pre-Columbian jade on the planet. Museu de Jade is positioned simply behind the Nationwide Museum so in case you have additional time, you may pop in there. The jade on show dates again to 500 BC. The Pre-Columbians traded with the Mayans throughout this era and this uncommon stone performed a big position within the each day lifetime of Pre-Columbian Costa Rica. It’s positioned simply throughout the Plaza de la Democracia from the Nationwide Museum.

10. Youngsters’s Museum

If you’re in search of issues to do in San Jose with children, make your approach to the Youngsters’s Museum. The Museo de Los Ninos is widespread for households full with dinosaurs, science shows, historical Egypt, and Costa Rican historical past. What makes it good are the interactive shows.

Museum of Pure Sciences – Thought-about among the finest in Latin America for animals, archeology, and dinosaurs.

11. Mercado Central – Central Market

Central Market Downtown San Jose
Central Market – Mercado Central

When trying to find souvenirs, Central Market is an efficient place to begin. Central Market is one in every of Costa Rica’s oldest landmarks courting again to 1821. It’s full of meals stalls and memento retailers, however it’s also a spot to rub elbows with the locals. Locals often store at this market and with its many meals stalls you may pattern some genuine Costa Rican meals at discount costs. You’ll see lots of people sitting on stools consuming conventional meals, so why not be part of them and say whats up!

12. California Boulevard

California Boulevard San Jose Costa Rica

One other pretty strolling avenue in San Jose could be present in entrance of the Nationwide Museum. California Boulevard, aka Calle 17 is an exquisite path that was designed to imitate the streets of Los Angeles. This strolling avenue is much quieter than Avenida Central and its cobblestone path is lined with palm bushes and colonial structure. That is the place you’ll discover many authorities buildings, non-public residences, and educations facilities.

13. Graffiti Wall

Graffiti Wall in San Jose

Alongside California Boulevard, is the place you’ll additionally uncover stunning avenue artwork. Like many cities all over the world, avenue tagging was changing into an issue in San Jose, in order that they provided artists an opportunity to personal a chunk of the wall to rejoice their expression of artwork. We had been advised that every artist auditioned for his or her spot and so they had been granted a chunk of wall for 5 years.

14. Nationwide Park of San Jose

National Park in San Jose

It’s a quiet and small park, however the Nationwide Park of San Jose is historic. It’s also a spot the place you may view the railway. At one time, trains had been a preferred approach to get round Costa Rica, however corruption put a cease to them when the folks in energy had a vested curiosity in car manufacturing. Right this moment, Costa Rica is engaged on rebuilding the rail traces and shortly vacationers will be capable to get across the nation within the consolation of trains.

15. Sa Casa Del Cacao – Chocolate Manufacturing unit

Visiting a Chocolate Factory Costa Rica San Jose

Chocolate was as soon as prized as a lot as gold in Costa Rica and it was as soon as the highest export of the nation. In Costa Rica’s historical past, chocolate was utilized in indigenous ceremonies and was so necessary it was used as forex. Chocolate manufacturing is making a comeback in Costa Rica, and the Casa del Cacao (The Costa Rican Home of Chocolate) is an efficient place to expertise a few of that chocolate tradition. It presents chocolate workshops and is a superb place to choose up some real Costa Rican chocolate. Situated in downtown San Jose you may pattern two of Costa Rica’s prize exports, chocolate and low.

16. Berlin Wall

Piece of Berlin Wall in San Jose Costa Rica

Probably the greatest issues to see in San Jose that no person is aware of about is the Berlin Wall. Situated behind the International Ministry is a chunk of the Berlin Wall. It’s a stunning yellow constructing, so you may’t miss it if you’re strolling across the metropolis. We at all times love discovering items of the Berlin Wall in our travels. We had been shocked to search out that San Jose had a chunk. You really want to hunt it out because it isn’t precisely on show and many individuals stroll proper on by. We needed to take photographs by means of the fence to see it. The wall was a present to Costa Rica after Costa Rica’s International Minister requested for it to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its international ministry. Now , and listed below are extra cool Costa Rica Information to take a look at.

17. Metropolitan Cathedral of San Jose

Metropolitan Cathedral San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose’s most stunning cathedral is positioned within the coronary heart of town. The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Jose’s doorways are open to guests, however be respectful as it’s a working cathedral. Every time we visited, mass was happening and worshippers had been sitting within the pews. Its stunning design is a mixture of baroque, neoclassical, and Greek orthodox. After a sequence of earthquakes, it was rebuilt in 1871 and has been welcoming worshippers and guests ever since. It’s such an necessary church that Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in 1983.

18. Central Park

Central Park San Jose

If you’re in search of that Instagrammable metropolis signal that may be noticed everywhere in the world, that is the place to go. It’s much less crowded than the San Jose signal at Plaza de la Cultura and is a pleasant little park to take a break from sightseeing.

Central Park is San Jose’s oldest public area and it’s positioned beside the Metropolitan Cathedral. Avenue performers could be discovered alongside enterprise folks consuming their lunches and children skateboarding on the concrete. There’s some attention-grabbing structure to take a look at right here and it’s a preferred hanging spot for locals.

19. View from the Bar at Gran Resort

View from Gran Hotel San Jose Costa Rica

The Gran Resort is essentially the most historic resort within the metropolis and is a San Jose attraction in its personal proper. Even if you’re not staying there it’s price going as much as the bar for a cocktail or for dinner. The historic resort has been fully renovated and could be very stylish.

Constructed-in 1930, The Gran Hotel has essentially the most coveted location in San Jose. It’s positioned immediately on the Plaza de la Cultura with the Nationwide Theater, Gold Museum, and Avenida Central positioned subsequent door. When eating in its restaurant you’re handled to one in every of San Jose’s finest views.

JFK stayed right here throughout his go to however he wouldn’t acknowledge it, its renovations have created a contemporary design that makes you need to hang around for days. Our room was tremendous stylish, the meals was wonderful and the ambiance was comfortably elegant. The workers is tremendous pleasant too. Make certain to go as much as the highest flooring to the piano bar for a glass of wine overlooking town of San Jose.

20. Chinatown

Chinatown San Jose Costa Rica

A unusual cease on our free strolling tour was San Jose’s Chinatown. Our information advised us that the plan is to construct it up extra and make it an precise vacation spot within the metropolis. We didn’t see any Chinese language throughout our go to to San Jose, however they do have a photogenic Chinatown gate, so I consider there might be rather more sooner or later.

Metallic Building San Jose

Taking the free strolling tour helped us respect the buildings across the metropolis. We stopped in entrance of many to study of their historical past. This pink metallic constructing was impressed by the Eiffel Tower. It was truly despatched from Europe in items and was put collectively piece by piece. Right this moment it’s a non-public college, however it’s positively price stopping to see. There’s a stunning row of rubber bushes that makes for a stunning {photograph}.

Issues to do in San Jose Costa Rica at Night time

Nightlife San Jose Costa Rica

Meals and Tradition Night time Tour

If you’re in search of issues to do in San Jose at evening, you may guide this meals and tradition evening tour of San José. Comply with your professional information to see necessary cultural websites adopted by a standard dinner with wine or beer pairings. You’ll begin at Morazán Park to find out about post-colonial Costa Rican historical past. Then proceed on a strolling tour to the Metallic Constructing, the Yellow home from Spain Park, and the oldest residential neighborhood in San José, Barrio Escalante.

If you wish to seize a beer in San Jose by yourself, go to The Costa Rica Beer Manufacturing unit is a superb place to pattern some native brews.

San Jose Night time Tour

This extremely rated tour is a enjoyable approach to expertise San Jose away from the daytime crowds. Assembly at La Sabana Metropolitan Park you’ll get an outline of San Jose’s historical past as you go to a few of San Jose’s high points of interest just like the Nationwide Stadium, College of Costa Rica, and the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica. On the finish of the tour, you’ll get pleasure from a standard Costa Rican dinner.

The place to Eat in San Jose

Where to eat in San Jose Costa Rica

Being Costa Rica’s capital metropolis, there are many wonderful meals selections throughout San Jose. You possibly can simply simply ask your information or resort for suggestions. One other manner we love to search out nice eateries is to search for the place the locals are. Whether it is full of common clientele, you could be positive it’s good. Listed here are just a few suggestions.

Soda Tapia – Soda Tapia is a cool retro-style diner 100 years outdated that’s widespread with the locals and has a enjoyable vibe.

Cafeteria Incluyeme – This distinctive cafeteria employs folks with disabilities creating an area the place they will really feel comfy, and acquire employment. It’s recognized for its scrumptious espresso, smoothies. It’s positioned close to the Chinese language gate.

Tortilleria – This widespread spot for locals has scrumptious tortillas. Whereas there, you should definitely strive the native lemonade-like drink often called Cas.

Prime of the Hilton – This was wonderful advantageous eating with a incredible view.

Day Journeys from San Jose

Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park

This extremely rated day tour from San Jose takes you to the white sand seashores of the world-famous Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park. It’s a full day tour full of actions the place you’ll be picked up within the morning and on the way in which cease on the largest fruit market in Costa Rica and a cease at crocodile bridge to view one of many nation’s largest crocodile populations. The remainder of the day is spent trying to find wildlife akin to sloths and macaws, having fun with a few of Costa Rica’s most stunning seashores and having fun with the rainforest mountaineering trails of Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens & Poas Volcano

There isn’t any scarcity of issues to do round San Jose, and the Poas Volcano Nationwide Park & La Paz Waterfall Gardens are one of many high day journeys from San Jose.

This widespread tour stops at La Paz Waterfall Gardens which homes Costa Rica’s largest animal sanctuary the place 100 species of rescued wildlife lives are housed within the protect. Take pleasure in a number of the finest mountaineering trails round San José as you get pleasure from waterfalls throughout the rainforest. This guided tour can even take you alongside mountaineering trails to the Botos Lagoon and climb up the crater to 2 crater lakes on the summit the place you’ll witness one of many world’s most acidic lakes, Laguna Caliente. Extra particulars right here.

Hanging Bridges

This tour for nature lovers’ – is a full-day tour that takes you to one in every of Costa Rica’s most well-known points of interest. The Monteverde Hanging Bridges takes you above the cloud forest the place you’ll observe wildlife of their pure habitat. It’s an extended drive and it’s advised to truly spend greater than in the future there, however in case you have restricted time, this tour is a superb possibility.

Getting Round San Jose

Getting around San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose is a really walkable metropolis and by staying downtown San Jose, we may stroll to many of the high points of interest. For different travels round San Jose, we used Uber, it was very handy and really inexpensive.

To get to the airport, we used Uber. It was secure, quick, and inexpensive. It price us $15 USD together with the tip. Be aware: we learn that ideas should not anticipated by Uber drivers in San Jose, however we’ve a behavior of tipping. (gotta maintain that prime Uber star ranking)**

It’s possible you’ll need to guide a switch prematurely to keep away from any hassles. When visiting a brand new metropolis, we at all times really feel extra comfy when we’ve our driver ready for us at arrivals with our nameplate. They take us immediately from the airport to our resort and it’s price the additional price. You possibly can test airport transfers right here.

And there you’ve gotten it, all the finest issues to do in San Jose. Sooner or later actually isn’t sufficient so when planning your journey to Costa Rica, be certain to spend a minimum of three days in its capital metropolis.

If you’re planning on going to Costa Rica to discover its stunning seashores, cloud forest, volcanoes, and surroundings, be certain to place San Jose in your record. You’ll get pleasure from this historic city heart.

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