San Jose Costa Rica

Central Valley, Costa Rica
Capital City
Population: 1,462,000
Elevation : ‎1,172 mts.

Teatro Nacional 
Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica. It is an extensive plain guarded by majestic volcanoes and green hills, honoring the natural richness that exists throughout the national territory. There are many things to do in San Jose where you will find world-class museums, theaters, historic buildings and lots of shopping. Once in the city, visitors may choose among many one-day tours to nature destinations, inside and outside of the Central Valley.

Things to do in San Jose

Teatro Nacional
Located in the heart of San Jose, the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica opened to the public in 1897 with a performance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust. It stood as a cultural asset of the country during a time when coffee exports were a source of its success. It is considered the finest historic building in the country and it is known for its exquisite interior. Performances by the National Symphonic Orchestra take place as part of the orchestra's regular season, and include both Costa Rican and foreign composers.

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
The Museo Nacional de Costa Rica invites you to learn about the cultural and natural history of the country, from Pre-Columbian times to the present. It exhibits collections in the fields of national history, archeology and natural history. It holds temporary exhibitions on artistic and cultural themes and has a varied schedule of activities throughout the year. The Museum is located in an emblematic building, declared Architectural Historical Heritage and symbol of the abolition of the army in Costa Rica.

Museo de Jade
The Museo de Jade is an archaeological museum in San Jose Costa Rica. Since 2014, it has been located in front of La Plaza de la Democracia. It was founded in 1977 by Fidel Tristán Castro, the first president of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS). The museum contains the world's largest collection of american jade. There are over 7,000 items on display; most of these are dated between 500 BC and 300 BC.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
One of the most interesting things to do in San Jose is visit the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum where you will learn everything from how the first settlers arrived in the territory that is today Costa Rica to what is now the reality of the descendant Indigenous people. About 688 pre-Columbian gold pieces are shown, and to highlight the richness of the archaeological collection, more pieces of ceramic and stone from the various regions and periods of the country are also included.

San Jose Central Market
“Mercado Central” in Spanish, is the largest market of the city of San Jose Costa Rica. Established in 1880, it occupies an entire block on Avenida Central, 250 mts. northwest of Parque Central. The market contains a complex of narrow alleys with over 200 shops, stalls, and cheap restaurants called sodas. A huge range of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, coffee and other products are for sale including herbal remedies, souvenirs and local handicrafts.

San Jose tours to other destinations nearby

Irazu Volcano
The Irazu Volcano is situated just a few kilometers from Cartago and it is a relatively short and pleasant drive from the capital city. The winding road traverses fertile lands in which all types and forms of vegetation are cultivated. Enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Poas Volcano National Park
Poas Volcano is one of the most popular active volcanoes in Costa Rica. It is located  in the Central Valley about 49 kms / 30 miles from San Jose.  The bubbling crater lagoon is one of the country’s most thrilling attractions. The color of the lagoon varies from aquamarine to green. The Poas National Park consists of nearly 15,000 acres that encompass at least four different habitats.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Located one hour north of San Jose you will find La Paz Waterfall Gardens. With a network of paved trails and stair paths you will get to visit a great aviary, a hummingbird garden, a serpentarium, a butterfly garden, the wildcat exhibit and 5 famous waterfalls.

Coffee Plantation Tour
Visit a coffee plantation and learn the history of this famous Costa Rica export. See firsthand, how coffee beans are cultivated, roasted, and transformed into a fragrant elixir with a behind-the-scenes look at the farm and processing facilities.

La Basilica de los Angeles
Located in the heart of Cartago, this magnificent church is a famous peregrination site for many believers and constitutes a unique mix of colonial architecture as well as 19th century Byzantine style.

Lankester Botanical Gardens
Lankester Botanical Gardens has a world class collection of nearly a thousand varieties of orchids displayed at eye level. The huge number of plants means you can see blooms year round, although Feb. through April is the most spectacular time to visit. The 26 acres of gardens are home to nearly 3,000 species in all. It is located 4 miles away from Cartago downtown.

Sarchi
One of the best things to do in San Jose is to visit a small town outside the city center and Sarchi is the perfect destination! Famous for being a crafts center, the town offers more than 200 stores and small family-operated woodworking factories producing wooden tableware, fold-up rocking chairs of wood and leather and a wide variety of kitschy items. The most popular items on sale are the "carretas", elaborately painted oxcarts that traditionally carried the coffee from the highlands down to the port on the Pacific coast.

Location and Map

San Jose Costa Rica is located in the center of the country, in the midwest of the Central Valley.  San Jose is notable among Latin American cities for its high quality of life, security, level of globalization, environmental performance, public service and recognized institutions.

Contact our San Jose Costa Rica Vacation Guides today by visiting our Costa Rica Trip Planner!