San Jose, Costa Rica

Central Valley, Costa Rica
Capital City
Population: 1,635,000
Elevation : ‎1,172 mts.

Teatro Nacional 
Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

San Jose Travel Guide

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and it is located in the Central Valley. It is an extensive plain guarded by majestic volcanoes and green hills, honoring the natural richness that exists throughout the national territory. You will find world-class museums, recreational parks, 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 José, the Teatro Nacional opened to the public in 1897 with a performance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust. The National Theatre stood as a cultural asset of the country during a time when coffee exports were a source of its success. This building is considered the finest historic building in the capital of San Jose 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 National Museum of Costa Rica invites you to learn about the cultural and natural history of Costa Ricans, from pre-Columbian times to the present. Its exhibition rooms show the varied collections in the fields of national history, archeology and natural history, which for 135 years has made up for being the oldest in the country. 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 Jade Museum is an archaeological museum in San José, Costa Rica. Since 2014, it has been located in front of the 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
Discover the pre-columbian past and its transcendence in the present by visiting the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. You will learn everything from how the first settlers arrived in the territory that is today Costa Rica to what is the reality that descendent Indigenous people live. 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 José Central Market
“Mercado Central” in Spanish, is the largest market of the city of San José, Costa Rica. Established in 1880, it occupies an entire block on Avenida Central, 250m 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, coffees, and other products are for sale including herbal remedies, souvenirs, and local handcrafts.

San Jose tours to other destinations nearby

Irazu Volcano
The Volcán Irazú is situated just a few kilometers from Cartago and it is a relatively short and pleasant drive from the capital city of San Jose. 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.

Poás Volcano
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. This is another testament to Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Located one hour north of San Jose is the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary and nature experience that gets you up close with wildlife and waterfalls. You will also get to visit the giant aviary, hummingbird garden, serpentarium, butterfly garden, the frog house, and the big cat exhibit. Enjoy great views of La Paz waterfall, accessible by a network of paved trails and stair paths.

Coffee Plantation Tour
Visit a coffee plantation a few mintues away from San Jose. You will learn the history of this famous Costa Rican export, and see firsthand how coffee beans are cultivated, roasted, and transformed into fragrant elixir with a behind-the-scenes look at the farm and processing facilities.

La Basílica de los Ángeles
Located in the heart of Cartago, The Basilica de la Virgen de los Angeles 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 is Costa Rica's most famous crafts center located 30 kms / 19 miles from the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The town offers more than 200 stores and small family-operated woodworking factories producing wooden bowls and other tableware, fold-up rocking chairs of wood and leather, and a wide variety of kitschy items. The most popular items on sale are "carretas", elaborately painted oxcarts that traditionally carried coffee from the highlands down to the port on the Pacific coast.

Location and Map

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

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