San José is where your holiday starts. The city is the capital of Costa Rica and is located in the Central Valley, surrounded by green mountains. It has a compact city center with narrow shopping streets and markets where you can buy almost everything, from exotic fruits and vegetables, to bikini’s and local rum.
In recent years, many neighbourhoods in the centre of town received a facelift. Now Barrio Escalante is the place to be for a nice dinner in the evening. Here you find a great variety of nice restaurants and bars, offering local and international cuisine.
In the city center you can admire a few of historic buildings, including the Teatro Nacional from 1928 and the national post office from 1917. There are also several museums and nice parks to sit and relax and enjoy the busy street life. Of course you can explore the city center by yourself, but there’s also a free city tour that departs from the Teatro Nacional every day (except Sundays) at 10.00 am.
If you want to escape the busy streets in the city centre, you can go to La Sabana park. Especially during the weekends, local families gather here to relax, play and eat/drink together. From San Jose, you can book various nice day trips. Visit for example the Irazú volcano, at 3400 meters the highest volcano in Costa Rica with a beautiful blue-green crater lake. If you want to know more about cacao or coffee, you can go on a nice guided excursions. Exploring the Orosi valley and the town of Cachi is another nice trip.
You can also drive about an hour and a half through beautiful areas, an interesting coffee tour. A little further you will find the La Paz waterfall gardens. These gardens with impressive waterfalls, a butterfly garden, bird garden, snake garden and a humming garden are really worth a visit. These day trips can be done with your own rental car, you can also combine them in an organized day tour including transport and lunch.
Simple hotel with a good location in the centre of San José. Although it is not really a beautiful city, it is nice to spend a day there. Do you want to know what we did? Read our extensive travel blog.
We did not think San Jose was such a nice city, based on everything we heard a read before coming to Costa Rica. Thanks to our city tour with Scott we got a very positive impression and had a great day. We also have a nice recommendation for a stop when you drive from the Pacific coast to San Jose: Restaurante Mi Finca, near the junction of route 18 to route 1. In addition to the delicious lunch and juices they serve, you can spot at least 20 beautiful macaw’s / macaws in all colours. Awesome to see them fly over a few times so we could see them from up close. What we also recommend to other travellers, is to go out for dinner to local restaurants, such as sodas. Saves a lot of money and it is (we thought) very tasty!
Nice location, comfortable hotel and close to the center!
The hotel in San Jose was a wonderful start of our trip and it was nice coming back here again before flying back home. We even got an upgrade to a nicer room for the last night. The dinner in the restaurant was also fantastic. San Jose is not a very special city, but the walk with the guide on the first day was a lot of fun and a nice introduction to a new country.
From San Jose we visited the Poas volcano. We arrived early and we were rewarded with a great view of the crater and a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
Upong arrival in San Jose, we felt good about having booked our trip with Edventure. Our driver, despite a one hour delay, was very correct and gave us a pleasant ride to our hotel. The next day at our hotel in San Jose we received a detailed explanation of our trip from Renée. A great start!
1. If you want to take home a nice souvenir from your vacation in Costa Rica, stop by Hola Lola shop in San José and get enchanted by the colorful work of local illustrator Priscilla Aguirre. No time? You can now buy her work in the shops at the airport and via www.holalolashop.com!
2. During the day you can make an interactive city walk with locals, for example via Free Walking Tour, Chepecletas or Scott’s Walking Tours. All tours are in English and can be fully adjusted to your interests.
3. Do not want to eat in your San Jose hotel in the evening? Then take a taxi and drive to the ‘Calle Gastronomico’, here you will find a variety of nice restaurants and bars offering both local and international cuisine.