According to Wholevehicles, San Jose – the capital of Costa Rica – is located on a plateau in the center of the country at an altitude of 1200 m, surrounded by mountains and valleys. Approximately half of the country’s population lives in this fabulous city, which is welcoming to foreigners, characterized by tolerance for a variety of tastes and habits, a variety of noisy trade, vibrant nature and expressive architecture.
How to get to San Jose
San Jose Airport is a 15-minute drive from the city center. A bus ride will cost you less than 1 USD, a taxi ride – about 20-25 USD.
By bus, you can come to San Jose from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama. Tica buses are the choice of all local residents. King Quality has recently become another option. Compare prices: sometimes Tica is cheaper, sometimes not.
Taxis in San Jose are cheap, but you should be aware of some subtleties when traveling: you will be taken if the estimated cost of the trip is not less than 3 USD; it is almost useless to tell the taxi driver the address – it is better to tell which famous landmark in the city you should take.
The bus network in the city is reliable, convenient and very cheap, but keep in mind that even when you ask to stop at the object of interest to you, the driver, full of friendliness, can drop you off at any random place.
It is convenient to get around San Jose by bike, and you can buy a slightly used bike for just a penny.
San Jose Hotels
Most San Jose hotels are one to three star, so you’ll find plenty of budget accommodation options. Most of these hotels are located in close proximity to the airport.
From middle-class hotels, we can recommend: Adventure – a nice hotel with a sports bar, restaurant, jacuzzi and gym (double room for two 90 USD per night); B&B Tambo Mundo – an amazing hotel with views of the Irazu volcano and the national park, the hotel staff speaks many languages, and the room rates start from 40 USD per person; Hemingway Inn – a luxurious mansion in a quiet area of the city, turned into a hotel, with rooms for 35-45 USD for two; or the Presidente Hotel, located in the very center of the city, room rates from 85 USD.
You can truly enjoy luxury (and for quite reasonable money) in luxury hotels. For example, in the Barcelo San Jose Palacio, which is located just a short drive between San Jose and Heredia. This is the ideal starting point for tourists arriving in the capital of Costa Rica, and offers plenty of opportunities to kick off your visit to this tropical paradise on a high note.
Romantics should stop at one of the classic colonial-style haciendas, which are located on coffee plantations around San José.
Costa Rica Marriott Hotel is a beautiful classic colonial-style hacienda located on a coffee plantation. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, great restaurants, two outdoor tropical pools, a spa and much more.
Doubletree Cariari By Hilton San Jose, located five minutes from the airport, offers rooms from 90 to 230 USD, luxurious architecture and a huge pool. The 13 rooms of the Finca Rosa Blanca Hotel, located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, surrounded by exotic flora, among hundreds of fruit trees, offer stunning views of volcanoes, rainforests and coffee plantations (the cost of double rooms is 160-240 USD). The Grano de Oro, rebuilt from a tropical Victorian mansion, offers the comfort and coziness of a private home, with lush tropical vegetation, secluded atriums, Italian marble fountains.
Mercado’s old, bustling food market is full of small restaurants and cafes that are always popular with locals. Here you will be offered fresh fish, shellfish and crustaceans, sopa de pescado (fish soup) and exotics such as “inked squid”, Ceviche (small pieces of raw fish in lime juice), helado de sorbetera (a local type of ice cream) and much more. Buy delicious unripe mango strips with salt and lime from street vendors.
Bar Poas Pictures of patrons adorn the walls of this dimly lit but cozy establishment. In addition to enjoying the legendary Chili con Carne, you will get a lot of pleasant emotions from observing local colorful characters, and the owner of the restaurant is just a storehouse of information about San Jose and Costa Rica.
The owner of the Bar Poas restaurant is a treasure trove of information about San Jose and Costa Rica.
At the Grano de Oro’s restaurant, you can enjoy pancakes with bananas and macadamia nuts for breakfast. Seafood dishes are also excellent here. A little pricey, but very tasty. National dishes of all Latin America (and not only) can be tasted in restaurants: Machu Picchu – the best Peruvian restaurant, where you will taste delicacies such as Causa Rellena, Cebiche, washed down with the traditional Peruvian drink Pisco, and Manolo’s Churreria, where you have to order churros chicken tacos (here you can also watch how local bookmakers accept bets from regulars).
Tin Jo is the most popular Asian restaurant in the city with Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine. If you are a fan of vegetarian cuisine, you have a direct road to the Vishnu restaurant, where vegetarian and organic dishes are offered at very reasonable prices (there are three such restaurants in San Jose).
A good gift shop, Boutique Annemarie, can be found in the lobby of the Don Carlos Hotel; also many small souvenir shops are located in the El Pueblo shopping center; if you like bargaining and you like first-hand souvenirs, visit Mercado Artesania, a market on Second Avenue: there are many shops with painted wooden masks and handmade ceramics.
Some real coffee must be brought from Costa Rica. Buy coffee beans from big stores where prices are lower and quality is guaranteed.
Attractions and attractions in San Jose
Many museums in San Jose deserve the closest attention, you will not see such collections of artifacts anywhere else: the Museo Oro Precolombino (“Golden Museum”) presents a huge collection of gold items from the pre-Columbian era (from 500 AD to 1500 AD). The museum is open from 10-00 to 16-30, entrance for foreigners is 11 USD.
Museo del Jade (Jade Museum) – here you can get acquainted with the collection of jade jewelry of antiquity, as well as stone, bone, and ceramic products of the pre-Columbian era. The museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., admission 15 USD.
Museo de los Niños (Children’s Museum) – touchingly located in the building of a former prison. Works every day from 10-00 to 16-00.
The Museo Nacional (National Museum), located in the old fort, includes a large butterfly garden and a rock garden. Open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Entrance 8 USD.
It is impossible to visit Costa Rica and not go to see the volcanoes.
Fans of exotic pleasures will probably like the Museum of Insects, located at the University. Here you will see a huge collection of exotic beetles and other tropical insects.
You can make many short trips around San Jose, the tour buses are highly visible, reliable and inexpensive. We recommend visiting the Butterfly Farm, coffee farm, rafting along tropical rivers.
It is impossible to visit Costa Rica and not go to see the volcanoes. Buses to Poas Volcano depart from Parque La Merced at 8:30 am daily. Buses to the Irazu volcano, located 50 km from the city, leave every day at 8 am from Second Avenue near the National Theater (round-trip will cost 10 USD).
An hour’s drive from San José, there are five La Paz waterfalls surrounded by tropical forests, and in the garden you can visit a hummingbird gallery, a serpentarium and a butterfly garden.
Weather in San Jose
The rainy season lasts from April to December, otherwise the climate of San Jose depends on the direction of the prevailing winds. Temperature from +18 to +26 °C.