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San JoseCosta Rica

Immerse yourself in Spanish language, culture and food and European architecture in this inviting Central American capital city.

European charm and Central American vitality combine to provide an interesting blend of old and new, making San José a fascinating Costa Rican city. Interact with friendly locals, investigate impressive European architecture, enjoy cultural arts and perfect your Spanish language skills.

Several of San José’s impressive public structures date back to Spanish settlement from as early as the 1700s. Experience some of the best of San José ’s cultural activities and see interesting buildings near the large Plaza de la Cultura. Here, admire the neo-classical architecture of the Teatro Nacional. Reserve seats for outstanding cultural events at this national theater or tour the opulent interior decorated with murals, paintings and sculptures.

Nearby, visit three exceptional museums. See dazzling indigenous pieces in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. The Museo del Jade has plenty of jade as well as anthropological artifacts. Learn about Costa Rican history and natural science at the Museo Nacional, another example of striking architecture.

Costa Rica is a popular location for language learners looking for immersion in a Spanish-speaking region, either through formal training or casual interaction with local residents. Sign up for one of many structured programs or test your Spanish skills in restaurants in the different barrios of San José.

You’re sure to get a friendly smile if you order gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast just as the locals do. When you need a break from Spanish, go to the restaurants and country clubs of the western Escasu barrio with many English-speaking expats or visit the relatively new Chinatown area.

In March, the city hosts the Transitarte Festival. Enjoy pleasant summer weather and travel from one urban park to another to enjoy music, crafts, workshops and art.

Reach San José via Juan Santamaría International Airport, 10 miles (17 kilometers) northwest of the city center. Use public buses and taxis to get around the city. Many of the main landmarks are in the downtown or “el centro” area, easy to walk from one to another.

Where to stay in San Jose

San José, Alajuela, Costa Rica

San José

Though San José may not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Zoo Ave and Ojo de Agua Spa Park.

San José
San Jose featuring forests and mountains

Hospital

3.5/5Good!(6 area reviews)

Though Hospital may not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Costa Rica National Stadium (Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica) and Morazan Park.

Hospital
Amón, San Jose, Costa Rica

Amón

3/5(5 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Amón, Spirogyra Butterfly Garden and Simon Bolivar Zoo are top sights worth seeing.

Amón
Chinatown, San Jose, Costa Rica

Chinatown

The restaurants and museums are a few reasons travellers visit Chinatown. Though there aren't many top sights in the neighbourhood, you can visit Morazan Park and Parque Nacional, a few notable attractions nearby.

Chinatown
San Jose featuring forests and mountains

Merced

If you're spending some time in Merced, Central Park and Mercado Central are top sights worth seeing.

Merced
Santa Teresa, Escazu, Costa Rica

Santa Teresa

If you're looking for some top things to see and do in Santa Teresa and surrounding area, you can visit Avenida Escazú and Costa Rica National Stadium (Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica).

Santa Teresa

Top hotels in San Jose

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Luisiana
Hotel Luisiana
3.5 out of 5
100 west and 400 south from Cruz Roja, Santa Ana, San Jose
£22
per night
3 Apr-4 Apr

This family-friendly Santa Ana hotel is located near the airport, within 3 mi (5 km) of Business Center Forum 1, Momentum Lindora Shopping Center and Business ...

4.2/5Very Good! (1,948 reviews)

"Spacious room - we had a king bed and big bathroom."…"

Reviewed on 14 Mar 2020

Hotel Luisiana
DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
4 out of 5
San Antonio de Belen Ciudad Cariari, Ciudad Cariari, Heredia
£83
per night
8 Apr-9 Apr

This family-friendly Ciudad Cariari hotel is located near the airport, within 3 mi (5 km) of Cariari Bowling Center and Oxígeno Human Playground. Cafe Britt ...

4.3/5Excellent! (852 reviews)

"beautiful, immaculate setting and lovely staff. breakfast brunch was incredible"…"

Reviewed on 22 Mar 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton San Jose-Airport
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton San Jose-Airport
3 out of 5
Hwy 1 Airport Blvd, Alajuela, Alajuela

Located in Cacique, this hotel is 1.9 mi (3 km) from City Mall, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Zoo Ave and Costa Rica National Stadium (Estadio Nacional de Costa ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,961 reviews)

"2 min from airport and every 15 min free shuttle. nice restaurant and car rentals walkby. Best place for airport stay overnight"…"

Reviewed on 28 Mar 2020

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton San Jose-Airport

Popular things to do in San Jose

Poas Volcano National Park
Image for Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park

4/5(3 reviews)

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Poas Volcano National Park, a popular green space in Toro Amarillo. Discover the area's volcano viewpoints and waterfalls.

Braulio Carrillo National Park
Image for Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park

4.5/5(5 reviews)

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Braulio Carrillo National Park, a popular green space in Las Horquetas. While you're in the area, wander around the natural setting.

Morazan Park
Image for Morazan Park

Morazan Park

4/5(1 review)

Explore the great outdoors with a trip to Morazan Park, a popular green space in Carmen. Experience the entertainment choices and fascinating museums in this vibrant area.

Central Park
Image for Central Park

Central Park

4/5(1 review)

Explore the great outdoors at Central Park, a lovely green space in San Jose. Discover the acclaimed theatre scene in this vibrant area or seek out the local tours.

Juan Castro Blanco National Park
Image for Juan Castro Blanco National Park

Juan Castro Blanco National Park

5/5(1 review)

Explore the great outdoors at Juan Castro Blanco National Park, a lovely green space in Aguas Zarcas. Stroll along the riverfront or discover the hot springs in this relaxing area.

San Jose Cathedral
Image for San Jose Cathedral

San Jose Cathedral

4/5(4 reviews)

You can find out about the history of Catedral with a trip to San Jose Cathedral. Amble around this vibrant area's beautiful beaches or experience its fascinating museums.

Top activities in San Jose

Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day
Image for Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day

Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day

86% of travellers recommend
£119
Per adult
Tortuguero National Park Cruise
Image for Tortuguero National Park Cruise

Tortuguero National Park Cruise

86% of travellers recommend
£105
Per adult
Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean
Image for Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean

Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean

80% of travellers recommend
£57
Per adult
Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise
Image for Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise

Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise

92% of travellers recommend
£112
Per adult
Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour
Image for Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour

Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour

94% of travellers recommend
£87
Per adult
Skip the Line: Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica Admission Ticket
Image for Skip the Line: Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica Admission Ticket

Skip the Line: Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica Admission Ticket

100% of travellers recommend
£9
Per adult

Reviews of San Jose

3.8

Guest rating

5 - Excellent
5
5 - Excellent 20.833333333333332%
4 - Good
9
4 - Good 37.5%
3 - Okay
9
3 - Okay 37.5%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 4.166666666666667%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

20 Feb 2020

The Theatre was an amazing place to visit and eat and finished of with a fab Irish coffee, great staff too. Beautiful church and buzzing square. Didn't really have any more time to explore more, very friendly people. Apart from the taxi driver lol

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

31 Jan 2020

Really busy traffic. Driving is not for the faint hearted.

2/5 - Disappointing

Mikolaj

19 May 2019

Not a city I would recommend you visit. Costa Rica is all about nature. San Jose is not pretty, does not have any proper cultural bits to visit. Don't waste your time!!!

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveller

21 Apr 2019

I love Costa Rica for the amazing abundance and diversity of its nature, and for the warmth of its people. But traffic choked and uninspiring architecture make San Jose far from my favorite Latin American capital city.

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveller

25 Feb 2019

We mostly used San Hose as a hub whilst travelling to see other parts of Costa Rica. The city may be up and coming but it is still very much a locals place. Some nice restaurants but you have to seek them out.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

13 Feb 2019

We stayed three times for five days in total as we used it as a central hub during our tour of Costa Rica, visiting six other locations. It has some great coffee shops and great little cafes. Go to the 1147 Cafe, Hotel Aranjuez, outstanding food.

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