San Jose
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Top attractions in San Jose

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Top things to do in San José

Costa Rica may be best known for its beaches, but the bustling capital of San José—or Chepe, as it's affectionately nicknamed—is absolutely worth visiting. Rich in history and surrounded by breathtaking nature, the city is perfect for a delightful sojourn.

La Fortuna

This picturesque town sits at the foot of the majestic Arenal Volcano. About 75 miles from San José, La Fortuna makes for a great day trip, with plenty to discover en route.

Braulio Carillo National Park

For another amazing day out, drive out of San José along Route 32 and you'll hit on the Braulio National Park, one of Central America's most spectacular natural treasures.

Teatro Nacional Costa Rica

Gorgeous both inside and out, the Teatro Nacional is one of San José's most cherished attractions. Be sure to take a tour to learn all about its architectural and artistic riches.

Arenal Volcano

If hiking's your thing, head over to the Arenal Volcano, about 3 hours from San José by car. Though the eruptions ceased in 2010, the area is a paradise for nature lovers.

Celeste River

The Celeste River is another hiker's dream come true. Set within rich and varied flora, the river is bordered by many natural hot springs and leads to a magnificent waterfall.

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

History buffs should make sure to visit San José's national museum, the Museo Nacional. This beautiful museum offers a highly informative overview of the country's rich history.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum

This museum houses a collection of over 1,600 artifacts made of pre-Columbian gold, giving fascinating insight into the culture of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

Planning Your San Jose Visit

Eat like the locals

To taste the real flavor of Costa Rican cuisine, you shouldn't miss out on San José's central market, the Mercado Central. This gigantic market is not only one of the best spots in the city for food (as well as souvenirs), but also one of the cheapest, where a delicious meal will set you back as little as $3 – a fraction of most restaurants!

When to go

While the city's pleasant climate allows for visits throughout the year, the best period is December, right after the rainy season. But even though the days are warm, the nights do get chilly, so make sure to bring a sweater. Moreover, both the Festival de la Luz and the Fiestas de Zapote take place in December. The whole city comes alive during the festivals and these typically Latin American festivities are a singularly delightful experience.

Good to know

  • Language
  • Currency
    CRC (₡)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-06:00)
  • Country Code
  • Best time to visit
    December is the best month to visit, when the rainy season has ended, the days are warm, and the city comes alive with festivities.

Things to Do in San Jose

Top Attractions in San Jose

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Jose

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What people are saying about San Jose

Great day , good variety of interesting places .

I was so lucky to have Gladys as my guide , In fact could hardly believe my luck . I was the only person booked on the tour , I’m an avid Birder on the last days of a mammoth Birding trip , Gladys is a biology student who’s also very interested in birds , naturally where ever you go there are birds , starting at our meeting point the National Theatre , after explaining the history of the theatre and the story behind the marble sculptures Gladys identifies the Parrakeets in The trees outside . And so it went on , such an informative tour , into a local bus up into the hills for a traditional Costa Rican lunch and a visit to the happy mask maker . A great day . Highly recommend this tour .

Costa Rica Pura Vida Experience Reviewed by siri, 06/30/2019

Jorge was knowledgeable ;enjoyed the coffee tour very much.

We were not able to go to the Poas volcano due to recent activity dating back to April 2017. All descriptions of the tour online do not delete this part of the tour. We paid the full price but did not get a refund for the amount of the tour that does not include the volcano. I really enjoyed and learnt a lot on the coffee tour. La Paz was nice too however the weather was not cooperative with torrential rain !!

Wonderful tour but be sure to wear your walking shoes for La Paz part.

We really enjoyed the Doka coffee tour. Unfortunately, it was rainy so we were not able to see the Poas volcana but we had seen another one so it wasn't so disappointing to us. The lunch at La Paz was very good. I really enjoyed the butterflies, birds and animals in the sanctuary. The La Paz waterfalls were spectacular! However, the walk to and from the falls is not for someone who is not in decent shape.

very professional and well worth it - exciting to see the wildlife.

felt very well taken care of...the breakfast and lunch were delicious. everyone should see this beautiful unspoiled part of costa rica whether it be the one day or the two day tour. it is unique to get this close up to the natural beauty. enjoyed it very much. our guide was excellent. and the bus driver very careful and expeident. thanks.

Tortuguero National Park from San Jose Reviewed by Anonymous, 11/17/2015

A great option to combine travel, sightseeing, and adventure!

This tour was outstanding. The guides were great, the Pacuare is beautiful, and the challenge/exertion level was just right for me (a mid-30s first-time rafter who's in reasonably-good shape). This was my first activity after arriving in San Jose and it was a great welcome to Costa Rica.