San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and holds the seat of national government. It is the largest city in the country, with a third of the population residing in the city center, suburban, and rural areas in the city limits. The country's biggest economic and political activities take place in San Jose, as well as being a major tourist destination in the whole of Central America. One of safest cities in the region for tourists, the city is one of the must-visit destinations in Central America.
San Jose sits on a plateau in the Central Valley. It is perched on a high elevation of 1200 meters from the sea level and is surrounded by lush mountains and valleys.
How to Reach (Transport)
When to Visit
- By Plane - San Jose is served by the Juan Santamaria International Airport that's located in the nearby city of Alajuela, 23 km to its west. It is one of the busiest in Central America, serving an average of 4.5 million passengers a year. In 2011, it was voted as the 3rd best airport in the Caribbean and Latin America regions. A secondary airport is located 8km northeast of the city center, which is the Aeropuerto Internacional Tobias Bolanos Palma.
- By Train - state-owned railway systems provide inter-urban connections to nearby cities.
- By Bus - private-owned bus companies operate in San Jose, with the most preferred terminal, Tica Bus Terminal favored by locals and tourists alike. These buses take passengers to different areas of the city, as well as to the suburbs and nearby popular tourist destinations.
- By Taxi - taxi companies are available throughout the city center. Registered ones are colored red while those not in the system are colored yellow or orange.
The best time to visit San Jose is from January to April when the weather is hot - providing the best atmosphere for sightseeing and frolicking on the beach. These are the months when hotels and sites are packed with tourists and prices are generally expensive. The months of May to August are also ideal and rates are cheaper but coincides with the summer vacation from Western countries which means sites and attractions are packed with young tourists. December is also a popular time to visit.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and Traditions
Points of Interest (Places to Visit)
- San Jose's International Festival of the Arts - Every second Sunday of March, San Jose is filled with first-class art performances, dances, concerts, and theatrical drama. Over 5,000 local, national, and international artists from 20 countries gather to perform in over 350 shows and activities scattered across the city.
- San Isidro del General Fiestas - an agricultural feast of flower shows, bullfighting, and traditional livestock competitions occur every first week of February.
- Festival de las Lucas - to celebrate the start of the Christmas season, firework displays and live concerts are held in the city center, with the celebration and spectacle of Christmas lights its main highlight.
- San Jose Carnival - every 27th of December, the streets of San Jose are littered with street parades, marching bands, street dancing, and participants and spectators in elaborate costumes.
- The Gold Museum - located underground beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, The Gold Museum features over 1600 pieces of Pre-Columbian gold that date back between 500AD to 1500AD. Providing a very interesting look at pre-Spanish Costa Rica's artwork - learn about the processes involved in the making of the artifacts.
- Catedral Metropolitan - a spectacular example of European influences in Costa Rica, this Roman Catholic cathedral has a Renaissance architectural style with neoclassical interiors, colorful Spanish tiled floors, and stained glass windows.
- La Paz Waterfalls Gardens - 1 hour from the city center, visitors can explore through lovely trails in the lush rainforest where 5 beautiful waterfalls can be found, as well as other attractions such as the hummingbird gallery and the serpentarium.
- Mercado Central - an old and bustling food market, the Mercado Central is the best place to find local traditional dishes and street food. There are small restaurants and quick-serve counters everywhere, filled with fresh seafood and local produce. Open-air stands also sell handicrafts and souvenirs native to the city and nearby regions, as well as meat, fish, poultry, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
All kinds of accommodation are available in San Jose, ranging from the luxury hotels to the midrange, and the budget places to stay such as hostels and dorms. Bed and breakfasts are also preferred by many tourists.
Last Updated : August 2nd, 2018