By Rachael Funk
The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, is located in the Central Valley region, between the Talamanca Mountains to the south and a range of volcanoes to the north. Brimming with history and culture at every turn, this lively city will never be short on things to do. On your next visit, check out some of these great ways to discover what San Jose has to offer!
Take a stroll down Central Avenue
This street runs straight through the heart of downtown San Jose and is a great way to scope out the city’s offerings. You’ll pass by restaurants, shops, museums, and get a feel for the local atmosphere. Check out the musicians and performers on the street, or grab some knick knacks from the vendors you’ll meet along the way.
Go on a Doka Coffee Tour
A trip to the largest coffee plantation in Cost Rica will provide a fascinating glimpse into the process of cultivating, processing, and packaging coffee. Start at the seedling station to learn how seeds are geminated and crops are raised. Next, you’ll learn more about the production and the Vargas family who have been perfecting the process since 1940. Finally, you’ll visit the roasting room where you can taste the coffee, which is paired with chocolate.
Hit the Central Market
One of the most important places in the city, the Central Market is an excellent place to sample the local flavors and shop for souvenirs. Wander the stalls stuffed with items for your perusal. If you’re looking for a classic, stop by Soda Tapia – it’s been in the market for over 100 years!
Snap a photo at Casa Amarilla
This bright yellow mansion is the perfect place to take a few photos. The colonial-style mansion houses the ministry of foreign affairs and though you can’t go inside, the architecture of this striking building makes it a must-see while you’re in town.
Do a museum crawl
Many of San Jose’s museums have low entrance fees. Stop by Museo del Oro Precolombino to see the 1,600 artifacts from 500 AD made of pure gold. The Costa Rican Art Museum has a permanent display of over 3200 relics spanning the length of two centuries. The Jade Museum is also a great stop for its riveting pieces and the unbeatable view over San Jose and the Central Valley.
Try an empanada at La Esquina de Buenos Aires
Offering a menu of homemade empanadas and fresh pastas and a wine list featuring South American wines, you’ll leave this place stuffed to the gills. The atmosphere is a callback to the bistros of San Telmo and is a local favorite, so be sure to make a reservation!
Take a day trip
San Jose is surrounded by dreamy landscapes begging for exploration. You can easily spend a day soaking in hot springs, hiking volcanoes, white water rafting, or simply exploring the world just outside the city. A quick jaunt to the Orosí River Valley, Tortuga Island, or Poas Volcano is a sure way to get to know Costa Rica and create memories that will last a lifetime.