The main sights of San Jose, Costa Rica.

San Jose sights

Gold Museum Tabacon Thermal Springs Braulio Carrillo National Park Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Manuel Antonio National Park Numismatics and Pre-Columbian Gold Museums Cerro San Jose Cliff National Reserve Arenal National Stadium Costa Rica Orosi Valley National Theater in San Jose

This site compiles San Jose attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in San Jose, where to go and where the popular and interesting places in San Jose are.

Museum of Gold

Museum of Gold (photo)

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is located in the heart of San Jose, next to the central bank. Its name speaks for itself – almost all the exhibits in the museum are made of gold and date back to Indian times. It’s worth noting that at first all the gold artifacts found by archaeologists were stored in the bank, but their number kept growing, and eventually they needed a separate room for them. So it was decided to build a special museum.

Everything here is unusual, from the exhibits to the very building of the museum, which is located underground. All three stories are 12 meters deep and the structure is shaped like a pyramid.

Now the museum boasts a collection of over a thousand pieces of gold. Among them, Indian jewelry, amulets, animal figurines and even erotic figurines. Many of the items were made in the first centuries of our era.

Perhaps the largest gold statue is a life-size warrior sculpture. At the same time, the media do not mention a single case of an attack on the museum or an attempt to rob it.

Next to the “gold exhibition” is a museum of numismatics, which exhibits the first Costa Rican coin from 1825, as well as banknotes issued at the time when Latin America was conquered by the Spaniards.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of an adult ticket is $8.

Coordinates : 9.93350300,-84.07667400

Tabacon Thermal Springs

Tabacon Thermal Springs (photo)

Tabacon Thermal Springs is located in northern Costa Rica, thirteen kilometers west of the town of La Fortuna. The water in these springs is heated by volcanic activity, and in the hottest ponds the temperature can reach 42 degrees Celsius.

Close to the springs is the comfortable hotel Tabacon Spa

Coordinates : 10.34243600,-83.95840000

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Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park (photo)

Braulio Carrillo National Park is a protected conservation area located northeast of the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. The park was founded in 1978 and is named after the former president of the country.

Braulio Carrillo covers about 44,000 hectares, most of which are high mountains covered with humid tropical forests. The extinct volcanoes Cerro Negro Cacho and Cerros las Tres Marias are also a beautiful sight.

The fauna and flora of the reserve are characterized by amazing biodiversity. Due to the strong variations in elevation, both mountain flora and fauna as well as plain species are found in the park. There are more than 600 species of trees alone.

Thus, Braulio Carrillo is a paradise for eco-tourists and ordinary lovers of wild, unspoiled nature. The park is equipped with comfortable cable cars, the so-called “aerial streetcar”, to admire all this beauty. Above the reserve there are more than twenty trails, which offer a remarkable view of the pristine tropical forests.

Coordinates : 10.15990000,-83.97442500

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Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (photo)

Rincon de la Vieja is an active layered volcano located in Costa Rica, twenty-five kilometers north of Liberia (the capital of Guanacaste Province). The volcano is surrounded by a vast national park with a similar name, Rincon de la Vieja.

The height of the volcano is almost two kilometers, and from the top there is a wonderful view of Lake Nicaragua and the Gulf of St. Helena. At the foot of the volcano there are many thermal springs, which are sure to attract all tourists visiting Costa Rica.

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The natural park surrounding the volcano is a very picturesque place. Here you can find the rarest tropical flower – purple orchid, and just birds alone there are more than three hundred species. Park Rincon de la Vieja is great for outdoor activities – the administration conducts regular guided tours through the jungle, organizes horseback riding and rafting on the mountain rivers. Well, the volcano itself is a great place for fans of mountain climbing.

Coordinates: 10.830000,-85.32388800

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park (photo)

Manuel Antonio National Park is a small national park located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In 2011, it was included in Forbes magazine’s list of the 12 most beautiful national parks.

The park was founded in 1972 to preserve it for future generations. Despite its small size of 16.2 square kilometers it is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in the world. The charming combination of rainforest, exotic beaches and coral reefs attracts 150,000 visitors annually.

The park is populated by a variety of fauna. There are 109 species of mammals, including monkeys, squirrels, iguanas, and sloths. There are also 184 species of birds and many reptiles, including millions of crabs that inhabit the coast.

Coordinates : 9.40054500,-84.13837900

Numismatic and Pre-Columbian Gold Museums

Numismatics and Pre-Columbian Gold Museums (photo)

The Numismatics and Pre-Columbian Gold Museums brought together under one roof two thematic museums that are in one way or another related to money. The number of exhibits in both was steadily increasing, resulting in the decision to update the exhibitions and open them to a wider range of viewers. In 2002, the new unified modern museum literally stunned its guests with the treasures on display.

First and foremost, the Museum of Numismatics and Pre-Columbian Gold displays samples of gold objects from the Pre-Columbian era – jewelry, ritual accessories and whole ingots. The exhibits on display vividly illustrate the era before the arrival of the conquistadors. The halls display not just the country’s gold reserves, but also the historical heritage preserved in objects made of the noble metal. Most of the art objects of the ancient tribes were melted down into unsightly ingots during the time of the Conquista. But in the museum you can see the miraculously surviving statues of gods made of gold.

The numismatic collection is presented to the public in the main hall and is designed as a gallery. Here you can see the entire history of Costa Rican currency reflected in coins and banknotes.

Coordinates: 9.93368200,-84.07649500

The Cerro San Jose Cliff

Cerro San Jose Cliff (photo)

The Cerro San Jose escarpment, or Cerro de la Muerte, is the highest point in Costa Rica. It is also known as the “mountain of death”, due to the difficulty of climbing the mountain and the death of many of its first conquerors.

Today, however, the mountain is easily accessible to climbers because it is located near the Pan American Highway. The mountain has a high temperature contrast – it can drop below zero at night and be enough during the day to risk heat stroke.

The area of the mountain itself and the surrounding area is rich in vegetation and wildlife. Here you can find and dwarf bamboo, tree fern, blueberries, gooseberries and others. Also on the mountain you can meet many species of birds.

Near the mountain is a restaurant Albergue Mirador de Quetzales, which you can visit after traveling around the mountain.

Coordinates: 9.56668500,-83.75003100

Arenal National Reserve

Arenal National Reserve (photo)

Arenal National Park offers a variety of places of interest, including the active Arenal volcano, several waterfalls, and the variety of animals and birds that inhabit the park.

The park covers 80 square kilometers and includes eight ecological zones in Costa Rica, including the largest lake in the country. The main attraction is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Arenal. Despite the fact that the last eruption was in 1968, you can still see smoke coming out of the cone of the volcano, and at night – streams of lava.

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In addition to the volcano there are many beautiful and interesting places in the park. For example, La Fortuna and Pino Blanco waterfalls, near which there are observation decks and at the bottom you can swim. Also, during your stay in the park you can see various animals, birds and fish.

And during a visit to the Maleku Indian Village, you can learn about their culture and buy handmade souvenirs.

Coordinates : 10.46418000,-84.72215700

Costa Rica National Stadium

Costa Rica National Stadium (photo)

The National Stadium of Costa Rica is the first multi-purpose sports arena built in Central America. The 35,000-seat stadium was built in 2011 with Chinese government funding.

The stadium has a modern design. There are huge TV screens hanging on it. The stadium has a sports museum and sports halls for fencing and table tennis.

The stadium is the home stadium of the Costa Rican national soccer team.

Coordinates : 9.93738100,-84.10727600

Orosi Valley

Orosi Valley (photo)

The Orosi Valley is a paradise in Costa Rica. Its expanse stretches for many kilometers and is covered with a green carpet of silky grass, flowers and shrubs. A mild cool climate allows to grow in the valley delicious coffee, varieties of which are highly valued among fans of this noble beverage. Costa Ricans like to call this place a piece of land where spring always reigns.

It is always quiet and peaceful. Enjoying nature and the scents of plants, you can literally spend hours meditating and gaining strength. The valley overlooks the River Reventason, and if you go further, you can reach the shore of a mirror-like lake Kachi, carefully surrounded by mountain slopes covered with Spanish moss and coniferous shrubs. Such a view you will remember for years to come.

For history lovers in the town of the same name is a museum of religious history and antiquities, and stands an ancient church.

The valley and town were named “Orosi” after the chief of the Huetar Indian tribe. This area is known for its fertile soils and ideal climate, making the valley a place where no one can remain indifferent for many years.

Coordinates : 9.79999100,-83.84988800

The National Theater in San Jose

The National Theater in San Jose (photo)

Since its founding, the National Theater of Costa Rica has been a source of pride for everyone in this wonderful country, as the building was built using taxes that were paid by the local population in good faith. The idea to build their own opera house and join the world cultural scene arose in the nineteenth century with the coffee magnates of Costa Rica. The dream was realized in 1897.

Both the inside and the outside of the theater are striking in their pomp and pageantry. For example, the floor in the lobby was made in the Baroque style of Carrara marble with bronze trim. As a decor, 22.5 carat gold coating was used. There, all guests are welcomed by a statue of the master Pietro Bulgarelli, depicting the muses. The chandeliers colorfully depict noon, night, and sunrise. The room of the theater is decorated with paintings and frescoes telling the history of the state. So you can walk through its corridors as if you were in a museum.

The auditorium of the theater holds more than a thousand people. Its shape is curious – the creators saw the hall in the form of a horseshoe. As for the repertoire, it is diverse, its troupe often pleases its audience with interesting premieres.

There is a cozy coffee house in the theater.

Coordinates: 9.93313300,-84.07699600

The most popular attractions in San Jose with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in San Jose on our website.

San Jose

At one time I came to San Jose for the same reason that most tourists get here – the capital of Costa Rica is the largest transportation hub in the country, and it is from here that eco-tourism enthusiasts begin their unforgettable journeys through the vast expanse of national parks and nature reserves.

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San Jose, like other Latin American megacities, is not a safe city and tourists tend to leave it as soon as possible. However, if your itinerary has been planned in a way that requires several days of rest in the capital – do not get upset and moreover do not be frightened. In this article, I will talk about my experience of traveling to San Jose and give you some tips to make your stay in the Costa Rican capital as pleasant and exciting as possible.

How to get there

By plane

When it’s in season. When it’s best to go

San José Monthly Weather

Main attractions. What to see

Food. What to try.

What to do

How to get around

Skiing Holiday

How to get there

To get to San Jose from Russia you can only take a plane, as most tourists do. But if you have already flown to a Latin American country, you have plenty of opportunities – domestic flights, intercity buses, rental cars and even hitchhiking, which in Costa Rica works on fire.

By plane

Costa Rica is considered a “premium” country for our tourists. In confirmation of that tickets from major cities of Russia to San Jose usually cost travelers a pretty penny.

From Moscow
  • Flights with a single connection are made only from Moscow. The flight is operated by major European airlines – British Airways and Iberia. The round trip tickets with connections in London and Madrid start at 1000 USD per person. Flying one way will take you about 19 hours.
  • There is a cheaper alternative – flights with two connections. Tickets in this case will cost only 700 USD, and the travel time will increase by only 2 hours. This option is offered by Aeroflot in alliance with AeroMexico. However, this option has a little nuance, which can complicate your travel preparations a little – the connections are made in different cities in the U.S., and you will need a transit visa to make the connection.
From St. Petersburg

Getting to San Jose from St. Petersburg is a little more difficult than from Moscow. Flights to this destination involve two or more connections. The most advantageous offers in this case are from AirFrance, which has a 19-hour flight with connections in Paris and Panama City. Round-trip tickets start at $1,000 per person. To compare prices and choose the best option, click here.

From other countries of Latin America

You can also get to San Jose for less money – from 500 USD. In this case you will need to make at least two transfers, one of them by yourself. In this case I recommend buying tickets in two steps:

  1. Transatlantic flight . Check the search engines or websites of European airlines for cheap tickets to popular destinations in Latin America. For example, Alitalia flies from Moscow to Mexico City for 500 USD round trip, and KLM has twice this year “thrown” extremely low tickets from Russia to Panama and Colombia – from 300 USD round trip.
  2. Latin American flights . There are major Latin American companies, such as AeroMexico, Interjet and Avianca. They offer round-trip tickets from the countries listed above to San Jose starting at 150 USD. Planes fly to the capital of Costa Rica from Mexico City, Bogota and Panama City 5-7 times a day, so it will be easy to choose a suitable connecting flight.
San Jose Airport. How to get to the city center

The Juan Santamaría International Airport is located about 18 kilometers from San José. It is located right on the Pan American Highway, close to the satellite city of Alajuela. In my opinion, the airport deserves the title of one of the most modern airports in Latin America, because it has literally everything you need to serve tourists. In addition to a clear operating system and comfortable waiting areas, there are several cafes, souvenir shops, and even tour operators who are ready to take you beyond San Jose to a real tourist paradise whenever you want it.

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There are several ways to get from the airport to the city:

  • White buses are waiting for tourists right at the exit of the airport. They leave for the capital every 20-30 minutes from 4:30 am to 11 pm. It is important to note that the bus is marked “San Jose” because in addition to the capital the buses also go to satellite cities. The cost of the ticket is 1 USD and the travel time is 35 minutes. In San Jose, the bus stops near La Merced Park in the city center.
  • An official San Jose airport cab will help you avoid the headache of not getting cheated and get out of the airport in complete safety.At the exit, feel free to get into the red cars, and they will take you where you need to go in a matter of minutes. Cab prices depend on your destination and traffic congestion but I can tell you that for a ride to the center you will pay about 20-25 USD for a car.

Bus

You cannot take a bus to San Jose from Russia. But to do it from neighboring countries will be very easy. There are both international and intercity buses in Costa Rica.

International buses

When it comes to traveling between Central American countries, Ticabus immediately comes to mind. It is a unique bus company that runs throughout the region. Its peculiarity lies in the convenience of routes lined up from capital city to capital city. So, Ticabus makes it very easy to get to San Jose from Managua (from 30 USD for 7 hours) and Panama City (from 40 USD for 12 hours). The company offers 3-4 trips a day, alternating economy buses with more comfortable ones. You can buy tickets at the company’s private terminals, which are located in all major and tourist cities of Central America. By the way, the guarded Ticabus terminals are another advantage of the company in a sometimes insecure region.

Other companies such as TransNica and MEPE run between neighboring Latin American countries. But in my opinion they don’t have any advantages over Ticabus – tickets on these carriers aren’t much cheaper, and their terminals are often in very remote and unsafe areas.

Intercity Buses

Central America is famous for its “chikenbuses,” the old school buses from the United States that are used in the region for passenger transportation. However, Costa Rica has long stepped up a notch. Modern buses run throughout the country, with fares that I estimated to be about $2 USD per hour of travel. Tickets are purchased at bus terminals, but on rare occasions you may be directed to a driver. On the way to San Jose, especially from border towns, buses will often want people in uniform and check the entry stamp. Therefore, you should not stow your passport far away all the way.

San Jose bus stations.

Every bus company in Costa Rica arrives at its own terminal. This is not very convenient, but fortunately almost all of them are within walking distance of each other and of the city center. You can get from here to wherever you want by cab or public transportation, but I preferred to find a hostel nearby and check in right away – because I had to drive on soon.

By car

You can come to San Jose by rental car from other cities in Costa Rica. This is very convenient, because the city is built right on the Pan-American Highway. If you are faced with the choice of where to rent a car, then I would advise to do it in the popular tourist spots in Costa Rica: this is where companies offer a huge selection of new cars at a price of 30 USD per day.

You can rent a car for a trip to San Jose, or in advance on the website of one of the many Costa Rican companies. In the second case, you need to make an advance payment by transferring part of the amount to the company’s account. You’ll need a passport and an international driver’s license to sign a contract. You can also look for options here.

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When it’s in season. When it’s best to go

The weather in San Jose is very stable – daytime temperatures range from +23 to +25°C almost all year round. The rainy season in the whole country is from May to October – during this time Costa Rica experiences long and heavy downpours, often hampering your travels, but the prices of all tourist services fall by almost 50%.

Since San Jose is not the main tourist destination in the country, and to some it even seems a forced point of stay, to focus on the weather in the capital when planning a trip is not worth it. After all, Costa Rica is a surprisingly diverse country, and everyone has different goals for visiting it. Determine them and plan your route, without adjusting to the weather in San Jose – let the weather adjust to you.

San José Monthly Weather

Neighborhoods. Where it’s best to live

When choosing a neighborhood to stay in San Jose, I would advise that you first base your choice on how many days you plan to spend in the city. In the map below, I have highlighted three main neighborhoods that I think are best for an overnight stay. All the tourist infrastructure is there and public transportation is good. Even the police are much more active in those areas where there are the most hostels and hotels. If you decide to stay in a remote hotel, be prepared that for safety reasons you will have to take a cab all the time.

  • La Sabana is a modern, classy, and safe neighborhood in San Jose. I would recommend staying here for people who are coming to stay in the city for the long term, as well as for families with children. The main type of accommodation in La Sabana are stylish single-story hotels and modern high-rises. Many of them have a swimming pool. Room rates range from 30 to 150 USD. Here is a typical urban infrastructure – a lot of restaurants, supermarkets, small stores and even beauty salons. And, of course, a huge advantage is the walking distance to San Jose’s largest city park.
  • I named the train station area because almost all of San Jose’s bus terminals are located here. This is where I lived for a few days so I didn’t have to lug my suitcases back and forth. But from my experience I can say that this area is more suitable for travelers who only need to stay in the capital for one night. But the noisy atmosphere of railway stations is felt almost in all streets of the area. But here you can find a cheap hostel from 15 USD per night – the lowest price I could find in Costa Rica.
  • The city center is primarily theaters, museums, and souvenir stores. I would advise to stay here for those who come for 3-4 days and want to explore all the sights, as well as for lovers of nightlife. In the center of the city you can find a room in a hostel for 25 USD per night or stay in a modern hotel for 50-60 USD. You can compare prices here, and book a favorite room conveniently on Bookings.

I also recommend paying attention to apartments. San Jose residents take their apartment rentals very seriously, so most of them are in excellent condition and have a stylish design. The cost of a whole apartment with a kitchen and all conveniences starts from 20 USD, and the conditions are many times better than the hostels you can find for the same money. Choosing and booking accommodation is quite easy here.

What are the prices of vacations

San Jose vacation prices are slightly lower compared to other, more touristy regions of Costa Rica.

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