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“Experience a Slice of Life in Costa Rica: 10 Top Attractions Worth Visiting In San Jose”
Looking for things to do in San Jose Costa Rica on your next trip away?
As the countries capital and largest city, San Jose is a must-stop for any visitor to Costa Rica. As it’s the heart of the city however, there are inevitably a thousand and one things you can do.
San Jose offers visitors and locals a perfect blend between fun, relaxation and cultural experiences for all ages. But without a little planning up-front you could miss the cities best attractions without even knowing it!
In this guide, we want to highlight the 10 best things to do in San Jose. Things that cater for; short stays, families and those looking for something a little different.
So without further ado – drum roll please…
Experience Mercado Centrale: Central Market
As we’re talking about the largest city in Costa Rica – a good place to start would be the largest market.
There’s over 200 shops, stalls and eateries – So plenty here for you to see, explore and shop at.
With authentic and interesting food on the menu you’ll be spoiled for choice. Some popular choice by locals and tourists alike include; the famous casados, galla pinto and the agua dulce drink.
If you’re into shopping there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s picking up some spices, purchasing local crafts or even a quick stop to get your ‘going-back’ presents and souvenirs – Central Market is the place to visit.
As a word of caution however: Try to avoid the times of 4-6pm as traffic can get pretty hectic.
If you want to indulge in the artistic musical culture of Costa Rica then your next stop should be The National Theater. The National Theater is located in the central section of San Jose.
Opened to the public of Costa Rica in 1897, The National Theater houses some of the finest interiors you’re likely to see. With luxurious furnishings, stunning murals this historic building will have beautiful images etched in your mind for years to come.
It’s even got a ceiling named in the ’10 Great Ceiling’s in the World’!
The Theater draws in tourists from all over the world while boasting several performances a week. But, even you want to skip the performances and just explore and gaze at the beautiful craftsmanship, you’re free to take a look around anytime during the day.
Go Back In Time At The Jade Museum
If you want to take yourself back in time then be sure to have a look at the Jade Museum.
With over 7000 Pre-Columbian artifacts on display, most of these items date between 500-300BC. On entering the Museum you’ll be taken through 6 exhibits; Threshold, Jade, The Day, The Night, Memory and finally The Collection.
Each exhibit highlights the importance of jade, how it was integrated into Pre-Columbian societies and how, why and when it was used.
Located on Central Avenue the building is hard to miss. After being updated and modernized the new building represents a huge block of jade stone. A visit to the Jade Museum can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace and can be a great break from the hustle and bustle of Central Market.
Relax at La Sabana Metropolitan Park
Okay, so with the Theater and Jade Museum out of the way it’s time to head back outdoors – the Parque Metropolitano La Sabana to be more specific.
Considered the ‘Lungs of San Jose’, this beautiful and charming urban park houses the National Stadium, the Costa Rican Art Museum, a large lake, sports fields and several running and skating tracks.
As you take a stroll (or bike ride) through its 72 hectares of space – The Parque Metropolitano La Sabana might have your eyes wandering and the mind wondering.
If the weathers great, it’s well worth taking the time out of your day to visit. Here’s a short video showcasing some of the things you can see…
Parque Metropolitano La Sabana – Costa Rica
Do Something Different at Itarär Ecological Park
If you’re looking for something a little less frequented by tourists – then we’d recommend checking out the Itarär Ecological Park. Something definitely worth visiting if nature so happens is your kind of thing
Itarär Park has a multitude of activities, guided tours and educational workshops for you to get your teeth stuck into. You’ll be able to take part in; a garden design and organic orchard workshops while also having the option to hire out part of the park for any events and celebrations.
One for nature photography? You won’t want to miss this one. You can find out more by visiting http://www.parqueitarar.com/
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Taste Beer Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company
While, not everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of beer?) – The Craft Brewing Company is a beer lover’s paradise. There’s a relaxed energy about the place, amazing craft beers on tap and it’s all housed in a nice, modern, stylish bar and brewery.
While some beers are seasonal such as the ‘Wheat Beer with Cas’ and the ‘Shout Avena’ there are other beers you’ll be able to drink – The Red Ale Segua and the Libertas Tropical Golden that are available all year round.
Voted the 5th best thing to do in San Jose on Tripadvisor – a visit to the Craft Brewing Company can be a great addition to your Costa Rican adventure in San Jose.
Entertain The Kids at Parque Diversiones
If you’re looking for something to do with the kids in San Jose – look no further than the Parque Diversiones. The Parque Diversiones is an amusement park located in the La Uruca district.
The park was set up as way in which the local Children’s Hospital could raise funds to sustain the hospital budget and provide care and assistance to sick children permanently – later coining the motto ‘Healthy Children Help Sick Children’.
Parque Diversiones is split into different themed areas;
- Traditional Themed Area: Which consists of roller coasters and bumper cars – attractions you’d normally associate with any amusement park you’d visit at home.
- Pueblo Antiguo: Which takes you on a brief encounter with Costa Ricas history and past
- Plaza Tio Conejo: That houses various activities and attractions from the Italian company Zamperla
- Additional Smaller Themed Activities: With rides, attractions and games for the whole family to take part in.
There are also a multitude of places to find food and enjoy the day at your own leisure.
So if you’d not only like to contribute to the health of local sick children while keeping your own children occupied with fun, interesting and adrenaline pumping activities, then you should definitely check out the Parque Diversiones.
Opening times vary depending on the season but as a rough guide expect the Park to be open between:
- Friday and Sunday 9-7pm during low season
- Monday – Thursday 9-5pm and Friday to Sunday 9-7pm during high season.
Educate The Family at the Children’s Museum
Staying on topic for things to do with kids in San Jose – The Children’s Museum comes next. Previously used as the Central Penitentiary, the Children’s Museum offers an unforgettable experience in history focusing on entertainment and science.
With interactive rooms, each one offering a unique adventure into:
- The Universe,
- Egyptian Culture,
- The Human Body
- And whole host of other things
….the whole family will have something to gain and take part in.
You can find the Children’s Museum in San Jose Downtown. Price is on $3.49 for those under 15 years old and $3.89 for everyone over 15. So you can spend the day learning in fun while spending minimal amount of money.
Understand The Local Tribes at Galeria Namu
Once you’re done at the Children’s Museum, you’re next stop should be the Galeria Namu. Also located in Downtown San Jose, the Galeria Namu offers a wide range of truly amazing pieces of art.
Each piece tells a small story of the artistic creations of 8 indigenous tribes across Costa Rica. You’re free to have a browse round and learn more about the way of the local tribes. If a piece takes your fancy however, you’ve got the option to purchase it and take it home.
Now it’s worth noting, it’s probably not the most interesting place for children, but if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, you can find the Galeia Namu behind the Holiday Inn Tower in Barrio Amon.
Experience Local Culture at Plaza De La Cultura
Located in the Cathedral District, Plaza De La Cultura should be on your list of things to see while you’re in San Jose.
It’s a buzzing, modern square where you’ll experience musicians, beautiful architecture, local culture and some great shops to browse through.
If you’re looking to visit the National Theater or even the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum take a walk through here first to get a real taste of life at the heart of San Jose.
Get Away From the Crowds at Herpetological Refuge Costa Rica
If you feel like you’ve spent a lot of time meandering crowds, eating and spending too much time in the busier parts of San Jose – the Herpetological Refuge Center should have you connecting back to the true beauty of Costa Rica.
The Refuge is a rescue center for wildlife that inhabit the country. They provide rehabilitation and a safe home for monkeys, snakes, crocodiles, owls, raptors and many other animals that are in need of some TLC.
You’ll be able to get up close and personal with some of the countries most beautiful and protected animals while knowing you’re contributing to their safe recovery.
On arrival you’ll have tour guide that can educate you on the background of each animal while enhancing your jungle and wilderness experience.
you can find The Refuge in Santa Ana.
Whether you’re travelling alone, with the family or just taking a few days out from your busy schedule back home – San Jose offers something for everyone.
With educational cultural experiences, fun and adrenaline activities and attractions that can help you calm the mind and reconnect, there’s something for whatever type of experience you’re looking for.
So get that bucket list ticked off with these top 10 things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica!