San Jose

sanjose

The Province

Area:
4,959 sq. km
Population:
1,100,000
Climate:
Moderate
Average Temperature:
23 C
Tourist Attractions:
National Museum
Jade Museum
Gold Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art
National Theater

About the Capital City San Jose (also the capital of Costa Rica)

Population:
300,000
Altitude:
1,160 Mts. above sea level

General Information

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica, a fact made obvious by the many commercial and industrial buildings that dot the city. While the architecture might leave much to be desired, San Jose is still a wonderful place to visit, with a special, hidden beauty all its own. Offering much in the way of sightseeing, shopping, dining, and general tourism, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re going to be in Costa Rica. After all, you can’t visit Costa Rica without visiting its capital!

To See: Teatro Nacional

No visit to Costa Rica would be complete without a stop at Teatro Nacional. Located near the Plaza de la Cultura, this beautiful theatre has been a favorite destination of tourists and locals alike since it was built in 1897. While its sheer age makes it worth seeing, the architecture itself is absolutely breathtaking. Take in stately columns, statues of famous artists including Beethoven, and gorgeous paintings that have been hanging since the theatre’s inception. The theater also features a cute little café, perfect for grabbing a bite to eat or a quick coffee after a long day of sightseeing. And, if eating restores your energy, be sure to head across the street to the celebrated art museum, Museo Homenaje Joaquin Garcia Monge.

Going Downtown

The Teatro Nacional is located just south of the downtown area of San Jose, which features the well-known Plaza de la Cultura. Anyone who wants to take in some art and get cultured needs to check out this general area. Both tourists and locals mingle near the plaza, so it’s also a great place to be if you’re looking to make native friends or practice your Spanish. The locals can also point you in the direction of must-see downtown spots, like the Gold Museum. And, if you’d like a little more advice on what’s going on in town and the hottest tourist destinations, you can always stop in at the Tourism Information Office.

Experiencing Nature

San Jose visitors who wish to see the more natural part of the city—think fewer buildings and more trees—will want to venture to Savannah Metropolitan Park. It’s a quiet oasis amidst a bustling city; think of it as the Central Park of San Jose. Gorgeous, rustic trails provide an easy way to get some exercise and take in the natural beauty that Costa Rica is famous for, and there are also wide, open spaces, perfect for playing a game of soccer with the locals. There are also spaces for picnicking as well as several recreational centers. Concerts and other major events are frequently going on at the park’s National Gymnasium, and you can usually find something happening at National Stadium as well. And, offering a nice escape from the heat is the Museum of Costa Rican Art and the La Salle Natural Science Museum.

The Main Museum

While several museums have already been mentioned, the award for “top museum” in San Jose would have to go to the Museo de Jade. This museum is renowned for featuring the world’s largest collection of American jade and also has other gorgeous gold and stonework pieces on display. Plus, as an added bonus, the museum sits high atop the city, making it a perfect place to take a moment and take in the city. In short, if you can only go to one museum while you’re in San Jose, this is the one!

What to Expect: Weather

While we’ve discussed lot of great sightseeing options in San Jose, what you can do may be somewhat dependant on what the weather is like when you go. While you might think of San Jose and of all of Costa Rica for that matter as consistently warm, the weather in San Jose actually varies quite a bit. Usually though, even at its coldest, Costa Rica is still warmer than the average North American city would be at the same time. While you will probably never have to worry about freezing in San Jose, you should know that rain and storms are fairly common from April to December, so if you’re planning to do a lot of outdoor activities, you may want to plan your vacation accordingly.

Travel Information

When it comes to getting into San Jose, you have a lot of different options. You can easily fly into the city via the SJO airport, and the city also has a bus line and train service. Once you’re in the city itself, you’ll find that taxis are abundant, easy to flag down, and best of all, incredibly cheap! The majority of taxi drivers accepts American dollars too; just be sure to ask before you accept a ride. There’s also a shuttle service, and much of the city can easily be accessed via foot.

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