Costa Rica Travel – When most people think of Costa Rica, it’s the lush jungles, beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife that first come to mind. But what about San José, Costa Rica’s capital city? Though San José isn’t necessarily the highlight of a trip to Costa Rica, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few gems worth checking out in the city. We recommend adding an extra day at the start or end of your trip to get to know the city and decide for yourself! Here are a few sights to see while you’re there:
The National Theater is easily the most elegant historic building in all of Costa Rica. The exquisite structure dates back to 1897, and boasts well-worn seats as well as gold leaf décor and neoclassical influences. Feel transported to a bygone era by catching a concert or opera. The symphony on Sundays is also a sublime choice.
If you’re looking for a place to purchase souvenirs and also learn about the indigenous art influences on the country, then don’t forget to stop at Galeria Namu. The gallery boasts authentic handicrafts in all shapes, sizes and prices, ensuring there’s something for every budget and traveler.
The Jade Museum
The Jade Museum has a relatively new home in the shimmering Plaza de Democracia, which adds to the attraction’s already immense appeal. For the first time in the museum’s history, all 7,000 pieces can be displayed throughout the museum’s five stories. While learning about the jade, pottery and other exhibits, visitors can enjoy interactive displays and learn how jade has influenced cultural development throughout the ages.
Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
Once you’ve had your fill of jade, head over to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. You’ll find a small collection of gold artifacts, as well as a fantastic introduction to Costa Rica’s earliest civilization.
Stroll along this long pedestrian-only shopping street for the best in cheap buys, restaurants, street performers and more. It’s an enjoyable and energetic way to spend an afternoon on a beautiful day.
Enjoy Fine Cuisine
You can find just about any type of food your heart desires in San José, and most of it will be exquisitely prepared. Restaurant La Terrasse is one of the most popular choices, and boasts wonderful French meals in the chef’s private antique home. For our favorite restaurant, head to La Esquina de Buenos Aires, a romantic and delicious Argentinian restaurant.
Finally, for something more local, try el Mercado Central. Here you’ll find excellent small sodas that the locals typically frequent.
Safety In San José
It is worth noting that San José is not as safe as most other destinations in Costa Rica. Exercise caution when walking around at all times, and take taxis at night. Also avoid carrying around valuables, backpacks or other items that invite pickpockets.
That’s not to say you won’t feel safe everywhere. You’ll find many areas of San José are quite cosmopolitan — between the fine dining, Starbucks and sprawling shopping malls, you might even think you’re in a major U.S. city! With a bit of discretion and the same safety precautions you would take anywhere in the world, you shouldn’t encounter any issues.
Have you been to San José? What did you think?
From Travel Pulse