Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica
Popular National Parks in Costa Rica
The capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose is a charming city home to beautiful neighborhoods (barrios), lovely parks, museums and friendly locals.

If you are traveling to San Jose Costa Rica for the first time, the city has a strong cultural Spanish heritage that can be appreciated in the many religious celebrations all year around.

Apart from many things to do in San Jose Costa Rica, the city offers many outdoor and beach opportunities for an exotic honeymoon to Costa Rica.

For instance, you can hike at the Carara National Park and enjoy a fun time at the beach in Playa Hermosa, which is located nearby Jaco.

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica: Fun Outdoors Activities

Butterfly Spotting

If you love butterflies, the city center of San Jose Costa Rica is home to the charming Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, which is home to hundreds of Costa Rican butterflies.

Apart from marveling at the butterflies, the garden itself provides a place where you can unwind after a busy day touring the city.

National Parks

If you are a nature lover or simply want to experience Costa Rica’s amazing forest beauty, the city of San Jose is within driving distance of couple of Costa Rica’s National Parks.

Carara National Park, located west of the city facing the Gulf of Nicoya, is one of the most popular National Parks for travelers based in San Jose Costa Rica. At the park, you can enjoy hiking and bird watching.

Braulio Carrillo National Park, located north of the city, is a just a short 30 minute drive along the highway towards Limon.

Braulio Park is a popular place for wildlife spotting, and especially hiking, as the park is home to a few inactive volcanoes with crater lakes such as Barva Volcano.

San Jose Costa Rica Urban Parks

National Park

The National Park (Parque Nacional), located nearby the Railroad Museum, is a wonderful place where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll and picnicking.

Morazan Park

The Morazan Park (Parque Morazan), located nearby Espana Park, is another beautiful park in San Jose Costa Rica where you can stroll around. The park also features lovely statues and a music pavilion which is home to a band stand on Sundays.

Espana Park

Espana Park (Parque Espana), located nearby Morazan Park, is a lovely park that features beautiful tropical trees and a statue of Juan Vazquez. Apart from being a beautiful park to walk around, on Sundays you can see local art on display by local artists.

Central Park

Central Park (Parque Nacional), located between the National Palace and the National Library, is another charming park where you can enjoy a nice afternoon stroll. The park also features a cathedral and theater on either side of the park.

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica: Places of Interest

Culture Square

Culture Square (Plaza de la Cultura), opposite the National Theater, is one of the most popular plazas in the city where locals, tourists and buskers (street performers) congregate.

Visiting Plaza de la Cultura is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular things to do in San Jose Costa Rica. The plaza is the heart of the city and an ideal place to relax and while enjoying some people-watching.

Simon Bolivar Zoo

The Simon Bolivar Zoo (Zoologico Simon Bolivar) is a small zoo located nearby Clarion Amon Plaza. The zoo features jaguars, monkeys, crocodiles and other wildlife.

National Center of Art and Culture

The National Center of Art and Culture (Centro de Arte y Cultura), located adjacent Espana Park, offers great exhibits on Costa Rica artists, as well as an interactive show on Costa Rica modern art.

Railroad Museum

The Railroad Museum, located in the Amon District near National Park (Parque Nacional), is an interesting museum which is actually housed in a 20th century train station.

At the museum, you can see exhibits and photographs of Costa Rica old railway system.

National Palace

The National Palace (Palacio Nacional), located opposite the National Park, is where you can find Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly, and visitors are welcome to tour-watch a live congress.

Jade Museum

The Jade Museum, located at the National Insurance Institute and adjacent Espana Park, features a wide collection on pre-Columbian art, as well as an impressive collection of beautiful rare Jade.

National Museum

The National Museum (Museo Nacional), located opposite Palacio Nacional, is another must-add attraction if you are interested on Costa Rica history and art. The museum features a couple of rooms where you can see Indian artifacts and paintings from colonial times.

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica: Shopping

One of the best places in San Jose Costa Rica to enjoy shopping is at one of the Markets (Mercados). The markets provide an ideal place for shopping for local produce as well as local handmade goods such as leather and jewelry items.

Around the Central Avenue (Central Avenida) area you can find a few markets which are located near each other. They include: Mercado Paso de la Vaca, Mercado Bourbon and Mercado Central.

Culture Square (Plaza de la Cultura) is also home to a few vendors that sell local handmade crafts such as figurines.

For retail shopping, Mall San Pedro and El Pueblo shopping center offer over four hundred department stores between them as well as food courts.

Mall San Pedro is located near a cinema complex called Cines CCM San Pedro, while El Pueblo shopping center is located nearby Bank COFISA.

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica: Nightlife & Entertainment

Exploring the city’s night scene is one of the most popular fun things to do in San Jose Costa Rica.

The nightlife in San Jose Costa Rica comes alive at the weekend when the locals gear themselves for a fun night out.

The hot-spot for finding nightlife is a place called ‘El Pueblo’, which features many nightclubs and bars, where patrons can hop from bar to bar.

'El Pueblo' features all kinds of venues ranging from karaoke bars, lounge bars and nightclubs where you can enjoy Latin music.

Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica: Events & Festivals

San Jose Carnival

The San Jose Carnival, held after Boxing Day in December, is a popular pre-new year event that features flamboyant floats and beautiful parades reminiscing of Sao Paulo Brazil carnival.

Independence Day

Costa Rica's Independence Day is held on September the 15th and during this day the country comes to almost a complete stand-still to commemorate their Independence with marching bands and light parades.

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