Escape to San Jose! Enjoy its museums, volcanoes, and entertainment.

European charm and Central American vitality combine to provide an interesting blend of old and new, making San José a fascinating Costa Rican city. Interact with friendly locals, investigate impressive European architecture, enjoy cultural arts and perfect your Spanish language skills.

Several of San José’s impressive public structures date back to Spanish settlement from as early as the 1700s. Experience some of the best of San José ’s cultural activities and see interesting buildings near the large Plaza de la Cultura. Here, admire the neo-classical architecture of the Teatro Nacional. Reserve seats for outstanding cultural events at this national theater or tour the opulent interior decorated with murals, paintings and sculptures.

Nearby, visit three exceptional museums. See dazzling indigenous pieces in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. The Museo del Jade has plenty of jade as well as anthropological artifacts. Learn about Costa Rican history and natural science at the Museo Nacional, another example of striking architecture.

Costa Rica is a popular location for language learners looking for immersion in a Spanish-speaking region, either through formal training or casual interaction with local residents. Sign up for one of many structured programs or test your Spanish skills in restaurants in the different barrios of San José.

You’re sure to get a friendly smile if you order gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast just as the locals do. When you need a break from Spanish, go to the restaurants and country clubs of the western Escasu barrio with many English-speaking expats or visit the relatively new Chinatown area.

In March, the city hosts the Transitarte Festival. Enjoy pleasant summer weather and travel from one urban park to another to enjoy music, crafts, workshops and art.

Reach San José via Juan Santamaría International Airport, 10 miles (17 kilometers) northwest of the city center. Use public buses and taxis to get around the city. Many of the main landmarks are in the downtown or “el centro” area, easy to walk from one to another.

Known for

Cafes, Museums and Volcanoes

Top Hotels in San Jose

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Barceló San José
Barceló San José
4 out of 5
Autopista General Canas 3km, El Robledal - La Uruca, San Jose, San Jose
$83
per night
Oct 5 - Oct 6
4.2/5Excellent! (1,913 reviews)

"Nice hotel. Great breakfast. Nice bar and excellent entertainment. I would definitely return."…"

Reviewed on Sep 15, 2019

Barceló San José
Image for Hotel Luisiana
Hotel Luisiana
3.5 out of 5
100 west and 400 south from Cruz Roja, Santa Ana, San Jose
$35
per night
Sep 22 - Sep 23
4.2/5Very Good! (1,926 reviews)

"For the price it is a bargain. However the rooms are starting to show signs of wear. The beds and linens need to be upgraded."…"

Reviewed on Sep 19, 2019

Hotel Luisiana
Image for Radisson San Jose-Costa Rica
Radisson San Jose-Costa Rica
4 out of 5
Calle Central y Tercera Av. 15, Calle Blancos, San Jose, San Jose
$85
per night
Sep 22 - Sep 23
4/5Very Good! (1,680 reviews)

"I always stay at this property and it is always a great experience. The only let down this time was the room's bathroom was a little run down and the hot tub wasn't working."…"

Reviewed on Sep 20, 2019

Radisson San Jose-Costa Rica

Top activities in San Jose

Tortuguero National Park Cruise
Image for Tortuguero National Park Cruise

Tortuguero National Park Cruise

$116

Explore the exotic rainforests, waterways, and fauna-filled parks of Costa Rica on this guided excursion. Drive through densely forested and mountainous Braulio Carillo National Park, and then hop on a boat for a cruise through the channels and lagoons of Tortuguero National Park.

Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise
Image for Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise

Day Trip to Tortuga Island with world famous Calypso Cruise

$139

Feel your worries float away in the breeze during a guided cruise across the Gulf of Nicoya to Isla Tortuga. This full-day getaway invites you to relax on the beach and snorkel or participate in an exhilarating banana boat ride before indulging in a 4-course lunch with fresh fruit and soft drinks.

Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day
Image for Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day

Tortuga Island Cruise & Beach Day

$128

Step aboard a boat at Puntarenas for a scenic cruise across the Gulf of Nicoya. Hop off at Tortuga Island for an afternoon swimming, snorkeling, and lounging on the white sands of this exotic destination, and enjoy a delicious Costa Rican lunch prepared by your crew.

Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean
Image for Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean

Rainforest Aerial Tram Caribbean

$66

Soar over the canopy on the Caribbean Rainforest Tram for a look at one of Costa Rica’s least-explored and most biologically diverse regions, riding over the rich vegetation and wildlife of this protected forest.

Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour
Image for Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour

Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate & Sarchi Arts & Crafts Market Tour

$99

At Poas National Park, look down into the blackened lunar landscape of the 8,885-foot (2,708-m) tall crater. As the billowing smoke and steam dissipate over the fumaroles and sulfuric lake at its center, watch for erupting geysers—they've been known to shoot up to 820 feet (250 m) into the sky.

Cooking Classes & Typical Dinner
Image for Cooking Classes & Typical Dinner

Cooking Classes & Typical Dinner

$40

Following the itinerary of our activity: 1. Welcome message and instructions about the experience. 2. Welcome drink toast (Fruit juice). 3. Start cutting the ingredients for Picadillo (Mix of vegetables), adding local spices, salt, pepper and the magic touch of Guiselle.

Other places like San Jose

Jaco
Image for Jaco
Jaco
trover photo by Garrett Britton
Dominical
Image for Dominical
Dominical
trover photo by Jodi Dangerous
Guatemala City
Image for Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Managua
Image for Managua
Managua