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 Costa Rica is a unique Central American country nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. San José, the capital, holds diverse activities for visitors and has an exciting urban life with art galleries, parks, and a vibrant nightlife scene. The country is a worldwide-renowned travel destination praised for its abundance of wildlife, rainforests, volcanoes, beaches and national parks.

currency

1 ₡ Colón (CRC) = 100 céntimo
US Dollar is also accepted by many businesses

phone

911
Ambulance: 128
Fire: 118

newspaper

In English: Tico Times — ticotimes.net

Diario Extra — www.diarioextra.com
La Nación — www.nacion.com
La República — www.larepublica.net

hours

General opening hours are from 8 am to 6 pm, though some businesses close as early as 4:30 pm. Big shopping centres stay open until 9 pm. Note that many shops and museums might be closed on Mondays.

population

342,000 — the capital city
1.5 million — the urban area

info

San José Tourist Information Office
Located in the east side of Juan Pablo II bridge,
over the motorway General Canes, San Jose
Open Mon–Fri 8am – 4pm
+506 2299 5800

website

www.visitcostarica.com

Colourful houses in downtown of San Jose QArts/Shutterstock.com

The City

Boasting marvellous tropical wildlife and outdoor adventures, Costa Rica is truly a traveler’s paradise. Whether you want to explore a diverse fauna — with big wild cats, curious birds, and colourful fish — or to dive into the rainforest flora, this Central American paradise offers its visitors an outstanding glimpse of nature.

While the city of San José might contrast with its green surroundings, the cultural and political capital is well worth exploring. Among the grey buildings and the hectic urban life, you will find a number of art galleries, historic monuments, and market areas that will make your visit unforgettable.

San José is also a central travel hub with easy access to beaches, mountain hikes and natural parks.

Top 9 Attractions for Coffee Lovers

Coffee production has played a key role in Costa Rica's history and continues to be important to the country's economy. The volcanic soil, high altitudes, and good climate give coffee come together to create some of the best coffee crops in the world with its lively acidity, lighter body and smooth, sweet, floral flavours.

As a small country, Costa Rica now provides under 1% of the world's coffee production, so don't expect to find their coffee beans on just any supermarket shelf in your supermarket back home. All the more reason to explore the hyperlocal coffee culture, from farm to cup.

Don't miss the chance to visit local hipster joints for your third wave coffee experience while in San José. You can even take cupping classes to develop your palate! A farm visit is an absolute must for when you are ready to leave the city and explore the countryside.

Aumnuaysin Pookraksa / Shutterstock.com

Cafeoteca

Cherry b l o s s o m/Shutterstock.com

Alma de Café

Tarrazu/Wikimedia Commons

Aquiares Coffee & Community Experience

Brooke Cagle/unsplash.com

Cafe La Mancha

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Dulce Junio Café

Saddymonster/Wikimedia Commons

Britt Coffee Tour

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Coffee Tour & Adventure

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Costa Rican Specialty Coffee Tasting & Workshop

Behind the iron gate is the garden pathway into the National Theater in San Jose aceshot1/Shutterstock.com

Do & See

San José is home to great world-class museums, lush parks, hip hostels with pools and some seriously amazing restaurants. The most exciting neighbourhood of the city is Escalante — the hippest people are hanging out there. Besides having a vibrant urban life, San José is also the perfect starting point for day trips to many major destinations spread throughout the country. Hop on a bus and explore the local forest regions or a hike in the nearby mountains. The city's energetic and vibrant life and unique nature will make for unforgettable experiences.

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National Theatre of Costa Rica

Rodtico21/Wikimedia Commons

Museum of Costa Rican Art

Andy Rusch/Wikimedia Commons

Metropolitan Cathedral of San José

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Jade Museum

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National Park

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Parque Francia in Barrio Escalante

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Simón Bolívar National Zoological Park and Botanical Garden

alessen/Shutterstock.com

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum

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Coffee Tour & Adventure

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The Pedestrian Central Avenue

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La Sabana Park

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Children's Museum

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Bites and Sights Food Tour

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Cementerio General de San José

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Spirogyra Butterfly Garden

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Orosi River Valley

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Meet the Sloths at Toucan Rescue Ranch

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Corso Lechería Tour

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Arenal Volcano

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La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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Poás Volcano National Park

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The All-in-One Package

Typical Costa Rican vegetable plate sahana/Shutterstock.com

Dining

Rice, vegetables, black beans, and fruit (especially plantain) are the main ingredients of Costa Rica's gastronomy. As it is common in Central America, you will find a healthy and delicious variety of dishes. The city centre is filled with a good amount of small cafes, cozy restaurants, and lovely eateries where you can have a taste of the country's mouth-watering cuisine.

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Tin Jo

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Saúl Bistro

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El Patio Del Balmoral

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Sapore Trattoria

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Restaurante Jürgen's

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La Tortillería de Luján

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La Esquina de Buenos Aires

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Machu Picchu

Coffee JIL Photo/Shutterstock.com

Coffee and Lunch

Cafes in San José are usually cozy and intimate, yet welcome everyone to a quick refreshment or an extended break on a busy day of sightseeing. You will come across plenty of places to grab an ice cream to eat as you stroll through the city, or just a small coffee shop to sit down and enjoy an afternoon snack. San José is one of the world's capitals of coffee, so don't miss out!

Maslova Valentina / Shutterstock.com

Café Miel Garage

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POPS

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Café Rojo

Aumnuaysin Pookraksa / Shutterstock.com

Cafeoteca

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Jardín de Lolita

Cherry b l o s s o m/Shutterstock.com

Alma de Café

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Cafe La Mancha

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Dulce Junio Café

Bars & Nightlife

From jazz cafes to dance clubs and beer pubs, San José offers visitors a diverse selection of nightlife entertainment. Experience the vibrant street life and an exciting music scene with events for every taste. Hangout with friends in the pub around the corner and head out to the hottest disco in town afterwards — you won't be disappointed with the Latin nightlife of San José.

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Costa Rica Beer Factory Inc

Bochkarev Photography/Shutterstock.com

Bar Bahamas

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La Avispa — The Wasp

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El Sótano / Amón Solar

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Antik Restaurant + Bar

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Stiefel Pub

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San José by Night Tour

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El Observatorio

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El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte

Shopping

Carvings from polished coconut wood, colourful bead bracelets, and handmade ceramics are popular souvenirs that you can bring home from Costa Rica. Jewellery and skilfully crafted woven fabrics that will delight your friends and family can be bought at the various markets in the city centre.

Hand-carved wooden figures, colourful hammocks and t-shirts with prints are among the most popular souvenirs from Costa Rica. You can pick them up at one of the many markets in the city centre or look for specialty shops in the area.

Engin Akyurt/unsplash.com

Mall San Pedro

Marissa Strniste

San José Central Market

Peter Bernik/Shutterstock.com

Feria Verde de Aranjuez

fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Plaza América

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Galería Namú

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Holalola Gift Shop

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La Casa del Montañista Outdoor Store

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Pura Vida Souvenirs

Deckchairs along Mal Pais coastline in San Jose Costa Rica RHIMAGE/Shutterstock.com

Tourist Information

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, from mid-December to April — you'll get plenty of sunshine, ideal for exploring beaches. The forests, however, are not as lush this time of the year. The dry season is the most crowded and expensive time to visit.

The rainy season lasts from May to November, with incessant rain showers — it is the cheapest season to visit. During June and July, rain showers stop briefly and the forests burst with green foliage.

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Passport / Visa

Costa Rica allows for visa-free travel periods up to 90 days to citizens from most EU, America, and Oceania countries. Before traveling, check your country's visa policies at https://costarica.org/travel/visas/

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Addresses

San José and other towns in Costa Rica use a rectilinear roadway grid. The roads going north and south are called calles (streets) while the ones going east and west are called avenidas (avenues).

Let's pretend that Calle Central is number 0. From there, calles count up by odd numbers to the east and even numbers west. Avenidas have odd numbers north of the pedestrian Avenida Central and even going south. Parque Central and Mercado Central (Central park and market) are usually at the centre of town.

Many addresses will be written down as Calle 4, Avenidas 4 & 6 — somewhere on the north-south street 4 between avenues 4 and 6.

However, many businesses will describe their location in relation to major landmarks. For example, Dulce Junio Café's address is "200 m Este De la Iglesia Santa Teresita y 25 norte, contiguo a Saúl Bistro, Barrio Escalante, San José" — that's 200 m from the Santa Teresita church and 25 m north, next to Saúl Bistro, Escalante neighbourhood.

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Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría (SJO)

The Juan Santamaría International (SJO) airport is located about 17 km northwest of the city centre. Right outside the entrance, you will find local shuttle buses that take you downtown. The journey is usually inexpensive. If you prefer taxis, make sure to get a licensed "Taxi Aeropuerto". One journey is about 25 minutes and costs about 25 US$.

The most common bus you’ll see is the big red TUASA bus. The final stop of this bus is close to La Merced park.

Address: Autopista Bernardo Soto, Río Segundo, Costa Rica

Email:

Phone: +506 2437 2400

Website: sjoairport.com/en

More Information: asocialnomad.com/costa-rica/sjo-airport-bus-to-san-jose

Public Transport

There is a good and inexpensive bus system in San José, as well as outbound buses to the rest of the country. Interbus and Gray Line Fantasy Bus will also take you to touristic places outside the city centre, but the fares are slightly more expensive.

If you are taking a bus between cities, be very mindful of your belongings. The bags are often stolen from overhead luggage racks. If anyone is trying to help you put your bag up there — they are very likely to grab it and leave at some point. If they go for your bag and you try to stop them, that's when you will be pickpocketed by their accomplices.

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Website: www.vacationscostarica.com/travel-guide/public-transportation

More Information: costa-rica-guide.com/travel/transportation/san-jose-bus-station-map

Taxi

Taxis in San José usually have a meter and are inexpensive. Official taxis are coloured in red or orange, and one km costs about 640 colones. It is strongly recommended to only use official taxis and make sure that the meter is ticking. Alternatively, use Uber or Didi. Note that exact street names are hardly used in Costa Rica so you better refer to some well-known places nearby.

As in many countries in Latin America, you want to know who is driving you so that they are less likely to scam you or drive off with your belongings. For your safety, do not take regular taxis — call for one or use a ride sharing app.

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Website: ticotimes.net/2021/09/19/taxis-costa-rica-ultimate-guide

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Post

There are several post offices spread throughout San José. One of the main branches is located on Via 204.

The Telegraph and Post Office building dates all the way back to 1917 and is located close to La Merced park (officially known as Braulio Carrillo Colina Park).

Address: Correos de Costa Rica, Calle 3, Avenidas 1 & 3, San José, Costa Rica

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Website: www.correos.go.cr

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Pharmacy

There are three major chains of pharmacies in Costa Rica that sell medicine as well as personal hygiene products:

Fischel
In front of the Correos de Costa Rica (Central Post Office), San José, plus many other locations in the country.
+506 2248 1682

Farmacia Sucre
Plaza de la Democracia, the Sauter building, on the corner of Calle 11 Avenida Central
+506 2248 9302

Farmacia La Bomba
Calle 1, Avenida Central, close to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
+506 4001 3647

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Website: costaricabestride.com/how-are-pharmacies-in-costa-rica

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Telephone

Country Code: +506

Area Code: 22

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Electricity

Costa Rica uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity. The plugs are typically the 2-pronged flat type common in North America and some Asian countries.

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