Things to do in

San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rica's capital rewards explorers with lively markets, must-see museums, and unforgettable volcanos close by.

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Top things to do in San José

Costa Rica may be best known for its beaches, but the bustling capital of San José—or Chepe, as it's affectionately nicknamed—is absolutely worth visiting. Rich in history and surrounded by breathtaking nature, the city is perfect for a delightful sojourn.

  • 1. La Fortuna

    This picturesque town sits at the foot of the majestic Arenal Volcano. About 75 miles from San José, La Fortuna makes for a great day trip, with plenty to discover en route.

  • 2. Braulio Carillo National Park

    For another amazing day out, drive out of San José along Route 32 and you'll hit on the Braulio National Park, one of Central America's most spectacular natural treasures.

  • 3. Teatro Nacional Costa Rica

    Gorgeous both inside and out, the Teatro Nacional is one of San José's most cherished attractions. Be sure to take a tour to learn all about its architectural and artistic riches.

  • 4. Arenal Volcano

    If hiking's your thing, head over to the Arenal Volcano, about 3 hours from San José by car. Though the eruptions ceased in 2010, the area is a paradise for nature lovers.

  • 5. Celeste River

    The Celeste River is another hiker's dream come true. Set within rich and varied flora, the river is bordered by many natural hot springs and leads to a magnificent waterfall.

  • 6. Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

    History buffs should make sure to visit San José's national museum, the Museo Nacional. This beautiful museum offers a highly informative overview of the country's rich history.

  • 7. Pre-Columbian Gold Museum

    This museum houses a collection of over 1,600 artifacts made of pre-Columbian gold, giving fascinating insight into the culture of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

Planning Your Visit

  • Eat like the locals

    To taste the real flavor of Costa Rican cuisine, you shouldn't miss out on San José's central market, the Mercado Central. This gigantic market is not only one of the best spots in the city for food (as well as souvenirs), but also one of the cheapest, where a delicious meal will set you back as little as $3 – a fraction of most restaurants!

  • When to go

    While the city's pleasant climate allows for visits throughout the year, the best period is December, right after the rainy season. But even though the days are warm, the nights do get chilly, so make sure to bring a sweater. Moreover, both the Festival de la Luz and the Fiestas de Zapote take place in December. The whole city comes alive during the festivals and these typically Latin American festivities are a singularly delightful experience.

Good to know

  • Language
  • Currency
    CRC (₡)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-06:00)
  • Country Code
  • Best time to visit
    December is the best month to visit, when the rainy season has ended, the days are warm, and the city comes alive with festivities.

Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 400 reviews

Yordan was a great tour guide. I am an exchange student from the united states and he went out of his way to teach me things about costa rican culture on top of an already amazing tour. also, he went out of his way to make sure i got home safely the night after the tour, as i am a female traveling solo, and so it was much appreciated. highly recommend!!!

Ferando Moss was amazing. He gave us all of his attention and showed us around a lot. Not only does he get up at 3:30 to make sure he gets us on time, but makes sure that we get there safe!!! I 100% would go on another ride with with them. Please have Fernado Moss be your driver next time! :)

The tour and the tour guide was very nice. We saw a lot of nice birds insects and 2 sloth’s and nice plants. We got a lot of interesting infomations. I just can recommend the tour.

Fernando Moss was an excellent guide, who gave us terrific detail on our trip, sights. He was patient and he clearly loves what he does. I can't recommend this tour enough!

The views were amazing, the coffee was excellent, and our guide Will was so funny and kind. The perfect last day in Costa Rica!