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San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)
San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

Avenida Central, San Jose, 10101

The Basics

Whether you’re looking for free entertainment or you just forgot to pack your floss, most San Jose visitors will find themselves in the Central Market at some point during their stay in Costa Rica’s capital city. As the largest market in the city, the Central Market usually offers the lowest prices around town on every good imaginable, but with the highest hustle and bustle. Be prepared for sensory overload, and take your time browsing the maze of more than 200 stalls and eateries.

To learn about the many goods on offer, including products unique to Costa Rica, visit the market as part of a guided tour. San Jose walking tours and sightseeing tours sometimes include the market for a look at local culture, while niche local experiences such as food tours and art tours will help you explore the market from a distinct lens.

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San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture
San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture
$38.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Good intro into Costa Rica!!
Alex the tour guide was very knowledgeable and a pleasure to be around! Fantastic tour! The food was declicious too!
Jamie_L, Aug 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in San Jose

star-5
Wonderful tour!
lbulmer, Feb 2020
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
Wow, we loved this tour. Our guide, Ivannia, was wonderful. She was very knowledgeable and friendly. The tour was much more comprehensive than we expected it to be, as we got to see some of the main buildings in downtown San Jose as well as going through Central Market and sampling some of the food and drinks. I highly recommend this tour!
star-5
AMAZING!
Tasha J, Dec 2019
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
I enjoyed every moment of the tour. I learned so much and the food was so good that we were able to taste. Our tour guide was very fun and engagingly with us. He even gave out of his pocket for me.
star-4
Amazing way to learn about and...
Rosalind J, Apr 2018
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
Amazing way to learn about and experience the culture of San Jose. The market we visited was truly the heart of the capital so it felt like it really captured the spirit of what the capital is. The food samples were great, we were able to try coffee, tortillas, and ice cream. Also a great way to shop like a local. Tour guide was spirited and passionate it was a very good package.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Vendors are typically open to bargaining.

  • Ask permission before taking photos.

  • Avoid overwhelm by taking your time or visiting with a tour.

  • The Central Market is suitable for visitors of all ages.

  • The market is close to other attractions such as Mercado Borbón.

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How to Get There

The San Jose Central Market is located in downtown San Jose just four blocks northwest of Central Park and bordered by Avenida Central and 1 and Calles 6 and 8. The market is most easily accessed in one of San Jose’s many taxis, and a handful of bus stops, including Leon XIII and Quesada Duran, are also within walking distance.

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When to Get There

The Central Market is roughly open from sunup to sundown. Plan your visit for early in the day to avoid large crowds and fill up on a hearty breakfast with a sweet cup of coffee, or head over around midday for the full effect and plentiful lunch options. The market is closed on Sundays.

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Old Money

Though it may seem like a chaotic flea market, the Central Market unassumingly combines history and modern commerce, having served as a marketplace since 1880, though it was probably quieter back in the day.

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