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Things to do in San Jose

Things to do in  San Jose

Welcome to San Jose

As the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose is a bustling city whose metropolitan thrum contrasts with the natural wonders that surround it. Before you flock to the country’s biodiverse rain forest in search of wildlife, waterfalls, and Arenal and Poas volcanoes, stop to get acquainted with San Jose’s neoclassical grandeur. The city boasts museums dedicated to everything from jade and gold to insects and natural science, and plays host to theaters, churches, and cathedrals. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, get outside the city with a canopy tour through Monteverde Cloud Forest, white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, or a soak at Baldi Hot Springs.

Top 10 attractions in San Jose

#1
Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park

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Although visitors once flocked to Arenal Volcano for its impressive lava shows, the 5,437-foot (1,657-meter) volcano has stayed quiet since its last eruption in 2010. However, Arenal and the surrounding Arenal Volcano National Park remain a hot spot for visitors to Costa Rica, and is especially popular among those seeking hiking trails, swimming holes, hot springs, bird- and wildlife-watching, and sweeping views of the tropical rain forest.More
#2
Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park

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Poas Volcano National Park houses one of the more popular volcanoes in Costa Rica—a telling superlative for a country with world-famous geothermal activity. But with its spectacular wildlife, informative museum, and variety of hiking trails, the accolade comes as no surprise.More
#3
Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park

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The vast protected forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park is a natural for toucans, eagles, armadillos, sloths, monkeys, and jaguars. Catch a glimpse of its rugged beauty from the comfort of your car, or hike along the trails that lead to thundering waterfalls, towering mountains, and rapid rivers.More
#4
San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

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Bountiful produce stalls, local-approved cafeterias, and vendor stalls selling everything from coffee beans to cowboy boots give visitors to San Jose’s Central Market (Mercado Central) a taste of real Costa Rican culture. Visit as part of an epic errand run or for a chance to look behind-the-scenes at everyday life in Costa Rica.More
#5
National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

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Modelled after the Paris Opera House, the National Theater in San José’s Catedral district is a neo-classical masterpiece representing Costa Rica’s greatest era of extravagance and sophistication. The historic building has been the epicenter of the city’s fine arts scene including opera, symphony, and other performing arts since its inaugural performance by Fausto de Gounod in 1897.More
#6
Gold Museum

Gold Museum

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Housed in a historic building and managed by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum holds one of the largest collections of gold artifacts in Latin America. In total, the museum holds more than 1,600 pre-Columbian items, including Costa Rica’s very first coin, handmade ceramics, jewelry, and religious icons dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD.More
#7
Escazu

Escazu

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Costa Rica is known for its diverse wildlife, breathtaking waterfalls, dense rainforest and endless outdoor adventures. But the Central Valley neighborhood of Escazu offers travelers a taste of a different Costa Rica—one that’s filled with modern architecture, posh homes and even an exclusive country club. Visitors say this hip spot is the perfect place to enjoy the best of big city life in a neighborhood that rocks a more laidback country vibe.Travelers can wander the main streets lined with big name stores and unique boutiques or tuck into a meal at one of Escazu’s exclusive restaurants for a relaxing lunch or world-class dinner. State of the art gyms and well-kept bed and breakfasts mean visitors looking to escape the city for a weekend and experience a slice of true Costa Rican life can have it all in Escazu.More
#8
Jade Museum (Museo del Jade)

Jade Museum (Museo del Jade)

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The Jade Museum (Museo del Jade) proves to Costa Rica visitors that this small Central American country is as rich in its history and cultural offerings as in biodiversity. The museum, located in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, showcases more than 1,000 years’ worth of artifacts from Mesoamerica dating from 500 B.C. to 800 A.D.—including pre-Columbian jade, wood, and ceramics—in a renovated space.More
#9
Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

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Orosi River Valley is a tranquil, secluded area filled with rural charm and scenic landscapes, not far from the hustle and bustle of San José. With the silhouette of the volcanoes as a backdrop, the mountainous area has green forested hills covered by coffee plantations, natural hot springs, andxa0 colorful colonial towns in the middle of the lush vegetation.More
#10
Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

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Explore the works of some of Costa Rica’s greatest artists from the colonial era through today at the Costa Rican Art Museum, including almost the entire body of work from prolific local artist Juan Manuel Sanchez. The museum is housed in the building that once served as the main terminal of San Jose’s original international airport and outside, toward where the tarmac once sat, is a lovely sculpture garden where visitors can walk around an enjoy the tropical weather. The museum often has chamber music concerts playing in the Golden Hall.More

Trip ideas

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

Top activities in San Jose

All-inclusive package 7 nights 8 days in the best destinations in Costa Rica

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Arenal Volcano & Baldi Hot Springs From San José
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Recent reviews from experiences in San Jose

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Great tour!
Beverly_E, Dec 2021
Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip from San Jose
Oscar was careful to see that we all had a great time!
star-5
An insightful learning adventure
Bridget_M, Jan 2022
San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group or Private Tour
None of us spoke significant Spanish and Malo’s English was great- while teaching us some useful phrases along the way.
star-5
GO NOW!!
Andrew_C, Dec 2021
ATV River, Beach, Jungle Adventure and Crocodiles Hotspot from San Jose
The trip was so worth it because we were able to ride the ATVs through a rainforest, by a waterfall, on the beach, and in a river!
star-5
Great tour! Memorable and special!
Saule_N, Nov 2021
San Jose Sightseeing City Tour
Also, I hoped to get a chance to see more art related places, and I was able to do that too.
star-5
Coffee, Volcano and Waterfalls - A MUST DO!!
Zuzana_B, Oct 2021
Coffee Experience, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens
You will get a chance to see a coffee plantation and enjoy breakfast, hike to the viewpoint of Poas volcano and then end your day at the Waterfall Gardens where you will see a ton of wildlife and 5 different waterfalls.
star-5
Great gastronomy and a tour of the heart of San Jose CR like nothing I've ever seen before!
Marc_K, Jul 2021
San José By Night Food Activity- Wines & Gourmet Dinner- Small Group or Private
You're led through the streets to see the highlights such as churches and parks, all the while mingling with locals hustling and bustling to go from here to there as they wrap up their day and final shopping before heading home; you truly feel like a local.
star-5
Great Guide & Trip
Chris_H, Jul 2021
Arenal Volcano Full-Day Combo Tour with Lunch and Dinner
He was very knowledgeable, friendly and approachable - offering to help in any way he could answering numerous question in English & Spanish with ease.
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See the city like a local
Ray_M, May 2021
San José By Night Food Activity- Wines & Gourmet Dinner- Small Group or Private
I had a very small group and we got to see San Jose up close and in amazing detail.
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education
JP_D, Jan 2021
San Jose Night City Tour
It was a pleasant experience to see the see city.
star-5
Great tour
David_S, Feb 2020
San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour
First time in San Jose, was a great way to see the city Guides were entertaining and very knowledgeable.
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Wonderful tour!
lbulmer, Feb 2020
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
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.
star-5
This tour was great! I highly...
Pinelele, Aug 2017
San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour
San Jose is a great city and it was nice to see the highlights that I otherwise probably wouldnt have taken the time to see.
star-5
Our guide was very knowledgeable, it...
Tracy R, Mar 2018
San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group or Private Tour
Our guide was very knowledgeable, it was a nice way to see San Jose as we only had one night in town.
star-5
I had the opportunity to see and...
susan, Sep 2017
San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture
I had the opportunity to see and enjoy San Jose with Vinicio.
star-4
I had to wait for this tour, as the...
Rebecca_L, Mar 2018
Lonely Planet Experiences: Private Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit
A good tour if you want to see more of San Jose.
star-4
Crocodiles and toucans and big...
Jane B, Aug 2017
Safari on Sarapiqui River From San Jose
The tour would have been better if it had started and ended an hour earlier, so that we were not coming back to San Jose after nightfall.
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This was a great experience to see...
Ruth A, Jan 2017
Irazú Volcano -Half Day Trip
This was a great experience to see the Irazu Volcano.
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Great Volcano Adventure
Mai_M, Jun 2021
Between Volcanoes: Irazú, Turrialba, Guayabo Archaeological Site and Basilica
What a wonderful way to see volcanoes from San Jose!
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Great intro to San Jose
Florence_L, May 2021
Bites and Sights - Walking Food Tour in San Jose Small Group or Private
Continuing onto the Central Market, what a great experience to see where the city gathers to buy fresh produce.
star-5
Experience of a lifetime
Brett_M, May 2021
6 in 1 Tour: Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Braulio Carrillo
There's no better way to see the jungle than being right up in the trees.

All about San Jose

When to visit

Winter is high season in San Jose for good reason: not only is the weather warm and dry, but the event calendar is packed with festivities such as Festejos Populares and the family-friendly Zapote Fair. To score the best discounts on hotels, visit in the rainy season, from May to November, when cooler temperatures and vibrant greenery compensate for afternoon downpours.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in San Jose?
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What are the top activities in San Jose?
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What are the top things to do near San Jose?
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