San Jose Vacations

The capital of Costa Rica, and home to most of her residents, San Jose is a unique little city on a plateau 3700 feet above sea level. San Jose enjoys a slightly cooler version of the Caribbean’s beautiful, hot climate. Fresh Caribbean seafood isn’t hard to find here and neither is comfortable accommodation, but getting around requires a bit of ... Read more
savvy. Make sure to carry your passport with you at all times - getting caught without it could mean getting thrown in jail. Lots of taxis are willing to take you pretty much anywhere in the city for a few American dollars but only the ones with a yellow triangular sticker on their door are registered. In spite of these shortcomings, there are lots of things to see and do in San Jose. Tours of the Poas and Irazu volcanoes are amazing outdoor adventures, and specialty museum exhibitions like gold work, Jade art and insects offer little known insights into these local specialties, to name just a few. Don’t be scared to travel to San Jose. Visit with a group, play smart, and you are sure to be safe and have a great time.

San Jose places to stay and top hotels

San Jose things to do and experiences

  • Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica
    Performing Arts, Theater
    Popular withHistoryArtsy
  • Heredia
    Sights and Museums, Historic Site, Neighborhood
    Popular withStudentsHistory
  • Escazu
    Sights and Museums, Shopping, Hiking and Nature, Other, Neighborhood
    Popular withFamiliesLuxury
  • La Sabana Metropolitan Park
    Sights and Museums, Outdoors, Sports, Park
    Popular withHistoryFamilies


San Jose


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San Jose reviews & trip reports

  • 9.8
    Adventure Travelers
  • 8.4
  • 7.3
    Business Travelers
  • 7.1
    Green Travelers
  • 6.7
    Art & Design Lovers

Member Reviews(77)

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Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA

Love love love Costa Rica. Have been there a few times. Once for two weeks for a mission trip. Very humid, but a great country. Once considered getting a beach house there.

San Francisco, California, USA

Interesting capital city, though the more modern architecture for shops is totally uninspiring. The National Theater, however, is gorgeous.


Kind of ugly, definitely noisy and crowded, but worth visiting for a day or two just to get the feel of urban Costa Rica. Note that the "San Jose" International airport is not in San Jose at all but rather Alajuela, so if you're planning to connect to the airport, plan your time in and around Alajuela city, not San Jose.

San Jose, California, USA

If you want a mix of nature and city, take on San José. It's near the airport (fly into Libería instead if you're heading to the beaches/Guanacaste), and you have restaurants, sodas (what locals call hole-in-the-walls), and museums when you come back from your day excursions to forests and volcanoes.

San Luis Obispo, California, USA

When went to Costa Rica, we had to go through this town since the airport was located here. It looked really dirty and there is a third world country city feel. I felt like I couldn't trust the people there since I was ripped off when I exchanged my money at the airport. They seem like salesmen at the counter. Most places take American dollars so feel like you have to rush to exchange money. Find the best bang for your buck to exchange.

Burns, Kansas

The Capital of Costa Rica. The international airport is located here and is 1-1/2 drive to Los Suenos and Casa Buen DIa. Plan a overnight stay and do some day trips to the Arenal and Poas Volcano's. Or just check out the city. One problem, lots of traffic and navigating the streets is not easy. Best thing is to hire a private driver for the day. There's a lot to see here. Most Tico's, Costa Rican's that is, speak English. Pura Vida


We stopped in San Jose on our last night -- so that we can get a bit of the the feeling of the city life and also make sure we don't miss our flight in the AM...

The city is crowded. There are a lot of people. Not as much cultural/historical buildings as I would have liked to see, lots of buses, commuters, etc.

I probably would not recommend making this city a part of your Costa Rica itinerary unless of course you are just stopping over the night like we did.

New York City, New York State, USA
Community ManagerAmbassador

San Jose is one of the youngest capitals in Latin America, and quite frankly with not a lot to offer. It does have some beautiful historical architecture, but it is also very commercial. Unfortunately, not the safest either, at least in terms of theft.

Recommended for:Art & Design LoversHistory Buffs
New York City, New York State, USA

You used to have to fly in here, but no longer. It's fine for a night or two before or after you head out to the beaches or interior of the country. Some good restaurants and bars, but not a lot to do during the day. However, there are day trips like Poas

Recommended for:BackpackersBudget TravelersBusiness Travelers
Glendale, California, USA

I was stranded at the airport after I thought I made a service reservation. I called the company who I made the reservations with online and they said they had no such reservation for me. Here's what happened so this doesn't happen to you: I made a reservation with "" the response I received was "4.30 AM or PM- Javier Ortiz" I replied with PM and asked to confirm the price and didn't receive a response. So the week of my trip, I emailed again assuming it was all settled:
Hi! I emailed last week about taking a shuttle to Jaco from San Jose Airport on June 14 at 5.
I have a few questions.
1- Does the shuttle take me to the bus stop? Or do I walk to the Coca Cola station?
2-Where and when do I pay the $35 for the ride?
3-Does the $35 include shuttle + bus to Jaco?

His Response? 5.00 am or 5.00 pm- Javier Ortiz

Ok so the point is, they didn't show up. The manager I spoke with on the phone at the airport said because I didn't pre-pay and because I am traveling alone and he would not make money off me, he would not send someone to drive me to Jaco. Mind you, this company has a professional online appearance. MAKE SURE you secure your transportation plans. You may have to take a taxi to a bus station, I was told I had to go to the cocacola station which would take 30 min from SJO in traffic with taxi.

Recommended for:BackpackersBudget TravelersBusiness TravelersGreen Travelers