Tropical adventurers usually bypass the hustle and bustle of nearby capital cities. They head directly to their destination. Many don’t even think about checking out local culture and history.
If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, consider walking around San José and exploring one or more of its national landmarks. The Juan Santamaria International Airport is less than 30 minutes from downtown San José.
Don’t be surprised to find crowded streets and sidewalks. Over 50% of Costa Rica’s population resides in this metro area. If you’d prefer to walk without rain gear, avoid the wettest months–May, September, October, and November. Due to its elevation, San José usually remains within the comfortable zone of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The city is easy to navigate. It has a grid pattern. Avenues(avenidas) run east and west while streets (calles) go north and south. Visitors will enjoy strolling along the pedestrian mall that is located between Calle 6 and Calle 9.
Vendors set up their stations early in the morning. By mid afternoon, the area is crowded with tourists and local shoppers.
One can either walk around or opt for a city tour that is filled with a myriad of details.City parks are plentiful. Each can be enjoyed for its esthetic beauty or its historical significance.
Rain or shine, visitors can visit the Teatro Nacional (National Theatre), Museo de Oro Precolombino (Gold Museum), Museo del Jade (The Jade Museum), Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (National Museum), or Museo de los Niños (the Children’s Museum).
The National Theatre provides a taste of 19th century European culture. The Gold Museum showcases Costa Rica’s cultural heritage.
The National Museum is located in a former army garrison and is known for its historical, anthropological, and archeological collections.
The Jade Museum will appeal to anyone who wants to know more about this precious stone. Anyone traveling with kids can flock to Central America’s first children’s interactive museum.
Consider flying into San José and starting your Costa Rica adventure in this major population center.
Before You Go
Travelers should obtain a map of San José and decide whether it’s best to explore independently or arrange a group/private tour. Take time to locate museums, notable buildings, city parks and possible places to eat. One last thing, remember to confirm opening and closing times as well as admission fees.
Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunglasses and to also wear comfy shoes. Bottled water and a camera are also highly recommended.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON April 29, 2016. IT IS BEING REPOSTED ON THIS SITE BECAUSE THE EXAMINER.COM SITE SHUT DOWN IN JULY, 2016. SOME PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HAVE BEEN UPDATED AND THE ORIGINAL SLIDE SHOW HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.
Sandra Bornstein is a freelance travel writer. She shares her travel experiences and recommendations on this blog and on other websites—One Travel: Going Places, Cheapoair.com Miles Away Travel Blog, We Said Go Travel, Mom It Forward, Boulder Jewish News, and Family Circle. Her travel tips also appear in a Denver metro magazine, Golden Living.
Sandra is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. This memoir highlights Sandra’s living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. As a licensed Colorado teacher, Sandra has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.