Although earthquakes have destroyed most of its structures from the colonial era, Cartago still has some attractive restored buildings, most of them erected after the devastating 1910 earthquake. The city served as the country's first capital until 1823, when the seat of government was moved to the emerging economic center of San José. Today, Cartago is a bustling market town, shopping center, and vibrant student hub.
Most visitors see Cartago on their way to or from the Orosi Valley or Turrialba, and there is little reason (or place) to stay the night. The Orosi Valley, a short drive away, has better choices.