San Jose

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San José is the center of all that is Costa Rica, and to Ticos in the countryside at least, it glitters every bit as much as New York City. True to developing-country patterns, everything—politics, business, art, cuisine, nightlife, and culture—converges here in the capital. It may not be the center of your trip to Costa Rica—those rain forests and volcanoes have your name written on them. But the city is worth a day or two of exploring, as a way to ease into Costa Rica at the start of a visit or to wrap things up with a well-deserved dose of civilization following your adventures to more remote parts of the country.

San José is—dare we say it—hip these days. Hands down, it has Costa Rica's best dining and nightlife scene, with the eastside neighborhoods of Barrios Escalante and L... Read More

San José is the center of all that is Costa Rica, and to Ticos in the countryside at least, it glitters every bit as much as New York City. True to developing-country patterns, everything—politics, business, art, cuisine, nightlife, and culture—converges here in the capital. It may not be the center of your trip to Costa Rica—those rain forests and volcanoes have your name written on them. But the city is worth a day or two of exploring, as a way to ease into Costa Rica at the start of a visit or to wrap things up with a well-deserved dose of civilization following your adventures to more remote parts of the country.

San José is—dare we say it—hip these days. Hands down, it has Costa Rica's best dining and nightlife scene, with the eastside neighborhoods of Barrios Escalante and La California leading the way as the new places to be. Amid the noise and traffic—and make no mistake: San José still serves up those annoyances in abundance—shady parks, well-maintained museums, lively plazas, great hotels, cool shops, and fun tours do exist. Further, the city makes a great base for day trips: from downtown it's a mere 30- to 40-minute drive to the tranquil countryside and myriad outdoor activities of the surrounding Central Valley.

You'd never know San José is as old as it is—given the complete absence of colonial architecture—but settlers founded the city in 1737. After independence in 1821, San José cemented its position as the new nation's capital. Revenues from the coffee and banana industries financed the construction of stately homes, theaters, and a trolley system (later abandoned and now visible only in old sepia photographs). As recently as the mid-1900s, San José was no larger than the present-day downtown area; old-timers remember the vast coffee and cane plantations that extended beyond its borders. The city began to mushroom only after World War II, when old buildings were razed to make room for concrete monstrosities. The sprawl eventually connected the capital with nearby cities. Today, the city spells out its new slogan, ¡SJO VIVE! ("San José lives!"), in colorful eight-foot letters in the Central Park, near the National Theater, and in front of the post office. Caught up in that new spirit, Costa Ricans visiting the capital like to have their pictures taken in front of those signs. You might enjoy that, too.

San José has attracted people from all over Costa Rica, yet it remains, in many ways, a collection of distinct neighborhoods where residents maintain friendly small-town ways. For you, this might mean the driver you're following will decide to abruptly stop his vehicle to buy a lottery ticket or chat with a friend on the street. Or it might mean you have to navigate a maze of fruit-vendor stands on a crowded sidewalk. But this is part of what keeps San José a big small town.

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Language

Spanish

Nearby Airports

SJO, SYQ

Electrical Outlets

120v/60 cycles; plugs are U.S. standard two- and three-prong

Currency

Costa Rican colón

Local Weather

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Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

Language

Spanish

Electrical Outlets

120v/60 cycles; plugs are U.S. standard two- and three-prong

Currency

Costa Rican colón

Nearby Airports

SJO, SYQ

Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

High Season: Mid-December to April San José’s 3,800-foot altitude keeps temperatures pleasant and springlike year-round. The capital’s status...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in San Jose with curated recommendations from our editors.

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Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

High Season: Mid-December to April San José’s 3,800-foot altitude keeps temperatures pleasant and springlike year-round. The capital’s status...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in San Jose with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

Local Weather

{{monthAverage.f_high}}° {{monthAverage.c_high}}° {{monthAverage.f_low}}° {{monthAverage.c_low}}°
{{monthAverage.month}}
Historic Weather: Powered by Dark Sky
Weather info provided is using averaged daily data within the given month of the previous year.

High Season: Mid-December to April San José’s 3,800-foot altitude keeps temperatures pleasant and springlike year-round. The capital’s status...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in San Jose with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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