San Jose

Although it might seem more "authentic" to buy your souvenirs at their source, you can find everything in the city, a real bonus if you're pressed for time. If the capital has any real tourist shopping district, it's found loosely in the cluster of streets around Parque Morazán, just north of downtown, an area bounded roughly by Avenidas 1 and 7 and Calles 5 and 9. Stroll and search, because many other businesses congregate in the area as well.

The northeastern suburb of Moravia has a cluster of high-quality crafts and artisan shops—for good reason very popular with tour groups—in the three blocks heading north from the Colegio María Inmaculada high school. The street is two blocks behind the city's church.

Prices in shops are fixed and fair. You might be able to bargain at the Calle Nacional de Artesania y Pintura, but bargaining isn’t the sport it is in other countries. Haggling, even if not ill-intended, will come off as rude. Your best bet for getting a deal is to simply suggest you’ll come back later and walk away. If the vendors really want to lower the price, they will.

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  • 1. Chietón Morén

    Crafts

    A nonprofit association assembles the works of 220 artisans from Costa Rica’s eight original indigenous communities in this attractively arranged...

    A nonprofit association assembles the works of 220 artisans from Costa Rica’s eight original indigenous communities in this attractively arranged setting on the pedestrian mall south of the Museo Nacional. While the place bills itself as “part museum,” all works are for sale at prices fair to the creators and fair to you. (The name translates as “fair deal” in Costa Rica's indigenous Boruca language.) You'll find a good selection of ceramics, jewelry, weavings, and paintings here.

    C. 17, Avdas. 2–4, San José, San José, Costa Rica
    -2221–0145

    Shop Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. May–Nov.
  • 2. Artesanía Zurquí

    You'll find a well-rounded selection of ceramics, wood, and leather at Artesanía Zurquí....

    You'll find a well-rounded selection of ceramics, wood, and leather at Artesanía Zurquí.

    San Vicente de Moravia, San José, 11401, Costa Rica
    2240–5302
  • 3. Calle Nacional de Artesanía y Pintura

    Some 100 souvenir vendors congregate in the so-called "National Street of Artisanry and Painting," a block-long covered walkway on the west side of the Plaza...

    Some 100 souvenir vendors congregate in the so-called "National Street of Artisanry and Painting," a block-long covered walkway on the west side of the Plaza de la Democracia. As you approach, the whole affair looks like a string of metal shacks, and the setup here doesn't live up to the grand name. Some of the sellers do offer bargains on hammocks, wood carvings, and clothing; others sell trinkets probably made in China. Look carefully.

    C. 13, Avdas. Ctl.–2, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
  • 4. Feria Verde

    Barrio Aranjuez

    It's a tad out of the way, but just up the street from the Hotel Aranjuez is the city's best Saturday morning farmers' market. Stock...

    It's a tad out of the way, but just up the street from the Hotel Aranjuez is the city's best Saturday morning farmers' market. Stock up on organic fruits and veggies and take in the local scene. For something tropical, try some coconut water—you'll get a coconut whacked in half by a machete, and you can sip the water through a straw. Things get underway at 7 am and wind down at 12:30.

    North end of C. 19, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
  • 5. Hotel Grano de Oro

    Paseo Colón

    The small gift shop at the Hotel Grano de Oro has an impressive selection of carvings and jewelry on hand....

    The small gift shop at the Hotel Grano de Oro has an impressive selection of carvings and jewelry on hand.

    C. 30, Avdas. 2–4, San José, San José, 10102, Costa Rica
    2255–3322
  • 6. Kiosco

    Barrio Escalante | Crafts

    Ensconced inside Barrio Escalante's trendy Kalú restaurant, the equally trendy Kiosco proffers a good selection of locally made woodwork, fabrics...

    Ensconced inside Barrio Escalante's trendy Kalú restaurant, the equally trendy Kiosco proffers a good selection of locally made woodwork, fabrics, and ceramics.

    Kalú, C. 31, Avda. 5, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    -2253–8426
  • 7. La Traviata

    The small shop off the lobby of the National Theater has a terrific selection of thespian-themed postcards, tote bags, and glassware. You can access the...

    The small shop off the lobby of the National Theater has a terrific selection of thespian-themed postcards, tote bags, and glassware. You can access the shop without an admission ticket to a theater production. In addition to being open Monday through Saturday during the day, the shop is also open before evening performances and during intermission.

    Plaza de la Cultura, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2010–1100
  • 8. Librería Internacional

    Barrio Dent

    The city's largest bookstore evokes that Barnes & Noble ambience, though on a much smaller scale. It stocks English translations of Latin American literature, as...

    The city's largest bookstore evokes that Barnes & Noble ambience, though on a much smaller scale. It stocks English translations of Latin American literature, as well as myriad coffee-table books on Costa Rica. There are 21 other smaller branches around San José and the Central Valley.

    Rotonda La Bandera, San José, San José, 11501, Costa Rica
    2253–9553
  • 9. Mercado Central

    This maze of passageways is where the average Costa Rican comes to stock up on day-to-day necessities, but a few stalls of interest to tourists...

    This maze of passageways is where the average Costa Rican comes to stock up on day-to-day necessities, but a few stalls of interest to tourists congregate near the southeast entrance. Pickpockets frequent the crowded market; exercise care.

    Bordered by Avdas. Ctl.–1 and Cs. 6–8, San José, San José, 10102, Costa Rica
  • 10. Mercado Municipal de Artesanías

    Downtown

    Several dozen souvenir vendors congregate in this one-square-block building on the south side of a small downtown plaza. It's a real mix here. Some of...

    Several dozen souvenir vendors congregate in this one-square-block building on the south side of a small downtown plaza. It's a real mix here. Some of the sellers do offer bargains on hammocks, wood carvings, and clothing; others sell trinkets probably made in China. Look carefully.

    Avda. 6, Cs. 5--7, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    7174--5371
  • 11. Mi Pueblo Verde

    This is a standout among the Moravia shops for its fine carvings made from native cocobolo and guapinol wood. Check out the unusual salad bowls....

    This is a standout among the Moravia shops for its fine carvings made from native cocobolo and guapinol wood. Check out the unusual salad bowls.

    San Vicente de Moravia, San José, 11401, Costa Rica
    2235–5742
  • 12. Mundo de Recuerdos

    If you can't find it at Mundo de Recuerdos, it probably doesn't exist. Here's the largest of the Moravia shops with simply everything—at least of...

    If you can't find it at Mundo de Recuerdos, it probably doesn't exist. Here's the largest of the Moravia shops with simply everything—at least of standard souvenir fare—you could ask for under one roof.

    San Vicente de Moravia, San José, 11401, Costa Rica
    2240–8990
  • 13. Museo del Jade

    The small shop in the Jade Museum sells replicas of many of the pieces in the museum collection. The shop is accessible only if you've...

    The small shop in the Jade Museum sells replicas of many of the pieces in the museum collection. The shop is accessible only if you've paid the $16 museum admission.

    Avda. Ctl., C. 13, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2287–6034
  • 14. Museo del Oro Precolombino

    The shop at the entrance of the Museo del Oro Precolombino (Gold Museum) offers a great selection of pre-Columbian-themed jewelry, art, exclusively designed T-shirts, coin...

    The shop at the entrance of the Museo del Oro Precolombino (Gold Museum) offers a great selection of pre-Columbian-themed jewelry, art, exclusively designed T-shirts, coin key chains, notebooks, and mouse pads. You can access the shop without paying the museum admission.

    C. 5, Avdas. Ctl.–2, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2243–4202
  • 15. Terramall

    The mammoth trilevel 160-store Terramall is the far eastern suburbs' prime shopping destination....

    The mammoth trilevel 160-store Terramall is the far eastern suburbs' prime shopping destination.

    Autopista Florencio del Castillo, Tres Ríos, Cartago, 30301, Costa Rica
    2278–6970
  • 16. Tienda Eñe

    Barrio Amón | Souvenirs

    The big red Ñ on the window marks this cute little boutique with goods all made by Costa Rican artists and designers. Look for prints, bags...

    The big red Ñ on the window marks this cute little boutique with goods all made by Costa Rican artists and designers. Look for prints, bags, jewelry, and a big selection of mugs.

    Avda. 7, C. 11a, San José, San José, Costa Rica
    -2222–7681
  • 17. Universal

    In addition to selling everything else imaginable, downtown department store Universal stocks a good selection of Latin CDs in its first-floor music department....

    In addition to selling everything else imaginable, downtown department store Universal stocks a good selection of Latin CDs in its first-floor music department.

    Avda. Ctl., Cs. Ctl.–1, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2222–2222
  • 18. 7th Street Books

    Barrio La Soledad

    The affable owners of 7th Street Books make this store the place to stop in and see what's going on in the expat community. It...

    The affable owners of 7th Street Books make this store the place to stop in and see what's going on in the expat community. It has the city's best selection of books in English and is also strong on Latin America and tropical ecology. As an added bonus, you can enjoy a smoothie purchased at the entrance.

    C. 7, Avdas. Ctl.–1, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2256–8251
  • 19. Boutique Annemarie

    Souvenirs

    The gift shop at the Hotel Don Carlos has a good selection of popular souvenirs and CDs of Costa Rican music, as well as a few exclusive creations. ...

    The gift shop at the Hotel Don Carlos has a good selection of popular souvenirs and CDs of Costa Rican music, as well as a few exclusive creations.

    Don Carlos Hotel, C. 9, Avda. 9, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    -2221–6707
  • 20. Casa de las Revistas

    With several locations around the metro area, Casa de las Revistas has San José's best selection of magazines in English....

    With several locations around the metro area, Casa de las Revistas has San José's best selection of magazines in English.

    C. 7, Avdas. Central–1, San José, San José, 10101, Costa Rica
    2256–8251

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