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 may be able to bargain at Mercado Central and 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. Galería Namu

    Crafts

    Downtown San José's must-stop shop is Galería Namu, which sells the best indigenous crafts in town. Its inventory brims with colorful creations...Read More

  • 2. Calle Nacional de Artesanía y Pintura

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    Some 100 souvenir vendors congregate in a block-long covered walkway on the west side of the Plaza de la Democracia. As you approach, the whole...Read More

  • 3. Casa de las Revistas

    Books/Stationery

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

  • 4. Congo

    Crafts

    Congo offers a good selection of wood carvings and ceramic bowls and vases made by local artisans. It's a small four-store chain. ...Read More

  • 5. Don Carlos Hotel

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    The gift shop at the Hotel Don Carlos has a good selection of popular souvenirs and CDs of Costa Rican music. ...Read More

  • 6. La Traviata

    Gifts/Souvenirs

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

  • 7. Mercado Central

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    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...Read More

  • 8. Museo del Jade

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    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...Read More

  • 9. Museo del Oro Precolombino

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    The shop at the entrance of the Museo del Oro Precolombino offers a great selection of pre-Columbian-theme jewelry, art, exclusively designed...Read More

  • 10. Universal

    Music Stores

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

  • 11. 7th Street Books

    Barrio La Soledad | Books/Stationery

    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...Read More

  • 12. La Casona

    Gifts/Souvenirs

    Dozens of souvenir vendors set up shop on the two floors of La Casona, in a rickety, old downtown mansion that dates from 1906. It's much like...Read More

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