About San Jose
Surrounded by untouched forests and scenic mountains in the middle of Costa Rica, San José, the country's capital, is a traveller's dream. Chepe, as it's locally known, is a trove of culture and history, and one of Latin America's most cosmopolitan cities. Visit the specialist museums and take in its striking architecture, like the columned neoclassical Teatro Nacional. Spend days wandering around quirky markets or relaxing in the tranquil La Sabana, a verdant park with a peaceful lake surrounded by the city.
Many of the hostels in San José, Costa Rica are in traditional houses with rustic painted fronts, making for an authentic experience. If you're looking to immerse yourself in nature, some hostels will let you pitch a tent in their sweeping grounds – where you'll often find a pool and outdoor terrace. Or for more modern comforts, like free Wi-Fi, you could go for a contemporary wooden pod, a dorm or a private room in the city centre. Lots of San José hostels give you a free breakfast too.
The neighbourhood of Downtown San José is the heart of the city. This maze of streets is dotted with museums and spacious plazas where you can sit back with a coffee or a glass of wine. Make your way to the historic district of Barrio Amón to see colourfully painted colonial mansions with contemporary art inside. The cool Barrio Escalante is a foodie paradise. Pick up treats from one of the tantalising bakeries or unwind while sipping on a cold beer at a microbrewery.
There's lots to see in San José. Visit the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum beneath an old bank, or marvel at intricate artefacts in the Museo del Jade. For refuge from the bustling streets, follow the locals to the spacious parklands of Parque La Sabana in the centre of the city. Close to Barrio Escalante you'll find an off-beat food market built from old shipping containers, where the smell of wood-fired pizzas and traditional gallos (Costa Rican tacos) fills the air.
San José's central location makes it an ideal base for exploring Costa Rica – it's a 1.5-hour drive to the Irazú Volcano and an hour's train journey to Heredia. Juan Santamaria International Airport is 20 minutes away in a taxi, or a two-hour bus trip. To get around in the city, grab a red taxi (the local drivers make great tour guides) or use the network of public buses.