Most travelers arrive in San José and use the capital as a launching pad for gator and monkey sighting adventures. On a recent trip to San José, I discovered that the city has much more to offer than just a place to rest and prepare for your next ecological adventure. Here are my top picks for things to do and see in the Costa Rican capital:
1. Museo Nacional: The Museo Nacional is worth a visit for many reasons. First, the butterfly garden, pre-colonial exhibit, and architectural exhibits offer a variety of insights into Costa Rican culture and history. Secondly, the views from the museum’s balcony provide a sweeping view of San José, and is also a great spot to people watch! The museum costs $4 for students and $7 for adults and is a great way to learn about and see more of Costa Rica.
2. Barrio Chino: While exploring San José, be sure to stroll around the Barrio Chino, San Jose’s Chinatown. There are a lot of Chinese restaurants, and some combine the typical Costa Rican food with a touch of Asian culinary aspects to create a fusion. The main boulevard through Barrio Chino is a pedestrian street, which is perfect for exploring!
3. Mercado de Artesania: The Mercado is situated right near the Museo Nacional and it is a great spot to find that perfect Costa Rican souvenir. There are tons of vendors selling products that represent the beautiful biodiversity of Costa Rica. I would recommend checking out the beautiful wooden products such as cutting boards or wall hangings. Another tip: If you can communicate with the vendors in Spanish, you may find that you get a better price for your souvenirs. Most of the vendors speak a little bit of English but I found that they preferred to speak in their mother tongue.
Before you rush out to discover all of the amazing wildlife and natural wonders Costa Rica has to offer, be sure to check out these spots in the Costa Rican capital. In the very least, be sure to get all of your Pura vida apparel before you leave!