San Jose Overview
San Jose has its origins back in the early 1700’s but it wasn’t until 1823 that it was named the capital of Costa Rica.
This was a city dedicated to agriculture for the first part of the 20th Century. But after the 50’s and until the 80’s, it witnessed some important development.
Since then and until now, San Jose has transformed into a modern city that continues to grow every day.
Although it still lacks the infrastructure to be compared with the best cities in the region.
How to Get to San Jose
If you’re coming from another country, you will be landing at Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela; and once you have disembarked, you have two options:
Taking the Alajuela buses, which will leave you close to the Merced Church at downtown.
Or if you’re renting a car, you can take the highway leading to the capital. It is a short 20-minute drive.
Since San Jose serves as a transportation hub for the rest of the country; when you arrive here from another area in a bus; the place of the city where you get off is relative to the place where you’re coming from, as most terminals are spread through town.
What to Do In San Jose
San Jose has a vibrant nightlife, with bars all over downtown and also on the outskirts of the city, in places such as Barrio la California and San Pedro, a college town that is famous for its many clubs and discos (which are packed all the time).
This indoor market with a labyrinth structure dates back to 1882 and it is located in the heart of San Jose.
It is the perfect place to buy a souvenir or to sit down and taste the traditional dishes of the country; such as a Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast, or a Casado (rice served with plantains and salad on the side and your choice of meat) for lunch; along with a delicious Agua Dulce (a hot drink made from sugar cane).
The National Theater is one of the most historic buildings in all of Costa Rica and the renaissance style of its infrastructure tells us about the time when it was built (1891).
The theater has an outstanding interior, including its fantastic antique furnishings.
You can always spot an interesting staging or a musical show, so it is recommended to visit the theater’s website for the schedules. It is open from Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm.
At the Jade Museum, you will find an exhibition of Jade pieces from the pre-Columbian era and the informational placards allow you to know more about the cultural heritage of the country.
It is located inside the INS Building and it is open from 8:30 to 3:30 from Monday to Saturday.
The Gold Museum is also known as Museo Del Banco Central de Costa Rica.
Here you can find one of the largest collections in the Americas of pre-Columbian gold.
There are more than 2,000 objects at the museum And the way in which they are shown allows the visitor to really appreciate the beauty of every single piece.
It is the only underground museum in the country and it is located beneath the famous Plaza de la Cultura. The museum opens from Monday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Phone: 2243-4202
Plaza de la Democracia
Here you can kill two birds with one shot as you can visit the National Museum (learn about the history of the country and see actual objects from the Costa Rica of old) and buy a souvenir such as a folkloric craft, stuff made in leather and ceramics.
This open plaza is located in Barrio La Soledad.
Barrios Otoya and Amon
These historic neighborhoods, which are located in the northern part of the city have houses that are more than a century old, many of which have turned into restaurants and small hotels.
If you are planning to stay in the capital for a few days, this is an excellent place to get accommodation and take some pictures.
Important Numbers and Websites:
- Municipalidad: http://www.msj.go.cr/
- San Juan de Dios Hospital: 2257-7922