San José

Travel Guide
San Jose featuring general coastal views
Immerse yourself in Spanish language, culture and food and European architecture in this inviting Central American capital city.

European charm and Central American vitality combine to provide an interesting blend of old and new, making San José a fascinating Costa Rican city. Interact with friendly locals, investigate impressive European architecture, enjoy cultural arts and perfect your Spanish language skills.

Several of San José’s impressive public structures date back to Spanish settlement from as early as the 1700s. Experience some of the best of San José ’s cultural activities and see interesting buildings near the large Plaza de la Cultura. Here, admire the neo-classical architecture of the Teatro Nacional. Reserve seats for outstanding cultural events at this national theater or tour the opulent interior decorated with murals, paintings and sculptures.

Nearby, visit three exceptional museums. See dazzling indigenous pieces in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. The Museo del Jade has plenty of jade as well as anthropological artifacts. Learn about Costa Rican history and natural science at the Museo Nacional, another example of striking architecture.

Costa Rica is a popular location for language learners looking for immersion in a Spanish-speaking region, either through formal training or casual interaction with local residents. Sign up for one of many structured programs or test your Spanish skills in restaurants in the different barrios of San José.

You’re sure to get a friendly smile if you order gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast just as the locals do. When you need a break from Spanish, go to the restaurants and country clubs of the western Escasu barrio with many English-speaking expats or visit the relatively new Chinatown area.

In March, the city hosts the Transitarte Festival. Enjoy pleasant summer weather and travel from one urban park to another to enjoy music, crafts, workshops and art.

Reach San José via Juan Santamaría International Airport, 10 miles (17 kilometers) northwest of the city center. Use public buses and taxis to get around the city. Many of the main landmarks are in the downtown or “el centro” area, easy to walk from one to another.

Where to stay in San José

Fairfield by Marriott San Jose Airport Alajuela
Fairfield by Marriott San Jose Airport Alajuela
3.5 out of 5
Radial Francisco J. Orlich,, Plaza Los Mangos, Alajuela, 20109
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $93 per night from Feb 14 to Feb 15
$93
per night
Feb 14 - Feb 15
Stay at this 3.5-star hotel in Alajuela. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and 2 restaurants. Popular attractions City Mall and Plaza Real Alajuela are located ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (139 reviews)
"Property seems brand new, great place for a 1 night airport stay. 3 nice restaurants across the parking lot and Walmart is a short block away. Airport shuttle was good."

Reviewed on Jan 29, 2023

Fairfield by Marriott San Jose Airport Alajuela
DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
4 out of 5
Autopista Grl. Canas, Cruce San Antonio, San Antonio Belen Intersection, Ciudad Cariari
The price is $140 per night from Feb 5 to Feb 6
$140
per night
Feb 5 - Feb 6
Stay at this 4-star spa hotel in Ciudad Cariari. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and a casino. Our guests praise the pool and the helpful staff in our reviews. ...
4.4/5 Excellent! (1,066 reviews)
"Good customer service, nice pool. Comfy room"

Reviewed on Jan 30, 2023

DoubleTree by Hilton Cariari - San Jose Costa Rica
Hampton by Hilton San Jose Airport
Hampton by Hilton San Jose Airport
3 out of 5
Hwy 1 Airport Blvd, Alajuela, 1017
The price is $123 per night from Feb 6 to Feb 7
$123
per night
Feb 6 - Feb 7
Stay at this 3-star business-friendly hotel in Alajuela. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the breakfast and the clean rooms ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (1,596 reviews)
Excellent Choice Near San Jose Airport
"Spacious, comfortable, clean room. Especially great choice if you're arriving late or leaving early from San Jose Airport. Across the parking lot from several rental car agencies. Walk to a Rosti Pollo or Dennys restaurants. Breakfast is included and we really appreciated the bag breakfast they put ..."

Reviewed on Jan 30, 2023

Hampton by Hilton San Jose Airport
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
The Train Suites Barrio Escalante
The Train Suites Barrio Escalante
3.5 out of 5
San José, Barrio Escalante., San José, San José, 10101
Stay at this 3.5-star apartment in San José. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and a fitness center. Popular attractions Estación del Ferrocarril de Costa Rica ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (12 reviews)
"The hotel and room are very modern and clean. The staff was friendly and helpful. It's in a great neighborhood. It's a short 5-minute walk to many cafes, bars, restaurants, and a grocery store. But it's still quiet for sleeping."

Reviewed on Dec 24, 2022

The Train Suites Barrio Escalante
Apartotel & Suites Villas del Rio
Apartotel & Suites Villas del Rio
3.5 out of 5
East side of Costa Rica Country Club, San Rafael, San Rafael
Stay at this 3.5-star family-friendly aparthotel in San Rafael. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the breakfast and the quiet ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (587 reviews)
"Pros: Excellent location , tons of restaurants around. Supermarket at walking distance. Breakfast is excellent and comes with your room rate. Laundry facilities at the premises. Cleaning Service every day 😀. Heated swimming pool Cons Hotel needs updates"

Reviewed on Dec 29, 2022

Apartotel & Suites Villas del Rio
Hotel Suites Cristina
Hotel Suites Cristina
3.5 out of 5
300 meters north ICE building, Sabana Norte, San José, San Jose, 10108
Stay at this 3.5-star family-friendly aparthotel in San José. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the restaurant and the overall ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (497 reviews)
"Clean and quiet, staff very helpful."

Reviewed on Jan 3, 2023

Hotel Suites Cristina
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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