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Shopping in San Jose
While Costa Rica isn’t as well known for its artesanías (handicrafts) as, say, Mexico, shoppers will find comfortable hammocks, fine hardwood tableware, gleaming ceramics, and traditional chorreadors (drip coffeemakers).
Many of San José’s best souvenir stores are located close to Parque Morazán, downtown. Penny pinchers should note that supermarkets sell cheaper brands of coffee than the souvenir chops. As regulations forbid the export of cracked beans, these are ground for domestic use; try Café 1820 and see if you can taste the difference.
Downtown San José is centred on an eight-block pedestrian shopping strip, Avenida Central, lined with restaurants, bars, surf shops and department stores, and bookended by two excellent markets.
Mercado Nacional de Artesanías (National Handicrafts Market), on Avenida 2 and Calle 13, is open daily between 1000-1700 and sells a range of quality regional handicrafts. Tidy Mercado Central (Central Market), on Paseo Colón and Calle 6, is open between Monday and Saturday between 0600-1800 and offers a vast selection of fresh produce, flowers, and more, alongside great, inexpensive, traditional diner food.
San José is where Costa Rica comes to shop, and there are several malls to choose from. The most convenient for most tourists is slightly grungy Mall San Pedro, about 2km (1.2 miles) east of downtown. Glittering Multiplaza, in the posh suburb of Escazú, 7km (4 miles) southwest of town, provides a much more upscale shopping experience. Other good malls include Paseo de las Flores in Heredia and Terra Mall in Tres Ríos.
Stores are generally open Monday to Saturday 0930-2000, often with a mid-afternoon lunch break.