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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).

Key areas

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.

Shopping centres

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.

Opening hours

Stores are generally open Monday to Saturday 0930-2000, often with a mid-afternoon lunch break.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Grano de Oro

The luxurious grand dame of San José’s hotel scene is named for the “Grain of Gold,” an old Tico (Costa Rican) nickname for coffee. Though this world-class boutique hotel offers every modern comfort, the style is that of Costa Rica’s caffeinated heyday, the boom years between the 19th and 20th centuries. The Victorian exterior’s soaring lobby, with a renowned restaurant, serves 34 excellent rooms, each beautifully designed and decorated.

Hotel Posada del Museo

Rising from the hustle and bustle of San José’s political district, this rambling, antique-filled 1928 mansion is a treasure. Accommodations are simple but well decorated, and more expensive rooms are considerably larger, with better views. The polished tropical hardwood construction lends a warm glow to the hotel, but also squeaks a bit at night. Attached Café de la Posada is outstanding, the perfect place for quiche, coffee, and the best people-watching in town.

Hostel Pangea

This popular hostel in the fashionable Barrio Amón district has long been a top stop on the Gringo Trail. Amenities include a swimming pool, rooftop bar, breakfast, internet access, private rooms, and shuttles to well maintained partner hostels all over the country. It’s a great place to meet other travellers and plan your further adventures, and is surrounded by several other cheap San José hotels if it doesn’t suit you.

Marriott San José

Though more international luxury hotels in San José are opening, this venerable five-star resort, wrapped in lush gardens and coffee plantations just 7km (four miles) from the city centre is still one of the best. The flawless Spanish colonial theme includes wonderful antique furnishings and a tiny, Mission-style Catholic chapel onsite. Guests enjoy modern amenities, however, such as several pools, fine dining restaurants, flawless rooms, spa treatments, and more.

Xandari Resort & Spa

Overlooking the international airport from the jungled slopes of Poás Volcano is remarkable Xandari Resort. Created by an artist and architect the spacious modern award-winning suites are an exercise in stylish luxury. Elaborately landscaped sculpture-strewn gardens surround the swimming pools but give way to wilder rainforest with trails past several waterfalls. Enjoy the view over the sparkling Central Valley night from your private patio or at the good restaurant worth a visit even if you can’t stay.

Hotel 1492

This 10-room gem among boutique hotels is about ten minutes east of downtown, on a pleasant residential side street. The original home was handcrafted over four decades by its artistic original owner, Amalia Jimenez Volio. Her eye-catching Portuguese tiles, original mosaics, murals, and sculptures decorate the living areas and soothing interior gardens, a nice compliment to the hotel's rather retro furnishings. Amenities include Wi-Fi.