Local time San Jose


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


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.

Hotel Milvia

About 3km (1.8 miles) east of downtown San José, but connected by convenient bus service, is the university town of San Pedro. Tucked away on a quiet side street, you’ll find this sunny, immaculate B&B, with lovely gardens, big balconies, and cheerful common areas decorated in outstanding paintings and sculptures. Sleek lines and bright colours give the 90-year-old former plantation house a clean European feel, and breakfast is outstanding.

Hotel Aranjuez

Hidden away in Barrio Aranjuez, a historic residential neighbourhood about 15 minutes from downtown on foot (take taxis at night) is San José’s best bargain. The rambling, old structure has relaxed sitting areas, polished wooden rooms ranging from basic to almost palatial, and wonderful, shady gardens you could easily get lost in. Make reservations in advance, particularly for the cheaper rooms, as the hotel is popular with Costa Ricans.

Hostel Bekuo

This festive, mosaic-tiled hostel is in Barrio Los Yoses, located about halfway between downtown San José and San Pedro’s student nightlife district, Calle de la Amargura. A dozen other great bars, clubs, and restaurants are within stumbling distance. The simple spot has lots of tourist information, Wi-Fi, movies, open kitchen, a game room, and nice gardens out back, making it a fine place to enjoy San José.