Local time San Jose


Things to do in San Jose

Climb a bubbling volcano crater

San José is cradled in the skirts of several major volcanoes, two of them extremely active and preserved as popular national parks. Poás Volcano has paved trails and is wholly impressive. Early morning hikers will be rewarded with the fantastic cloud-forest walks and epic viewpoints over the huge, bubbling crater.

Make for Central Valley for a moonlit horseback tour

Costa Rica remains an agricultural nation and the rural mountain towns that pepper the Central Valley are perfect for equestrian adventures. Horseback tour operators vary widely, so buyer beware. The likes of Finca Caballo (+506 7010 1771; www.fincacaballoloco.com) provide experienced, English-speaking guides who understand that foreigners may lack grace in the saddle. 

Ride the wild waters in a raft

Adventurous travellers will be well aware of Costa Rica's rain forested central highlands. Marbled with wild rivers, Río Reventazón has a reputation as one of the country's toughest to tackle in a white-water raft, while Río Pacuare is considered Central America's most beautiful river. Exploradores Outdoors (tel: +506 2222 6262; www.exploradoresoutdoors.com) offers day and overnight trips.

Roar through the rainforest on a zip line

Sliding through the forest canopy, suspended above the jungle on a strong, steel "zip-line," is the classic Costa Rica experience. There are some 100 zip-line canopy tours in the country but with sky trams, guided hikes and a butterfly garden, Rainforest Adventures (tel: +506 225 759 61; www.rainforestadventure.com) eco attraction is the stand out.

Take the toll road to the Pacific coast

Believe it or not, it's only an hour from the Central Highlands to the Pacific, thanks to the toll road connecting San José and Jacó. If a charmingly grungy surf town isn't to your tastes, then head north for your pick of palm-fringed paradise around the breathtaking Nicoya Peninsula.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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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.