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


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.

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.