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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > Costa Rica > San Jose

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San Jose tours and excursions

San Jose tours

Central Valley tours

San José is just one of the towns in the cool, green Central Valley, cultural heart of the nation. Each city and village has its own history, culinary specialties (often dairy products or sweets), and traditions. Sarchí is best known for its polished hardwood handicrafts; Orosí for its inexpensive public hot springs and Zarcero for the fanciful topiary arcing across the town square. Several companies offer tours, including Costa Rican Trails.

Tel: +506 2527 6700.
Website: http://www.costaricantrails.com

Art tours

San José is developing a fairly healthy fine arts scene, with brilliant new painters coming from across the country and Central America to work and showcase their work. From the colourful canvasses of the Caribbean Coast to intricately carved Boruca masks, you can find the region’s finest pieces here in San José. Molly Keeler will introduce you to the galleries, artists, and movements shaping the city’s art scene. Make reservations well in advance.

Website: http://www.costaricaarttour.com

San Jose excursions

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This beautiful, private park protects some 28 hectares (70 acres) of waterfall-strewn rain and cloud forests, clinging to the steep slopes of Poás Volcano. Part of the property has been magnificently developed, with sculpted tropical gardens and five huge waterfalls. Day trips include time on the trails, as well as visits to the butterfly and bird enclosures, and animal rehabilitation centre. If you’re interested in the Central Valley’s agrarian heritage, make sure your tour includes a visit to the model farm. Enchanted? Stay overnight at the luxurious Peace Lodge, offering unique and opulent forest cabins.

Tel: +506 2482 2720.
Website: http://www.waterfallgardens.com

Arenal Volcano National Park

Costa Rica’s iconic attraction is erupting Arenal Volcano, reliably spewing lava since 1968. The glowing lava flows, a major tourist attraction, shifted sides a few years ago – make sure your day trip from San José will take you to the rather distant viewpoint, at night, if it’s clear. Unfortunately, the massive cone is usually blanketed in clouds, so you’ll probably have to settle for an evening at one of the area’s hot springs.