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Things to do in San Jose

Things to do in  San Jose

Welcome to San Jose

As the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose is a bustling city whose metropolitan thrum contrasts with the natural wonders that surround it. Before you flock to the country’s biodiverse rain forest in search of wildlife, waterfalls, and Arenal and Poas volcanoes, stop to get acquainted with San Jose’s neoclassical grandeur. The city boasts museums dedicated to everything from jade and gold to insects and natural science, and plays host to theaters, churches, and cathedrals. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, get outside the city with a canopy tour through Monteverde Cloud Forest, white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, or a soak at Baldi Hot Springs.

Top attractions in San Jose for Spring

#1
Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park

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Although visitors once flocked to Arenal Volcano for its impressive lava shows, the 5,437-foot (1,657-meter) volcano has stayed quiet since its last eruption in 2010. However, Arenal and the surrounding Arenal Volcano National Park remain a hot spot for visitors to Costa Rica, and is especially popular among those seeking hiking trails, swimming holes, hot springs, bird- and wildlife-watching, and sweeping views of the tropical rain forest.More
#2
Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park

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Poas Volcano National Park houses one of the more popular volcanoes in Costa Rica—a telling superlative for a country with world-famous geothermal activity. But with its spectacular wildlife, informative museum, and variety of hiking trails, the accolade comes as no surprise.More
#3
National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

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Modelled after the Paris Opera House, the National Theater in San José’s Catedral district is a neo-classical masterpiece representing Costa Rica’s greatest era of extravagance and sophistication. The historic building has been the epicenter of the city’s fine arts scene including opera, symphony, and other performing arts since its inaugural performance by Fausto de Gounod in 1897.More
#4
Morazan Park

Morazan Park

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This lush public park at the center of San Jose was named after Francisco Morazan, an old-school general who tried to unite all of Central America into one common country. And while Morozan Park was once a hub for San Jose’s grit and grime (it used to be a known for drug sales and prostitution), the park has recently undergone a complete renaissance.Travelers can safely wander through the green gardens that make Morazan Park a respite from the otherwise urban feel of San Jose and stretch out for an afternoon picnic on thick lawns under massive shade trees. The Templo de Musica, a concrete gazebo at the center of the land, is the highlight of any visit to Morazan Park—especially when live local musicians are playing.More
#5
Gold Museum

Gold Museum

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Housed in a historic building and managed by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum holds one of the largest collections of gold artifacts in Latin America. In total, the museum holds more than 1,600 pre-Columbian items, including Costa Rica’s very first coin, handmade ceramics, jewelry, and religious icons dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD.More
#6
San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

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Bountiful produce stalls, local-approved cafeterias, and vendor stalls selling everything from coffee beans to cowboy boots give visitors to San Jose’s Central Market (Mercado Central) a taste of real Costa Rican culture. Visit as part of an epic errand run or for a chance to look behind-the-scenes at everyday life in Costa Rica.More
#7
Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park

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The vast protected forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park is a natural for toucans, eagles, armadillos, sloths, monkeys, and jaguars. Catch a glimpse of its rugged beauty from the comfort of your car, or hike along the trails that lead to thundering waterfalls, towering mountains, and rapid rivers.More
#8
Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

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Orosi River Valley is a tranquil, secluded area filled with rural charm and scenic landscapes, not far from the hustle and bustle of San José. With the silhouette of the volcanoes as a backdrop, the mountainous area has green forested hills covered by coffee plantations, natural hot springs, andxa0 colorful colonial towns in the middle of the lush vegetation.More
#9
National Museum (Museo Nacional)

National Museum (Museo Nacional)

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Housed in the barracks of the Bellavista Fortress, the National Museum (Museo Nacional), displays indigenous and pre-Columbian artifacts, religious artwork, and geological and archaeological pieces linked to Costa Rica’s rich and colorful history since 1950. Separate rooms explore ancient cultures dating back some 12,000 years, as well as collections of ornate jewelry, medallions, and gold statues.More
#10
Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

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Explore the works of some of Costa Rica’s greatest artists from the colonial era through today at the Costa Rican Art Museum, including almost the entire body of work from prolific local artist Juan Manuel Sanchez. The museum is housed in the building that once served as the main terminal of San Jose’s original international airport and outside, toward where the tarmac once sat, is a lovely sculpture garden where visitors can walk around an enjoy the tropical weather. The museum often has chamber music concerts playing in the Golden Hall.More

Trip ideas

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

Top activities in San Jose

Manuel Antonio National Park Sightseeing and Wildlife Day Tour from San Jose
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Arenal Volcano & Baldi Hot Springs From San José
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3-Days Arenal Volcano Tabacon Resort - Monteverde - Manuel Antonio
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Recent reviews from experiences in San Jose

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Highly recommend
Brianna_D, Apr 2022
San José By Night: Food,Culture and Gourmet Dinner with Wines
She managed the small group with ease and walked us around to see some of the key sites in San Jose, including a market.
star-5
Great tour of San Jose
Kylynn_G, Mar 2022
San Jose Night City Tour
We wanted to see some of San Jose, but didn't leave much time for it.
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Great tour!
Beverly_E, Dec 2021
Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip from San Jose
Oscar was careful to see that we all had a great time!
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Would do it again and again!
Ryan_T, May 2022
Day Trip to Pacuare River Rafting Class III-IV from San Jose
Managed to see a coati and various birds and butterflies while rafting, and both breakfast and lunch provided were tasty!
star-4
The organization of the...
Gunilla_W, Apr 2022
La Paz Waterfall Gardens & Wildlife Refuge day tour from San Jose
However, the water falls made up for the colossal waste of time and lack of communication.
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BEST BIRTHDAY EVERRRRRRR
Lazarvius_F, Mar 2022
Arenal Volcano Experience Full-Day Tour from San Jose
Then we headed to La Paz waterfall.
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Stunning waterfalls
Joanna_H, Feb 2022
Day trip from San Jose to Wildlife Refuge La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Lovely gardens with animals and beautiful waterfalls.
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Amazing Tour 10/10
Justin_A, Feb 2022
One Day Adventure Tour from San Jose
Our first stop was at the Tarcoles River which is a tourist hot spot to see huge crocodiles below the bridge.
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Beautiful sites, Highly recommend
Kristen_H, Feb 2022
Poas Volcano + Coffee Plantations & La Paz Waterfall Gardens Trip from San Jose
Finally we went to the La Paz Waterfall Garden and that was breathtaking.
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Excellent All Day Trip from San Jose
Anthony_M, Feb 2022
Full-Day Tortuga Island Cruise from San Jose
Did the snorkeling and banana boat activities (for extra fee).
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Oscar and Destiny Tours are Fun, Safe and Excellent!
HelenMichel_T, Feb 2022
2 Days: Arenal Volcano & Tabacon Hot Springs from San Jose
Anytime there was a dispute, such as happened with Tabaccon Hot Springs changing their rules without notice, Oscar stuck with me until any and all issues were resolved.
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Amazing time above the clouds
Katarina_K, Jan 2022
Irazú Volcano National Park (Half Day).
At the end of the tour, we went to see the Cartago basilica.
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Great adventure in Costa Rica , all day event !
Chelsea_T, Jan 2022
Arenal Volcano & Baldi Hot Springs From San José
Last stop is the Baldi Hot springs resort , which is very nice with multiple “hot springs” areas which are more so very warm pools all man-made with swim up bars and waterfalls.
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An insightful learning adventure
Bridget_M, Jan 2022
Explore San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group Tour
None of us spoke significant Spanish and Malo’s English was great- while teaching us some useful phrases along the way.
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GO NOW!!
Andrew_C, Dec 2021
ATV River, Beach, Jungle Adventure and Crocodiles Hotspot from San Jose
The trip was so worth it because we were able to ride the ATVs through a rainforest, by a waterfall, on the beach, and in a river!
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See the city like a local
Ray_M, May 2021
San José By Night: Food,Culture and Gourmet Dinner with Wines
I had a very small group and we got to see San Jose up close and in amazing detail.
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education
JP_D, Jan 2021
San Jose Night City Tour
It was a pleasant experience to see the see city.
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Great tour
David_S, Feb 2020
San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour
First time in San Jose, was a great way to see the city Guides were entertaining and very knowledgeable.
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Wonderful tour!
lbulmer, Feb 2020
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
The tour was much more comprehensive than we expected it to be, as we got to see some of the main buildings in downtown San Jose as well as going through Central Market and sampling some of the food and drinks.
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I had to wait for this tour, as the...
Rebecca_L, Mar 2018
Private Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit from San Jose
A good tour if you want to see more of San Jose.

All about San Jose

When to visit

Winter is high season in San Jose for good reason: not only is the weather warm and dry, but the event calendar is packed with festivities such as Festejos Populares and the family-friendly Zapote Fair. To score the best discounts on hotels, visit in the rainy season, from May to November, when cooler temperatures and vibrant greenery compensate for afternoon downpours.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in San Jose?
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What are the top activities in San Jose?
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What are the top things to do near San Jose?
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