San Jose Travel Guide & Information
San Jose is the capital and largest city in Costa Rica. Comfortably situated in the Central Valley, the city is the focal point of economic activity and the major transportation hub of Central American. San Jose has a spectacular setting, encircled by jagged silhouettes of soaring mountains on all sides. It is, perhaps the country's only major metropolitan city, with a varied and active restaurant and nightlife scene, several museums and galleries worth visiting, and ongoing shows at theaters, concerts and other cultural events that you won't find elsewhere in the country.
Travel to San Jose, one of the youngest capital cities in Latin America by year of conception. Though it was founded in 1738 by Fernandaz, it was only named the capital in 1823. Flights to San Jose are your ticket to a modern city offering numerous opportunities to explore the cultural heritage of this magnificent city. San Jose has everything one could want, a vacationer’s paradise, activities ranging from secluded white sandy beaches with great surf and amazing Scuba diving opportunities, to active volcanoes and towering rain forests and more.
The modern metropolis showcasing brisk expressions of art and architecture and spurred by the country's improved tourism industry is a significant destination and stopover for foreign & domestic visitors alike. San Jose has a vibrant and cosmopolitan attitude, a sprinkling of excellent museums, elegant buildings and landscaped parks, great cafes and beautiful galleries, makes this destination a traveler’s dream come true.
Things to do in San Jose
San Jose has some beautiful, world class museums offering visitors great insight into the city and the country’s rich history.
Museo Oro Precolombino: Located in a subterranean building underneath the Plaza de la cultura, the museum has a substantial collection of over 1,600 artifacts of Pre-Columbian gold, dating back to 500 AD. The collection includes Costa Rica's first coin, the Media Escudo, which was minted in 1825, animal figurines, amulets, earrings, statuettes and El Guerrero, a life sized gold warrior figure adorned with gold ornaments in a glass case and much more.
Museo del Jade: The Museo del Jade is an archaeological museum located on Calle 9 and Avenue 7, in the National Institute of Insurance building. The museum has an extensive collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, such as stone tables, ceramics, ceremonial heads, adzes and other decorative pieces from 500 BC to 800 AD. The Jade room of the museum also displays translucent jade pendants, while the 11th floor museum contains a sculpture by Jose Sancho.
Museo Nacional: The Museo Nacional de Costa Rica is the national museum of Costa Rica. The museum is organized thematically in a counter clockwise fashion, from the entrance with artifacts related to Costa Rica's geological, colonial, archaeological, religious and modern history. The museum has a notable collection of pre-Columbian stone tables, ceramics and a gold room "Sala de Oro" in the northeast tower.
Besides world class museums, San Jose hosts other prominent attractions that visitors entertained during their stay.
Arenal Volcano: is an active andesitic strato-volcano in north-western Costa Rica, north-west of San Jose. You can still see ash columns, underground rumbling, glowing orange lava flows and sudden explosions on a daily basis. With its perfect conical shape, it offers breathtaking views of volcanic action in the summit. Almost every night, the crater has a spectacle of lights with its explosive eruptions.
Templo de la Musica: This temple is an imitation of the temple of love and music. Inaugurated in December 24, 1920, the temple became a major landmark, hosting concerts and serenades. The temple was recently restored with the rest of Morazan Park. The San Jose City Band and the National Symphonic Orchestra offer concerts here on special occasions.
National Theatre of Costa Rica: The building is considered the finest historical building in the capital, and is known for its exquisite interior with lavish furnishings. The front of the theatre features statues of Calderon de la Barca and Ludwig van Beethoven. The inside of the theatre features ceiling murals of Allegory of Coffee and Bananas, by Milanese and artist, Aleardo Villa. The theatre is a major tourist attraction and hosts high quality performances several times a week.
Where to Stay in San Jose :
San Jose possesses an array of hotels, ranging from cheap hotels, 4-Star Hotels Under $99, youth hostels, beach hotels and extended stay hotels.
San Pedro: Situated on the eastern end of the city, San Pedro is one of the most popular neighborhoods in San Jose. Considered a youthful part of town and home to several good restaurants and bars, San Pedro is just 10 minutes from downtown San Jose, and has one of the best malls in the city, the Mall San Pedro. Being a hub for backpackers and student travelers, the types of hotels commonly found, are hostels and hotels suitable for budget travelers.
Los Yoses: Los Yoses is a quiet residential district in San Jose and has a number of foreign embassies and diplomatic enclaves. An upper-middle-class area, it is the most upscale part of Eastern San Jose. The hotels in the area range from 5-star hotels, to budget hotels, with several small bed and breakfast inns. Los Yoses is a great place to stay, if you wish to avoid the noise, yet remain close to the heart of downtown.
Passport & Visa Requirements
For US Citizens:
As per the latest travel information available to San Jose, here are the following passport and visa guidelines to assist you further.
* For entry into San Jose, a U.S. citizen must present valid passport that will not expire for at least thirty days after arrival and a roundtrip/outbound ticket.
* Costa Rican authorities generally permit U.S. citizens to stay up to ninety days.
* Tourists who stay more than ninety days without receiving an extension may experience a delay at the airport when departing or may be denied entry to San Jose on future visits.
* Visit the Embassy of Costa Rica web site for the most current visa information.
For Canadian Citizens:
* A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending to visit San Jose.
* The passport must be valid for at least thirty days from the date of arrival in San Jose.
* Canadians arriving in San Jose may remain for a period of up to 90 days without a visa.
* Travelers are required to carry evidence of yellow fever vaccination when arriving from infected countries. Please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Costa Rica in Ottawa for details.
This requirement applies to all travelers, regardless of age, including children.
We recommend that you check the latest travel alerts, various airlines baggage policies and travel safety tips, so that you do not miss out on any of the fun while visiting San Jose.
*Kindly note that we take the utmost care in providing you with correct information at all times. However, the passport and visa regulations are subject to change and we strongly urge you to check the requirements directly with the US passport office and, or the Canadian Passport Office before traveling.
When to visit San Jose
Offering a great climatic with little variation, San Jose is a favored tourist destination all round the year.
However, the best time to visit is during late November to late April, when the weather is perfect for lounging on a beach and exploring the rainforest.
Budget travelers can choose to travel during the months of May to mid-November. Though the weather might not be perfect, flights and hotels are much cheaper.
Planning your Visit:
High season: (Mid November to April)
Low season: (May to mid-November)
San Jose Weather
San Jose features a Tropical savanna climate that borders a Subtropical highland climate.
* The rainy season is from April to late November, but cloudiness and rainfall can occur during the dry season.
* In general, most of San José has a moderate, spring climate with very warm mornings and lukewarm evenings.
Currency and Language:
American dollars and major credit cards are acceptable almost everywhere, except in small business establishments or hotels and restaurants in remote locations.
* The official language of San Jose is Spanish.