Reviewed on Aug. 11, 2022
Reviewed on Aug. 12, 2022
Reviewed on Aug. 3, 2022
San Jose vacations are steeped in opposites. On one hand, the city is unmistakably gorgeous; situated in the famously lush Valle Central, this Costa Rican capital is surrounded by soaring volcanoes, sparkling valleys and a bevy of butterfly farms, coffee plantations, and waterfall gardens. On the other hand, however, it’s very much a city: a bustling destination with the usual circle of crowded markets, government buildings, and colourful neighbourhoods. Tourists searching for a serene experience will find it in the outlying natural wonders — this is Costa Rica, after all — but the best San Jose vacation packages embrace the area’s energetic atmosphere.
Though you could easily make a beeline for the beaches, start your San Jose vacation by spending a little time in the heart of the city. The Museo del Jade, which houses North America’s largest jade collection, is a great place for geology buffs, and the Museo de Oro Precolombino gleams with more than 2,000 bits of ancient gold. If you’re travelling with family, check out the big cats at the Zoológico Simón Bolivar and the rare insects at the Museo de Insectos de la Universidad de Costa Rica. Both offer captivating exhibits for kids and parents alike.
For a more local experience, however, nothing beats San Pedro. Home to the University of Costa Rica, this tree-lined barrio is the best place to relax on a sidewalk patio, browse the small bookshops, and catch an outdoor concert at the Facultad de Bellas Artes. It’s slightly off the beaten path for most visitors, but take the time to discover the area; it’s definitely worth a look.
Of course, every vacation in San Jose should include a few outdoor adventures. Head to the Ojo de Agua waterpark to swim in one of the four pools, picnic in the gardens, and kayak around the artificial lake. Venture out to the La Fortuna rainforests for some of the country’s best white-water rafting. You can even plan a few wine tours through the region. Whether you’re searching for the perfect San Jose golf resort or want to soak up the city life at a downtown hotel, this dynamic Costa Rican city never disappoints.