San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and the most populous. It is so large that it goes beyond its province and includes the cities of Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia. It is a very safe city and has much to offer travelers, although it is not the main tourist destination in the country. This city enjoys a spring climate thanks to the mountains of Tilaran.
In recent years, San Jose has changed a lot becoming a destination focused on arts and gastronomy. The Barrio Escalante is the best place to eat with many options of restaurants, cafes and street art. Throughout the year they host the ‘La Luz Festival’ with plenty of food options, music and craft beer. Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Co. is the first independent craft brewery in the country.
A historical site that you must visit is the National Theater. This building was built between 1891 and 1897 with an architecture and decor that has Italian and French influences, including the Opera House in Paris. It is still used for plays and concerts. It is located in the ‘Plaza de la Cultura’ which is an excellent place to start exploring the museums of the city. Nearby is the San Jose Metropolitan Cathedral dating from the 19th century. Go up to the second floor to see the impressive 16-foot organ.
La Sabana Metropolitan Park, with 177 acres (72 hectares), is the green lung of the city. This location used to be the old airport of the city and currently hosts the National Stadium and the Museum of Costa Rican Art. Locals and tourists visit this recreational area that has an artificial lake, running tracks and gym. Another outdoor option is the Jose Maria Orozco Botanical Garden located at the University of Costa Rica.
Gran Hotel Costa Rica is a history lodging option that dates back to the 1930s. Congress ordered its construction since the city needed a first-class hotel. It was bought by the Hilton group who remodeled completely the building. The Hotel Presidente is a colorful boutique hotel with murals throughout its facade. Grano de Oro Hotel is another luxury boutique option. InterContinental Costa Rica and the Sheraton San Jose are next to Multiplaza Mall in Escazu. Hotel Barceló San Jose offers a free airport shuttle.
Mercado Central is a labyrinth with more than 200 people selling everything from fruits to souvenirs and toys. This market occupies an entire block in Paso de la Vaca zone in 1st Avenue and Central Avenue with 6th street. It was founded in 1882 and has been restored several times. It is visited daily by 20,000 people aproximately. It is one of the best places to taste local cuisine like "casados", "gallo pinto" and "sweet water" in restaurants locally known as "sodas". The National Craftsman Market "Mercado Nacional de Artesanos" is a great place to find souvenirs. It has been relocated to larger facility in 6th Avenue between 5th and 7th streets.
Britt Coffee Tour
The brand Café Britt is all over Costa Rica, since the moment you arrive at the airport you will find their stores with such an assortment that is almost mandatory to buy something. You can learn how to make coffee in a 90 minute tour in Heredia. Cafe Britt was founded in 1985 and the tours started in 1991. They practice sustainable agriculture with "organic" products and "fair trade". The tour experience is fun as the guides ensure you will have a good time.
Irazu and Poas volcanoes
Costa Rica is famous for its volcanoes product of its location between 2 tectonic plates, Cocos and Caribe. This small country has over 100 volcanoes, but only 5 remain active. Irazu is the closest volcano, just an hour away from San Jose. It is also the largest in the country with a height of 11,260 feet and 500 square kilometers at its base. You can drive or hike. There are 2 craters, one of them has a green lake of 300 meters in diameter. We recommend you bring warm clothes as it is cold up there. The Poas volcano is located 2 hours away from San Jose and is the most visited in Cosa Rica. It is very easy to access and its popularity is due tu a crater almost a mile in diameter making it one of the largest in the world. To visit you need to make reservations as access is limited after the volcano erupted in 2017 and closed for 17 months. It is recommended to visit early when the park opens to have better visibility.
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