17 AMAZING Things to Do in San Jose, Costa Rica: The Best Activities and Attractions
If you’re looking for things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
From world-class attractions and activities to charming colonial neighborhoods and lively nightlife districts, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.
Here are our picks for the 10 best things to do in San Jose!
1. Take a walk in the lush La Sabana Park.
La Sabana Park is one of the most popular parks in San Jose. It’s a great place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or just relax in the shade on a hot day.
The park also has a large lake where you can go for a swim, paddleboat, or rowboat rental.
There are also a few museums and monuments located in the park, including the National Museum, Jade Museum, and Monument to Costa Rica’s Heroes.
La Sabana Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free.
2. View Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife at the National Zoo
The National Zoo is home to a wide variety of Costa Rican wildlife, from jaguars and monkeys to sloths and toucans.
You can wander through the zoo’s many exhibits, getting up close and personal with the animals, or take a guided tour for an even more in-depth experience.
3. Soak up some sun on a white sand beach
Costa Rica is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and San Jose is no exception.
Head to one of the city’s popular beaches, such as Escazu, Santa Teresa, or Manuel Antonio, for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
4. Visit one of San Jose’s charming colonial neighborhoods
San Jose is home to several charming colonial neighborhoods, each with its own unique character.
Some of our favorites are La Sabana, Barrio Amón, and Paseo Colón. These neighborhoods are full of narrow streets lined with brightly colored houses, cafes, and shops. They’re a great place to wander around and explore.
Barrio Amón is especially popular with artists and musicians, and you can find lots of art galleries and live music venues here.
Paseo Colón is also home to the National Theater, which is a beautiful building dating back to 1897.
The colonial neighborhoods of San Jose are best explored on foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
There are also several walking tours available, which is a great way to learn more about the history and culture of these neighborhoods.
5. Sample Costa Rican cuisine at a local restaurant
Costa Rican cuisine is a delicious mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences.
If you’re looking to try some traditional Costa Rican dishes, we recommend heading to a restaurant in one of San Jose’s colonial neighborhoods.
La Luz de Jesus is a great option in Barrio Amón, while Paseo de los Turistas is a good choice in Paseo Colón.
For something a little lighter, you can also find lots of fresh fruit and vegetable stalls around the city.
Make sure to try some of the local fruits, such as mango, papaya, and pineapple.
6. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife in downtown San Jose
Downtown San Jose is home to a lively nightlife scene.
Here you can find bars, clubs, and restaurants catering to every taste.
The best time to visit is on a weekend, when the streets are full of people out for a good time.
If you’re looking for something more low-key, there are also several jazz bars and live music venues downtown.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in downtown San Jose.
7. Shop for souvenirs at Mercado Central
Mercado Central is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs in San Jose.
This large market is home to hundreds of stalls selling everything from T-shirts and handicrafts to local food products.
You can also find some great deals on jewelry, leather goods, and other items here.
Mercado Central is open daily from early morning until late evening.
When you’re done shopping, be sure to stop by one of the nearby cafes for a refreshing drink.
8. Go on an adventure in the Costa Rican rainforest
The Costa Rican rainforest is a paradise for adventure seekers.
Here you can find everything from zip lining and white water rafting to hiking and camping. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, the Costa Rican rainforest is the perfect place for you.
There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and toucans.
There are several tour companies that offer day trips and multi-day tours into the rainforest.
Some of our favorites are Rainforest Adventures, Costa Rica Nature Tours, and Selvatura Park.
9. Swim in a thermal pool at Volcán Irazú National Park
Volcán Irazú National Park is a beautiful park located in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica.
Here you can find two volcanoes, Irazú and Turrialba, as well as several thermal pools.
The thermal pools are a great place to relax after a day of hiking or exploring the park.
10. Climb to the top of Cerro de la Muerte for stunning views of San Jose and the surrounding countryside
Cerro de la Muerte is the highest point on the Pan-American Highway, and it offers stunning views of San Jose and the surrounding countryside.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the top of Cerro de la Muerte.
It’s a challenging hike, but the views are definitely worth it.
11. Take a guided tour of Casa Presidencial, the official residence of the President of Costa Rica
Casa Presidencial is the official residence of the President of Costa Rica.
This beautiful palace is open to the public for guided tours.
The tour includes a visit to the president’s private quarters, as well as some of the most important rooms in the palace.
12. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design for a dose of culture
The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design is one of the most popular museums in San Jose.
This museum is home to a collection of contemporary art from Costa Rica and around the world.
The museum also has a cafe, which is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring.
13. Learn about Costa Rican coffee at Britt Coffee Tour
If you’re interested in learning about Costa Rican coffee, be sure to visit the Britt Coffee Tour.
This tour is a great way to learn about the history and production of Costa Rican coffee.
You’ll also get to taste some of the best coffee in Costa Rica.
14. Get up close and personal with sharks at Shark Island
Shark Island is a small island off the coast of Guanacaste.
This island is home to a colony of white-tip sharks, which makes it a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.
If you’re brave enough, you can even swim with the sharks.
15. Go on a zip-lining tour through the jungle
A zip-lining tour is a great way to see the Costa Rican jungle from above.
There are several companies that offer zip-lining tours, and they typically include a few other activities like rappelling and hiking.
Some of our favorite companies are Selvatura Park, Rainforest Adventures, and Costa Rica Nature Tours.
16. Take a day trip to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica.
This park is home to five waterfalls, as well as a butterfly garden, a hummingbird garden, and a frog pond.
There are also several hiking trails that wind through the park.
17. Relax and rejuvenate at one of San Jose’s many spas or wellness centers
San Jose is home to several spas and wellness centers.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day, be sure to check out one of these places.
Some of our favorites are the JW Marriott Spa, the Costa Rica Wellness Center, and the San José Health Club & Spa.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
The best time to visit Costa Rica depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you want to enjoy the beaches and sunshine, then the dry season (December-April) is the best time to go. If you’re interested in exploring the rainforest, then the wet season (May-November) is a better choice.
What currency does Costa Rica use?
The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón. Credit cards are widely accepted, and there are ATMs throughout the country.
Is English spoken in Costa Rica?
English is not as commonly spoken in Costa Rica as Spanish, but you will be able to find people who can speak English in major tourist destinations and larger cities. It’s a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases before you go, just in case.
What should I pack for my trip to Costa Rica?
The weather in Costa Rica can vary depending on the time of year, so it’s a good idea to pack clothes that can be layered. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat. If you’re planning on doing any hiking, be sure to pack comfortable shoes and plenty of water.
No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica! So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today