San José is the capital of Costa Rica, and the nation’s largest city. Located in the western province of San José, it is the the point of political and economic activity. Named in honor of Joseph of Nazareth, the city is home to over 288,000 inhabitants. The surrounding metropolitan area comprises a third of Costa Rica’s population.
On a daily basis, over a million people flood into the city to work and study and return to their respective homes at night. San José, Costa Rica capital, is considered to be one of the safest cities in Latin America, as well as a major transportation hub for flights to other parts of the Costa Rica.
Although most people overlook San José due to its gritty appearance, the city has a lot to offer for travelers interested in learning more about Costa Rican culture and history. Locos4Travel has compiled a list of sites to see in the Costa Rican capital:
Housed in the Bellavista Fortress, this museum has artifacts related to Costa Rica’s geological, colonial, archaeological, religious and modern history. Do not miss out on its Pre-Colombian collection which consists of ceramics, stone tables and a fascinating gold room. It also has furniture from the 18th century and exhibits about important figures from Costa Rica.
This is one of the most popular museums in San José. It is home to the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade in the world. You can also admire gold and stone pieces, as well as terracota vases, bowls and figurines. Each of the pieces have descriptions in English and Spanish, giving visitors insight into their use and origin.
Spirogyra Butterfly Gardens
Housing more than 30 species, including the stunning blue morpho, these gardens are a great place to have close contact with butterflies. Make sure to visit the gardens in the morning to see these delicate creatures in fully glory with the sunlight shining in.
Plaza de Cultura
The Plaza of Culture is located in the heart of downtown. Locals, vendors and entertainers fill the square, making it a great place to see a bit of San José street life. It is home to the National Theater, the Gold Museum, The Coin Museum and the Casa de Moneda.
- The National Theater: This is the finest historic building in the capital. It hosts the National Symphonic Orchestra and other great performances.
- Gold Museum: Three levels below the square, you will find the Gold Museum. It features a large collection of over 1600 artifacts of Pre-Columbian gold dating back to AD 500.
- Coin Museum: Located next to the Gold Museum, The Coin Museum showcases displays dating back to 1236, including banknotes, coins and items such as coffee tokens.
- Casa de Moneda: This small museum is also located on the ground level. It has information and displays on the history of minting in Costa Rica.
Parque La Sabana
This large park is a great spot to stroll or exercise. There is a large artificial lake, sports fields, running and skating tracks and a shooting range. During the weekend, there are free aerobics classes. The park is home to Costa Rica’s national stadium and the Costa Rican Art Museum.
This small park is a great place for people watching. Families, friends, couples and tourists pass through daily. There are a lot of parrot, adding to the energetic atmosphere of the park. It is home to the impressive Metropolitan Church, rebuilt in 1871 after an earthquake. It is also bordered by the Melico Salazar Theater.
There are just a few of the attractions you can see in the capital of Costa Rica. Make sure to add San José to your itinerary and learn more about Costa Rican history and culture.