San Jose Costa Rica is the one place I got lost in while in Costa Rica. I found navigating the city a bit challenging but the cab drivers, throughout the city were more than helpful, given that it was rush hour. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to resolve the problem.
San Jose was predominantly an agricultural city prior to the last world war. Since then, it has become a sprawling city with large office towers, shopping malls and modern restaurants. San Jose continues to grow and some of the large city unpleasantness includes a growing crime rate.
San Jose Travel Highlights
- Museo de Formas, Espacios y Sonidos: An interactive museum geared to small children is in the old San Jose Atlantic train station where visitors can check out antique locomotives and old rail cars.
- Muse Nacional de Costa Rica: The National Museum is located inside the Bellavista Forest which was the old army headquarters during fighting in 1931 and 1948. It's also the site that Costa Rican President Jose Figueres announced in 1949 that he was abolishing the country's military. The museum has a wide range of pre-Columbian artifacts and a wing dedicated to natural history.
- Museo Para la Paz: The Peace Museum has exhibits and catalogs of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and President Oscar Arias. Arias made extensive efforts to bring peace to Central America. Other laureates are also displayed at this museum, including Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter and Lech Walesa.
- Teatro Nacional: The National Theater is considered one of San Jose's most impressive public buildings. It was built in 1897 and was recently restored. For information about performances, please consult the Tico Times.
- Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismatica: A collection of pre-Columbian gold is well presented at this museum. A small exhibits details the history of Costa Rica's currency and there is a display for local art.
- Plaza de la Cultura: Ticos refer to this as the geographical heart of Costa Rica. The travel and tourist information center is located here.
- Parque Central: San Jose's central park has an art installation donated by former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. There's a cathedral on the east side of the square and the Teatro Meico Salazard on the north side.
- Parque Metropolitano La Sabana: Home to two museums, a lagoon, a fountain, and a variety of sports facilities, San Jose's Parque Metropolitano park used to be the airport but was repurposed into a park. The Museo de Arte Costarricense has a permanent collection of Costa Rican art from the 19th and 20th century. The Museo de Ciencias Naturales La Salle has an extensive collection of stuffed animals and butterflies.
- Mercados: The Central Marketated at Avs Central and Calles 6 and 8 in San Jose offers fresh produce, organic coffee, meat, and souvenirs. A second Market at Ave 3 and Calle 8 is packed with similar vendors. The walking tour listed below highlights the Central Market.
- Museo Posta, Telegrafico y Filatelico de Costa Rica: The stamp museum has an interesting collection of Costa Rican stamps.
- Museo de los Ninos & Galeria Nacional: Displays for children on science, music and geography. Also the gallery has displays on modern art.
- Spirogrya Jardin de Mariposas: A small butterfly garden with over 30 different species of butterflies and five species of hummingbirds on display.
- Zoologico Nacional Simon Bolivar: A zoo giving travelers a chance to see what might be in Costa Rica's wild.
- Barrio Amon: A pleasant neighborhood of San Jose and is one of the few remaining colonial districts in San Jose. Popular with travelers and tourists, Barrio Amon offers restaurants, cafes, hotels and a pedestrian walkway.
- Museo de Jade: A famous museum housing the world's largest collection of American jade where the craftsmanship is outstanding.
- Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo: The contemporary art & design museum show cases contemporary work of Central American artists.
- Parque Nacional is one of the nicest parks in San Jose. It is located between Avs 1 & 3 and Calles 15 & 19. Located in the center of the park is the Monuemnto Nacional. This monument depicts the Central American nations driving out the American William Walker.