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Top things to do in San Jose
Top things to do in San Jose
Top things to do in San Jose
A sprawling metropolis right in the heart of the fertile Central Valley, San José is a massive capital city fenced by the towering jagged peaks on all sides. “Chepe” as the locals it, the city comes across as little more than a chaotic jumble of cars, buses, buildings, and people. But beyond this superficial beliefs, lies a charming megalopolis that can be classified as something akin to a modern North American cosmopolitan as well as a classic Central American capital. Founded in 1737, San José stood as a backwater of the Spanish colonization until its coffee industry started booming in the 19th century. When you walk down the streets of the city you will notice that it is mostly devoid of antique colonial architecture and the typical stand-out monuments found in other Latin American cities and is brimming with massive skyscrapers, making it a modern metropolis. The central location is one of the reasons of it being popular among the tourists as you can plunge into the waters of the picturesque beaches and get lost into the national parks that have defined Costa Rica through San Jose.
Settled within fertile northern lowlands of the country, the Arenal Volcano National Park is known to hold a reputation that precedes itself. The perfect symmetrical shape makes it a photographer's dream, while numerous adventure sports that are carried out here makes this a thrill seeker's paradise. Popularly known as "Pan de Azúcar", "Canaste", "Volcan Costa Rica", "Volcan Río Frío" or "Guatusos Peak, the volcano was active until 2010 and is surrounded by a National Park that is home to various hot springs. The National Park protects the stratovolcano Arenal as well as the dormant Chato volcano. You can also take different tours to experience exciting adventures in and around this imposing volcanic structure.
Plaza de La Cultura:
Come and experience the thriving local life with a visit to Plaza de la Cultura, a vibrant central square and social epicenter. Sit back with an ice-cream and watch the world go by as everyone from entrepreneurs to juggling clowns and street food stalls to handicraft vendors jostle for attention among the throng of spirited locals. The plaza surrounds itself with numerous architecturally significant buildings.
San José Central Market:
An ever pulsating hub in the city, the San Jose Central Market bustles with lively local atmosphere. With over 200 purveyors selling everything from memorabilia and cowboy boots to herbal remedies and coffee beans, this market is your place to experience the daily Costa Rican life. Founded in 1880, visit the meeting hub of the locals and sample some of the lip-smacking delicacies made out of blending old recipes with a tinge of creativeness. Some of the must try dishes include the famous casados, tortillas and gallo pinto while agua dulce is a traditional drink.
La Sabana Park:
Popularly referred to as "the Green Lung of the city", La Sabana Park is your retreat from the humdrum of the city life. Spread over 150 acres, this urban park features a range of activities from jogging to tennis to paddle boating and more. Whether you wish to sit back under the shades at the meadow and see the locals hovering and socializing in the park or set up a picnic mat with your family and relish a good meal, you can do it all here at one of the largest parks in the country. After spending some quality time relaxing and engaging into numerous activities, visit the art museum and the stadium on-site.
Museo del Oro Precolombino:
Right in the heart of the capital city lies the Museo del Oro Precolombino or the pre-Colombian gold museum, which treasures and exhibits thousands of archaeological relics and gold artworks that reflect the indigenous culture of the native inhabitants in Costa Rica. Proudly standing as the crown jewel of the country's historical heritage, this underground museum encompasses an extensive collection of the most priceless artefacts including historical currency and contemporary regional art dating back from 500 A.D to 1400 A.D. Learn more about the archaeological as well as cultural aspects of Costa Rica as you explore the intriguing goldwork and the numismatic collection of this 3-in-1 museum. There is also an on-site gift shop that deals in indigenous crafts, books and jewelry.
Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica:
Nestled on the southern edge of the Plaza de la Cultura, Teatro Nacional is the city's most revered building that was built in 1897. Boasting of a columned neoclassical facade that is surrounded by statues of popular 17th century Spanish dramatics, the auditorium is complemented with a painting depicting various facets of 19th-century life. The highlight of the theater lies in its most famous painting - Alegoría al café y el banano, an idyllic canvas showing coffee and banana harvests. You can take hourly tours of the theater, followed by some good coffee at the onsite café.
Las Ruinas de Ujarras:
An interesting visit, the ruins at Ujarras will take you back to the time of the history of the region. The grounds are lovely and the area surrounds itself with massive trees that are believed to be as old as the ruins. Although there are no places to eat or rest nearby, these ruins still make for an interesting location thanks to its spectacular views. Do not forget to carry your camera and strike a pose against the ruins.
Museo Nacional de Costa Rica:
Discover centuries of Costa Rican history at the National Museum, a historical hotbed that has witnessed Civil War battles and thus is also the place where President Jose Figueres Ferrer abolished the military in 1949. Established in 1887, this museum impresses you with its historic structure and awakens the history buff within you with the exhibits of the country's history ranging from pre-Colombian artefacts to displays about the colonial era and the independent nation. There's also a butterfly garden in the museum that attracts the crowd.