One City two faces - San José
© Cristóbal Schmal

San José – One city, two faces


It’s the capital of Costa Rica, but many travelers only pass through San José on their way to somewhere else. That is a shame! The lively metropolis is well worth exploring, as are the volcanoes, rainforest and beautiful beaches just a day trip away. We show you both sides.


At the Museo de los Niños children’s museum, attractions include conducting a virtual orchestra and surviving a simulated earthquake.


The city’s gold museum has 1600 highcarat exhibits. Don’t miss the bizarre figures of gods from pre-Columbian times.


Stiefel Pub is the coolest place in San José for craft beer. Order something with a promising name like pecadora (transgressor) or maldita vida (cursed life).


Huge, bustling Mercado Central market has everything an active man could wish for: saddles, snakeskin boots and lots of coffee beans.


Get those hips moving at Castro’s, one of the best music and dance clubs for salsa, merengue, reggaeton and other Latin rhythms.


Barrio Amón, the district where coffee plantation owners once lived in magnificent mansions, is a highly desirable place to live today.




Many former strays have found a new home at the Territorio de Zaguates dog farm, where visitors are greeted with much tail wagging.


The former tuberculosis sanatorium Durán is not for the faint of heart. Visitors have reported seeing phantoms and hearing strange noises.


Braulio Carrillo National Park is excellent for birdwatching. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, try the zipline up in the treetops.


The Rio Pacuare is a wonderfully wild river with spectacular rapids and waterfalls that make it one of the world’s best rafting spots.


The Pacific island of Tortuga has idyllic beaches perfect for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The catamaran crossing is pure luxury.


At 3432 meters, Irazú Volcano is ­Costa Rica’s highest peak. The view from the crater’s edge takes in both the ­Caribbean and the Pacific.