San Jose Travel Guide

San Jose Summary


  • Convenient base for exploring nearby national parks and volcanic peaks
  • Escazu and its shopping and dining options
  • Easy access to the area's famous coffee farms
  • Mild temperature all year round
  • Beautiful landscape around the capital city


  • Unattractive, crowded and noisy
  • Few tourist attractions in the city proper
  • Some areas are not safe, even during the day
  • No nearby beaches

What It's Like

Most travelers spend at least one night in San Jose, but only because the country's main international airport is there. The capital city is unattractive, but it has a few interesting museums and historic buildings in neighborhoods such as Amon and Otoya. Downtown San Jose is crowded and noisy, and crime rates are high in some areas. But it's a convenient home base for exploring Central Valley attractions such as Irazu Volcano -- located 25 miles east of the city center -- and the pristine rainforest in Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Where to Stay

In San Jose proper, your best bet is to stay in the Amon or Atoya neighborhoods, home to the city's nicest hotels and convenient to its tourist attrations. The Escazu suburb -- located six miles from the city center and easily accessible by car -- is also home to several luxury hotels. The smaller cities of Heredia and Arajuela are a short drive from San Jose, and offer accommodation options closer to the airport.


View all San Jose Hotels


Languages: Spanish
Airports: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Liberia International Airport (LIR)
Peak: December - April (dry season), Easter week
Off-Peak: May - November
Visa: No
Vaccines: No, though some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination
Currency: Colon, but US dollars are widely accepted
Electricity: 120 V, 60 Hz
Tipping: Not required for taxis; automatically included in the bill at most restaurants

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