The city of San José itself usually does not reach most tourists who have to see places in Costa Rica. Most people don’t want to spend time visiting San José, but you really miss it if you see a real picturesque part of Costa Rica. Sure it’s crowded and crowded, but a lot of people visit New York City. And while you can now fly directly to Liberia to manage to hit the beaches without stopping in San José, the fact is that most people still fly to San José International Airport, so why not go for a walk through the city of San José?
Here is a route I take my friends on when visiting Costa Rica. Depending on how much you embark on this tour it could take several hours, even an entire day.
If you have a car rental, parking is very cheap. I like the parking lot across the Omni Mall, so I’ll start this tour there. Head East of Calle 4, central Avenida, not far from Plaza de la Cultura, where you’ll see lots of people and pigeons hanging out with street preachers, comedians and musicians playing live. Across the mountain is the famous Teatro Nacional. It opened its doors in 1894 and is beautiful. Water excursions are available. On the other side of the theater is the Grand Hotel de Costa Rica. Which is the most famous hotel in Costa Rica. It used to be the most exclusive and luxurious hotel in Costa Rica. They have a nice café where you can have coffee or a drink and a snack. Their de jamon sandwich (ham sandwich) is delicious. The hotel also has a casino if you are a gambling type.
Back to the theater and the grassy steps at Calle 5 is the ICT tourist information center. It opened Monday-Sat 9-1, 2-5. From there, you can enter the underground exhibits of the beach, including the Gold Museum, which contains pre-Columbian artifacts. Admission is $ 6, and it is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The main road from the Plaza de la Cultura is made in the pedestrian center, so you are free to walk as cars are not allowed. Take care of your valuables and do not wear jewelry that thieves will snatch from you. Here you will see many shops and restaurants rowing for your attention on both sides of the street.
Some good stops include La Casona which is outside the pedestrian center, just look to the right of Calle Central and you will see. It is a two-story building full of typical Costa Rican souvenirs. Here you can take care of all your gifts for friends and family. You will also see Librieria Universal which is one of the oldest stores in Costa Rica. You can buy devices, maps, books and more. You will also see Libreria Lehmann another great bookstore.
There you will notice a large monument to the democracy of Costa Rica, it is a group of bronze campesins standing humbly but looking firmly and proudly. Outside is in front of a large building that is central Banco. Keep walking and you will pass La Gloria, Costa Rica’s largest department store. Across La Gloria is the Banco de Costa Rica a huge black marble building.
Descend towards Mercado Central. The market is full of shops, restaurants, production stands and much more. It covers the entire block of Avenida Central 1 and is called 6-8. This is a great place in the daily life of local Costa Ricans. You will also find interesting food and dishes. There are herbs that are sold for medicines with claims to cure ailments.
If you’re claustrophobic or don’t like crowds, don’t visit the market! Two blocks down is the historic Correo Central building. If you are a stamp collector, take a look at the second floor where they have a museum of Costa Rican history, with rare and old stamps on display.
Return to the plaza de la kultura heading north past the ICT office and the Gold Museum.
You will see a park in the middle of the city, and that is Parque Morazan. Also nearby is Aurola Holiday Inn. In the center of the park is the Musical Temple, modeled after Le Trianon in Paris.
Head 2-3 blocks to the north and you’ll stumble upon Parque Bolivar and the site of the San José Zoo which opens daily from 9-4: 30. Ticket is only around $ 2.00.
Heading east you will pass the Parque Espana which is full of plants and trees in the middle of the city. Continue on Avenida 7, you will see la Casa Amarilla which is home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has a nice park in front. Both were donated by Andre Carnegie. Nearby is the Centro Nacional de Cultura open Tue-Sat 10-5. It houses a museum and theaters. Also nearby is T-Sa 10-5 Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. Admission is $ 3, and they have artwork and exhibits from around the world.
Along the hill on Avenue 7 is the Biblioteca Nacional which is the national library. It faces the city’s largest park, Parque Nacional. Take a look at the Monumento Nacional that pays tribute to the battle of William Walker. The statue was made in France Rodin Studios and shipped to Costa Rica.
Across the street from the park you will see a statue in honor of the Costa Rican hero Juan Santamario holding his torchlight procession and the Legislative Assembly holding the Costa Rican Congress.
Two blocks south of Parque Nacional, the Museo Nacional is open, Tuesday-Sunday 8: 30-4: 30. This is a very popular tourist attraction. Admission is $ 4 and you can visit the former Bellavista Fortress. You can still see bullet holes from the 1948 Civil War. Excellent exhibits in Spanish and English.
Next place after the museum is the Plaza de la Democracy. You can see it from the museum. It was built fairly newly in 1989 in memory of democracy. On it is a statue of Jose Figueres, a hero of the 1948 Civil War. A former president who abolished the army after the Civil War. The beach is full of belly stalls selling everything from clothes, jewelry, to hanging doors and crafts.
Places to eat
There are some great places for a quick snack, a cup of coffee or a cold cervez. For a nice cup of coffee and a delicious bagel-yes, bagel-bagelmen are a must. Located on central Avendia in downtown Barrio, California.
Cafe de la posada on the footpath, south of the National Museum. More local in nature. Good thing.
Giacomin. Coffee and Italian style pastels. Located near a pharmacy in the center of Fischel.
Manolos located right on the pedestrian market. Excellent casados and delicious churros.
There is also Pops in the city center, just around the corner from Plaza de la Cultura, right at the pedestrian market. The best ice cream in town.
If needed, you’ll find all the things from the downtown franchise like KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Macdonald, Taco Bell and Wendy. For a little more Latino tickets look for Rosti-Pollos which is in the city center, right across the Cine Vanidades.
There he is. A great walking tour of downtown San José that hit all the great places. So put on comfortable shoes and have fun!