San José, Costa Rica
San José, the capital, is 1,150 meters above sea level and is located in the Central Valley. Although San José was established in 1737, only a few remnants remain from the colonial time period. In fact, the city of Cartago was the country's capital until it was overshadowed by San José. San José was a small town until the building of the Teatro Nacional in 1890. Today it is the center of all political, cultural and economic activities. It also thrives as a tourism hub that enables visitors to explore the many rain forests, volcanoes and beaches with ease.
The easiest way to get in touch with Costa Rican culture is to go for a walk along Avenida Central. From the terrace of the Grand Hotel in the middle of the Plaza de Cultura or while sipping a coffee in a nearby café, one can watch various street artists. You can also try some typical food by eating in one of the numerous “sodas” around the city.
Feria de los Agricultores
Every weekend, local farmers organize a market where a wide variety of in-season fruits and vegetables are sold. These items are often not found in grocery stores. For a chance to taste some of Costa Rica's fresh and abundant fruits and vegetables, you must visit one of the many ferias. Weekend ferias are held in San José and on the outskirts and suburbs of the city.
For all those who have not been to a Latin American market, you should definitely visit Mercado Central. The hustle and bustle of the people, colors, tastes and smells are an experience you won't soon forget. Almost every product can be found here – and it is cheap, too. But be careful, this market also attracts thieves. So watch your bags!
Museo de Jade
This museum has the world’s largest collection of American Jade jewelry. Thanks to the brilliant illumination, the beauty of these minerals is emphasized. In this museum one can find exquisite pieces of gold and well-maintained pottery made by the indigenous people of the Diquis region. These relics give visitors a fascinating insight into Pre-Columbian cultures. As a final activity, visitors need to check out the view of San José from the roof.
Museo de Oro
This museum is located directly in the Plaza de la Cultura beneath the tourist information area. 2000-year-old Pre-Columbian pieces of gold can be found here. In addition, this museum has been recommended by many of our students.
The National Museum is located in the Bellavista Fort, whose corner towers still show the bullet hole from the civil war in 1948. Visitors can explore Costa Rican history and can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. In addition, the museum displays gold ornaments, sculptured tombstones, stone balls, furniture from the colonial era, a Nobel Peace Prize certificate from former and current president Oscar Arias and much more.
The National Theater is without a doubt the most beautiful building in San José. It is the cultural center and is found in la Plaza de la Cultura. It was built at the end of the 19th century and the neoclassic outside was designed according to an opera house in Paris. The interior includes marble statues and impressive ceiling paintings that depict coffee pickers bringing in the crop