Recent Searches
Clear
Things to do in San Jose

Things to do in  San Jose

Welcome to San Jose

As the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose is a bustling city whose metropolitan thrum contrasts with the natural wonders that surround it. Before you flock to the country’s biodiverse rain forest in search of wildlife, waterfalls, and Arenal and Poas volcanoes, stop to get acquainted with San Jose’s neoclassical grandeur. The city boasts museums dedicated to everything from jade and gold to insects and natural science, and plays host to theaters, churches, and cathedrals. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, get outside the city with a canopy tour through Monteverde Cloud Forest, white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, or a soak at Baldi Hot Springs.

Top 15 attractions in San Jose

#1
Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park

star-52,632
Although visitors once flocked to Arenal Volcano for its impressive lava shows, the 5,437-foot (1,657-meter) volcano has stayed quiet since its last eruption in 2010. However, Arenal and the surrounding Arenal Volcano National Park remain a hot spot for visitors to Costa Rica, and is especially popular among those seeking hiking trails, swimming holes, hot springs, bird- and wildlife-watching, and sweeping views of the tropical rain forest.More
#2
National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

star-4.5541
Modelled after the Paris Opera House, the National Theater in San José’s Catedral district is a neo-classical masterpiece representing Costa Rica’s greatest era of extravagance and sophistication. The historic building has been the epicenter of the city’s fine arts scene including opera, symphony, and other performing arts since its inaugural performance by Fausto de Gounod in 1897.More
#3
Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park

star-4.5162
Poas Volcano National Park houses one of the more popular volcanoes in Costa Rica—a telling superlative for a country with world-famous geothermal activity. But with its spectacular wildlife, informative museum, and variety of hiking trails, the accolade comes as no surprise.More
#4
Morazan Park

Morazan Park

star-5218
This lush public park at the center of San Jose was named after Francisco Morazan, an old-school general who tried to unite all of Central America into one common country. And while Morozan Park was once a hub for San Jose’s grit and grime (it used to be a known for drug sales and prostitution), the park has recently undergone a complete renaissance.Travelers can safely wander through the green gardens that make Morazan Park a respite from the otherwise urban feel of San Jose and stretch out for an afternoon picnic on thick lawns under massive shade trees. The Templo de Musica, a concrete gazebo at the center of the land, is the highlight of any visit to Morazan Park—especially when live local musicians are playing.More
#5
Gold Museum

Gold Museum

star-4.5140
Housed in a historic building and managed by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum holds one of the largest collections of gold artifacts in Latin America. In total, the museum holds more than 1,600 pre-Columbian items, including Costa Rica’s very first coin, handmade ceramics, jewelry, and religious icons dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD.More
#6
San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

star-4.5667
Bountiful produce stalls, local-approved cafeterias, and vendor stalls selling everything from coffee beans to cowboy boots give visitors to San Jose’s Central Market (Mercado Central) a taste of real Costa Rican culture. Visit as part of an epic errand run or for a chance to look behind-the-scenes at everyday life in Costa Rica.More
#7
Braulio Carrillo National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park

star-4104
The vast protected forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park is a natural for toucans, eagles, armadillos, sloths, monkeys, and jaguars. Catch a glimpse of its rugged beauty from the comfort of your car, or hike along the trails that lead to thundering waterfalls, towering mountains, and rapid rivers.More
#8
National Museum (Museo Nacional)

National Museum (Museo Nacional)

star-517
Housed in the barracks of the Bellavista Fortress, the National Museum (Museo Nacional), displays indigenous and pre-Columbian artifacts, religious artwork, and geological and archaeological pieces linked to Costa Rica’s rich and colorful history since 1950. Separate rooms explore ancient cultures dating back some 12,000 years, as well as collections of ornate jewelry, medallions, and gold statues.More
#9
Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)

star-4.5149
Explore the works of some of Costa Rica’s greatest artists from the colonial era through today at the Costa Rican Art Museum, including almost the entire body of work from prolific local artist Juan Manuel Sanchez. The museum is housed in the building that once served as the main terminal of San Jose’s original international airport and outside, toward where the tarmac once sat, is a lovely sculpture garden where visitors can walk around an enjoy the tropical weather. The museum often has chamber music concerts playing in the Golden Hall.More
#10
Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)

star-4.524
Orosi River Valley is a tranquil, secluded area filled with rural charm and scenic landscapes, not far from the hustle and bustle of San José. With the silhouette of the volcanoes as a backdrop, the mountainous area has green forested hills covered by coffee plantations, natural hot springs, andxa0 colorful colonial towns in the middle of the lush vegetation.More
#11
Jade Museum (Museo del Jade)

Jade Museum (Museo del Jade)

star-51
The Jade Museum (Museo del Jade) proves to Costa Rica visitors that this small Central American country is as rich in its history and cultural offerings as in biodiversity. The museum, located in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, showcases more than 1,000 years’ worth of artifacts from Mesoamerica dating from 500 B.C. to 800 A.D.—including pre-Columbian jade, wood, and ceramics—in a renovated space.More
#12
La Sabana Park

La Sabana Park

star-4.514
With its 175 acres of green space and network of forested walking trails, La Sabana Park is San José’s version of New York’s Central Park. The large open lawns are perfect for Frisbee, soccer, or tossing a ball, and the walking trails and running tracks are where to work up a sweat. This site once housed the city’s airport until the 1940s, and today the former terminal building houses the Costa Rican Art Museum. Also within the leafy park is the country’s national stadium, where concerts and national soccer matches are held for up to 40,000 people. On most days, however, the park plays hosts to groups of locals all feeding the geese by the pond, or families simply enjoying a picnic beneath the shade of a tree. It’s a calming place to escape the crowds and the urban city bustle, and a comfortable perch for people watching and mingling with San José locals.More
#13
Plaza de la Cultura

Plaza de la Cultura

star-512
As far as city squares go, Plaza de la Cultura leaves much to be desired. That’s because its unremarkable architecture and mostly concrete designs tend to make it one of the less visually pleasing squares in this colorful city.Still, travelers in search of a true taste of San Jose life will do well to visit this busy square, where locals gather after weekend shopping trips and stay well into the night. Ice cream vendors sell sweet, cool treats, which are perfect for taking the edge off a steamy afternoon. Plaza de la Cultura is typically teeming with street performers and vendors and a nearby police tower means that even with the crowds, it’s still one of the safest places in the city.More
#14
Rescate Animal Zooave

Rescate Animal Zooave

star-578
Spread over 36 acres (14.6 hectares) near San José, Rescate Animal Zooave is a conservation park that primarily houses rescued animals that wouldn't be able to survive in the wild on their own. The focus here is on conservation, and park tickets help fund other initiatives, including a rescue center and breeding programs.More
#15
Sarapiqui Canopy

Sarapiqui Canopy

star-00
Costa Rica is famous for its amazing biodiversity, and Sarapiqui is a place where you can experience the thrill of the rain forest firsthand. Whether that’s ziplining through the trees at high speed, rafting along the river, or wildlife-spotting, the area is packed with natural wonders.More

Trip ideas

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

Rain Forest Canopy Tours from San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 2 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

How to Spend 3 Days in San Jose

Top activities in San Jose

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

star-4.5
119
From
US$66.00
Day Trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
San Jose Sightseeing City Tour

San Jose Sightseeing City Tour

star-3.5
6
From
US$90.00
Arenal Volcano & Baldi Hot Springs From San José
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
One Day Adventure Tour from San Jose

One Day Adventure Tour from San Jose

star-4.5
14
From
US$161.20
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in San Jose

star-5
A memorable experience
Margie_P, Aug 2022
Poas Volcano National Park Half day tour from San Jose
It was a overcast day but clear enough to see everything when we visited.
star-4
Interesting trip
Emily_M, Jul 2022
San Jose Bike & Bites Ride
San Jose is fairly limited in sites to see but this was a very good way of doing it.
star-5
Stress-free Night in San Jose
KAREN_C, Jul 2022
San José By Night: Food,Culture and Gourmet Dinner with Wines
Was able to see some of San Jose…met some nice fellow travelers, delicious food, wine, & Angel was great, too!
star-5
Highly recommend
Brianna_D, Apr 2022
San José By Night: Food,Culture and Gourmet Dinner with Wines
She managed the small group with ease and walked us around to see some of the key sites in San Jose, including a market.
star-5
Great tour of San Jose
Kylynn_G, Mar 2022
San Jose Night City Tour
We wanted to see some of San Jose, but didn't leave much time for it.
star-5
Would do it again and again!
Ryan_T, May 2022
Day Trip to Pacuare River Rafting Class III-IV from San Jose
Managed to see a coati and various birds and butterflies while rafting, and both breakfast and lunch provided were tasty!
star-4
The organization of the...
Gunilla_W, Apr 2022
La Paz Waterfall Gardens & Wildlife Refuge day tour from San Jose
However, the water falls made up for the colossal waste of time and lack of communication.
star-5
BEST BIRTHDAY EVERRRRRRR
Lazarvius_F, Mar 2022
Arenal Volcano Experience Full-Day Tour from San Jose
Then we headed to La Paz waterfall.
star-5
Stunning waterfalls
Joanna_H, Feb 2022
Day trip from San Jose to Wildlife Refuge La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Lovely gardens with animals and beautiful waterfalls.
star-5
Amazing Tour 10/10
Justin_A, Feb 2022
One Day Adventure Tour from San Jose
Our first stop was at the Tarcoles River which is a tourist hot spot to see huge crocodiles below the bridge.
star-5
Beautiful sites, Highly recommend
Kristen_H, Feb 2022
Poas Volcano + Coffee Plantations & La Paz Waterfall Gardens Trip from San Jose
Finally we went to the La Paz Waterfall Garden and that was breathtaking.
star-5
Great tour!
Beverly_E, Dec 2021
Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip from San Jose
Oscar was careful to see that we all had a great time!
star-5
education
JP_D, Jan 2021
San Jose Night City Tour
It was a pleasant experience to see the see city.
star-5
Great tour
David_S, Feb 2020
San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour
First time in San Jose, was a great way to see the city Guides were entertaining and very knowledgeable.
star-5
Wonderful tour!
lbulmer, Feb 2020
Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe
The tour was much more comprehensive than we expected it to be, as we got to see some of the main buildings in downtown San Jose as well as going through Central Market and sampling some of the food and drinks.
star-4
Crocodiles and toucans and big...
Jane B, Aug 2017
Safari on Sarapiqui River From San Jose
The tour would have been better if it had started and ended an hour earlier, so that we were not coming back to San Jose after nightfall.
star-5
I had the opportunity to see and...
susan, Sep 2017
Explore San Jose on Foot: Food, History and Sightseeing Tour
I had the opportunity to see and enjoy San Jose with Vinicio.
star-4
I recommend it for those who are...
Natshalee N, Oct 2017
San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour
I recommend it for those who are staying in San Jose and want to see what the city.
star-5
Our guide was very knowledgeable, it...
Tracy R, Mar 2018
Explore San Jose By Night: Walking Food and Culture Tour
Our guide was very knowledgeable, it was a nice way to see San Jose as we only had one night in town.
star-5
This was a great experience to see...
Ruth A, Jan 2017
Irazú Volcano -Half Day Trip from San Jose
This was a great experience to see the Irazu Volcano.
We perform checks on reviews

All about San Jose

When to visit

Winter is high season in San Jose for good reason: not only is the weather warm and dry, but the event calendar is packed with festivities such as Festejos Populares and the family-friendly Zapote Fair. To score the best discounts on hotels, visit in the rainy season, from May to November, when cooler temperatures and vibrant greenery compensate for afternoon downpours.

People Also Ask

What is San Jose famous for?

The capital of Costa Rica is renowned as the gateway to the Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Cloud Forest, two of the country’s most impressive natural wonders. Along with its cloud forests and zipline canopy tours, Costa Rica is also famous for its chocolate, coffee, and adorable sloths.

...More
How can I spend a day in San Jose?

One day is enough time to take in the highlights of San Jose, including the National Theater, the National Museum, and the National Park. Visit the Jade and Gold museums, shop for traditional handicrafts at the Central Market, then head to the San Pedro neighborhood to experience the buzzing nightlife.

...More
What activities are popular in San Jose?

Once you’ve explored San Jose’s excellent museums, head out of the city to tour a coffee plantation, take a canopy tour in the Arenal Volcano National Park, or go ziplining in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. ATV tours through the rainforest and white-water rafting excursions are also popular choices.

...More
What is there to do nearby San Jose?

Popular day trips from San Jose include ziplining in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and a canopy tour of the Arenal Volcano National Park. You can also enjoy wildlife watching and swimming at the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park, hike in the Poas Volcano National Park, or tour a coffee plantation.

...More
What should I not miss in San Jose?

San Jose has some of the best museums in Costa Rica, including the National Museum, Jade Museum, and Gold Museum. A visit to the Central Market is a must to experience local life and sample Costa Rican cuisine, and don’t miss a day trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest and Arenal Volcano.

...More
Is San Jose expensive?

Yes, San Jose can be expensive compared to other Central and South American destinations. Expect to pay about US$30 a night for mid-range accommodation and $US25 a day for food. Taxis and private tours can also be pricey, so opt for shared tours and local transport if you’re on a budget.

...More
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in San Jose?
Q:
What are the top activities in San Jose?
Q:
What are the top things to do near San Jose?
A:
Check out things to do near San Jose:
Q:
What do I need to know before visiting San Jose?