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San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central) Tours

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San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)
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. 

The Basics
Whether you’re looking for free entertainment or you just forgot to pack your floss, most San Jose visitors will find themselves in the Central Market at some point during their stay in Costa Rica’s capital city. As the largest market in the city, the Central Market usually offers the lowest prices around town on every good imaginable, but with the highest hustle and bustle. Be prepared for sensory overload, and take your time browsing the maze of more than 200 stalls and eateries. 

To learn about the many goods on offer, including products unique to Costa Rica, visit the market as part of a guided tour. San Jose walking tours and sightseeing tours sometimes include the market for a look at local culture, while niche local experiences such as food tours and art tours will help you explore the market from a distinct lens. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Vendors are typically open to bargaining.
  • Ask permission before taking photos. 
  • Avoid overwhelm by taking your time or visiting with a tour.
  • The Central Market is suitable for visitors of all ages.
  • The market is close to other attractions such as Mercado Borbón.

How to Get There
The San Jose Central Market is located in downtown San Jose just four blocks northwest of Central Park and bordered by Avenida Central and 1 and Calles 6 and 8. The market is most easily accessed in one of San Jose’s many taxis, and a handful of bus stops, including Leon XIII and Quesada Duran, are also within walking distance.

When to Get There
The Central Market is roughly open from sunup to sundown. Plan your visit for early in the day to avoid large crowds and fill up on a hearty breakfast with a sweet cup of coffee, or head over around midday for the full effect and plentiful lunch options. The market is closed on Sundays.

Old Money
Though it may seem like a chaotic flea market, the Central Market unassumingly combines history and modern commerce, having served as a marketplace since 1880, though it was probably quieter back in the day.
Address: Avenida Central, San Jose 10101, Costa Rica
Admission: Free
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Cultural Tours

Local Food Markets of San José

Central Market, Meat Market and Borbón Market are three of the main food markets of San Jose. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, flowers, “cantinas”/pubs, eateries, vinyl records, cassettes, magazines, crafts, herbs, love potions and much more are present in different stalls and shops along narrow alleys, full of smells and flavors.Central Market is the oldest market in town, full of characters and history; Meat Market has...yes, meats, but also a traditional and picturesque “cantina” (pub) at the end of the hall and Borbón Market has lots of fresh vegetables and fruits but also an interesting vintage store where you can find vinyl records, cassettes, magazines, books and more. Together Central, Meat and Borbón Market will show you the essence of San José, what we eat, what we do and what we love!
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  • 2 hours
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US$65.00
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group Tour

Discover San Jose’s hidden delights with this unique evening tour of the Costa Rican capital. Wander through a maze of vendor stalls and to learn about staples of local cooking at the Central Market, and see the opulent National Theater and other architectural highlights on a twilight walking tour. Drive to the ritzy Paseo de la Luz the east side of San Jose well known for its gastronomy. Finish the night with a 3-course meal and wine pairings at a gourmet Costa Rican restaurant.
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  • 4 hours
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US$74.00
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture

Get a taste of San Jose’s culture and cuisine on this 3-hour walking tour. Explore Costa Rica’s capital accompanied by an expert guide and learn about the city’s history, architecture and flavor. Explore the produce stalls of two traditional markets and discover what makes Costa Rican coffee so delicious as you sample some local brews. The tour is capped at 12 people for a personalized small-group experience.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$36.00
From  
US$36.00
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

City Tours

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

Explore the Costa Rican capital’s rich history, landmark buildings, and modern culture on a combo bus and walking tour of San Jose. Get a great introduction to city highlights like the National Theater and Art Museum, and stop to walk through bustling markets and public plazas to feel the pulse of this modern Central American metropolis. Get an extra boost of Costa Rican culture by listening to traditional folkloric music onboard the bus.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$58.00
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

Half-Day San Jose Evening Bus Tour with Dinner and Pickup Costa Rica

Experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of San Jose on an evening bus tour. Starting from your hotel, a comfortable double-decker bus with onboard WiFi serves as your transportation for the evening. See over 25 of the city’s landmarks and stop for a bilingual guided tour at key locations, including the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Enjoy an included dinner of local cuisine, before drop-off at your hotel.
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  • 5 hours
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Walking Tours

San Jose: Pura Vida Experience Tour: Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit

Enjoy an insider’s perspective of San Jose on this half-day city walking tour. Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll get a sense of daily life in the Costa Rican capital as you ride public transportation, stop by a beautiful local park and visit the artisan workshop of a third-generation craftsman. Taste local flavors while you browse stalls at the historic Central Market, savor a traditional lunch at an 80-year-old inn and learn to make tortillas.
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  • 4 hours
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Rail Tours

Cartago Day Trip by Rail from San Jose: Bike Ride and Market Tour

Escape the ordinary on this immersive bike-riding day trip to the charming town of Cartago. Experience the Costa Rican rail system with a short train ride, and then hop on your bike for a two-wheeled tour around Cartago’s historic streets. Learn about the town’s colonial history with your expert guide, and visit a local market to sample delicious produce and traditional treats before heading back to San Jose by bus. A small group limit of 12 people provides a personalized experience on this half-day tour.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$63.00
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

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City Tour From San José

This tour immerses you in the rich Costa Rican culture and history by experiencing the beautiful museums and historical sites of San José.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Beer & Brewery Tours

San Jose Beer Tasting Tour

Tap into Costa Rica’s emerging craft beer movement with this 4-hour beer tour in San Jose. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll explore the Barrio Escalante, the heart of San Jose’s pub culture and home to many brewpubs. Taste 10 different varieties of beer, accompanied by traditional tapas — the Costa Rican version of bar snacks. You’ll also have a chance to pick up a few souvenirs at the Artesanos Market. A small group size helps create a more personalized tour experience.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Market Tours

Carpe Market - Cultural and gastronomic tour

Visit the Central Market in San Jose on this guided tour and learn about its 136-year history. There, sample regional staples like tropical seasonal fruit, tortillas, ice cream, Costa Rican coffee, and other local specialities. Plus, find out how and why San Jose became the capital city of Costa Rica.
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  • 3 hours
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  • 3 hours
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Food Tours

VIP City Bus Tour From San Jose

Kickstart your time in San Jose on a panoramic bus tour that’s designed to provide an introduction to first-time visitors. As well as enjoying unobstructed views of San Jose’s historical centre from the top deck of the bus, you’ll be party to facts and anecdotes that you’re unlikely to find in the guidebook. Plus, exploring by bus allows you to cover more sights in less time, making this tour ideal for time-pressed travelers.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours

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BiciTour, San Jose is Pura Vida

Let's meet Chepe in another way!We start in San Pedro, visiting the most important public university, the UCR, and we stretch our legs and warm up for the route.During the tour we will see some of the buildings and iconic places of the city (palace of justice, Chinese boulevard), and we will visit green parks (Park Spain, Morazan park) and most emblematic squares of Chepe.If you like photography you will enjoy the stops in each place.Then we go west to the largest natural park in the city, La Sabana !. Good place to take a break and a snack and many more pictures. And here the Tico pride, I'll give you a word track: Soccer.For lunch, Typical food! We will know the central market, but before a surprise stop!Next activity, go to the national museum, jade museum, and national park. To know a bit of history.And finally we go back to where we started going through the gastronomic escalante zone
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  • 6 to 30 minutes
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  • 6 to 30 minutes
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Cultural Tours

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Private Santiago Full Day Bike Tour

Our Green Team has fine-tuned this tour since we started in 2008, always striving to make it better tomorrow than it was today. That is the commitment we make to you. This is one of our newest tours and we truly believe in it’s purpose and future success. This is a different way to see Santiago than looking from outside on a bus. We get deep into the nitty gritty and won’t miss a spot.
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  • 6 hours
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

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Cultural and Heritage Tour of San José, Costa Rica

Enjoy a personalized visit in the language of your choice with an expert in built heritage and local history. Through the tour, you will learn how Costa Rica was built from independence to the present day while discovering some of the most important buildings in the country.
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  • 150 to 210 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
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US$25.00
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  • 150 to 210 minutes
  • Free Cancellation


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