Choose from 25 Fun Things to Do in San Jose
Travelers can spend the morning wandering through Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi Church, where Spanish Colonial artifacts and religious paintings line the interior of Costa Rica’s oldest church still in use. Adventurers will enjoy an afternoon at the Irazu Volcano. Crater lakes and lush farmland make for scenic hikes and picturesque views.
The Ruins of Ujarras, with peaceful gardens and even a nearby public swimming pool, prove another popular destination for both travelers and residents. Buy lunch from one of the local women selling fragrant arepas before exploring the historic ruins and cooling off with a refreshing dip.
- Remember to bring comfortable shoes, sun protection, and plenty of water.
- An on-site restaurant offers traditional Costa Rican dishes.
- The road to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is half paved and half unpaved; a vehicle equipped with 4-wheel drive is recommended.
Separate rooms explore ancient cultures dating back some 12,000 years, as well as collections of ornate jewelry, medallions and statues made of gold. And while the Museum’s impressive collection of grinding stones and other artifacts from ancient Costa Rica grant tourists a chance to travel back in time, visitors should be sure to explore the grounds, too. Nationals fought at the barracks during the Civil War in 1948, and damage from bullet holes and warfare can still be seen in the Spanish-style courtyard.
- There is an admission fee to enter the Tenorio Volcano National Park and visitor numbers are limited, so it’s best to arrive early.
- The trail to the waterfall is 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) round-trip, and hiking to the waterfall takes about an hour.
- A raincoat and sturdy shoes with a good grip are essential, as rain is common even in the dry season. The trails are unpaved and can get extremely muddy.
- Restrooms, a restaurant, and a car park are located at the entrance to the national park.
Free tours of the historic building, which was built in1897, take place daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the theater’s highly regarded café with picturesque San Jose views, is a perfect spot to grab lunch before exploring the rest of the city.
For less-fit travelers and those in search of more leisurely strolls, the forests of Chirripo National Park offer plenty of opportunity to explore the unique flora and fauna indigenous to Costa Rica. Its scenic passes, lush pastures and minimal elevation gains are accessible for the entire family.
The Costa Rica Children’s Museum is an interactive fun experience for all the family.
Housed in a gaily painted toytown castle, that’s actually a historic old military prison, the museum’s hands-on exhibits range across all manner of topics.
Kids will love the 40 exhibits exploring outer space, old-fashioned fun on the farm, history, music, science and ecology and everyday life in Cost Rica.
The Costa Rica Children’s Museum is housed in a striking red and yellow fort on Calle 4, above Avenida 9, a little north of downtown San Jose.
- This site is a must-see for history buffs.
- Children under 12 receive a reduced rate of $2.
- Plan to spend roughly two hours exploring the five floors of displays.
- Engaging kid-friendly activities include an excavation role-play and giant puzzles.
- The museum offers a souvenir shop, restaurant, and cafe; take your drinks to go while you tour the exhibits.
- Arenal Volcano tours from San Jose can last upward of 12 hours.
- Many tours include hotel pickup and dropoff from the La Fortuna area.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes suitable for uneven ground.
- Although the volcano’s summit is closed for safety reasons, there are plenty of hiking trails closer to the base.
- Dress in layers and for rain, as it can be cold and wet near the crater.
- Visiting time is limited to 10 minutes at the crater.
- The visitors' center is wheelchair accessible.
- On-site facilities include parking, picnic tables, restrooms, and a cafe with some food options.
- 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.