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Learn how to Spend 48 Hours in San José, Costa Rica

If you are visiting Costa Rica, you will most likely fly into the country’s largest airport, which is in San José. While many travelers claim that the city isn’t worth spending more than a day in, I wanted to give it the chance it deserves. As it happens, I loved San José. It’s a bit […]



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If you're visiting Costa Rica, you'll almost certainly fly into the nation’s largest airport, which is in San José. Whereas many vacationers declare that the town isn’t value spending greater than a day in, I needed to provide it the possibility it deserves.

Because it occurs, I beloved San José. It’s a bit tough across the edges, however I can respect quantity of grit in a spot. As a result of I feel it’s a vacation spot that you simply shouldn’t skip over, right here’s my tackle how one can have an superior time within the nation’s capital:

Issues to Do in San José, Costa Rica

1. Discover Spirogyra Butterfly Backyard

The Spirogyra Butterfly Garden is actually magical, and I nonetheless can’t imagine it exists in such a busy, city middle. It calls itself the lungs of the town, and for good purpose. Moreover having an enclosed butterfly backyard with dozens of species flying round, the property encompasses a dense piece of jungle proper on the Río Torres.

The organizers of Spirogyra are working onerous to preserve native butterfly species and hold the river freed from contamination. Their efforts are evident as quickly as you step onto the footpath. It feels such as you’ve fully left San José and are immersed within the Costa Rican jungle, all whereas nonetheless being within the coronary heart of the town.

It prices 3,600 colones ($5 USD) to go to Spirogyra Butterfly Backyard, which incorporates entry to the whole property. Undoubtedly put together for mosquitos and a muddy path if visiting within the wet season!

2. Head to Simón Bolivar Zoo and Botanical Backyard

I sadly wasn’t in a position to see the within of Simón Bolivar Zoo and Botanical Garden, as a result of it wasn’t open after I visited. Nonetheless, from the park’s web site, it appears like an actual deal with, and it’s simply across the block from Spirogyra. Right here you’ll discover a formidable botanical backyard that includes quite a lot of ferns, orchids, and different native plant species. There’s additionally quite a lot of animals, which is a cool option to begin your journey in Costa Rica, as lots of them you would possibly solely have the ability see within the wild.

3. Go to Hacienda La Chimba

Take a look at all these espresso vegetation within the background!

If you happen to adore espresso as a lot as I do, don’t move up the chance to take a look at Hacienda La Chimba when you’re in San José. Right here you’ll discover 65 hectares of nature trails and occasional fields, and a complete museum devoted to every part Costa Rican espresso. The Mantra Path has an superior viewpoint the place you may stroll out onto an enormous wood hand. I needed to discover the paths, however sadly there was a big downpour proper after I arrived.

Even with the rain, I loved visiting La Chimba. The espresso was spectacular, and the surroundings much more so. There are additionally many actions you may participate in, together with zip-lining and happening a coffee-related tour; it appeared fairly costly, at round $25 for simply an hour, so I skipped it and explored alone as a substitute. If you happen to have been to go to in the course of the harvesting and processing season for the espresso plantation in September, nonetheless, the tour is perhaps value it as you’d be capable of really see the place in motion.

4. Study Costa Rican historical past at Mercado Borbón

If you wish to find out about a Latin American metropolis and its folks within the quickest approach potential, go to the most important fruit and vegetable market on the town Mercado Borbón. Right here you’ll additionally discover a mind-blowing number of vegatables and fruits, some that appear like they belong on one other planet!

There are additionally a number of areas of Mercado Borbón that maintain an vital place within the historical past and tradition of San José, just like the banana stand above. The market’s historical past is one in every of resistance and resilience, a narrative that paints a colourful image of Costa Rican grit. This particular banana vendor was one of many first in Costa Rica to promote bananas autonomously, with out the management of multinational firms.

I visited the market on a food and sightseeing tour. I used to be fortunate sufficient to be the one one that signed up that day, so my information, a San José native, was comfortable to reply all of my questions.

5. Benefit from the sights, smells, and tastes of the Mercado Central

This flower stand has been round for many years and is a neighborhood favourite for recent blooms.

Mercado Central is certainly extra well-known than Mercado Borbón, which is obvious in how packed it will get within the mornings. Right here you’ll see locals doing their fruit and vegetable purchasing, vacationers testing the souvenirs, and enterprise folks grabbing a fast empanada earlier than work. My information defined that Mercado Central is the beating coronary heart of San José, and I can see why!

This sprawling market has every part you may think about, from unique fruits to natural treatment stands to small espresso outlets, and way more. It’s additionally house to Costa Rica’s first and most well-known ice cream spot: La Sorbetera de Lolo Mora.

6. Take a stroll by means of the Museum of Costa Rican Artwork…

The Museum of Costa Rican Artwork is small however mighty, that includes work, sculptures, and mixed-media items by Costa Rica’s most well-known artists. There are each indoor and out of doors areas, with a variety of works that display the nation’s creative variety.

The museum is free, which was an enormous draw for me, contemplating that others in San José can value as much as $20 to go to. I solely spent about an hour there, because it’s fairly small, but it surely’s proper subsequent to Parque La Sabana so you may hit up each locations if you happen to’d like.

7. …and don’t overlook to take a look at the Gold Room

Queue “Golden” by Harry Types

I virtually missed this, as a result of I didn’t see at first that the museum had a second stage. Up the winding staircase you’ll discover indicators pointing to the “Salon de Oro.” The room has 360-degree golden mural depicting quotidian scenes from Costa Rica’s previous. It was as soon as an airport lounge, because the present-day La Sabana park subsequent door was the positioning of San José’s airport till the late Forties. It’s fairly spectacular and value taking a lap round to see the mural’s small particulars.

8. Enterprise out to Lankester Botanical Backyard

Lankester Botanical Garden, a part of the College of Costa Rica, is effectively well worth the hour-long drive from the middle of San José. Right here yow will discover a mind-boggling assortment of orchids, lots of which I had by no means seen earlier than and regarded like magnificent artistic endeavors. There’s additionally a serene Japanese backyard, which features a conventional tea and meditation room reproduction and Zen backyard.

There are tours available, which it's important to schedule forward of time. This might be nice if you happen to’re particularly captivated with vegetation, however I loved merely roaming across the gardens and observing alone.

9. Take a day journey to Cartago, Costa Rica’s outdated capital metropolis

Bathe your self in Costa Rican historical past by visiting the nation’s first capital metropolis, Cartago. The town is only a 40-minute bus experience from San José and is the place to find out about Costa Rica’s previous.

Instantly upon arrival, I felt the stark distinction between Cartago and San José. The place the latter has tall buildings and an city edge, the previous has a mixture of outdated and new, with essentially the most central a part of the town that includes the so-called ruins of an unfinished cathedral. They're as mysterious as they're photogenic, however they're solely the start of the historic gems you’ll discover right here.

Head to the Cartago Municipal Museum and browse free of charge. I went there in search of a mural that depicts the historical past of Costa Rica and was blown away by its measurement, element, and imagery.

I recommend visiting Cartago within the morning, grabbing a fast meal within the Municipal Market, and exploring on foot. From there, you too can simply Uber to the abovementioned Lankester Botanical Backyard to spherical out an superior day journey.

10. Admire the town’s avenue artwork

Like many Latin American cities, San José has avenue artwork on nearly each block. Moreover merely adorning the town with vibrant colours, these murals additionally serve to inform San José’s story. Whereas I used to be in a position to bump into loads of murals just by strolling round Barrio Amón, Barrio Chook, and the town middle, a extra environment friendly option to find out about these murals is by taking a tour like this one offered by Barrio Bird Walking Tours.

The place to Keep in San José

Barrio Amón has some beautiful structure and cute cafés.

I truthfully bought very fortunate with my lodging in San José, as a result of I can’t picture a greater neighborhood to remain in than Barrio Amón, one of many metropolis’s oldest and most secure neighborhoods. There are many different areas, together with downtown San José, that I wouldn’t advocate. If you happen to’re visiting for the primary time and wish to keep someplace central, quiet, and secure, select Barrio Amón or Barrio Escalante.

I adored my Airbnb in Barrio Amón. The situation made it simple to stroll in every single place, plus it was in a secure space with loads of eating places and cafés close by. If you happen to’re backpacking or simply wish to meet different vacationers, Selina is a good possibility, and it was simply down the road from the place I stayed.

Staying Secure in San José

I used to be solely standing right here for a couple of seconds to take this photograph earlier than feeling like I wanted to GTFO

Like many Central American cities, San José has a popularity for not being the most secure place to go to. Pickpocketing is widespread, particularly in crowded areas and at night time. As a solo feminine traveler, I've to confess that there have been a couple of moments throughout my quick time on the town after I felt my hazard radar ping. Nonetheless, I nonetheless suppose this metropolis is an honest one for vacationers like me.

That mentioned, I don’t advocate strolling wherever alone at night time in San José, interval. Uber is inexpensive right here, so if it's important to stroll greater than a pair blocks, simply seize one. I additionally don’t advocate strolling along with your pockets or telephone in your hand or pockets at any time of day. As a substitute, hold them in a fanny pack or an inside pocket of a backpack worn on the entrance of your physique. Even locals do that, so don’t really feel foolish about doing likewise.

I additionally don’t advocate wandering round neighborhoods you aren’t aware of. Moreover the downtown strolling streets in Barrio Amón and Barrio Escalante, I didn’t do a complete lot of exploring on foot right here. That’s as a result of after I walked from my Airbnb to a restaurant solely quarter-hour away, I discovered myself in a neighborhood I didn’t really feel fully secure in. With a view to not have a repeat of that second, I made a decision to plan my routes earlier than heading out from then on, and took Ubers if there was greater than a 10-minute stroll by means of a neighborhood I wasn’t aware of but.

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Earlier than visiting San José, I wasn’t so positive how a lot I’d get pleasure from a Costa Rican concrete jungle, versus the luxurious inexperienced ones that most individuals flock to. Nonetheless, I discovered that there have been some enchanting pockets that proved fallacious many of the unfavorable issues I’d examine San José being filthy and unappealing. I stand by giving it an opportunity and having an open thoughts, as there’s a lot to like about this vibrant metropolis.

Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE

This post is originally published at Be My Travel Muse blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!