During our visit to CR, we spent quite a few nights continually in San Jose and recognized the many facets the city has. It also witnessed some of the more fascinating experiences we had, for example – watching and celebrating the local soccer team’s win in the finals of the national league, shopping for essentials in the local grocery store, navigating the city like a pro using just handheld maps, bargaining in the local craft shops in the marketplace, and playing blackjack with some high roller in the hotel casino. Some of these activities can lead to dangerous situations, but it was fun regardless.
The history and culture carried on for ages by the vibrant city was fascinating but the memory we carried back home was our fun yet modest celebration in NYE. Read more about NYE in Costa Rica in Luxury Travel.
Here are some highlights of roaming in the streets of downtown San Jose –
Although it is the largest city in the country, albeit with heritage and history all around, there is not much to do in terms of attractions. Only a day or two should be more than enough to budget. Having said that, here are a few attractions that cannot be missed in order to have a wholesome experience of the country:
- National Center of Art and culture, Art Museum – Located close to each other, these are right in the heart of downtown and can be interesting to spend a couple of hours. Some national treasures are on display in the art museum. The Sabana Park next to it offers good relaxing day of walking around and people watching.
- Mercado Central – Must visit for your trip souvenirs and local crafts. We found the prices are much more aligned to our expectations and if you bargain well, you should be able to get good deals on local woodwork, coffee, and other decoration items. Don’t forget your Costa Rica hat or tee shirt. Enjoy some delicious local food from the stalls while you shop. But even if you are not shopping a lot, enjoy the hundreds of colorful stalls here, makes for a good photo op.
- Chinatown – Even this part of the world has a Chinatown, with the huge decorated gate leading into the cobblestone walkway into the Chinese market. We had lunch in a Chinese restaurant where the owners did not speak Mandarin and insisted on sticking to Spanish. Interesting perspective for a world traveler indeed.
Other than that, if time permits, Jade Museum, Gold Museum and capital building is worth paying a visit. But do not forget to walk around the area for an immersive experience. During the day, it is fairly safe, but it did sketchy at places after dark, so I’d avoid that.
Food and Nightlife
On the 31st December evening, when all hail broke loose, and the diners around were closed, we were pleasantly surprised to see an Indian restaurant, Naan & Curries, that we have been raving about ever since.The servers, hospitality from the owner, ambiance, and food were fantastic. Would love to go back when we are in Costa Rica next time. If you love Indian food in general, go here, won’t regret.
During our visit to CR, we spent quite a few nights continually in San Jose and recognized the many facets the city has. But it will not be apt to leave out our experience of spending the new years’ eve in town.