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Things to do in San Jose

Itineraries for Your Trip to San Jose

San Jose locals share their perfect days.
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1 Day in Day in San Jose for First Timers

Curated by Jen Rose Smitha writer who covers adventure, remote places, and food.

Though many travelers rush through San Jose on their way to Costa Rica’s coast and mountains, spending a day in the city opens the gateway to Costa Rican culture. You’ll enjoy vivid artwork, historic architecture, colorful markets, and exciting nightlife. Here’s how to make the most of one day in San Jose.


Wake to the sound of tropical birds, then head out for a morning of exploring Costa Rica’s capital city. Vehicle tours cover more ground, while checking out San Jose on a walking tour is a great way to take in the vibe: Meeting the famously friendly locals is a highlight of many travelers’ time in the country. To get right to the things that interest you most, consider a themed tour that features street art, traditional handicrafts, history, or the lively markets where many residents shop for food.


Pause for a simple lunch—San Jose is known for having some of Costa Rica’s best street food—then perk back up with a coffee tour. With coffee plantations just a short drive from downtown San Jose, you can take your cup straight to the source to see how coffee is grown, harvested, processed, and brewed. In season, you might have the chance to get into the fields to do a bit of picking yourself. Once you’ve got the basics, enjoy what may be the freshest coffee of your life.


Join a guide who knows the scene for a night out in San Jose. You can choose a laid-back craft beer crawl, pub tour, or club tour with perks such as skip-the-line admission and free shots. A night out in San Jose doesn’t have to be all about partying, though; Costa Rica has fabulous cuisine, and evening is the time for special meals out, dinner shows, or food tours, which range from the traditional to the contemporary.

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