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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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2 Days in San Jose for First Timers

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

With two days in San Jose, you can sample the best of the city’s vibrant culture, food, and nightlife. Get beyond the city limits, though, and you can explore smoking volcanoes, coffee plantations, rainforest ziplines, and magnificent national parks that are just a day trip away. Here’s how to make the most of two days in San Jose.

Day 1: Morning

Start by catching a buzz on Costa Rica’s freshest coffee. San Jose’s packed with stylish coffee shops, but for the real deal head to one of the coffee plantations outside the city. Coffee tours include tastings: a great way to learn what makes Costa Rican coffee distinctive.

Day 1: Afternoon

Now that you’re energized, check out the history, culture, and cuisine that make San Jose tick. A walking tour is a great way to soak up neighborhood vibes, while opting for a vehicle tour lets you cover the main landmarks in an afternoon.

Day 1: Night

You’ll see a whole different side of San Jose if you venture out after sunset. Join a guide who knows where to sip craft beer, chat with locals, or tip back shots. Your guide can give you an insider’s view of San Jose nightlife, whether your prefer a night that’s laid-back or wild.

Day 2: Morning

Get out of the city to soar down a zipline, explore the lush canopy of Braulio Carrillo National Park, walk through a cloud forest, or hike through La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Whatever you do, watch for bright tropical birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Costa Rica is a biodiversity hot spot.

Day 2: Afternoon

When you get back to the city, head to Mercado Central for a well-earned lunch; you’ll join a crowd of locals for an inexpensive meal that’s a world away from the menus in tourist restaurants.

Day 2: Night

With one last night in San Jose, make it last with a leisurely dinner; find a restaurant on your own, or book an evening excursion that includes door-to-door transport from your hotel. At the end of the evening, toast your adventure with a shot of guaro, Costa Rica’s national liquor.

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