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San José is the capital of Costa Rica.
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is on a plateau in the Central Valley at 1200 m (3,700 ft) elevation. It is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. The population of this city is probably half of the whole country. It contains the primary airport, the University of Costa Rica, the US' and other embassies and many museums, cultural venues, hotels, markets, etc. It is the hub of the country.
The weather in San Jose can be different at all times depending of the route of the winds and yearly seasons, some times in the later months of the year it is colder than the months at the middle. For many Costa Ricans the coolest temperatures in San Jose are equal to high (warm) temperatures for a Northern American Citizen or some one from a country with a snow season.
The airport (SJO) is 17km or about 20 minutes by car from the center of San José.
There is a local bus stop outside the airport. It costs less than 1 US$ and takes you right downtown. You can put your luggage in the storage area below on the bus. The cheapest option is taking the bus into downtown and get a taxi there for your final destination.
When you need to go to the airport from downtown, you catch the Alajuela bus (takes you to the airport) at the Merced Park. It costs less than $1 and they leave every five minutes and it takes about 25 minutes to get to the airport. The airport bus stop is easy to see.
The taxis charge around 25-30 US Dollars to take you to the city, be sure to take one of the licensed reddish-orange taxis that say "Taxi Aeropuerto."
Buses from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama both arrive to and leave from San José. Unlike in most cities in Latin America, there is no central bus station: there are literally dozens of bus terminals in downtown San José.
The Tica Bus terminal is one of the most common choice for locals and foreigners alike when it comes to traveling around Central America and even Mexico. Please take note that it has recently been moved to the other end of town, near the Mercedes Tower.
King Quality is a new choice available, their prices are considerably more expensive or cheaper than Tica Bus depending on the destination.
Of course most local buses start or end here. There are several bus terminals in San José. It is important to know which bus terminal serves your bus route. Bus stops are usually every few blocks in the city. Take always a taxi, when traveling with luggage.And it is highly likely to speak to you when you arrive.
Trains have recently made a comeback in Costa Rica and, after being shut down for many years, several routes have been put back into service using second-hand equipment brought over from Spain and some very ancient wooden carraiges that look like they have been taken from a museum.
Pavas, San Pedro and Curridabat: another line runs through the south of the city, stopping at Estación del Pacifico, Sábana and heading west into Pavas and eventually turning round in a fairly dangerous slum area in the middle of the hills.
Belen: A new service to Belen (just south of the airport) started on 5th April, leaving from Estación del Pacifico. Services are approximately every half an hour between 6-8am and 4-8pm on weekdays only and take 35 minutes.
Keep in mind while traveling on foot that pedestrians do not have the right of way. There are some marked crosswalks that will chirp when it is okay to walk, but for the most part, you will have to watch for traffic or cross in a group when others do.
What to see
Museo de Oro Precolombino (The Gold Museum), an underground museum below Plaza de la Cultura.
Museo del Jade (The Jade Museum), Avenida Central & Calle 13. The largest collection of precolumbian Jade in America.
Museo de los Niños (The children's museum), Antigua Penitenciaría (the old prison). This is an edutainment museum, and it was designed for Costa Rica's children.
Museo Nacional, Calle 17 Avenida 2. The museum includes a large butterfly garden (With many morpho butterflies) and a collection of large stone spheres from the Diquis Valley near the Pacific Ocean, a permanent precolumbian exhibition, the barracks, the rooms of the army general and his family, and a couple of temporal exhibits at the time.
Museo de Arte Costarricense, east end of Sabana Park. This used to be San Jose's main airport terminal back when La Sabana was the airport.
Insect Museum at the Universidad de Costa Rica A very elegant collection of exotic bugs. Only a few dollars, but check the times when they are open.
Museo de arte y diseño contemporáneo (MADC) Definitely the main institution in Costa Rica dedicated to the broadcasting of contemporary art.
Zoológico Simón Bolivar An almost hidden zoo in Barrio Amón, some of the most representative animals are available in this small zoo.
Things to Do
The main downtown area is a bustling collection of well-laid out streets filled with bustling traffic and lined with eclectic, historic architecture. On the surface it is a gritty downtown area, but look inside and you'll find friendly people, quirky spots, and the historic side of San Jose that change your impression. A walking tour is the best way to see this area.
Every Thursday a dozens of young jugglers gather at the Parque Morazan and juggle together. Often with percussion music. It s a free event in public space. Normally you will be invited to play with them. Lovely experience if you like street art.
Yoga. Costa Rica is a top destination for yoga. In San Jose, check out Downtown Yoga near Parque Morazan, which offers accessibly priced yoga and hooping classes for all experience levels.