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San Jose City & Sorroundings

San Jose at a glance

San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose, is located less than 20 minutes from Juan Santa Maria International Airport, and it is where most visitors begin their Costa Rican Adventure. It is is one of the youngest Capital cities in Latin America, and one of the most progressive in terms of commerce, art, and architecture, making it a favorite destination for travelers world-wide.

Districts, Transportation, Cuisine, Climate, Attractions, and Popular Culture

San Jose is composed of 11 districts (distritos), and these districts are further divided up into a number of neighborhoods (barrios); all of which offer an exciting and varied experience. Transportation to and from the different areas is made possible via a large network of buses, taxis, and private companies, and can be arranged by reputable companies like Expediciones Tropicales, among others. Also, San José’s proximity to adjacent cities and towns makes it a central hub, from which one can go and experience a wide range of activities, such as the beautiful green destination that is Monte Zurqui, only minutes away.

The native cuisine (comida tipica) called gallo pinto, consists of rice and beans supplemented with cabbage-and-tomato salad, fried plantains, and meat; it is easy to find and the prices are reasonable. Although San Jose lies in the Torrid Zone, and is located in a tropical rainforest, it’s elevation gives it a moderate climate, with a mean average temperature of 25 °C or 77 °F, making it quite pleasant year round. The rainy season is from May to mid-November, and there are about 2040 hours of sunshine per year. San Jose is bursting with interesting museums, theaters, and historical buildings, providing a vast array of cultural activities. Both the National Theater of Costa Rica, completed in 1897, and the Melico Salazar Theatre offer world-class acting and dance groups as well as musicals year-round. Or one might want to marvel at the ancient latin american relics on display at the gold museum. Those in search of green rather than gold, can go to Lankester Botanical Garden located just outside San Jose vis a vis one of the many one day tours available. Other attractions consist of a variety of musical shows and events such, such as Jazz Cafes.

As an aside, San Jose appears in a beach scene of the popular 1993 film, Jurassic Park, though this is an error, as San Jose is at least an hour from any beach.

So go ahead and treat yourself to the enchanting musical peformances, or the rare ancient civlizations, or perhaps, just take it all in and relax in a local café, while the vibrant hum of the city surrounds you. Whatever you decide to do, we welcome you to our city, and invite you to visit and learn more about us.

Map of San Jose

San Jose Map
Click here for an expanded view

Travel times to popular Costa Rican destinations

From San Jose to:
San Ramon 1h:15m
Alajuela Airport 30m
Arenal Volcano 3h
Manuel Antonio 3h:15m
*Approximate driving times

Juan Santa Maria International is approximately 20 km from San José. One can choose from several alternatives in terms of transportation.


In terms of airport taxis, we strongly recommend that you only take the orange taxis which are authorized agents. The taxi fee should be paid at the airport located at the main exit of the airport after customs. A taxi drive to San Jose will run you around $15 U.S.and takes about 20 minutes.

Local Tour Company

Utilizing a Local Tour company, that normally provides turn key service, that is assistance from customs all the way to your hotel, will run you about the same price as a taxi, especially if there is more than two persons.

Public Transportation

Public Transportation is not recommended when you have luggage. If you opt to use the public bus, it is stationed just in front of the main street, near the parking lot. The buses run every 10 minutes, 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily to San Jose. Please be advised, that safety may be an issue with this mode of transport.
Getting around San Jose

San Jose has an efficient and inexpensive transportation system.

Public buses

Public buses are usually less than ¢200 or .50 cents U.S., and allow you to traverse the city at will. It is recommended that you carry loose change with you, as they tend not to accept bills. The buses run from 5:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Monday – Sunday. As the city does not publish an officiall bus schedule, you should ask around to determine your origination point thus, we recommend that you familarize yourself with some basic knowledge regarding the public tranport system. Further, San Jose bus stops tend to be stationed in general areas, such as Avenida Central, called the Parde of the Buses. That said, Costa Ricans are friendly people and will help you out if you ask them.


Taxis are a second inexpensive option, although more than a public bus. On the upside, you can hail a cal 24/7 and they are generally faster than taking the bus. Official taxis are identified by the fact that they are painted red, and are required to have working meters installed. We recommend using official taxis rather than unofficial or pirate taxis. And, always make sure that your meter is running at the beginning of the ride. The meters generally start at about ¢530 or around 1.00 U.S., and can go up, depending on the level of traffic, construction, the mood of the conductor, or other delays, as the fee rate is approximately 100¢ a km thereafter.

As in any large metropolitan area, please be carefuly not to flash your money or wear expensive jewlery, but other than that, enjoy the ride.
Main Tours And Attractions

San Jose is the hub of the Central Valley, and a great starting point for many exciting tours such as Alajuela , Heredia, Cartago and Turrialba, as well as Sarapiqui.

Alajuela, offers auspicious views from many of the mountain top hotels and the ever popular Poas Volcano. Heredia, is known for its coffee plantations, gorgeous mountains and charming neighborhoods, with a wide range of cozy mountain cabins nestled amidst the natural landscape. The Cartago Province is home to the Irazu Volcano, and just east of Cartago is Turrialba, a place of religious pilgrimage. Be sure not to miss Guayabo National Monument, Turrialba Volcano, and the exciting Pacuare and Reventazon rivers, which offer an exhilirating white water rafting experience second to none, for beginners and experts alike. And Sarapiqui, which is an impressive natural beauty with picturesque villages, offers a variety of outdoor activities such as river rafting. Or one can do nothing, but admire the colourful butterlies while relaxing at their hotel listening to the calming sounds of nature.

So go ahead and begin your Costa Rican Adventure Today!