Local Host Picks
Costa Rican Art Museum
Created just twenty years ago as the place for art lovers to see contemporary Costa Rican painting and sculpture, this museum offers modern art in every medium imaginable.
Costa Rican National Museum
Located in the old Bellavista Fortress, the National Museum houses Costa Rica's past surrounded by bullet-riddled stone walls. The National Museum is situated on 17th Street, between Central and Second Avenues, on the Cuesta de Moras. It is adjacent to the Plaza de la Democracia. The National Museum offers a brief overview of the country's history, beginning with pre-Columbian artifacts, traveling through the time of the conquistadors, and gradually merging into the present. A small butterfly museum rounds out the collection.
Gold Museum (Museo de Oro Banco Central)
Located beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, this museum is home to the most valuable collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world. More than 2,600 gold artifacts are on exhibit, as well as a history of Costa Rica's currency and a collection of rare coins and bills.
It's not all jade, though the beautiful green stone takes center stage at the aptly-named museum. In addition to pre-Columbian jade jewelry, carved artifacts and display objects, you will find ceramics, precious stones and gold miniatures from different cultural areas of Costa Rica. You’ll also enjoy panoramic views of the city on the 11th floor of this stunning structure.
National Children's Museum
Learning is fun at this interactive museum, where kids play with hands-on exhibits that focus on science and technology, as well as traditional culture, art and literature of Costa Rica.
Spirogyra Butterfly Garden
If you’re looking for a brief respite from sightseeing, nothing is more soothing than this butterfly garden in the heart of the city. Learn about native species and enjoy a pick-me-up in the coffee shop.
Costa Ricans eat black beans at almost every meal, including breakfast. For a taste of native cuisine, head to Lukas for the black bean soup or the Gallo Pinto, a dish made of black beans, rice, and usually accompanied by fresh eggs, cheese, and fried plantain.
Regional cuisine with an adventurous twist is served at La Luz. The menu features fresh local ingredients prepared with ethnic influences. The beef tenderloin in strawberry-balsamic reduction is one of its most popular dishes.
This isn’t a café but a Costa Rican coffee liqueur that makes for an excellent souvenir. For the best prices, skip the boutiques and head straight to a local grocery store.
San José is disco central and this club is where the locals go for hot Latin and international music. The dance floors are large and the drinks flow freely.
Probably Costa’s Rica’s most authentic market, the San José Central Market features more than 350 booths selling everything imaginable, from spices and fish to hammocks and flowers. Open daily, it is located on Central Avenue in the heart of the city.