· budget travel blog ·

Top 5 Things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica

Top 5 Things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad

Every blog I read brushed off San Jose. Main complaints were that it’s dirty, crowded and a waste of time.

…I disagree. Don’t come for me, internet!

I had such a great time in San Jose. That said, I can see why some tend to write it off. If you come to Costa Rica as a tourist, what you’ll find in San Jose is probably far from the reason you came here. No beaches, no national parks, and traffic for days.

But I hope you give San Jose a chance. I really enjoyed the three nights I spent there, and would happily return!

Table of Contents

Jade Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save
National Museum of Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save
Museum of Costa Rican Art | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

1. Visit the museums

The biggest draw in San Jose has to be the museums. They’re fantastic. The Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, the Jade Museum and the National Museum of Costa Rica are all within walking distance. You’ll need some form of transportation to get to the Costa Rican Art Museum, but that’s the only main museum that’s a bit out of the way.

The collections are incredible. The Jade Museum (a personal favorite) has the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts in the world! This is what I mean when I say folks are missing out by skipping San Jose!

Irazú Volcano, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save
Irazú Volcano, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save
Irazú Volcano, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

2. Take a half-day trip and tour a volcano

You have a few options when choosing which volcano to visit. Poás Volcano was on my list, but it was acting up a bit during my visit, so I opted for the Irazú Volcano. On a clear day, the view is amazing.

If you’re short on time, check out the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. A good tour will include a dip in the nearby hot springs, which are a huge draw. I highly recommend spending at least one night in La Fortuna, but if you’re pressed for days, a day trip is fine.

San Jose Carnival | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

3. Be part of an event

There is always something going on in San Jose. I stumbled into El Tope Nacional, or the National Horse Parade on December 26th and the San Jose Carnival on the 27th. It was so much fun!

There’s something to be said for the joy seeing a local event go down can bring. Site seeing is a delight, but being able to witness a city-wide event? Bliss.

Costa Rica keeps an event page going so you can see what’ll be going on when you’re in town.

National Museum of Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

4. Walk through a park

There are quite a few delightful parks dotted throughout the city (and one inside the National Museum!). Grab a snack to go from a local soda, sit back and people watch for a bit. Since Costa Rica experiences rain year round (even in the dry season) you’re guaranteed a pretty park.

Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

5. Stop by Cartago

Fun fact, Cartago was once the capital of Costa Rica. It’s not too far a drive from San Jose. In fact, some tours will throw in a stop in addition to whatever day trip you may have booked. A highlight of the city is the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles, or Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. It was built in 1639, survived an earthquake, and has a stunning, almost glowing interior.

I hope this post of top 5 things to do in San Jose inspired you to give the city a chance. I’m already missing it. 

Top 5 Things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica | Broke Girl Abroad
  • Save

Pin this list of top 5 things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica for later!

Safe travels!


Related Posts

you may also like...

Leave a Reply

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

search the blog

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

about me

About Me | Broke Girl Abroad

Maggie, the Broke Girl Abroad, is just another Millennial who wanted to make a travel blog because of that one time she studied abroad.

Now a 9-to-5 employee, follow along as she attempts to see the world by balancing her budget, her 40 hour work week, and her precious, precious vacation days. 


recent posts

popular places

latest videos


get budget travel tips


Get the latest in budget travel!

Subscribe my newsletter for new blog posts, budget tips & tricks!

Planning your next road trip?

Get helpful hints and customized itineraries sent to your inbox every Monday, with some virtual travel options too! (Plus a sign up bonus!)

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap