The first 3 days in Costa Rica – San Jose

3 days in the capital of Costa Rica

After spending a few days in the US now and exploring here lots of fast food, Key West, Miami, Orlando and Disney World in Orlando it was now time to get back on our actual route to Costa Rica.

Of course, we didn’t want to just sit in the hotel in San Jose, but also get in touch with the city a bit – Max is a big fan of metropolises so going downtown was almost mandatory.

We had to cross this highway when we wanted to get from the hotel to the city!

Worth knowing about San Jose

The capital of Costa Rica is named San Jose (in German, Sankt Josef). With about 340,000 inhabitants, the capital is relatively small in direct comparison with other capitals. The city was founded only in 1848.

View over the streets of San Jose

The city is located at 1161 meters above sea level, so it has quite a pleasant climate. San Jose is divided into a total of 11 different areas. In 2018, the capital of Costa Rica ranked 113th out of 231 places on the quality of life ranking.

Travel to Costa Rica

We flew directly from Miami to San Jose – again, we found a very cheap flight with American Airlines. The flight took about 3 hours and was very pleasant. Immigration to Costa Rica was very easy – the only important thing is to show a onward ticket so that the airline will let you on the plane at all. The immigration officers of Costa Rica, on the other hand, only asked when you plan to travel to the next country.

However, if you don’t want to show your onward ticket, like we did, you have the possibility to borrow a ticket through Bestonward. How this works exactly we tell you in the article One Way Entry.

The flight from Miami was 290 euros for 2 people.

Good flights from Germany to Costa Rica are relatively expensive. If one has luck one gets a quite good flight of Iberia book. Often a stopover is made from Munich to Madrid – the pure flight time is about 15 hours – the price varies depending on the day between 550 Euro – 800 Euro (can of course be even more expensive).

Therefore, the journey from Germany to Costa Rica is not so easy and cheap – here it would perhaps be worthwhile to book an all-incl. package instead of planning an individual trip.

Transportation in San Jose

Transportation in San Jose is actually relatively easy and simple explained – you have the option to travel with the very inexpensive buses on fixed routes which however after a 3 day trip for us are relatively difficult to understandn. We also could not find a real route plan that explains which bus goes where.

One could have asked through however one should speak here at least Spanish on a good beginner level, since few humans speak English and/or only very Basic.

The other option in San Jose from A-B to come is UBER – the service works very well here in the capital and is also much cheaper than the official cabs. (Comparison 2200 Colones with UBER vs. 7200 Colones with an official cab).

As already mentioned is next to UBER still the possibility with one of the red official cabs from A-B to come. Here is only important that one should agree in the beginning either on the flat rate or the route by taximeter drives. However, as already mentioned, UBER is a lot cheaper and works at least as well, if not better.

View over the park

Accommodations in San Jose

Normally we try yes in our travelogues in different countries and cities not to go into specific hotels, but this time we have to report a very positive experience .

We are by chance on the Hotel Barceló San José noticed. A 5 star hotel with very good rating on Here we stayed for 3 nights. Since we get by our countless bookings now Genius discounts and Genius Upgrade at we had the opportunity free of charge on the premium floor to come.

Hotel room for 70 euros a night including breakfast and snacks

Here, drinks and food were served free of charge 18 hours a day which we of course gladly accepted. In addition to the great food, there is a Jacuzzi, a great view of the stadium of San Jose and a great pool area, as well as tennis courts and gym and for very fair 70 euros per night.
We had booked the hotel a few weeks before.

Pool of the Hotel Barcelos
Large breakfast buffet

But if you want to spend less money, of course, you can also find some accommodations in San Jose. Hostels we have already found from 11 euros a night. On AirBnB there are private double rooms from 21 euros a night. The prices for accommodation are a lot cheaper than in Jamaica whereby Costa Rica is considered the Switzerland of Central America.

Sights in San Jose

Admittedly, after our first trip to San Jose, we didn’t have much desire to explore the city further as we are rather the tourists who like to cover longer distances by foot than by cab or car – which is not so easy in San Jose due to the highways. However, if you want to get to know the city better, you have the following options.

The central church in San Jose

National Theater of Costa Rica

The National Theater is impossible to miss when walking through downtown. It is one of the few buildings downtown that stands out in a very positive way. The National Theater of Costa Rica opened in 1897 with a performance by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, after 6 years of construction.

There are still very regular performances in the theater. In front of the National Theater you will find a beautiful square that invites you to rest and relax.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture here 😀

La Sabana Metropolitan Park and Stadium

La Sabana Park in downtown San Jose is affectionately called “the lungs of San Jose” by the locals. When we had visited the park (March 2019) it was very dry and rather little “lung”, but rather more desert – should change according to the locals but from April then and then the park shines in a lush green. In the park are many sports facilities for the general public. A 400 meter running track, a basketball court, free drinking fountains and much more.

Stadium with park

Directly bordering the park you will find the National Stadium of Costa Rica. Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica. The stadium was opened in 2011. The scenery in which the stadium is located is breathtaking because directly behind the stadium are mountains in a veil of clouds (if clouds are present). The stadium, which can fit up to 35,000 people, fits perfectly into the panorama of the capital.

In photos, the study does not look as powerful and fitting as it is in reality!

National Museum of Costa Rica

Please note: The National Museum of Costa Rica is closed on Mondays otherwise you can plan a visit every day from 08.30 – 16.30.
In the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica you can find many things from the country’s past. The museum focuses on religious, colonial and modern history, geology and archaeology. Built in 1917, the museum was actually used as a military building in the beginning.

San Jose Central Market

When walking through the city you should definitely make a stop at San Jose’s Central Market. This is a local market that is open every day from 06:30 – 18:00. On Sunday the doors are closed at the Central Market of San Jose.

At the market you will find over 200 different stores offering countless products and specialties. It is really fun to stroll through the market and let the atmosphere and the genuine Costa Rican life work on you.

Zoologico y Jardin Botanico Nacional Simon Bolivar Park

Open this park daily from 09.00 – 16.30. The 14 hectare park is a beautiful urban park located in the center of San Jose. It is a combination of botanical garden and zoo. The Park Zoologico y Jardin Botanico Nacional Simon Bolivar opened its doors for the first time in 1916. In the park you can find native fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and of course birds (including many parrots).

Colorful houses in the streets of San Jose

Summary 3 days in San Jose

We have now spent 3 days in San Jose and have also decided that these 3 days are more than enough. The city does not really offer much attractions for tourists – the downtown image is very strongly dominated by McDonalds and shoe stores . Because the city is historically still relatively young, there are few classic tourist attractions.

To be honest, we were glad to leave San Jose after 3 days and go to our next stop La Fortuna.

San Jose VLOG

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