San Jose, Costa Rica
“Pura Vida” is a phrase you hear everywhere in Costa Rica, but it’s more than just words, it’s the local way of life. Directly translated it means “pure life” and that is definitely the vibe of the country. Costa Rica is fairly small but it’s so diverse. There are so many different landscapes all in one place like volcanoes, rainforests, mountains, & beaches. Our first stop in Costa Rica was the capital city, San Jose.
Where to Stay
In San Jose we stayed at Hotel Santo Tomas and to be honest, it felt like we were at a luxury hotel for a budget price. The hotel grounds were beautiful with an amazing backyard area (where the free breakfast was served) and a pristine pool. The location was perfect also, it was about 4-5 blocks from the main part of San Jose where all the shops, food, and landmarks are. The owner is actually American which we didn’t know until he came over to talk to us at breakfast haha. This is one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in and we definitely recommend it if you’re looking to stay in San Jose.
How to get Around
We walked pretty much everywhere in San Jose but for places that we wanted to go that were not walkable we used Uber! Yes, Uber works there and it is very cheap, we mainly used it to go to some outlying towns like Heredia and Alajuela.
Best Things to Do
Poás Volcano (an active volcano that we didn’t get to see because it actually erupted a few days before we arrived!)
Walk down Avenida Central
Go shopping at Mercado de Artesanias
Explore Mercado Central (we got some fresh coconuts there!)
Britt Coffee Tour (about 30 minutes away in Heredia)
Where to Eat & Drink
We ate at “sodas” a lot which are small family-owned restaurants (kind of like NYC bodegas). Sodas are everywhere in San Jose, and all the ones we ate at were amazing and super cheap! They have traditional Costa Rican food like rice & beans with your choice of meat, or in our case, vegetables haha. If you want the local experience you should definitely go to a soda for some authentic, amazing food. Some other places we ate at are listed below:
La Bodeguita Del Medio
Restaurante Nuestra Tierra
Steifel (a bar with a great beer selection!)
In comparison to the other parts of Costa Rica, San Jose doesn’t have much to see and do. You probably come because it’s convenient but you stay because of the culture, and we think it’s definitely worth a visit.