Price: 2 (cheap but not dirt cheap)
Language Barrier: Mostly Spanish, but I managed with little.
Would I return? No.
Why Costa Rica? Why San José, isn’t it dirty?
These are just a few questions I had to answer when confronted with my plan. To be honest, I didn’t have much of an answer…
For the past couple of years I have set travel goals for myself. I want to see every continent; and I want to visit places that aren’t necessarily on everyones “must go.” Of course you’re probably thinking, “but isn’t Costa Rica in North America?” Yes, I’m aware. Yet Central America is vastly different than the rest, and therefore it meets my requirement.
Culture, the city is thriving with it; and, if you want want a taste of Central America – San José is a great start. When visiting San José I also included Panama. In comparing and contrasting the two capitals, Panama City feels more like America yet San José gives a more authentic feel.
The city has a little bit of everything. San José has poverty and wealth, sometimes on the same street. It provides easy access to jungle tours, volcano tours, and world class beaches. I felt I took advantage of most of San José in just the two full days I spent there.
My travel companion and I did one day with a jungle tour and zip line, followed with a day full museums and shopping. However, after further reflection we think we messed up. If I wanted to go back I would be sure to do one day of a jungle tour and zip line, one day of volcanoes and waterfalls, and a half day of museums and shopping.
It was not that the country lacked historical significance. Although I felt there was a consistent theme of history. Places such as the Jade Museum, Precolumbian Gold Museum, and National Museum were all visually impressive – yet had many similar exhibits.
The food was fantastic! Most places we ate were cheap, heavy portions, and fresh. Our tactics for food were to eat cheaply for lunch, and then splurge on dinner.
Our three favorite places were as followed:
Spore Trattoria. This place had some of the best Italian food I have ever had and I would strongly recommend both pizza and pasta.
Aguizotes Gastro Pub. We both got pork tacos and they were fantastic. The atmosphere really made this place fun! If this place doesn’t appeal to you, then there are a number of other great restaurants in the area.
Tenedor Argentina. This was the first restaurant we visited and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the trip. Great food and even better atmosphere. I can say with confidence that Central America is full of wonder outdoor patios and music.
Balmoral Hotel. The location is perfect, cannot stress that enough. We were in the perfect area for shopping, eating, and museums. The rooms were solid and breakfast was included with the room. Yes, the air conditioning was nice.
In summary, San José offered a good amount for a couple of days worth of a vacation. Although I am sure one could stretch a trip to a week, the city can moderately be explored in a few days. It isn’t that San José is a boring city, in fact quite the opposite. However, other parts of the country and region require more time.
Use Uber in San José! Crazy cheap and quick.