San José, it can really offer you a variety of cultural activities, very good hiking, a wide range of fine restaurants and, of course, a great “Latino” party! Now, if you really need to escape the capital, like a great majority of “ticos” (Costa Ricans), Uvita de Osa should be your primary destination.
Costa Rica is well-known for its loyal backpackers, so regarding where to stay, it certainly depends on your budget.
Grano de Oro Hotel Boutique: This original Tropical Victorian house transformed into a Boutique hotel is just next to the Paseo Colón Avenue in a calm and safe district of San José. Their well-known restaurant will delight you with their fine cuisine and wine reserve. You will also have the opportunity to discover the national “gallo pinto” breakfast which is mainly composed of rice, beans and eggs.
Hospedaje El Bosquecito Hostel: This lovely place is owned by Doña María Diaz and her husband Don Julio Varela who are originally from Uvita. They are used to host young people and volunteers from all over the world and will make you feel part of this huge family! It is a very safe, comfortable and affordable place if you are looking for a real local experience! And don’t be surprised if a “cara blanca” or “congo” monkey awaits you in your balcony since this is part of the experience!
Kura Design Villas Hotel Boutique: This hotel is the perfect blend between luxury and sustainability! The view is definitely breath-taking, so enjoy their Jaguar Colada cocktail at the Diablitos Bar and dive into their magical infinity pool with some music! Their homemade granola with a “café chorreado” (traditional coffee-making process) at breakfast is a must!
Avenida Escazu is the chic area of San José. Here you will find a fine selection of modern restaurants and bars to start your night. It is approximately 30-45 min away from the center of San José. Here are a few recommendations depending on the kind of cuisine you are looking for: P.F. CHANG'S (Chinese); La Terraza Toscana (Italian); Praha (bar & tapas).
Restaurantes by Enjoy Group: This hospitality group, located in San José, has developed an incredible selection of fine restaurants inspired by diverse cuisine from all over the world. Its restaurants are located in different areas of the city, and include Bacchus (Italian) and Actitud Buenos Aires (Argentinian).
Ojochal: If you are looking for fine restaurants near Uvita, this village is your next destination! Depending on what kind of cuisine your appetite is up to, here are a few recommendations: Exotica (International); Citrus (French); Ylang Ylang (Indonesian).
Whether you are looking for some cultural spots or just an escape to wilderness, San José offers you both possibilities to explore. Since the center of San José remains quite small, the best advice to discover the city is to walk, walk and get lost!
Mercado Central: This incredible market built in 1880 offers 200 shops of all kind: from food in the famous “sodas” to local handcrafts. It is a must!
Museo del Oro Pre Colombino: This historical museum is the one of the top 3 in Latin America. Besides their incredible collection, you will also have a look to the indigenous communities that used to live in Costa Rica. If you like handcraft, you may love the colourful Boruccan Masks from the indigenous community that lives in the Puntarenas district, which I recommend to purchase directly from them for a unique souvenir. Originally, these masks were used to scare the Spanish during the Conquest.
Parque Nacional Volcán Poás: The feeling of watching an active volcano’s crater is magical! This National Park is only 37km away from San José City by car. You may check out the weather conditions on their official facebook page prior deciding to go.
Coffee farm: La Joya. This incredible sustainable coffee farm belongs to Don Edgar Fernández and his wife Doña María Elia. It is located in Piedades Sur de San Ramón (Alajuela’s district) which is 2h away from San José by car. Here you will discover an Arabica coffee plantation and learn about the production process from the harvest to the green coffee beans just before the roasting process. This coffee farm actually produces for Nespresso, so if you are a Nespresso lover, come and have a look at this wonderful farm with its passionate and expert owners!
Costa Rica Beer Factory Inc (Barrio Escalante): If you are a beer lover, this bar will become your second home! You will enjoy a wide selection of local, national and international craft beer. You can also buy some beers and funny t-shirts in their shop! The most famous beers from Costa Rica are Imperial and Pilsen but you will definitely have to try their homemade one called Escalante.