Best Neighbourhood In San Jose For Your First Time
- COOLEST thing to do in Downtown chat with locals, check out the local cuisine and pick up souvenirs at the Mercado Central
- BEST place to visit in Downtown head to the Gold Museum to learn about the countrys pre-colonial culture
Downtown San José is Costa Ricas political and business hub. This is where you will discover many of the citys historical sights, and it has great transport access to the rest of the city and beyond! Flanked by parks and some more alternative areas, it is a great stop for your first visit to get you oriented in the city.
There are also some surprising local attractions, including the Mercado Central where you can meet people from the city as well as other tourists! Just outside of the area is one of the largest parks in the city, with great views across San José and recreational facilities.
- Discover the history, culture and modern life of Costa Rica at the National Museum
- Head to the Plaza de la Cultura on the rooftop of the Gold Museum for spectacular views across the Downtown area, and unwind with the locals
- Pick up some local handicrafts and unique souvenirs at the National Craft Market which draws in artisans from across Costa Rica!
- Head west to Sabana Park for excellent sports facilities, relaxed hang-out spots and great views across the city
- Learn about the countrys historic jewellery making tradition and Jade mining at the Jade Museum
Quick Costa Rica Travel Tips
- Currency: Costa Rica Colón
- Visa: Many nationalities can enter Costa Rica for 90 days visa-free
- What to Pack: Good hiking shoes, a bathing suit, rain jacket, and rain boots. See our full Costa Rica packing list here.
- Stay Connected: We recommend Sim Cards from either Kolbi, Movistar, or Claro. Sim cards can be purchased in town centers
- Best Areas to Stay in Costa Rica? I would highly suggest spending time in the cloud forest, Guanacaste, and the Osa Peninsula.
$$$ Grano De Oro Hotel
Grano de Oro Hotel
Previously a private mansion, Grano de Oro Hotel will take you back to the early 1900s with its historic but luxurious vibe. It boasts 40 rooms and a variety of other facilities distributed over three buildings on its extensive property.
Within this hotel, you can find a modest gift shop carrying handmade crafts, a highly regarded restaurant serving a fusion of Costa Rican and European cuisine, and a secluded rooftop garden terrace with two jacuzzis. This place is pure paradise!
The best part about this turn-of-the-century mansion is that no two rooms are similar, with each one featuring unique paintings and handcrafted furniture.
Grano de Oro Hotels location is also quite strategic. Lots of San Joses top attractions are located within a 10-minute walk. Juan Santamaria International Airport is about a 15-minute drive away, too.
You can book a standard double room here starting at US$169/night.
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What Is The Best Area To Stay In Costa Rica
It all depends on what your preferences are. If you are into hiking in the Cloud Forest, consider Monteverde, where not only you can enjoy an incredible amount of trails in different reserves and private protected areas, but you can also see the Cloud Forest from above on a canopy tour, visit butterfly gardens or enjoy amazing cheese at the Monteverde Cheese Factory.
Now, if youre looking for a warmer forest, you have to hike in the rainforest, and we suggest you visit Sarapiquí, a more rural area, and slightly-off-the-beaten-path but still has terrific accommodations for you to choose from and many activities.
Another famous attraction in Costa Rica are the volcanoes, and to enjoy one in all of its appearances you have to visit Arenal. This is one of Costa Ricas most developed tourist areas, especially La Fortuna. Iit has volcano-view ecolodges such as Arenal Observatory Lodge and activities that will fit all kinds of budgets and interests.
Best Places To Stay Within 1km Of Downtown San Jose
If you want to stay in downtown San Jose but want a little peace and quiet then these next hotels are for you! Still within walking distance to the main attractions of the downtown core, these hotels are just about 1 kilometer from the main action so your stay is sure to be a little less noisy and a little more relaxed.
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Where To Stay In San Jos A Guide To The Capital Of Costa Rica
San José is the capital of Costa Rica. Located on an intervolcanic plateau in the center of the country, San José is famous for being an important industrial, business, and tourist hub in Central America and for the main gateway to explore the wonders of Costa Rica. In this post, we will discover the best areas to stay in San José, CR.
The main attractions in San Josés City Center include Museo del Jade, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, the National Museum of Costa Rica, Borbón Market, the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture, The Yellow House presidential palace, and Plaza de la Cultura. See accommodation in San José City Center.
If youre traveling with kids, San José is also home to several family-friendly attractions like the Childrens Museum, Parque Diversiones Dr. Roberto Ortiz Brenes, the National Zoo and Botanical Garden, Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, and Natural Science Museum La Salle. Likewise, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will enjoy the many natural wonders around San José, including Cerro Pico Alto and Cerro Cedral.
To get to San José by air, the city is served by Juan Santamaría International Airport. Located 20 km west of the city center, this airport offers a wide range of regional connections to Central America and Mexico and frequent mid and long-haul flights to destinations in the US, South America, and Spain.
Another great option to consider when choosing the best location in San José is La Asunción.
Casa De Suenos At Los Suenos Resort
Casa de Suenos is an eight-bedroom, ten-bathroom private villa within the Los Suenos Resort & Marina complex on the beautiful Herradura Bay on the Central Pacific Coast. Amenities The 8,060 square foot property includes the main villa and a guest house which houses one of the bedrooms and an extra kitchen. The design is open-concept
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Best Places To Stay In Puerto Viejo:
While staying closer to the national parks in the area is an exciting option to consider, when traveling on a romantic getaway, I always think its better to stay close to the beach! Whats better than a morning coffee with sand between your toes?
Villas La Paz
Best Airbnb in Puerto Viejo: Dazzling Beach Apartment
This Airbnb is one for the books! Its a two-bedroom home that is eco-styled with tons of wood and natural decor. Plus, getting to relax in the hammock on the balcony is the recipe for true relaxation. Inside the house is a wonderful kitchen in which free drinking water is provided. Youll be within easy walking distance of the beach, and all the shops and restaurants in Puerto Viejo!
Best Hostel in Puerto Viejo: Hostel Bikini
Hostel Bikini is a cozy hostel nestled right on the Main Street of Puerto viejo. Offering both dorm rooms and private rooms, you and your significant other can decide whether you want some extra privacy or to save some dough! Its a cute hostel that has a beautiful outside garden with their own coconut and mango trees!
Best Hotel in Puerto Viejo: Villas La Paz
Manuel Antonio Where To Stay In Costa Rica For Wildlife
If youre looking for where to stay in Costa Rica but you dont want to travel from one area to another, or you have the whole family with you, then Manuel Antonio could be the right choice for you. Manuel Antonio is located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, just 2 hours and a half drive from the airport. The area has a rich biodiversity, restaurants, tours and tons of activities perfect for your vacation plus some of the best hotels and villas.
The main attraction is the Manuel Antonio National Park which has beautiful beaches, forest trails and a rainforest full of wild animals. Hey, you might even meet a sloth! Get your camera ready because recently it was named by Forbes one of the worlds most beautiful parks! This place is great if you are in Costa Rica with your family members.
While you can hike the trails within the Manuel Antonio National Park to get some pretty cool views, sometimes too much walking can get boring, especially for families. Dont worry, Ive got you covered! You can choose from easier trails, which are perfect for travelers of all ages, or try something a bit more challenging if youre feeling like going on an adventure.
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Monteverde Where To Stay In Costa Rica To Be Near Nature
Another popular inland destination in Costa Rica is the area around Monteverde. This is where youll find the best cloud forest in Costa Rica, as well as the highly sought Quetzal bird. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is also home to jaguars, ocelots and many other exotic species of animals.
For this reason alone, Monteverde is very popular with bird-watchers and wildlife photographers. The nearby Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve has similar species, but is also home to spider monkeys. There are zip-lines, hanging bridges and aerial trams affording better views of the forests, as well as naturalist-guided tours in the Reserves.
Lapa Rios Osa Peninsula
Lapa Rios is easily one of the best resorts in Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula is one of the best areas to stay in Costa Rica, especially for wildlife. Lapa Rios is one of the pioneers of ecotourism in Costa Rica and likely one of the most famous lodges in the country. Its one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica for families. Its located in the Osa Peninsula and is considered one of the most biodiverse locations in the world.
All the rooms here have outdoor showers, private decks with fantastic views, and screen walls allowing for the sounds of nature to enter the room. This isnt the place you come to if you want air conditioning and televisions. Rather Lapa Rios is a sanctuary for nature lovers who want to immerse themselves into the Costa Rican jungle. Its a wonderful eco-lodge in Costa Rica to travel to and completely disconnect for a while.
This property is part of the well-reputed Cayuga Collection. They have some of the best guides in the country work here, and there are all kinds of tours to fit everyones needs. We personally spent our two days here on night walks scouting rare frogs, sunrise bird watching, waterfall trekking, and guided hikes to see the howler monkeys.
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Top 3 Activities In Puerto Viejo
1. Go on a chocolate tourHave you ever wondered how chocolate is made? Take a tour to learn everything about cacao, the history of chocolate, and chocolate making. They grow all of their own cacao and produce their chocolate on-site. Plus, theres plenty of taste tests involved!
2. Go Whitewater RaftingExperience catching the wave of a lifetime under the instruction of professionals. Youll learn all the basics of rafting while gaining a better sense of awareness for your body, health, and the environment. They offer various levels for people of all ages and skill levels.
3. Learn about some incredible animals and their backstories at the Jaguar Rescue FoundationThis center is doing incredible things for wildlife in Costa Rica. Its an animal rehab/sanctuary for injured wildlife. They nurse wounded animals back to health and release them back into the wild. If you have ever wanted to see a sloth up close, this is your chance. They are extremely common in Puerto Viejo.
What To Do In Puerto Viejo
Rent a bike to explore the colorful town. Stop at a local produce market for fresh fruit and head to the beaches at Playa Cocles or Punta Uva. Drive south toward Manzanillo for the day.
For up close and personal wildlife encounters, visit Cahuita National Park, and the Jaguar Rescue Centre outside of Puerto Viejo is a must-see if you love monkeys as much as we do!
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Final Thoughts On Where To Stay In Costa Rica
Costa Rica is an incredible country to visit filled with spectacular biodiversity, pristine beaches, and colossal adventure opportunities!
Whether youre looking to relax on the white sands in Jacó, go for a hike in the cloud forests in the Arenal Volcano area, or check out all the street art in San José, youre sure to have an awesome trip to Costa Rica! Especially when you stay in one of our Airbnbs, hostels, or hotels in Costa Rica that we hand-selected to meet all your travel needs!
Do you own or run a kick-ass hostel? Want to be featured on this list? Get in touch at
Distance From Sjo And Lir Airports
- Driving: It is a 3.5 hour drive from SJO Airport to Ojochal via Route 34. Ojochal is a 5 hour drive from Liberia Airport.
- There arent shared shuttles to Ojochal, a private shuttle is the only option.
- You can fly to the Quepos airport, pick up your rental car and then drive 1 hour to Ojochal.
Fly into San Jose International Airport to get to Ojochal.
A 4×4 is not necessary to Ojochal downtown and the route is all on the highway. However, most of the rentals and hotels in the area are up in the mountains that do not have paved roads so it is recommended to rent a 4×4 for Ojochal and this area.
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Couples: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens
There arent any adults-only hotel in Monteverde, but this is probably the most romantic place to stay at in Monteverde. The beautiful lodge is tastefully put together, with a rustic setting and wooden-cabin design. It also has a heated outdoor pool , an extensive garden and an indoor butterfly garden. Another property thats considered one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica.
Downtown San Jose Costa Rica
Known as Costa Ricas commercial and political capital, Downtown San José offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for tourists of all ages. You can head to the citys main historical and cultural sites, including the Gold, Jade, and National Museums, as well as the National Theater. Dont forget to drop by the Central Market, too, where you can mingle with locals and other foreigners.
This bustling neighborhood is also brimming with various shopping centers, cafés, restaurants, and political offices. The nightlife here is vibrant, with a more genuine and local feel than in the citys more exclusive suburbs.
Another great thing you will love about staying in Downtown San José is that it is very well-connected to the rest of the city and Costa Rica. You can find plenty of public transit here that can take you beyond the city to other popular places to visit in Costa Rica including Puerto Viejo, Monteverde, La Fortuna, and more.
I personally find this location to be one of the best areas to stay in San José as this is where most hotels are. But its important to note that the neighborhood is huge! You can stay in the heart of the city and be within walking distance of the major attractions, or you can stay about 1km from the city center and enjoy a little peace and quiet you have to take a cab to reach the must-see sites, though.
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Jaco Where To Stay In Costa Rica For Nightlife
As one of the closest beaches to the capital city, Jaco is also the most developed and Americanized. If you are familiar with Southern California beach towns, this is what Jaco Beach feels like in fact, some expats call it Long Beach.
The best and most challenging surf breaks in Central America can be found in Jaco. This is a very large beach where it is almost impossible to find a day where chest-high swells are not rolling.
Surfers from around the world know about the long rights that form in Jaco Beach, but they also know that the currents can be treacherous. There are lifeguards on the beach here, but please be careful in the water.
The Jaco nightlife is legendary enough to have been featured on the Travel Channel numerous times. This is one of the few towns in Costa Rica where you will find high-rise beach resorts and condos complete with casinos and nightclubs.
The area offers a wide range of outdoor activities from kayaking to hiking to fishing to horseback riding to surfing.
Jaco is also a great gateway to national parks, such as the Carrara National Park or the Pura Vida Park.
The all-inclusive resorts are the best bet for families, and there are a couple of hostels, but they are not as affordable as elsewhere along the Pacific coast.
Nosara Where To Stay In Costa Rica For Yoga Retreat
Nosara is located in the west of Costa Rica, in the Guanacaste province. With very few paved roads, this collection of small villages makes up one of the most rural, traditional areas in the country, where fishing and agriculture remain their primary source of income.
Beaches remain largely untouched or developed, as Ostional Wildlife Refuge covers much of the shore, protecting the breeding grounds of sea turtles. However, they are still popular with those seeking a relaxing vacation, as well as surfers looking to make the most of the powerful waves.
It is also incredibly popular with yoga practitioners too. A number of world-class yoga establishments have been set up in the area, making the most of the secluded destination, to bring a true sense of peace to their retreats.
The facilities in the towns are basic but should provide everything you need, from restaurants and bars to a market and pharmacy.
While cars arent used much here, bikes, golf carts, and ATV rentals are a cheap, popular way to get around. You can even hire a tuk-tuk taxi if you really want a unique adventure.
Stay In Nosara If you are attending a yoga retreat you want to see nesting sea turtles you dont plan to rent a car you want quiet, secluded beaches to surf or relax on.
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