Surrounded by lush green valleys and mountains, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city, San Jose, is a modern city, complete with accommodation, shopping, dining, nightlife, and arts and culture. Easily explored by walking, taxis and buses, the vibrant city occupies a plateau in the country’s geographical center, making it a great base for exploring other destinations in Costa Rica.
An attractive mix of historic Spanish and modern day architecture, the city’s busy downtown area is home to landmarks, government buildings, cultural venues and noisy traffic. San Jose is host to a number of museums that offer an introduction into the country’s history, culture, art and wildlife. San Jose also boasts a number of performing arts centers and theaters presenting concerts, dances and dramas year round, including the National Theater, which is admired as one of the country’s most impressive architectural attractions. Tourists may also enjoy browsing San Jose’s colorful markets for souvenirs as well as the San Pedro Mall, one of Central America’s largest malls.
Relaxation and outdoor recreation can be found among the city’s charming plazas, green spaces and public parks that feature gardens, lakes, sports areas and artistic works. A few of the most popular are the National Park, San Jose Central Park and the La Sabana Metropolitan Park. The Simon Bolivar Zoo is a good place for the whole family to see animal species from Costa Rica as well as from around the world.