San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

The city of San Jose is the largest Costa Rican city and capital of the only country in the world to disband its military. Founded by the cabildo (legal representative of the Spanish Crown) in 1736, San Jose became a tobacco centre and, in the 1840s, a centre of coffee production after coffee was introduced from Cuba in 1808. Coffee remained a chief export of Costa Rica and its largest source of income throughout the 19th century. The beautiful Doka Coffee Estate and coffee plantation is a favourite day tour, along with bustling downtown San Jose. The capital of a country with no army and one of the most peaceful nations in the world, San Jose may just be the safest city to visit on a city tour or walking tour.

As Costa Rica has no military, the government is able re-route spending to social welfare policies, such as education (free and compulsory). More than a quarter of the country is also protected to conserve its flora and fauna. On your tour of San Jose, Costa Rica, you can experience Costa Rica’s natural wonders at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, viewing the beautiful Magia Bianca Waterfall and the Butterfly Observatory.

From the city center, drive to the shores of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest landlocked body of water. With a surface covering nearly 85 square kilometres (33 square miles), the lake sits at the base of Arenal Volcano in the northern highlands. We cross the lake by boat and travel on the road to the town of La Fortuna, which can be a base for an Arenal Volcano hike.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano dominates the landscape during sunset, as seen from the Monteverde area, Costa Rica.

The Arenal Volcano stands 1,633 metres (5,358 ft) high, towering over its surroundings. Currently dormant, the volcano was Costa Rica’s most active volcano until 2010.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, founded in 1972, is also a great stop. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is home to half of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna and 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. A “cloud forest” is called as such due to the mists produced by the cooling of wet air currents in the mountains. Sitting at an elevation of 1,600 metres above sea level, the reserve is also mist-covered, and you can cross the skywalk through the lush forest canopy.

Girl walking on hanging bridge in Cloud Forest - Monteverde, Costa Rica
Hanging bridge in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Other activities you can undertake include white-water rafting and horseback riding. A day at the beach –such as Playa Manuel Antonio located in the beautiful area of Manuel Antonio National Park — should also be in your vacation itinerary.

Back in the city centre, go on a tour of the Doka coffee plantation to learn the process of cultivating and processing coffee, and to taste the different roasts.

A San Jose city tour with a local guide will walk you through the city’s architectural marvels. Many of San Jose’s most beautiful buildings are within walking distance from each other, from the Neoclassical Teatro Nacional to the 19th-century Metropolitan Cathedral.

Teatro Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
Teatro Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica

Ask your tour operator to stop at a souvenir shop so you can buy unique souvenirs from Costa Rica: handmade jewellery, colourful printed towels, and of course, Costa Rican coffee! This is a great way to remember your Costa Rica trip in San Jose.

 

External articles to assist you on your visit to Costa Rica and Central America:

The following external links may help you in planning your visit to Central America.

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