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The first time I traveled to San José, Costa Rica was in 2003, and I was so impressed by a city that was a bit scary, that I didn’t want to stay here for too long. Garbage is everywhere, buildings are as old as if they are about to collapse, and in stark contrast to other Spanish cities, this place has no such thing as “hidden beauty” at all. . The second time I went back to visit San José , the feeling was still the same – the place was still not charming, still scary, unlovable.
The city of San José has changed a lot in recent years, but not in a very positive way. In 2003, I remember there weren’t too many fast food restaurants in the city, except for a few McDonalds scattered throughout the city. But to this day, the streets are filled with fast food restaurants. The locals here love fast food – all the Taco Bell shops I came across on the street were packed with diners. and overall, the whole city is crowded and chaotic, still makes me feel the same fear as before.
However, with my San José travel experience , there are still many interesting points worth noting when you intend to visit San José:
1. National Museum of Culture and Arts
This museum is both a large colorful building, which used to be the office of the Ministry of Culture and also a center for performing arts, including the Museum of Contemporary Art – where you can admire the contemporary art works of Costa Rica and the Center for Latin American Art. This place is known for performing both contemporary dance and the biggest plays in San José.
2. Gold Museum
The Gold Museum – “Museo del Oro” in San José is part of a complex of three basements, located just off the Plaza de la Cultura. The museum has a huge slide show that showcases the early use of Columbus gold coins, and has hundreds of sparkling and intricate pieces for your viewing pleasure. Not only that, but there is also a museum specializing in the monetary history of Costa Rica.
3. Gem Museum
The Gem Museum is located on the 11th floor of the tallest building in the city center – known as the National Insurance company building. Here they display the world’s largest collection of ancient Columbian gems, with pieces dating from 500 BC to 800 AD. Thanks to the significant upgrade of the lighting system in the museum, you can see them sparkling continuously. Not only that, the San José gem museum also gives you a panoramic view of both the city of San José and the Central Valley.
4. Central Market
The Central Market, which is also San José’s main market, is a bright yellow building located on Avenue Centra, so I’m sure you won’t be able to miss it. Shop for souvenirs here, and enjoy delicious local food from hundreds of cute little stalls. Also there are many restaurants worth trying here. Be sure to try the delicious sorbet especially in the middle of the market – words alone can’t describe how delicious it is!
5. Amos neighborhood
This place used to be a colonial area that still exists in the city, and is my favorite place when I want to go for a walk around. There are many quiet small neighborhoods with houses with very beautiful architecture here, so anyone who comes here can’t miss the extremely beautiful pictures.
The city of San José has many parks. These parks are not huge, although some of them are considered the best in the world, they are great for a stroll and also a great place to sit back and relax after A long day of walking around the city.
7. Poas . Volcano
Half-Poas Mountain is now dormant (last erupted in 2017) but on its surface there are beautiful sulfur-filled lakes. The lake water is very calm and has a wonderful blue color, so many people have assumed that it is fake or painted on the bottom of the lake. The area has great trails, and you’ll have the chance to take some amazing photos. Visiting this place will definitely be a highlight in your itinerary.
If you travel to San José and are considering the cost of traveling to San José, I strongly support choosing Mercado Central with very good food and cheap prices. A meal costs about 1700 colones – only half the price of restaurants in tourist attractions, and you don’t even have to pay taxes and service fees. At the most economical, it will cost you about 5000 colones for a tour around the city, with all the famous attractions concentrated in the city center.