If you enjoy sightseeing, then a San Jose, Costa Rica city tour is a great option for you. Even though San Jose may not be the most fascinating capital city, there are some very nice architecture, museums and cultural attractions.
For those who are interested in city sightseeing, read about a San Jose city tour we did. We visited a couple of museums, walked through downtown, visited some cultural sights and learned about the history and culture. Interested? Click here to get your San Jose day tours discount!
San Jose, Costa Rica City Tour
We got picked up at our hotel in the afternoon since this is a half day tour. It’s not a 100% walking tour due to the layout of the city so our bus dropped us off at certain points of interest and picked us up at a later location.
As a half day tour, this is a wonderful way to spend 1 full day in San Jose. You really don’t need more than 1 or 2 days in the city to get a very good feel of it.
*Order may vary depending on traffic and conditions*
San Jose National Park
We started off by visiting the one of the most important monuments in Costa Rica in the San Jose National Park. The park isn’t that big or impressive but the monument in the middle depicts an extremely important part of Costa Rican history. If that scene didn’t happen, then Costa Rica wouldn’t be the country it is today!
We stayed here for about 15 minutes while our guide shared the story of the monument to us. Then we got back on the bus to our next destination.
Then we walked through Second Avenue which is the busiest street in San Jose as it runs straight through downtown. We walked from the market to the next stop, the National Theater.
The National Theater of Costa Rica is one of my favorite buildings in the country since it’s really the only one with beautiful architecture. We spent about 1 hour touring the theater to see the stunning decorations, gorgeous paintings and beautiful details.
The theater is filled with neo-classical architecture and paintings depicting Costa Rican culture and life.It is truly an incredible building and worth a visit either on a tour or on your own. If you have more time in San Jose, you can even watch a show in the theater.
After the theater, we went to the next museum.
Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum has one of the biggest collections of gold, ceramic and stone artifacts. It is absolutely fascinating to see and learn about the ancient civilizations, their culture, tools and lifestyle through these pieces.
We spent about an hour in the museum with our guide who shared information and stories about the pieces and museum.
Our third stop was the San Jose Central Market, one of the oldest markets in Costa Rica. Our guide took us through the market, telling us about the history and pointing out several stands for food, herbs, produce and coffee.
At the market, we had a bit of time to browse some shops and our guide pointed out a famous local restaurant called Soda Tala. This restaurant has one very special dish of gallo pinto, carne en salsa and tortillas served on a banana leaf. If you have time to get one and are hungry, we highly recommend going there! It’s also super cheap, only like 1000 colones (~$2 USD).
San Jose has a main cathedral in downtown that is very beautiful and nice for a photo stop. One curious thing about this cathedral is that one of the first presidents of Costa Rica is buried underneath it!
After our stop at the cathedral, we headed to the Gran Hotel for our coffee break.
For our last stop on the San Jose city tour, they took us to a jewelry and souvenir store. Either you will enjoy this stop or you won’t – it’s a nice place if you’re looking to buy Costa Rican souvenirs but if you’re not, it feels a little bit catchy that this stop is on the itinerary.
For this quick stop, it is more for those who want to buy more unique souvenirs because this is the only store that makes replicas of museum pieces and it’s by appointment only. They have an assortment of jewelry, art and trinkets.
Here’s a short video of the San Jose city tour we did.
What to Know About this San Jose, Costa Rica City Tour
- It’s a half day tour in the afternoon. Pick up is around noon.
- Includes entrance fees, roundtrip transportation and bilingual guide. Lunch is not included so make sure to eat before or bring snacks.
- The bus will take you around to the points of interest so it is not a full walking tour.
- Wear comfortable closed toed shoes and clothes. In rainy season, bring a rainjacket or umbrella. This tour does run if it rains.
- They pick up at hotels in San Jose and near the airport on the San Jose side. They do not pick up in Alajuela
Get a Discount Off This San Jose City Tour!
We have a partnership with the largest tour operator based in San Jose to give small discounts for their San Jose, Costa Rica city tour! They also operate San Jose day tours like Irazu and Cartago, Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Hacienda Orosi and many more.
Click here to get your San Jose day tours discount!