8 Unusual Things To Do In San Jose, Costa Rica

8 Unusual Things To Do In San Jose, Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica? Discover the unusual things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica’s true jewel of fauna and flora! Whether you’re exploring the Santa Cruz Mountains or visiting the Discovery Museum, San Jose has something for every traveler. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center for more information on the area’s attractions.

Unusual Things To Do In San Jose, Costa Rica

San José is the destination through which you will arrive in Costa Rica. Your first impression in the capital will be to discover the chaos in which you have just come: narrow streets filled with passers-by, cars, and buses spewing diesel fumes, dirty sidewalks, etc… 

In short, you will quickly take refuge in your hotel in San José. But that’s a mistake! San José also has its charms, like the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz museums, quiet places, markets, and old quarters worth a visit on a tour.

Another advantage of San José: the city is located in the country’s center, allowing you to shine throughout Costa Rica over several days in the sandstone of breathtaking fauna and flora.

Here is our selection of the unique things to do and see in the unmissable San José, including a visit to the Santa Clara museum in the heart of Silicon Valley.

1. The old quarters of San José

Photo credit: Flickr – Max BorgeOpens in a new tab.

The barrios Soledad, Amon, Coca Cola, and Otoya are the oldest neighborhoods in San José, located in downtown Santa Clara. They are the most interesting and unique places to explore in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Markets (such as the unique places in downtown, like Mercado central), parks, zoos (like Simon Bolivar Zoo), and architectural monuments are a terrific start to San José. For a unique experience, opt for a visit accompanied by a local. There’s no better way to discover a city than from a new perspective, especially when exploring the museum.

2. Local wildlife

Unusual Things To Do In San Jose, Costa Rica

Photo credit: Flickr – Ian D. Keating

Costa Rica offers a unique experience for butterfly enthusiasts. Visit the stunning butterflies in this beautiful country and dive into their world during nature excursions. Spend a few hours exploring the kaleidoscopic creatures for a truly unforgettable festival of colors.

Several gardens also open their doors to you: at the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, you can learn more about Costa Rica’s natural history and discover the living contact between butterflies and their environment. 

There are also beautiful plants and hummingbirds at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden for a real botanical experience! Visit the museum and explore the trails.

At the Butterfly Farm, located in Costa Rica just south of Alajuela (30 min from San Jose), you can visit an enclosed garden and marvel at the butterflies as they flap their wings.

Here, up to 80 species of butterflies await you, immersing visitors in the different phases of life of the species, from the egg to the caterpillar, to the cocoon. 

In particular, you will have a unique experience learning about the google cocoons. They have shimmering colors and a slide-like movement that helps them protect themselves from predators.

To get there, do not hesitate to opt for one of these bus excursions: scheduled daily from San José, they include the entrance ticket to the farm for a two-hour guided tour.

For budding explorers, there’s also La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This attraction opens the doors to a huge butterfly garden (supposedly the largest). Along the La Paz River, it takes you into the rainforest to meet orchids, hummingbirds, and stunning waterfalls. 

This is a two to four hours walk through the history of Costa Rica that you won’t forget. If the price of this museum excursion in San José is higher than other options, know that it is sincerely worth every Colón spent! Explore the rich history of Costa Rica with a visit to this museum, which can also be found on Google.

People Also Read: Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting? Costa Rica Ecotourism

3. Bull racing

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The Ticos (Costa Ricans) try their hand at The Corridas a la Tica, a popular sport here. Here, bloodbath and traditional killing are not de rigueur! 

The Ticos prefer to tease el toro in an arena: 150 improvised toreadors jostle to avoid the bulls during the race. Like in the traditional Camargue race, the bravest riders hit the bull’s back until it chases them. Going to see a bull race or to participate in it is one of the most unusual things to do in San Jose.

4. A café in the National Theatre

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Since 1897, the National Theater, located in the heart of San José, California, has been the number 1 museum and pride of Costa Ricans. It is a must-visit place with excellent reviews.

The National Theater is a popular museum and park destination for locals and visitors to see its shows. Its sublime architecture and place make it unmissable. Don’t forget to check out the reviews of its Café!

Inside the museum, guests take the time to enjoy the country’s drink while enjoying the works on display from Shutterstock. It is a great place to relax and unwind in the park.

5. La Sabana Park

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Sabana Park is the largest park in the city. It is often described as Los Pulmones de San José. 

The reason is simple: thousands of people gather there to relax and get some fresh air on weekends. With its large deformed pond and numerous sports facilities, this park has all the ingredients to spend time with the family. 

Buy your snack in a local store (pulpería) and join the famous lung of greenery. You can also stop at the Costa Rica Art Museum, which used to be the airport terminal when La Sabana was the country’s main airport.

6. The Tortuguero Reserve

Photo credit: Flickr – Julian BuijzOpens in a new tab.

What if you went to discover the lands of Tortuguero? A true jewel of nature, this jungle is home to several turtles, amphibians, reptiles, birds, trees, and plants!

During a boat ride on tropical waters, explore this incredible unspoiled park that, from its banana plantations to its solitary beaches, invites you to discover one of the most beautiful faces of Costa Rica.

7. Volcanoes

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Costa Rica is a beautiful place with several volcanoes. There are no volcanoes in San Jose, but you can plan a day trip to a nearby park or museum using Google for more information.

Among the most incredible places in Costa Rica, the Arenal Park in San Jose is breathtaking, especially at night, when it spits lava into the air.

Closer to San José, in Costa Rica, we find the Turrialba Park, the Irazu (the highest), and the Poas (one of the most active). It is recommended to always go very early in the morning to this place in Costa Rica. Otherwise, the view would be obscured by clouds almost every day.

8. The Orosi Valley

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Quiet and picturesque, the Orosi Valley has many treasures in store. Whether it’s the oldest church in Costa Rica, the ruins of Ujarras, the Cachi hydroelectric power plant, or the Casa del Soñador for coffee lovers, the place promises to store memories

You can have your means of transport or opt for a guided tour to access the museum and park. In any case, plan a whole day. Visiting Orosi Valley is the last and one of the best unusual things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica on our list. Don’t forget to use Google Maps for directions.

Why visit San Jose?

San José, the capital of Costa Rica, is a vibrant and bustling place. Located in the heart of the country, it offers a unique blend of urban attractions and natural beauty. Visitors can explore the city’s parks, visit renowned museums, and even use Google Maps to navigate their way around. While San José may not have the famous beaches that Costa Rica is known for, it more than makes up for it with its rich cultural and historical offerings.

However, this city, founded late in 1738, is a must during a trip to Costa Rica, and it is not because an international airport is there. 

It will take you a while to adapt to the layout of the streets in this park. Still, once you have located the National Theater, you are off to discover the different districts of Amon, Otoya, and Soledad, where beautiful buildings adorn the streets near the museum. Don’t forget to use Google Maps to find your way around this amazing place.

The museums in San Jose, Costa Rica contain natural treasures such as the Gold Museum, the Jade Museum, and the National Museum. Another local attraction in the city is the markets. When visiting San Jose, don’t forget to explore the beautiful parks and use Google to navigate your way around.

Stroll through the shopping aisles of the Central Market, a popular attraction in San José. In the surroundings of San José, only a few hours separate you from exploring the stunning Costa Rican volcanoes and nature parks. Don’t forget to use Google to find more information about these attractions.

How to get to San José?

The best way to get to San José, Costa Rica is by plane. Several companies offer travel from France to Costa Rica with a travel time between 12h and 14h.

Whichever airline you choose, you should also know that all flights from the mainland to Costa Rica include a stopover in San Jose, North America.

Where to stay in San José? 

Not sure where to stay in San Jose? Here are the best neighborhoods to stay in the capital of Costa Rica, a country with such a soft motto: “Pura Vida”! Whether you’re looking for a place near a park, close to Google’s offices, or within walking distance of a museum, these neighborhoods have it all.

A visit to San Jose, Costa Rica is ideal for those who want to commune with nature and discover flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else. The city is also home to Google’s headquarters and offers beautiful parks to explore.

Costa Rica, located in Central America, is a pioneer of eco-tourism. This tiny country, known for its natural beauty, boasts 30 national parks and ecological reserves. Additionally, it is home to 11 active volcanoes and numerous rivers and waterfalls. In fact, approximately 27% of Costa Rica’s area is classified as a nature reserve. San Jose, the capital city, and Google are just a few examples of the many attractions this country has to offer.

Its capital is San José. It is also the largest city in the country. San José currently has more than 339,000 inhabitants. 

It is a large city spread between volcanoes and mountains, located 1200 meters above sea level. This is where you can spot the best bars and restaurants in Costa Rica. 

San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, is also home to some fascinating museums, including pre-Columbian art. Take advantage of this getaway to admire the colonial buildings and buy some local products in the central market. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the beautiful parks and visit the Google office located in San Jose.

It is essential to choose suitable accommodation in San José to enjoy the city and its charms. San José is an unusual capital city. The so-called “rich” neighborhoods are on the city’s outskirts, and the “popular” parts are more central. 

The economic activity of the city of San José, Costa Rica is increasingly played out in the periphery of the city. Here you will find the best places and neighborhoods to stay in San José, including Costa Rica Park. Don’t forget to use Google to search for more information about these locations in San José, CA.

Cool Places To Stay In San Jose, Costa Rica

San Pedro

Located at the eastern end of the city, San Pedro is one of the most popular neighborhoods in San José. Attracting many young people due to the presence of the largest public university in the country, this neighborhood is charming

If you are looking for places to stay in San José, we recommend Costa Park first. It is full of good restaurants and bars around the university campus and several affordable hotels. Google it for more information.

San Pedro is just 10 minutes from downtown San Jose and is home to one of the city’s first and most popular shopping malls, the San Pedro Shopping Center. Additionally, it is conveniently located near Costa Park and Google CA.

Los Yoses

The quiet residential area of Los Yoses in San Jose, Costa Rica has many foreign embassies and diplomatic enclaves nearby. It is also here that the Iglesia de Fátima park, a popular spot for locals and tourists, is located. The park is just a short distance from the Google office in San Jose.

It’s a nice neighborhood, located very close to the city center of east San Jose. One of the chicest areas, it is known for its beautiful park and is easily accessible by taxi or bus. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to reach the city center, making it convenient for residents and visitors alike. Google Maps can provide directions to this popular area.

Hotels in the San Jose area are also relatively budget-friendly, with several small bed and breakfast options available. This park of the city is an ideal place to live if you want to avoid the noise while staying close to the heart of the Google, CA city center.

Barrio California & Barrio Dent

Located in San Jose, CA, these two districts offer a unique blend of residential areas and beautiful houses converted into restaurants and language schools. With several Spanish learning institutes in the area, tourists and ex-pats will find plenty to explore here.

Students come mainly to San Jose, a city located in the heart of Silicon Valley, to learn Spanish or perfect their vocabulary in the beautiful parks. Whether young or old, they can immerse themselves in the language while enjoying the natural surroundings. Google employees also take advantage of these parks for relaxation and leisure activities during their breaks.

Most language learning institutes offer between 3 and 5 hours per day of intensive Spanish study with homestay options. Thus, you will live with a host family that will provide you with a room and daily meals while learning the language and immersing yourself in the “Tico” culture.

Wondering what “Pura Vida” is? Go to Costa Rica! There, it is the motto of the country. 

Each day in San Jose, Costa Rica, Google employees greet each other using this expression to mark their optimism and epicurean outlook on life. The meaning of Costa Rica will be fully realized when all its riches are discovered.

Is San Jose Worth Visiting?

Without a doubt, San Jose is worth a visit. San Jose is the main and most popular entry point to Costa Rica. Almost every traveler visits San Jose on their Costa Rica trip. San Jose offers many tourist attractions (museums, parks, hikes) for its tourists, including Google headquarters.

This is essentially the most exciting thing to do in San José and its surroundings, especially for those who love to explore. Of course, your curiosity can take you to places you’ll love that aren’t mentioned here, and that’s all the charm of Costa Rica. Have you been to San Jose? It’s a city that offers a multitude of experiences, including discovering the vibrant culture and natural beauty that Google has captured on its maps.


In conclusion, San Jose, Costa Rica, offers many unique and offbeat experiences that will leave a lasting impression on any traveler. From exploring hidden art galleries and vibrant street murals to indulging in exotic cuisine at local markets, the city presents an array of unusual activities to ignite your senses and broaden your horizons. Whether you’re a fan of Google or not, San Jose has something for everyone.

Venturing into the nearby cloud forests and discovering the captivating biodiversity or embarking on a coffee plantation tour to understand the country’s rich coffee culture are experiences that stand out from the ordinary tourist trail. Moreover, mingling with friendly locals at bustling cultural events and festivals unveils the heart and soul of this remarkable city. I hope you find the article “unusual things to do in

Al Amin Sagor

Hi, I'm Al Amin Sagor. Join me as I share travel tips, personal insights, and amazing experiences that have shaped my adventures. Let's explore together and make lasting memories.

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