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San Jose

What can I expect from San José?

Pura Vida! San José is Costa Rica’s capitol city and the hub in which most travelers fly into when arriving to the country. The city is filled central squares and parks, with local cafes, breweries and coffee shops. It is not surrounded by beach but rather blueish hills, mountains and volcanoes. San José is a wonderful city to explore in itself, but there is much of Costa Rica to still be explored leaving from this city! Costa Rica is filled with beaches, waterfalls, rainforests, volcanoes and plant and animal life. There are endless places to explore!

See some of our suggestive highlighted and top-rated tours below. Looking for something specific? Contact us and we will work with our partners to find you what you’re looking for free of charge! Member of the Purple Hood Adventurers Club? Get access to unlimited destination resource pages and guides like this one along with other exclusive travel perks!

Excursions from San José:

Specialized Excursions from San José:

Things to See and Do in and From San José…

Visit the coffee shops and breweries in downton San José
Take a trip to the Poás or Irazu Volcano
Go ziplining in the rainforests
Visit the National Theatre of Costa Rica
Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro
Take a day cruise to Tortuga Island
Visit the Arenal Volcano and hot springs
Go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Check out the Plaza de La Cultura

“As long as we don’t die, this is going to be one hell of a story.”

-John Green

What to expect…

Accommodations -San José is full of hotels, hostels, b&bs an villas to rent. You’ll definitely have your pick! If you’re a backpacker and you are looking to save money as you travel or even if you just want to stay somewhere centralized while scoring a few new friends, I would recommend one of the many great hostels in the area such as Hostel del Paseo or the NATIVUS Art-Hostel. If you’re looking for more of a traditional highly-rated hotel in the area, Hotel Columbus or Apartotel & Suites Villas del Rio are also great places to crash at night!

Food & Drink – Just imagine everything both delicious and natural under the sun and that about sums up Costa Rica’s foods! Think fresh fruits, juices and produce in particular!  For breakfast, make sure you indulge in some gallo pinto (rice and beans). It comes with just about any traditional breakfast meal and it’s hard to miss. Don’t forget to top it off with some “Lizano Salsa” (one of those sauces found everywhere that you can put on EVERYTHING. For lunch or dinner, make sure you some good old fashioned Casado (literally meaning “a married man”), which is one of the most common staples you will find! This comes in many forms depending on where you get it. It is a dish which includes a little bit of everything from your choice to meat or fish, a corn tortilla, fried plantains, sometimes a fried egg, salsa and…you guessed it…a nice helping of rice and beans! Another common dish is known as Chifrijo, which was recommended by a local I stayed with in Uvita. It is a popular dish traditionally consists of pork meat, rice and beans, broth, salsa and tortilla chips. Mmmmm.

Are you thirsty after all of that? San José especially is known for it’s tasty coffees and beers. Check out a food tour or San José beer tour if you really want to get the full experience!

TransportationRenting a car is probably the option which will allow you the most flexibility of travel. It’s also a great way to get yourself outside the city limits of San José and get out to see the natural wonders of Costa Rica. But if you want, you can take advantage of many of the shared shuttles, extensive buses, Uber or taxis. You can also sign up for private transfers or shared transfers to help you get to and from your destinations. Because there are so many options, I couldn’t include one link. If you need help with transportation, contact me and I will help you get set up!

Suggested daily budget – Depending on your personal choices and spending limits, mid range travelers have reported that they spend around ₡41,561 (Costa Rican colóns), which is approximately $73 USD. If you’re a budget traveler or backpacker, you can knock the daily cost down to around $30-50 USD per day, however. In Costa Rica, it is acceptable to use both local current as well as American dollars, but using USD may result in over payment of certain things, so beware!

If you want a further breakdown of costs, average mid range hotels cost around $50-$75 USD per night while backpacker accommodations may cost anywhere from $9 per night for hostels to $40 per night for more expensive guest houses. In terms of food, here is some good news: You can get massive plates of delicious local cuisine for only around $5-$8 USD at local family restaurants. If you want something a little fancier, you can expect a meal to cost around $20 USD. As for transportation, you may pay around $3 USD for shuttles which take you from town to town. If you choose to take a shuttle across the whole country, this will cost you around $20. Renting a car may cost around $300-$700 USD for a whole week.

See the current exchange rate from colóns to USD for the most accurate and up to date conversions!

Money Saving Tips

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Stay in a hostel Hostels are a great way to cut down on accommodation expenses and they are usually conducive for a backpacker of any age! You can not only save money for more important things like NOT sleeping, but you also may gain a few new friends and score some free activities and meals just by staying at a hostel! Also, you'll have a kitchen to cook your own food. Hostels are my favorite type of accommodations for both when I'm solo traveling and also traveling with my husband! Look for accommodation in the area below:
Booking.com
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Travel during the off season The ``off season`` (if you really want to call it that) falls around the months of late April through June and September through November. This is because these periods are considered the ``rainy seasons.`` You might run a greater risk of encountering some rain, but then again, you'll be ahead of your budget and you'll definitely be able to afford a good umbrella! Also, there is something nice about the calm rain of Costa Rica (if it does rain at all)!
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Book an all-inclusive pass or excursion I like to book passes and tours which include transportation to numerous places, meals, attractions and sights and sometimes even overnight accommodations. The upfront cost may be slightly higher, but when you factor in the things you get and the unforgettable memories and friends you often make during these types of trips, the pay off is more than worth it! If you're looking for a specific all-inclusive trip or pass, let us know and we will help you find it! Below are some ideas:
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Rent a car and stay outside the major cities like San José Having a car may cost money initially, but it will allow you to not be tied to staying in a central tourist area where general costs of all activities are jacked up! Also, when you drive yourself, you aren't confined to what is within close proximity and you just may find that you enjoy the countryside and small towns even more! And to top it off? You'll be saving on gasoline, food and accommodations all while having the flexibility to do what you ACTUALLY want to do WHEN you want to do it! Search for the best rate on car rentals below:
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Use the Colón to pay instead of the American dollar. Using USD to pay for something in Costa Rica usually results in the overall cost being rounded upwards due to the dollar being stronger than the Colón. It is better to use the local currency if you want to pay a more accurate amount. It may not seem like a huge difference, but when you add together all of the purchases on your trip, the literal ``lost money`` begins to accumulate!
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Visit the super markets and prepare your own meals Here's, again, where staying in a hostel comes in handy! Having access to a kitchen will allow you to be able to cook your own food (while keeping it healthy!). Also, shopping locally will get you that ``authentic and local`` eating experience you were looking for!
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Eat more soda! No this is NOT a typo! OK so I don't really mean EAT more soda because you can't really do that, but you can eat AT a soda! Yes, sodas are Costa Rican restaurants with more local prices. Not tourist prices! They're also great for finding local cuisine and local company!
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Go out for lunch. not dinner If you are trying to save a bit of cash during your travels but you still want to go out and experience local dining and Costa Rican restaurants (and so you should), try going out for lunch when prices are more moderate. Going out for dinner will always be more expensive. This is a great way to cut down on expenses while not cutting down on your entire experience!

Need a few light reading materials for the ride there? I always travel with books. You just never know when you might not have cell reception!

Contact us below if you’re looking for something specific. We will help you in finding transportation, tours, flights and anything else you may need for your trip!


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