Photo of San Jose

About San Jose

San Jose is a comparatively young city. Founded in 1738, it is a hodgepodge of concrete structures and colonial mansions - a marriage of elegant Art Deco townhouses and Brutalist slabs - and amid the roaring erratic traffic stands the cultural and gastronomic heart of Costa Rica. Teeming with art galleries, fascinating museums, farmers markets and artisan fairs, San Jose offers the eager tourist plenty to do. On the outskirts of the city the urban landscapes merge with wild green protected public parks like the San Gerardo de Dota, a haven for birdwatchers, and the Los Quetzales National Park, home of coyotes, tanagers and jaguars. Our list of the best places to stay in San Jose has something for everyone from sleek contemporary properties to chic boutiques.

What not to miss

  • Stroll through the picturesque neighbourhood of Barrio Aman, passed modern art galleries set in colonial mansions and the stunning Art Deco townhouses.
  • Enjoy the Farmers Market on Saturday.
  • Check out the Museo Nacional or the Museum of Gold.
  • Head to the arts and crafts market on Avenida 2.
  • Drive 50km east of the city to Costa Rica's largest volcano, in the Parque Nacional Volcan Irazu.
  • Go birdwatching in the San Gerardo de Dota - there are over 200 species of aviary birds.
  • Walk amongst the jaguars and coyotes in the Los Quetzales National Park.

While San Jose doesn't top the tourist map, it certainly should do: boasting a wonderful arts scene, second-to-none craftsmanship, gorgeous architecture and an even more fascinating heritage, it is ideal for backpackers and couples alike. Find out more by checking out our collection of the best places to stay in San Jose!

The best places to stay in San Jose

Cool & contemporary

  • Hotel Alta Las Palomas: a truly relaxing hotel with gorgeous views of the city, offering rooms with bright and contemporary interiors, a swimming pool, spa and restaurant. Perfect for couples looking for a cosy place to unwind.

Chic boutique

  • Hotel Grano de Oro: an effortlessly stylish hotel marrying traditionally-furnished rooms (complete with antique furniture and exposed wooden panelling) with contemporary flourishes and designer decor. A beautiful hotel with a sumptuous restaurant.

Rural getaway

  • Finca Rosa Blanca: a tropical paradise in the hills above San Jose, offering luxuriously-adorned and colourful yet minimalist rooms, a restaurant, spa and swimming pool. Luxury, pure and simple, admist the blooming arms of nature. Great for those without budget constraints!

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • Fly to San Jose Airport, in the outskirts of the city.
  • If you want to rent a car we recommend contacting our partner Rentalcars.
  • The best time to go is between January and March, when the temperature ranges between 18 and 26 degrees.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in San Jose

  • Hotel Alta Las Palomas 23 rooms from £107

    San Jose (Escazú)

    Hotel Alta Las Palomas is situated in the city Santa Ana and offers splendid views of the San José area. The hotel's interiors are decorated in a contemporary style with plenty of colours being used whilst their La Luz restaurant serves up truly excellent cuisine! A wonderfully relaxing stay.

    Local exploring  -  The hotel organises a huge range of tours so that you can truly get to know Costa Rica
    Back to Nature  -  A trip to the stunning Poas Volcano National Park, 20 miles away, is a must!
    Sights nearby  -  The Parque Diversiones amusement park is great fun and only a short distance from the hotel
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Check prices
  • Hotel Grano de Oro 39 rooms from £114

    San Jose (Avenida 2 y 4)

    A chic boutique hotel well located in the historic residential neighbourhood of Barrio Don Bosco. Traditionally dressed rooms feature antique furniture, dark wood panelled walls and the best have private internal patios. A glamorous European evening is worthy of a visit alone. Fabulous.

    City Style  -  An elegant hotel complete with fabulous restaurant. A glamorous stay.
    Local markets  -  Explore the lively Artisan Market and scour for a bargin.
    Full of character
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Check prices
  • Finca Rosa Blanca 14 rooms from £253

    San Jose (Heredia)

    An elegant country property nestled in the wooded hills above San Jose. Eccentrically dressed rooms feature large frescoes, jacuzzi baths and parquet flooring. Spend days exploring the surrounding plantations by foot or horse and return for lavish Latin-fusion dinners and cocktails. Fabulous.

    Country Escape  -  Surrounded by coffee plantations and with endless outdoor pursuits to get involved in.
    Birdwatching  -  Rise early for bird watching tours accompanied by the hotel's expert guide.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
    Check prices