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San Jose & The Central Valley

The Heart of Costa Rica

Costa Rica's capital city, San José, rests in a fertile valley at 3,800 feet above sea level. Arcing along the northern edge of this valley are the green slopes of Volcan Irazu, Volcan Barva and Volcan Poas—each protected in a separate national park. The city's altitude and latitude give it a mild climate; temperatures average 74° and plantations of shade-grown coffee cover the foothills.

Founded in 1824, San José is one of Central America's newest capitals. Most of the city's growth has occurred since 1950, so the downtown is largely modern. The National Theater is a beautiful exception. Completed in 1897 at the height of the coffee boom, the theater was designed by Belgian architects and constructed of Italian marble and sandstone. Guided tours are available during the mornings and early afternoons.

Across the plaza from the National Theater, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum holds more than 2,000 articles of pre-Columbian gold jewelry—the largest collection in Central America—as well as an exhibit of rare coins. Nearby, the Museum of Jade secures the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade. Many of the pieces are 1300 to 1700 years old. Some are carved into elaborate totems representing eagles and frogs.

Most international flights reach the capital in the late morning or early evening; travelers often stay overnight in San José upon arrival. Several fine boutique hotels are located in this area, and cloud forest lodges are within reach.

Among the day trips possible from San José are rafting on the Pacuare River, hikes at Poas Volcano National Park, coffee plantation tours and visits to private reserves on the Caribbean side of the Cordillera Central.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in San Jose and throughout Costa Rica. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, domestic flights, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100.  We’ll take care of the details.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes."


Marcel Proust