Things To Do in San Jose Costa Rica

A Myriad of Activities in San Jose Costa Rica

Known as “The Hotel Full of Life, Where Everything is Within Easy Reach,” The Balmoral Hotel offers a friendly, caring gateway to the best of San Jose, Costa Rica.

The hotel is located in the heart of the city on Avenida Central. Within walking distance, you will find San José’s most popular cultural attractions, historic landmarks and prestigious private companies and government offices.

Guests may also enjoy a wide variety of one-day tours to discover exhilarating recreation just outside San Jose: hiking the Irazu and Poas Volcanoes, white water rafting on the Pacuare and Reventazon Rivers, thrilling rainforest canopy tours, or simply relaxing at the Lancaster Gardens or the Butterfly Farms.

Below, you will find some of our favorite attractions and things to do in and around San Jose. For further recommendations or assistance arranging tours and activities, please contact the Balmoral front desk at

Gold Museum

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is a little tricky to find (it’s literally underground) but once you step through the doors, you’ll feel like you landed in a jewelry box. This “gem” has more than 1600 Pre-Columbian gold artifacts dating back to 500 AD. Gold has historically been considered a symbol of authority in Costa Rica, and the incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail during this early era is well worth a stop on a day of sightseeing.

Address: Under the Plaza de la Cultura, Central Avenue and 2nd Ave., 5th St., San José, Costa Rica 
Tel: (506) 2243-4202

Jade Museum

The newly opened “Museo Nacional del Jade” is five stories displaying every single artifact the museum owns: nearly 7,000 pieces of jade, ceramics and stone that date to centuries between 500 BC and 1500 AD. Open seven days a week, this is a must-see Costa Rican cultural institution.

National Museum

The National Museum of Costa Rica is housed in the Bellavista Fortress, which was built as a military barracks in 1917. Look closely and you’ll actually see bullets buried in the exterior walls! Once inside, you’ll find the museum organized circularly with artifacts from Costa Rica’s geological, colonial, archaeological, religious and modern history. 

Tuesday to Saturday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Sunday: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Monday: closed due to maintenance.

The National Museum will be closed the next holidays:

January 1st: first day of the year
April: Good Thursday and Good Friday
May 1st: Labor Day
August 15th: Mother´s Day
September 15th: Independence Day
October 12th: Cultures´s Day
December 25th: Christmas

Central Market

The San Jose Central Market offers an authentic, local shopping experience. Whether you’re looking for octopus, spices or leather goods, you’ll find it here. Visitors recommend you go hungry and take advantage of the many free tastings of arroz con pollo, tamales and empanadas. It’s a great spot for shopping and people watching, but it gets crowded, so hold little hands tightly.

National Assembly

The legislative arm of the Costa Rican government spreads itself over 11 buildings on the grounds of the Museo Nacional (National Museum). There are some notable stops in this office-like attraction: portraits of every president who’s held office since 1833, a beautiful rotunda and an indoor courtyard flanked by Italian mosaic tiles. You’ll also notice the blue building, which was the presidential castle of the first president. Can you guess one of his party colors? 

Central Bank

The Museum of the Central Bank is a pretty cool place: it’s shaped like an inverted pyramid, and it’s underground. The Plaza, which is considered a San Jose hot spot, is the pyramid’s roof. You can stop by to take pictures with the attractive green statues lining the popular plaza; it’s also one of the more easily found locations of an ATM.

National Theatre

This historical treasure was constructed in 1891 and opened in 1897 with a performance of Faust. The building is known for its lavish interior, with gilded trim, marble floors, chandeliers and soaring ceilings greeting visitors. This is where you’ll stop if you want to hear the National Symphonic Orchestra. Check the schedule; they might be featuring a ballet, a comedy or even a show that’s free to the public.

The National Theatre of Costa Rica has a series of guided tours that take place from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Clinica Biblica

While no one wants to need a hospital while on vacation, you could do worse than landing at this one. It’s one of only two hospitals in all of Latin America to receive the esteemed JCI accreditation, which is considered the gold standard in global health care. More than 20% of the patients are international travelers, and most doctors are bilingual and trained in the U.S. or Europe.

Central Avenue Boulevard Pedestrian

Central Avenue bisects the city’s grid-like street system and is considered by many to be the heart of San Jose. A pedestrian mall extends for eight blocks, and it’s lined by vendors peddling everything from t-shirts to lottery tickets. You’ll also find flower shops, cafes and hotels along this stretch, which makes a lovely afternoon walk.


Avenida Central between 7 & 9, St.,San Jose, Costa Rica

P.O.Box: 3344-1000

Toll Free: 1-800-691-4865
Phone: +506-2222-5022