Offering an ideal location in the downtown, the best local attractions are just steps away from the Hotel Balmoral. Within walking distance, you’ll find the best of San José, from the historic district and cultural attractions to world-class shopping and dining. Guests can also enjoy a wide variety of day tours. Discover exciting recreational activities just outside of San José, including hiking the Irazú and Poas volcanoes, rafting on the Pacuare and Reventazón rivers, exciting tours through the rainforest. or just relax in the Lancaster Gardens or the butterfly farms.

Here are some of our favorite attractions and things to do in and around San José, Costa Rica. For more recommendations or assistance in organizing tours and activities, please contact the Hotel Balmoral reception.

Historic Center of San José

The Josefino historic center dates from 1850, it is a perimeter of ten blocks long by ten blocks wide that houses the most important historic buildings and squares. It is a quadrant that limits to the northwest with the Metallic Building, to the northwest with the old Lebanon cinema, to the southwest with the church of Los Angeles and to the southwest with Aqueducts and Sewers.

Among the most emblematic buildings are the Iglesia de la Merced, the metropolitan cathedral, the Central and Morazán parks, as well as the National Theater and the Variedades cinema.

National Theater

This historic treasure just two minutes away was built in 1891 and opened in 1897 with a performance of Faust. The building is known for its luxurious interior with gold trim, marble floors, chandeliers and high ceilings. This is where you will go if you want to hear the National Symphony Orchestra. Check the schedule; They could present a ballet, a comedy, or even a free show to the public.

Craft Market

The new San José artisan market is just five minutes from the hotel and offers a closed shopping experience safe from the rain and heat. With stalls filled with local artwork, t-shirts, stuffed animals, handmade jewelry with wooden and ceramic animals, bags, hammocks, and traditionally painted wooden items, you’ll enjoy shopping with the creators and choosing the right souvenirs.

Central Market

A 10-minute walk takes you to the Central Market of San José, which offers an authentic local shopping experience. Whether you are looking for octopus, spices or leather goods, you will find it here. We recommend starving yourself and taking advantage of the many free tastings of arroz con pollo, tamales, and empanadas. It’s a great place to shop and people watch, but it does get crowded.

Culture Square

Take a refreshing two-minute walk and explore the Plaza de la Cultura, the perfect place for people-watching, featuring street performers and street vendors selling bags of peanuts so you can feed the friendly pigeons. The square features a fountain, benches, and some shade trees, and is often the venue for local celebrations and demonstrations. 

La Sabana Metropolitan Park

Once home to San José’s main airport, Parque Metropolitano de Sabana is a 72-hectare (178-acre) green space perfect for a relaxing jog, a leisurely stroll, or an outdoor picnic. It is also home to a beautiful lagoon, the Costa Rica Museum of Art, and a variety of sports facilities, including the National Stadium of Costa Rica.

Metropolitan Cathedral of San José

First built in 1802, the original cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1871 combining Greek Orthodox, Neoclassical and Baroque styles. Inside you’ll find a colonial-style tiled floor, stained glass windows, high vaulted ceilings, and statues of cherubs with a wooden Christ figure. There are also many other intricate details that are sure to delight and impress visitors.