San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, is an awesome location for exploring some of the country’s most magnificent national parks. But that doesn’t mean that the city itself should be overlooked! While San José’s central location makes it a perfect home-base city for traveling throughout Costa Rica, it also offers plenty of exciting attractions for study abroad students within city limits.
Here are 6 things to do in and around San José that make the city one of Costa Rica’s top destinations.
1. Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica
The National Theater of Costa Rica (featured above) is the most important and largest theater in the country and one of the most revered buildings in San José. A variety of celebrated dance, opera, and classical concerts have been performed here since its opening in 1897. Visitors to San José can still attend lively performances at the theater, take an hourly tour, or enjoy a bite to eat at its café.
2. Tapantí National Park
The dense cloud forest of Tapantí National Park is only about an hour and a half from Costa Rica’s capital. Because of the close proximity, it’s easily accessible for a day trip from San José and offers an array of outdoor activity options with a variety of hiking trails, swimming holes, and scenic picnic areas. A magnificent 400 species of birds and 45 species of mammals reside in the forest including the ocelot, white-faced capuchin monkey, and the endangered jaguarondi!
3. Feria Verde de Aranjuez
A true foodie’s delight, the Feria Verde de Aranjuez is an outdoor farmers market located in San José’s Barrio Arajuez. Study abroad students and international visitors will love browsing the locally grown produce, delicious pastries, and (of course) freshly brewed coffee sold at the market each Saturday.
4. Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
The National Museum of Costa Rica showcases the country’s rich history and culture, with artifacts that date back over 2,000 years. Exhibits take visitors on a historically informative journey from 12,000 B.C. to the Spanish arrival in the 1500s. Plus, the museum also offers some of the best views of San José right in its courtyard.
5. Poás Volcano National Park
Home to one of Costa Rica’s largest and most active volcanoes, Poás Volcano National Park is less than two hours from San José. The range of natural wonders at this National Park will undoubtedly fascinate you. Other than the volcano, you’ll discover breathtaking views of smoking craters, explosive geysers, and rich flora and fauna.
6. Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica
A 35,000-seat multipurpose stadium, the National Stadium of Costa Rica is one of the most popular attractions in San José. It opened in 2011 as the first modern sport and event arena built in Central America and has since been host to an array of national and international soccer games, concerts, and a variety of other events.