San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica’s concrete jungle and capital city, is filled with hidden gems that tell the story of the country’s past and culture. Throughout this cosmopolitan city’s commercial buildings and potholed streets, visitors will find charming museums, restaurants and gorgeous surrounding greenery. Pleasant temperatures, the stunning National Theatre, varying styles of architecture and San Jose’s bustling downtown are the biggest drawcards for stopping by while cruising to Costa Rica.
Popular cruise lines that stop near San Jose include Royal Caribbean International, Holland American Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises.
Cruise ships set anchor in the commercial port of Puerto Caldera, which is around 80 kilometres away from San Jose.
Puerto Caldera’s port does not have many passenger facilities, so it is best to head straight to San Jose to see all this capital city has to offer.
How to Get Around
As it is almost a 2-hour journey to reach San Jose, it is a good idea to organise a day trip with your cruise line. Taxis are another option, but it is highly recommended to organise these in advance and with a group of shipmates.
Travel times from Puerto Caldera:
It is a 1 hour and 45 minute journey to La Bana Park, San Jose
It is a 1 hour and 52 minute journey into San Jose
It is a 1 hour and 52 minute journey to the Metropolitan Museum, San Jose
It is a 1 hour and 53 minute journey to the National Theatre, San Jose
It is a 1 hour and 55 minute journey to the National Museum of Costa Rica, San Jose.
Currency – When travelling to San Jose, be sure to have some Costa Rican colones (₡) in your pockets. The colourful banknotes include the denominations of ₡1,000, ₡2,000, ₡5,000, ₡10,000, ₡20,000 and ₡50,000. Coins come in ₡5, ₡10, ₡25, ₡50, ₡100 and ₡500.
Time Zone – San Jose runs by Central Standard Time (CST), which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Weather – San Jose is characterised by a tropical savanna climate and dry winters. The yearly temperatures average between 18 to 30 degrees Celsius. The city’s warm season runs from March to April and its cold season is from September to December – but you’ll rarely need a jacket, as even the coolest day tends to stay above 18 degrees Celsius.
National Museum of Costa Rica – Situated in the Bellavista Fortress is the National Museum of Costa Rica. As visitors walk up to the building, they can see traces of the Costa Rican Civil War from the many bullet holes dotting the walls. The artefacts exhibited throughout the museum give visitors the chance to learn about the country’s culture from pre-Columbian times until now. Some objects include a jade carving shaped into a seashell from 2,500 years ago, as well as arrow points, pendants, necklaces, earrings and other items that were once used for rituals. In the museum’s courtyard, tourists are treated to unbeatable views across the city.
National Theatre – Known as the country’s most beautiful building is the National Theatre, which is located in San Jose’s downtown. This aesthetically stunning 19th century building is characterised by neo-Classical architecture and murals, so it’s a great idea to take a few snaps even before you head inside. Performers, both local and tourists, are drawn from all over to this theatre due largely to its incredible acoustics. Visitors can walk through the theatre’s entrance to examine statues and the famous mural, The Allegory of Coffee and Bananas, which depicts Costa Rican culture at the beginning of the 20th century. For those looking to relax, there is a coffee shop in the lobby.
Metropolitan Cathedral – Don’t let the exterior of San Jose’s Metropolitan Cathedral fool you. It may seem plain from the outside, but it is home to stunning stained-glass windows of apostles and saints as well as an incredible Belgian pipe organ from 1891. On the north side of the church is a chapel known as Chapel of the Host, as well as a marble statue of Pope John Paul II.
La Sabana Park – Covering 72 hectares is San Jose’s popular La Sabana Park. Tourists come here to take in beautiful scenery, learn about Costa Rican culture and kick back and relax. There are two museums located within the park, as well as a lagoon, a fountain and some sporting facilities. Soccer fans will love the Costa Rica National Stadium, which is also found within La Sabana Park.