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The capital of Costa Rica, the large, sprawling city of San José is the focal point of the Central Valley with a spectacular setting, ringed by jagged mountains and volcanoes on all sides.

Due to earthquakes over the years, most of the colonial buildings and much of the charm of the city has disappeared. What remains today is a mixture of restored and rundown buildings huddled under a modern skyline.

The city still retains a good mix of museums and general attractions that are of interest for those willing to get under the skin of the capital.

The Central Valley

Keel-billed Toucan, Costa RicaThe surrounding countryside of the Central Valley is stunning, characterized by coffee plantations; pockets of rain and cloud forests teeming with birdlife, butterflies and orchids; spectacular volcanic craters and tumbling rivers for rafting.

It’s a great place to begin any trip to the country.

Speak to someone
who's been there

Michael, an Audley Travel specialist

Start planning your tailor-made trip to San José & Central Valley by contacting one of our Costa Rica specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring San José & Central Valley

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in San José & Central Valley, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of San José & Central Valley

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near San José & Central Valley

    Accommodation choices for San José & Central Valley

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit San José & Central Valley. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Deluxe king room, Grano de Oro

      Grano de Oro

      Medium

      Situated on a shady street just off San José's main thoroughfare, Hotel Grano de Oro is a beautifully converted Victorian mansion.

    • Chayote Lodge, Llano Bonito

      Chayote Lodge

      Medium

      Chayote Lodge is a boutique, coffee-themed hotel located in Costa Rica's mountainous Central Valley, approximately one hour from San Jose.

    • Standard room, Hotel Presidente, San Jose

      Hotel Presidente

      Medium

      A clean and comfortable hotel excellently located in the center of the city close to a selection of museums, shops and restaurants.

    • Xandari Resort & Spa, Costa Rica

      Xandari Resort & Spa

      First Class

      The Xandari Resort & Spa consists of 22 spacious villas only 25 minutes from San José.

    • The Alta Hotel,San Jose

      The Alta Hotel

      Medium

      A good value boutique option for those visiting San Jose, The Alta Hotel offers comfortably-furnished bedrooms and a remote setting with views over Costa Rica's capital city, which lies just 20 minutes away.

    • Junior suite, Finca Rosa Blanca

      Finca Rosa Blanca

      Medium

      Located just 15 minutes from the airport but nestled amongst peaceful, lush forest, Finca Rosa Blanca is a warm, welcoming inn which boasts its own organic coffee farm and the perfect surroundings for a relaxing break.

    Ideas for experiencing San José & Central Valley

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting San José & Central Valley, and which use the best local guides.

    • Howler monkey

      Rain Forest Aerial Tram

      San José & Central Valley

      The 2.6km long ride lasts about 90 minutes and takes you on a fascinating journey through the canopy which is one of the most biologically diverse rainforests in Costa Rica.

    • River-rafting, Costa RIca

      Pacuare River Rafting

      San José & Central Valley

      This heart-thumping trip takes you along the Pacuare river's grade III and IV rapids, which wind their way through stunning virgin rainforest where a huge diversity of animals, birds and butterflies can be seen along the river's edge.

    • Cafe Britt Coffee Show

      Café Britt Coffee Excursion

      San José & Central Valley

      Traditionally dressed guides will take you on an interactive tour around the six acres of coffee fields, tropical gardens and coffee processing facilities. The volcanic views from the plantation are spectacular along with those of the Central Valley.