Visit San José & Central Valley, Costa Rica
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
The 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.
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
- El Silencio Lodge 25 miles away
- Turrialba 28 miles away
- San Ramon 29 miles away
- San Gerardo de Dota 32 miles away
- Central Pacific Coast 35 miles away
- Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui 37 miles away
- Manuel Antonio 39 miles away
- Esterillos 41 miles away
- Dominical 50 miles away
- Monteverde Cloud Forest 53 miles away
- Tortuguero & the Caribbean Coast 53 miles away
- Arenal Volcano 56 miles away
- Northern Pacific Coast 67 miles away
- Tenorio Volcano 82 miles away
- Cano Negro 83 miles away
- Punta Islita 90 miles away
- Corcovado & Osa Peninsula 91 miles away
- Puerto Viejo de Talamanca 93 miles away
- Manzanillo 100 miles away
- Rincon de la Vieja 106 miles away
- Playa Potrero 121 miles away
- Tamarindo 122 miles away
- Golfo de Papagayo 130 miles away
Photos of 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.
Situated on a shady street just off San José's main thoroughfare, Hotel Grano de Oro is a beautifully converted Victorian mansion.
Chayote Lodge is a boutique, coffee-themed hotel located in Costa Rica's mountainous Central Valley, approximately one hour from San Jose.
A clean and comfortable hotel excellently located in the center of the city close to a selection of museums, shops and restaurants.
The Xandari Resort & Spa consists of 22 spacious villas only 25 minutes from San José.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.