San Jose, Costa Rica – the capital of Costa Rica with much to be admired (and some things to be avoided)

San Jose is a fascinating city with little pockets of history that has obviously grown with the times: as things expand, another bit of history would be incorporated, but the city continued to grow.  But thankfully, if you can stand the heat, it’s all walkable.


San Jose has it covered when it comes to chain hotels so if you’re using points, or trying to gain points, I’m fairly certain that you’ll find what you’re looking for.  But as I tend to go for the more unique and boutique options, I went with the Grano de Oro Hotel (, a former Victorian residence that has expanded over the years and now has roughly 30 rooms.  The breakfast is worth the added cost (if not included in your rate) if for no other reason than to sit in the dining room or the open courtyard. The hotel is lacking in some of the amenities that I would expect of such a property (slippers, for one, as I don’t walk on hotel carpets, but I also travel with flippies just in case) but the free mini-bar is a lovely little touch.  In retrospect, what I thought was a rather small room turned out to be a good size, with a really comfy bed and a lovely large bathroom.


Restaurante Silvestre ( is a stunning find and if I only had one night in San Jose (which is really all you need), this is where I’d go.  There is a tasting menu that I observed next to me and it looked divine.  But as a vegetarian, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the trouble so perhaps next time.  The food was Costa Rican-influenced with international touches added, and that staff were perfection: attentive but not intrusive. And when you go, if they have the “Fiesta del maiz” on the menu – which they should have at all times, if you ask me – don’t even think twice: the celebration of corn, and it’s heritage to the land is stunningly outstanding (and drool-worthy!)


I had read that you really only needed one night in San Jose but thought I couldn’t come all this way for just one night.  One night is enough.  There really isn’t a lot to do or to see here, and although everyone will tell you to visit the Central Market, I really didn’t see the attraction.  I considered doing some type of “hop on/hop off” tour but it honestly didn’t feel like it was worth it.

WHAT I WISH I KNEW IN ADVANCE: getting to Costa Rica from Panama is rather easy, and can be accomplished via a flight or taking a shuttle.  I opted for the latter and used Caribe Shuttle which was perfect, they offered stops along the way, and you do get to see parts of either country that you probably wouldn’t see otherwise.  Just know that, crossing the border from Panama into Costa Rica will cost you $4 and you will have to cross the bridge that spans the Sixaola River (it’s not a covered walkway so be prepared if it is raining or if the sun is burning).  (A traveler said that going from CR to Panama cost $8 on the CR side and $4 to enter Panama so just be prepared.)

Ubers are popular in CR and depending on who you speak with, they’ll either tell you they are legal or not, but given that you use the Uber app, there must be some level of acceptance.  But know, in advance, that Uber’s would take about 10 minutes to arrive, after a 5 minute wait for them to be located.  So don’t wait until the last minute: plan in advance, be early, and most of all, be patient.

Another interesting thing is that, apparently, Uber’s are not permitted at the airport.  When taking an Uber to the airport, I was asked by the driver to sit in the front seat, as though I was a friend, as she said that she would be ticketed by the police if stopped.

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