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San José Backpacking through Costa Rica’s Largest City

After some time exploring what Costa Rica has to offer, I decided to stay in the San José for 2 days. I’ll be honest and say that I spent some of my time here taking a rest in the hostel as continuous travel gets exhausting. Furthermore, despite being the capital of the country, there isn’t too much to see or do, when coming to Costa Rica you can spend the best of a day here.

How I got to San José

I took a 3 hour bus ride from Quepos which cost about £6. Like every other bus in Costa Rica, it was not a quick journey. It was also uncomfortable and arrived late. It said on my ticket the bus would leave at 9:30AM, but I was still waiting to arrive at 9:40 and I was losing patience.

Where did I Stay?

I stayed in a Selina hostel, which just like the one I stayed in when I was in La Fortuna, it was excellent. The staff were very helpful, there was a decent area to chill out in and it was right in the centre.

Trying Tico Food at Café Otoya

I wanted to eat breakfast and found Café Otoya. I wanted to have something that wasn’t too heavy so I tried Gallo Pinto. This is one of Costa Rica’s best-known dishes. It is essentially just rice and beans with scrambled eggs and pico de gallo.

Things to do in San José – The National Museum of Costa Rica

Before Costa Rica’s military was abolished in 1948, this building was a military barracks and is now a museum. Within this museum there is a plaque to commemorate the moment they abolished the military. The president symbolically used a hammer to destroy parts of the wall of the building. Furthermore, it’s a relatively small museum, having a student card, I was able to pay just $5. It starts off with an indoor garden with butterflies and going through there is the rest of the museum.

The museum of an exploration of Costa Rica’s history from pre-hispanic times with ancient artefacts to modern times. It’s definitely worth a visit as it will give you an insight into Costa Rica’s history and culture.

Paying a Visit to Mercado Central

If you want to visit an interesting place in San José, look no further than the central market right in the middle of the city. It is a series of narrow lanes with people selling a grand variety of things. You can find shops in this market that sell knives, souvenirs and different types of meat.

Trying Chilfrijo at La Cartonera

My friend who lives in San José I had met when I was in Budapest 2 years ago invited me to get something to eat. She suggested I try Chilfrijo with Chicharrón (fried pork) and I was not disappointed. Chilfrijo was a bowl of chicharrón on top of some beans and rice and it tastes even better with some lime juice on poured onto it.

What to Know Before Going to San José?

I think if you’re planning to spend a bit of time in San José, as you will most likely be landing there if you’re flying into Costa Rica. I recommend spending no more than 1-2 days here as there are loads of more interesting places. It didn’t feel like many people in the city spoke English. Which differs from many of the tourists spots where English is everywhere. Furthermore, Costa Rica is possibly one of the safest countries in Latin America with almost no danger. San José did feel a little bit sketchy and not a place you want to walk around at night.

My friend warned me to be careful of pickpockets and while I was trying to get some peace sitting down in the main square, three different people asked me for money. Despite this, these people were harmless and left me alone when I asked them. From my experience San José is comparatively safer compared to some other cities in Latin America. In saying that, I definitely enjoyed other cities such as Medellín and San Salvador.

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