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Visit San José and Central Valley

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Poas Volcano, Costa Rica

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Home to over two-thirds of the Costa Rican population

The cultural capital of Costa Rica, this is the best place to start or end your journey to this beautiful country.

Surrounded by rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and active volcanoes, San José lies within the Central Valley of Costa Rica. This agricultural centre offers spectacular scenery, including highland villages and sprawling coffee plantations, inviting visitors to indulge in a variety of enjoyable experiences.

San José was founded in 1738 and has since blossomed into an amazing city. The Central Valley, where San José is located, has been inhabited for thousands of years, with evidence of pre-Columbian civilizations. Over time, Spanish colonization influenced the region, leading to the development of haciendas and the cultivation of coffee. Today, San José and the Central Valley blend their rich heritage with modernity, offering a fascinating fusion of traditions, arts, and a thriving agricultural legacy.

Within the city itself, architectural wonders may be scarce due to past seismic activity. However, the National Theatre stands as a revered gem, showcasing beautiful artwork and striking decor. Numerous world-class museums, such as those dedicated to gold, jade, and natural history, await exploration, alongside delightful gastronomic offerings, contemporary art galleries, and boutique shopping experiences.

The encompassing Central Valley provides access to national parks, heart-pounding river rapids, and wildlife-rich rainforests. Poas Volcano National Park is the country's most visited park, and it offers a glimpse into the heart of an active volcano without the need to scale its peak. Inside, one can marvel at the bubbling volcanic waters, while nearby trails meander through the cloud forest, home to an array of bird species, including hummingbirds, tanagers, and toucans. Braulio Carrillo National Park is characterised by dense rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and the mighty Barva Volcano. This park is a quieter alternative to Poas. It is teeming with wildlife, such as the quetzal, tapirs, and a whole host of monkeys. The area provides excellent opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife spotting, trail walks and for those seeking a challenge, a hike to the summit of Barva Volcano.

From savouring the freshest coffee to surveying the epic green vistas to enjoying a range of entertaining outdoor activities, San José and its surroundings serve as an introduction to the wonders of Costa Rica. The region also boasts a delightful selection of luxury boutiques and fine dining establishments, completing the enriching experience.

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Start planning your dream San José and Central Valley holiday.

  • Amanda


    Latin America Specialist

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