San José in 3 Days

While most tourists seek to almost immediately get out of San José for greener pastures, Costa Rica's vibrant capital still has plenty to see and do. If you have even more days, take a white-water rafting trip on the Pacuare River, or head out to the Irazú Volcano, Orosi Valley, and Cartago area.

Day 1: Getting to Know the City

Start your day on the Plaza de la Cultura. Visit the Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica, and see if you can get tickets for a performance that night at the Teatro Nacional. From the Plaza de la Cultura, stroll up Avenida Central to the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (National Museum).

Kalú Café -- Once you've toured the museum, have lunch at Kalú, at Calle 7 and Avenida 11, a lovely cafe and artsy boutique.

After lunch, head over to the nearby Centro Nacional de Arte y Cultura (National Center of Art and Culture). As soon as you're finished taking in all this culture, some shopping at the open-air stalls at the Plaza de la Democracia is in order.

Café Mundo  -- Try dinner at the trendy local hangout Café Mundo, at Calle 15 and Avenida 9, 3 blocks east and 1 block north of the INS building.

After dinner, head to the Teatro Nacional for the night's performance.

Day 2: Enjoying Some Nearby Attractions

Get an early start for the Poás Volcano, before the clouds sock the main crater in. After visiting the volcano, head to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Take a walk on the waterfall trail, and also enjoy the immense butterfly garden and lively hummingbird garden. This is a good place to have lunch. On your way back to San José, you'll be making a loop through the hills of Heredia, with a stop at INBio Park. In addition to being a fascinating natural-history museum, INBio Park also has a wonderful collection of intriguing animal sculptures by Costa Rican artist José Sancho.

Day 3: More City Sights & Shopping

Spend your third day further exploring the capital. Start by heading out on Paseo Colón to the Museo de Arte Costarricense (Costa Rican Art Museum). Be sure to spend some time in their continually growing open-air sculpture garden. After visiting the museum, take a stroll around the beautiful and expansive downtown Parque La Sabana. Intrepid travelers can also do some shopping at the Mercado Central, or take a late-night turn on the dance floor at Castro's or Salsa 54.

Restaurante Nuestra Tierra -- For a final taste of local culture, head for dinner at Restaurante Nuestra Tierra, located right downtown, across from the Plaza de la Democracia.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.