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What to see and do – Museums & Parks


The central area is very small and very congested due to traffic, because of this it is much better to go and take a look around on foot. The nicest place that you can have a look around is near the parks located to the northeast of the center and the nearby neighborhoods. Of particular interest is the area of Barrio Amón, to the northeast of 5th Avenue and 1st Street, with the highest concentration of historical buildings; to the east of Amón is Barrio Otoya. Travel through the eight streets that cross Central Avenue, from the central market, cross the Plaza de la Cultura until you reach 9th street, and take a stroll through the urban commercial area. The Plaza de la Democracia is between the Museo Nacional and the National Park it offers great views of the mountains that surround the city.


Parque de Diversiones + 506 2242-92 00 E-mail: / It is located in San José, the Uruca. Of the Mexico Hospital, 2 kms to the West. The Park of Diversions is a mechanical and aquatic amusement park where young and adult they will fill of emotions and much diversion, with zones of meals, halls for birthday celebrations and more. Old town is one more an attraction for the visitor, in this thematic park recreate constructions of San José, Costa Rica, of end of century XIX and beginnings of century XX and their facilities they allow to realize corporative and social events in an ambient plenty of tradition.


Sabana Park Located to the west of Paseo Colon, it is the largest of the city.  There you will find the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Stadium and several running tracks. There is also a lagoon with fountains with a lot of open areas to rest and have a picnic surrounded by greenery.


La Salle Natural Science Museum  Situated in the old building of the Colegio de la Salle, very close to the southeast corner of La Sabana Park + 506 2232-1306, adult entry 1.15 US$ nationals and foreigners/ students 20% discount; open from Monday to Saturday from 07:30 a.m to 4:00 p.m and Sunday from 09:00 a.m to 04:00 p.m. The museum has a collection of dissected animals and butterflies and interesting source for those who can then try and identify the species in their natural habitat. There are also paleontology and archeology exhibitions.  The Sabana – Estadio and Sabana Cementerio buses that pass by the Central Park also stop here; make sure you let the driver know when you need to get off.


Museo Arte Costarricense (Costa Rican Art Museum) + 506 222-7155 + 506 222-7734, 42nd Street, between Paseo Colón and 2nd Avenue; entry fee 1.50 US$ and 0, 90 US$ for students with identification and for children; Sunday is free entry to the museum; Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. The museum opened its doors on the 3rd of May 1978 in what used to be the old International Airport Terminal of La Sabana, a beautiful neo colonial building from 1940 which is now located within the city park of La Sabana. It has a collection of more that 2.500 compositions by national painters and is in responsible for the conservation and and distribution of information regarding the diverse range of Costa Rican artists. The museum helps with research, releasing publications, carrying out conferences and exhibitions, giving lectures as well as restoration programs. It is also in charge of looking after all works that have been commissioned by the state. The Museum of Art brings together the most representative art of Costa Rica, exhibiting works from the end of the XIX century to today. There are 2.575 compositions by Costa Rican artists and a collection of 760 compositions by international artists.


Central Market Located on Central Avenue and 1st Avenue, between 6th and 8th Street, + 506 2223-3019, it is a bustling noisy market that offers a variety of products, from live chickens to riding equipment. The most economical meals of the city are served here.  A street away, on 3rd Avenue, on the corner with 8th Street, you will find the smaller Borbón Market.  You will need to be careful when you walk around the streets that surround these markets. Do not carry valuables and make sure to look after your belongings.


The Post, Telegraph and Stamp Museum of Costa Rica + 506 2223-9766, Ext.204 and 205, + 506 2223-6918.  The stamp museum was established with Law 7018, article 48 to 26, in December of 1985. The purpose if its creation was to inform and exhibit the patrimonial heritage of the Post Office. It highlights the diverse systems of communication that have been used since 1849, when the General Administration of the Post was created. The museum is located on the second floor of the Edificio de Correos (Post Office Building), on 2nd Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenues in San José. Opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 08:00 a.m to 05:00 p.m. Entry is free. There are four permanent exhibition halls with photographs of Post Office Officials and telegraphs from the beginning of the XX century, as well as magneto telephones, PO Box pigeon holes, telegraph centers and other articles that excellently illustrate the historic importance of this institution. You cannot miss the photographic description of the Post Office process and its main feature, the stamp. There is a display of the first stamps of Costa Rica and a collection from 1963 to the present date.


Children’s Museum + 506 2258-4929, 4th street, to the north of 9th Avenue, situated in what used to be a jail. E-mail: / Entry fee for adults 1.82 US$/ for children from 3 to 17 years. 1.15 US$; Open from Tuesday to Friday from 08:00 a.m to 04:30 p.m, Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00 a.m to 04:00 p.m, entry fee for adults 2 US$/ children from 3 to 17 years 1.37 US$, it is an attractive museum that allows children to learn and experiment with science, music, geography and other subjects. You can also visit an area which was once the prison, a place where you can attend expositions about Costa Rican children and children’s rights.


Melico Salazar Theatre + 506 2233-4604. Opposite Central Park and diagonal to the Catedral Metropolitana. E-mail: In the heart of the capital you will find the Popular Melico Salazar Theatre. This was once the Teatro Raventós for our grandparents. It became the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar in 1986. Paying homage with its name to one of our most outstanding tenors, who wrote the lyrics for the national anthem. It is our cultural patriotism, a building of high architectural value, a testimony to a period of marked importance, the making of San Jose.


Central Park 2nd and 4th Avenues, between Central and 2nd Street. Towards the east there is the interesting Catedral Metropolitana. Head north and you will arrive at the well known teatro Mélico Salazar.


National Theatre + 506 2221-1329 + 506 2233-2716. This building is one of the most impressive of all San José, located on 3rd and 5th street between Central & 2nd Avenues. Built during the 1890’s, this theatre is the center of intellectual life in the country. It stands on the south side of the Plaza de la Cultura; it has an elegant façade, with columns and statues of Beethoven and Calderón de la Barca, at the entrance.


Plaza de la Cultura The plaza can be found near the Teatro Nacional, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold, and the Tourist Information Office of I.C.T., + 506 2222-1090. It is a great place to experience the daily life of the people of San Jose.


Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold + 506 2257-0987 + 506 2223-0528 + 506 2257-0651. Address: 5th Street, between Central and 2nd Avenue, beneath the Plaza de la Cultura. E-mail: / Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 a.m to 04:30 p.m. The Banco Central de Costa Rica established a collection of gold between the years of 1950 and 1974, buying pieces from collectors and Quakers. This building presents one of the most contemporary designs in San José, a milestone in the architectural history of Costa Rica, the fact that it has three underground floors makes it even more attractive.


Morazán Park This park is four blocks in size and is located on the crossing between 7th Street and 3rd Avenue. Its main feature is the Templo de la Música, bringing together several sculptures and monuments. It also has several benches to rest and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.


The Jade Museum + 506 2287-6034 + 506 2223-5800 This is maybe the most famous in Costa Rica, the museum houses the best collection of American jade. From the highest point of the museum you can get a great view of the city. Towards the southeast you will see an interesting iron building, which was built in France. Its prefabricated pieces were then transported to San José by boat. It is now a school, known as the “Escuela Metálica” (Metal School).


Simón Bolívar Zoo + 506 2233-6701, 11th Avenue, between 7th and 9th Street; entry 2US$; open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 a.m to 03:00 p.m, and weekends and holidays from 09:00 a.m to 04:30 p.m. You will be able to see part of the native fauna of Costa Rica, featuring a small group of exotic species. It gets very busy at  weekends. To get to the zoo you will need to walk north along 7th street and then walk along 11th Avenue.


Museum of Art and Contemporary Design + 506 2257-7202 + 506 2257-9370, old FANAL 3rd Avenue, 11th/15th Street. E-mail: . Entry fee 1.40 US$ and 0.70 US$ for students; open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m to 05:00 p.m, houses temporary exhibitions of foreign and international artists. You will also need to check the programming, because they also feature literature, theatre and dance presentations. It is a building complex with a high architectural and patriotic value, restored at the beginning of the 90’s and established in 1856.


National Park This small reserve on 1st and 3rd Avenue, between 15th and 19th streets, houses the National Monument, an emblem representing the expulsion of William Walker by the Central American nations. In the gardens of the Legislative Assembly, crossing the south east corner of the park you will able to see the statue of the national hero Juan Santamaría.


Plaza de la Democracia (Democracy Square) Situated underneath the National Museum, this almost empty square has a few interesting sculptures and offers a nice view of the mountains that surround the city. During Christmas and other celebrations this can become quite a busy place.


Museo Nacional (National Museum) + 506 2221-4429, 17th Street, between 2nd and Central Avenue; entry fee 0.45 US$; free for students with identification and children younger than 10 years of age; Open Tuesday to Saturday from 08:30 a.m to 04:30 p.m and Sundays from 09:00 a.m to 04:30 p.m. This popular museum is located in the Bellavista Fort, the old military cartel. It houses archeological artifacts from the country, some of gold and jade, colonial suits and dresses, religious art and other historical testimonies.


Museum of Shapes, Spaces and Sounds + 506 2222-9462. E-mail: . Entry fee 0.45 US$ nationals and 1 US$ for foreigners opening hours from Monday to Friday from 09:30 a.m to 03:00 p.m, it opened its doors in March 1993 and is located in the old Atlantic Station.  This is the first and only one of its kind in the continent. There is a display showing the history of the railway, with old panel photographs that date back to between 1872 and 1982, it also shows the railway network, its architecture, equipment, rail tracks, structure and human resources. It also houses the restored Locomotive 59 which was imported by the Northern Railway Company in 1939.


Historical Museum Dr.: Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia + 506 2255-1218 + 506 2222-6092 + 506 2222-6392 + 506 2257-2396. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m to 04:00 p.m. closed Sunday. Admission for Nationals: 0.34 US$ Students Free.  The museum is dedicated to presenting the life and accomplishments of the ex-president Dr. Calderón Guardia as a citizen, professional and a politician who governed Costa Rica from 1940 to 1944. Located in: Bº Escalante. San José. 100 meters east and 150 meters north of the Santa. Teresita Church. It houses the Manuel de la Cruz González gallery where exhibitions of diverse artists and sculptors can be seen.


Spirogyra Butterfly garden + 506 222-2937. Located 100 m. to the east and 150 m. to the south of El Pueblo Commercial Center, adults/children/ 6/3 US$, open from 08:00 a.m to 04:00 p.m. Giving you a chance to take a close up look at the variety of Costa Rican butterflies in an area that is located close to the city.


Insect Museum + 506 2207-5318 + 506 2207-5467, entry fee 2 US$ foreigners, 1 US$ nationals and 30 US$ for children, half price for students, open from Monday to Friday from 01:00 p.m to 04:45 p.m. Also known as the entomology museum, the collection was organized by the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Costa Rica, in San Pedro. Located in the basement of the Musical Arts School, on University Campus. It is considered to be the largest museum of its type in Central America. The collection is extensive and you can see many exotic specimens.




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