Posted by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica on 03/05/2018

3 Things You Need to Do (But Didn't Know) in San Jose, Costa Rica

3 Things You Need to Do (But Didn't Know) in San Jose, Costa Rica

We recently shared some ideas on things you can do in San Jose, but check out these three fun and cultural activities that are often overlooked while people explore the capital city of San Jose!  

#1 The Art City Tour 

The Art City Tour is a free tour of all the museums located in San Jose, like the National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The activity starts in the late afternoon and happens monthly!  There are usually four different routes, all of them with different stops at places that are owned and run by Costa Ricans:  museums, art galleries, restaurants, culture houses (like The French Alliance), clothing stores, live music, etc.  In addition, there are three different ways to get around:  on bike, walking or by buses that are specifically for the tour. To find more info on the bus routes, check out the website.  However, you will find a large map with all of the routes and information on identifying the buses outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

This unique event can be enjoyed by everyone and is a great way to learn about Costa Rica, its history, national artists, and nightlife.  You could attend the Art City Tour every month because they always have different expositions and activities, especially at the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Last month the Art City Tour fell on Valentine’s Day. We went with a couple of friends and decided to start the tour at around 7pm, our first stop was the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has four different displays of artwork from national artists. There is also a clothing market next to the main entrance of the museum. 

After that we decided to walk to the National Museum, where you can learn about Costa Rica’s history.  Before the building became a museum, it was a fort and later a prison!  One of the main expositions at the National Museum was one about Coco island and its biodiversity. The museum is also divided into various sections, starting from the settlement of the indigenous people of Costa Rica to the creation of the current Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and other public institutions.  On our way out of the National Museum, we saw that they were having a concert which was also part of the tour and in celebration of Valentine’s Day.  

Afterwards we set out to find some food!  Since everything is relatively close, we walked to Barrio Escalante which is the neighborhood where a few restaurants and art galleries from the tour are found and where most people go to eat after the Art City Tour. We ended our night at a local ice cream shop in Barrio Escalante while floods of people made their way towards the various restaurants in the area.

When: This event happens the second Wednesday of every month, starting at 5pm and finishing at 9pm.

Where: It is all over San Jose, specifically around Barrio Amon and Barrio Escalante.

Cost: Completely free!


#2 Planetarium  

Located on the campus of the University of Costa Rica, the planetarium was donated by the Japanese government with construction completed in 2005.  What exactly is a planetarium?  It's dome-shaped building in which images of stars, planets, and constellations are projected on the walls and ceilings in an amazing experience that involves all of the senses!  The planetarium at the UCR  has 15 distinct presentations on a wide variety of topics about our galaxy.  To find the planetarium on campus, take the main entrance to the "Ciudad de la Investigación" or just ask when you get to the university.

While you’re in the area, take your time to walk around the university.  It’s a nice area to relax in and people-watch, as it's usually full of students, runners, teachers, etc. There is some amazing art and architecture, some really nice green areas and coffee stands.  Believe it or not, two sloths even live on campus!  There are also many restaurants and bars in the area which are very cheap to cater to the needs of university students. There’s even a very popular roll up ice cream shop called Fry-oh! The San Pedro Mall is also close by, as well as Los Yoses, which is a really nice neighborhood to walk around. Barrio Dent and Barrio Escalante are also nice areas to explore that have great coffee shops, restaurants, bars and shops.

When: Open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am to 12:00pm and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Saturdays from 5:00pm to 7:00 pm.

Where: The University of Costa Rica

Cost: General entrance fee of 3,200 colones


#3 Carpe Chepe   

Carpe Chepe is a private tour company that offers a number of crawls, including craft beer, coffee shops and swimming pools, but the Pub Crawl tour is the most popular and gives you a chance to check out some the best pubs in San Jose. This walking tour is a unique way to experience the city and happens every Friday and Saturday night.  A  bilingual guide will take you and your friends to  four different bars!  You will skip all lines and each bar shares one of their signature shots.  Carpe Chepe also has a party bus, called La Carreta, that has fun lights, a karaoke machine and bar that also stops at different bars in San Jose. Reservations need to be made for both the Pub Crawl and the party bus. 

The last time we were on La Carreta, the party busy, was for my birthday!  We each got one drink included in the cost.  There was a host/dj on the bus, and he played different music all through the night.  There were a couple of other groups on the bus too, and we had a great night dancing and singing karaoke!   We got off at a few pubs, and the bus would come back to pick us up after an hour or so. This is a such a fun way to enjoy San Jose’s nightlife!  Some of their regular stops are Steifel Pub, Craic Pub, and Antik.  They do allow you to rent out the bus privately if you want to plan bachelor and bachelorette parties!  

When: The Pub Crawl is every Friday and Saturday night. 

Where: In San Jose.

Cost: Pub Crawl, $52 including pick up.  Other tours will vary.


Want to learn more about teaching and living in Costa Rica?  Contact us today and save your seat in one of our 4-week, onsite TEFL courses!  

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