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  • San Jose Costa Rica

    San Jose Costa Rica travel guide

    Overview

    San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, loses many tourists to the beauty of the country's jungles and beaches. But those who venture to the urban heart of Costa Rica will find a lively city of more than 300,000 people that offers the best selection of shops, restaurants and nightlife in Costa Rica.

    San Jose is a modern city, but tourists will want to head to pretty areas like Barrio Amon and the bustling Mercado Central for a sense of the city's culture and history. A number of museums dedicated to gold mining, pre-Colombian jade, contemporary art, and insects will teach visitors of all ages about Central America, and the large selection of restaurants serving delicious local cuisine will give you the energy to see them all.

    Although there are plenty of things to see and do in San Jose, the city's location in the middle of the country makes it ideally situated as a base to explore the natural attractions of central Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio National Park, Fortuna, and the Tilarán Mountain Range are all within three to four hours drive of the city. Public transport in Costa Rica also uses San Jose as a hub, making it a convenient stop on any holiday.

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    San Jose has a tropical savannah climate with dry winters and frequent rains throughout the rest of the year. Owing to its position near the equator, temperatures remain fairly constant. The hottest part of the year falls between mid-March and late April with average high temperatures of above 84°F (29°C). The cold season, which lasts from the end of September to the start of December, has an average high of 81°F (27°C) while minimum temperatures remain in the region of 66°F (19°C) throughout the year. Winter and the beginning of spring are also known to have moderate to strong breezes.

    Light to moderate rains can occur throughout the year but are most likely between June and October. Thunderstorms are also a regular occurrence but are least likely between December and March. Humidity levels are fairly comfortable between January and the end of March but can become extreme throughout the rest of the year. In terms of climate, the best time to visit San Jose is from December to April, although this is a popular vacation time for locals and attractions might get crowded. June and July are popular with many European and American tourists.

    Juan Santamaría International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 11 miles (18km) from San Jose city centre.
    Time: GMT -6
    Getting to the city: Buses depart frequently from the airport to San Jose. If travelling to the airport, passengers should make sure to tell the driver to stop at the airport bus stop. Buses are also available to Alajuela and Heredia. Taxis and rental cars are also available at the airport.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Hertz/Firefly, Economy/Advantage, Alamo/National/Enterprise, Budget/Apex and Dollar. The car rental offices are located inside the airport's main terminal, past the customs area.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis Unidos is the airport's official taxi company. The taxis are orange and provide 24-hour transportation to and from the airport. A taxi customer service office is located in the International Departures area, next to the car rental area.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include shopping (including duty-free shops), restaurants, bars, a cafe, VIP lounges, currency exchange, a bank, ATMs, internet cafe, porters and baggage wrapping, and prepaid phone services.
    Parking The airport has a parking garage with capacity for 400 vehicles. The garage has two levels, both offering access to the main terminal. Parking is calculated in US dollars, and costs US$2.48 per hour, US$35 per day and US$200 per week.

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    Driving conditions in Costa Rica are known for being difficult. The road network is under-maintained in places and known to get muddy in the rainy season. Car rentals are, however, available.

    Mini-van taxis can be arranged through most hotels. Taxi cabs are also readily available; official taxis are red with a sign on the roof and a yellow triangle on the side. Taking unregistered taxis is not advisable. Passengers should ensure that the meter is switched on at the beginning of the journey; if there is no meter, a fare should be negotiated before setting off.

    Various bus services run throughout the city, but the system can be confusing for foreigners. Some buses can be booked ahead of time although many operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Buses are the cheapest form of transport in Costa Rica but can be slow and overcrowded.

    INCOFER, the national railway carrier, runs several railway lines although these are not as extensive or frequently used as other modes of transport. A specialised tourist line runs from San Jose to Cartago.

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    No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination