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Costa Rica

San José & the Central Valley Holidays

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JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF COSTA RICA

A holiday to San José takes you to Costa Rica’s vibrant capital city, tucked within the Central Valley. Get ready to discover a cultural and culinary hub, surrounded by incredible geological features, such as cascading waterfalls and erupting geysers. Plus, direct flights from the UK to San José make this the perfect place to enjoy a few days, either before or after a broader Costa Rica adventure.

What California's Napa Valley is to wine, Costa Rica’s Central Valley is to coffee. You can spend a day touring picturesque plantations, or simply sip freshly brewed java in a laidback café in the capital. Visit museums, stroll along the leafy pathways of Parque Metropolitano La Sabana, and enjoy an evening at the theatre. Sample delicious local dishes such as casado, which features plantain, rice, beans, and either fish, pork or chicken.

There’s plenty more to discover further afield in the Central Valley, too. You could sweep through the farmlands of Cartago to visit ancient churches and witness the Virgin of the Angels Basilica. Hike the active volcano at Irazu, or admire the orchids of Lankester Botanical Gardens. Peer into the belly of the world’s largest geyser at the Poas Volcano National Park, or see sloths, toucans and butterflies at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Or, to get your adrenaline pumping, spend a day on the Pacuare River, as you experience some of the best white-water rafting in Central America.

Whether you’re looking for wild nature, ancient culture or delicious flavours, a trip to San José and the Central Valley is the perfect way to start or end your Costa Rica holiday. Intrigued? Speak to our Travel Specialists to find out more.

Things to do

Lava & java

Things to do in the Central Valley

Best time to go

Things to do in San José

Start or end your Costa Rica trip in this bite-size capital, and discover the rich culture and history of this incredible land. You can enjoy a show in the lavish surroundings of the 1,000-year-old Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, or the European Baroque Melico Salazar Theatre. Browse the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Museum of Costa Rica, and the Museo de Los Niños which offers beautiful city views from its hilltop castle location.

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For more culture, head to the Plaza de la Cultura to see pre-Columbian Gold at Museo del Oro Precolombino. Or marvel at ancient currency at the National Coin Museum. Make sure you also take a stroll through the enormous Parque Metropolitano La Sabana – a huge park nicknamed ‘the lungs of San José. Want to pick up a souvenir? Find incredible wood carvings and stained glass windows at Catedral Metropolitana, or grab a unique keepsake from the authentic Costa Rican Mercado Central.

Show More
Show Less

Lava & java

Take time in the Central Valley to marvel at two sides of Costa Rica, as you hop between magnificent volcanoes and lush coffee plantations.

Head north from San José for a gentle half-mile hike to the second-largest crater in the world at Poas Volcano National Park. You can witness the awesome power of nature, as the geyser shoots water and steam into the warm air. Or travel east to see the active volcano of Irazu, which last erupted on the day JFK landed in Costa Rica in 1963. You should also see the changing colours of Diego de la Haya crater’s internal lake, where its minerals shimmer in the sun.

Show More
Show Less

Tour one of the region’s many beautiful coffee plantations, try the artisan produce, and tuck into delicious local food. It’s also worth visiting Sarchi, where old coffee bean oxcarts now serve as colourful decorations in this charming market village, famous for its food, drink and crafts.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in the Central Valley

You’ll find all sorts of things to do in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Adventurers can climb volcanoes and look into the Earth. Hike Buena Vista Hill – known as the “Hill of Death” – for stunning views across Quetzales National Park, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Or ride the white-water rapids of the Pacuare River near the university town of Turrialba.

Culture-seekers can visit Costa Rica’s religious capital of “The Most Noble and Loyal City of Cartago”, and see the earthquake ruins of the church they attempted to build three times. Explore the ancient indigenous ruins of Guayabo National Monument on the slopes of the Turrialba volcano. Descend into the Orosi Valley to explore the 330-year-old ruins of Ujarras, Costa Rica’s oldest church.

Show More
Show Less

If nature’s more your thing, wander the trails of La Paz Waterfall Gardens in search of sloths, toucans and wild cats, or learn about conservation at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. And take in the natural beauty of the Copey Valley, as you go hiking, cycling or fishing.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit San José

There’s never a bad time to travel to San José and the Central Valley, as temperatures hover between 25°C and 30°C most of the year, occasionally climbing a little higher in spring. The dry season begins in December and runs through to April. This tends to be the most popular time to travel to San José – and Costa Rica in general – to make the most of the 12 hours of sunshine each day.

Show More
Show Less

The rain season – or “green season” – lasts from May to November. But, even at its height in September and October, showers usually come in short, heavy bursts. The late summer months of July and August often bring lower rainfall than those around them, giving you an opportunity to enjoy the lush scenery without the crowds.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in San José

Start or end your Costa Rica trip in this bite-size capital, and discover the rich culture and history of this incredible land. You can enjoy a show in the lavish surroundings of the 1,000-year-old Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, or the European Baroque Melico Salazar Theatre. Browse the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the National Museum of Costa Rica, and the Museo de Los Niños which offers beautiful city views from its hilltop castle location.

Show More
Show Less

For more culture, head to the Plaza de la Cultura to see pre-Columbian Gold at Museo del Oro Precolombino. Or marvel at ancient currency at the National Coin Museum. Make sure you also take a stroll through the enormous Parque Metropolitano La Sabana – a huge park nicknamed ‘the lungs of San José. Want to pick up a souvenir? Find incredible wood carvings and stained glass windows at Catedral Metropolitana, or grab a unique keepsake from the authentic Costa Rican Mercado Central.

Show More
Show Less

Lava & java

Lava & java

Take time in the Central Valley to marvel at two sides of Costa Rica, as you hop between magnificent volcanoes and lush coffee plantations.

Head north from San José for a gentle half-mile hike to the second-largest crater in the world at Poas Volcano National Park. You can witness the awesome power of nature, as the geyser shoots water and steam into the warm air. Or travel east to see the active volcano of Irazu, which last erupted on the day JFK landed in Costa Rica in 1963. You should also see the changing colours of Diego de la Haya crater’s internal lake, where its minerals shimmer in the sun.

Show More
Show Less

Tour one of the region’s many beautiful coffee plantations, try the artisan produce, and tuck into delicious local food. It’s also worth visiting Sarchi, where old coffee bean oxcarts now serve as colourful decorations in this charming market village, famous for its food, drink and crafts.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in the Central Valley

Things to do in the Central Valley

You’ll find all sorts of things to do in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Adventurers can climb volcanoes and look into the Earth. Hike Buena Vista Hill – known as the “Hill of Death” – for stunning views across Quetzales National Park, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Or ride the white-water rapids of the Pacuare River near the university town of Turrialba.

Culture-seekers can visit Costa Rica’s religious capital of “The Most Noble and Loyal City of Cartago”, and see the earthquake ruins of the church they attempted to build three times. Explore the ancient indigenous ruins of Guayabo National Monument on the slopes of the Turrialba volcano. Descend into the Orosi Valley to explore the 330-year-old ruins of Ujarras, Costa Rica’s oldest church.

Show More
Show Less

If nature’s more your thing, wander the trails of La Paz Waterfall Gardens in search of sloths, toucans and wild cats, or learn about conservation at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. And take in the natural beauty of the Copey Valley, as you go hiking, cycling or fishing.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit San José

There’s never a bad time to travel to San José and the Central Valley, as temperatures hover between 25°C and 30°C most of the year, occasionally climbing a little higher in spring. The dry season begins in December and runs through to April. This tends to be the most popular time to travel to San José – and Costa Rica in general – to make the most of the 12 hours of sunshine each day.

Show More
Show Less

The rain season – or “green season” – lasts from May to November. But, even at its height in September and October, showers usually come in short, heavy bursts. The late summer months of July and August often bring lower rainfall than those around them, giving you an opportunity to enjoy the lush scenery without the crowds.

Show More
Show Less

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Knowledge

Between them, our travel advisors can boast almost 800 years of holiday expertise.

Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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