¡Bienvenid@s a Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!
Officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 4.5 million, of whom nearly a quarter live in the metropolitan area of the capital and largest city, San José.
The Local Committee will arrange some activities for you to during your stay. Also, San Jose and the cities nearby have a great variety of movie theatres, regular theatres, restaurants, shopping malls, clubs and general nightlife. There are many places nearby to go on one-day trips (volcanoes, beach, rain forest…). Just ask your contact people for your specific interests. Few examples of places to visit are listed below.
- National Theater: In the south side of Plaza de la Cultura there’s one of the most emblematic buildings of San José, the National Theater design is amazing, you can enter and see the place for free when there’s no plays showing. Also, there’s a coffee shop into the building where you can taste a delightful cup of coffee from any of the seven provinces of Costa Rica.
- Melico Salazar Theater: Between Central and Second Avenue, across the Metropolitan Cathedral. The plays or other shows like concerts usually are presented from Friday to Sunday.
- There are many other theaters in the capital city, you can visit the website: http://redcultura.com, where you will find different cultural activities including theater, in the theater tab may appear all the plays that are shown nowadays, the place where it is presenting, the ticket cost and the phone number for reservations. Always ask for the discount for students!
- Museums: There´s a lot to see of this kind of places in the capital city, San José. Costa Rica’s history turns around tribes, gold, bananas and coffee; all of these is summarized in various museums such as:
- National Museum of Costa Rica: located between Central and Second Avenue, on the northeast side of Plaza de la Democracia, it’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 4:30pm, and the price for students with the respective ID is $4. This museum is focused on the general and natural history of Costa Rica, has anthropology and archeology rooms, and also there’s a butterfly garden within the building.
- Gold Museum: right below Plaza de la Cultura, also between Central and Second Avenue you can find this museum, containing the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold pieces and also having showroom for coins and bills that have existed through Costa Rica history. Opens every day from 9:15am to 5pm. The price for foreigner students is $4 dollars.
- Jade Museum: In Seventh Avenue, between 9th and 11th street is the National Insurance Institute, inside this building the Jade Museum lays. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 3:30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. The entrance ticket costs $9.
- Contemporary Art and Design Museum: is located on the west side of National Library, across the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, it’s open Monday to Saturday from 9:30am to 5pm. The collections exhibited are always changing. The price for foreigner is $3, and all Mondays the entrance is for free.
- Parks and other iconic buildings:
- Parque Morazán: One of the most visited parks by foreigners because it’s located near a nice zone of San Jose called Barrio Amón with lots of old houses, colonial buildings, souvenirs shops and nice places to eat or have a coffee. We recommend Kalú Café a coffee shop and restaurant if Barrio Amón that has gourmet dishes, pizza is delicious and a coffee to enjoy the afternoon.
- Parque España: In front of the National Insurance Institute, a quiet place to read about the city meanwhile you decides which place to visit later.
- Parque Nacional: In front of National Library, there’s a famous monument in this park that illustrates the battle of Rivas against the filibusters that where trying to conquer Costa Rica and other countries of Central America, a nice place near there to have a coffee with some friends or enjoy a delightful sangria is Café de los Deseos in Barrio Otoya by the train line, with a particular decoration and relaxed atmosphere.
- Central Post Office: Between First and Third Avenues, in Second Street there’s this building.
- Mercado Central: if you want to experience the culture of a Costa Rican person Mercado Central is an obligatory stop, there you will find typical food, ingredients for making this dishes, flowers, clothes, leather, actually you can find there anything.
- Parque Metropolitano La Sabana: Want to go for a run? Or maybe you would like to enjoy a picnic by the lake? La Sabana is the biggest park in San José, you can go there for a walk, or to practice any other sport you like, many families go on weekends to enjoy a lunch by the lake and to catch up with each other life.
In theaters and museums of the Metropolitan Area you can find a guide named “GAM cultural” it is released monthly and for free, you can find in these guide all the cultural activities during that month ordered by day, usually comes the information of the place, the price of the activity, the number for reservations and what is the activity about. You can find the guide also online in this website: http://www.gamcultural.com.
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- Samara Beach
- Puerto Viejo Beach
- Cahuita National Park
- Monteverde Refugie for Wildlife
- Poas Volcano
- Irazu Volcano
- San Jose Downtown
- Gallo Pinto
- Olla de Carne
- Rice and Beans
- Arroz con Pollo
- Helado de Sorbetera
- Queso Turrialba
- Arroz con Leche
- Miel de Chiverre
- Agua de Pipa
- Mango con sal
- Cajetas de Coco
- Picadillo de Papa
- Ensalada de Frutas
But there´s more! So much more!
General Tourist Information
The ICT (Instituto Costarricense de Turismo) is Costa Rica’s authority in this matter, they have the central offices in La Uruca but you can find an office in San José Downtown, it is located in Central Avenue in front of Lehmann Library, one block west from Plaza de la Cultura. All the information comes in brochures and everything is free, there are maps of the country and the capital city, also you can find information by touristic zones with the principal activities in there, and papers classified by activity, such as: diving, surfing, fishing, bungee jumping, hiking and so on. You can also ask there for the tour office which offers one day tours with an affordable price.
Water is potable in every city in the country. Sometimes families don’t like to drink tap water, you can ask about it.
Smoking is not allowed inside restaurants, bars, malls, etc. You can do so in the outside, but not in parks or bus stops. So be careful with this.