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San José, the vibrant capital of Costa Rica, combines a lively urban resort with breath-taking natural surroundings. Located in the central valley, with the Talamanca mountains to the south and a series of volcanoes to the north, San José brings together the best of both worlds. It has large museums and beautiful architecture, yet visitors will never be far away from the natural wonders of Costa Rica's many national parks. The best hotels in San José offer views over the mountainous horizon. Conservation and education are two of Costa Rica's top priorities, and the locals, known as Ticos, are friendly people with great pride in their country.
Most guests at the hotels in San José visit Plaza de la Cultura square in the city centre. The inhabitants of San José meet here so it’s a good place to get to know the local atmosphere while enjoying a delicious coffee with churros. The city was built thanks to the wealth generated by the coffee plantations, some of which are still running on the outskirts of the city. The National Theatre is the main building in the central square. The theatre's interior is an example of Neoclassical architecture and it’s really worth a visit, especially if it coincides with a music or dance performance.
Surprisingly, one of the city’s main sights is to be found under the square. The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) is part of an underground complex of museums that is controlled by the Central Bank. Stepping inside the museum is like re-enacting a Spanish explorer’s dream. There is gold everywhere and you can see representations of ancient gods as well as ceramics, stone sculptures and textiles. Near there, the Museo de los Niños (Children’s Museum) has interactive exhibitions that will keep young ones entertained for hours, in particular the earthquake simulator and the sloped house.
To explore the city’s Victorian architecture, guests at the hotels in San José can go on a walking tour of the Amón district, where rich residents built elegant homes in the 19th century.
The best hotels in San José provide easy access to day trips out of the city. There are countless possibilities, although the most attractive is a trip to the Arenal volcano. Three hours from the San José hotels, this imposing peak has a classic cone shape and has erupted on several occasions, most recently in 2010. The volcano rises up above Lake Arenal. Visitors can walk beyond the waterfalls and through lush forests and bathe in a natural hot spring to relax. For anyone who is eager to see the iconic turtles of Costa Rica, an excursion to Tortuguero National Park is the perfect choice. A float trip along freshwater channels brings travellers to the endangered green turtles’ protected nesting site, to see this endangered species. From nature to culture, travellers to San Jose will find it all.