Where to Stay in San Jose, Costa Rica

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San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is one of the top places to stay in Costa Rica and a great place for anyone who loves urban life.

There are plenty of lodging options that offer a fantastic jumping-off point for San Jose day trips to visit museums, art galleries, a national park, or even the Arenal volcano at La Fortuna. Explore traditional Costa Rican food and international cuisines, or indulge in the bustling nightlife of the city- without ever leaving. There are plenty of things to do in San Jose!

If you’re a first-time traveler and wondering where to stay in San Jose Costa Rica, this article highlights some cool places in and outside the city that are worth checking out. 

Escazu

If you’re looking for sophistication and chic seclusion, Escazu is one of the best areas for you. The upscale yet charming suburb is often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica.

It boasts some of the best shopping, the finest dining, and the most luxurious accommodations in the country. Escazu welcomes well-heeled residents, ex-pats, and tourists from all over the world. Escazu almost feels like the United States, so if that isn’t the vibe you are looking for then this isn’t the place for you.

Located just 6 miles from downtown San Jose, Escazu places you close enough to the city center that you can explore the city during the day, yet far enough from all the noise so you can have a calm and relaxing haven to go back to.

Speaking of, Escazu has quite a number of accommodation options offering easy access to San Jose’s main attractions. One of my favorites, Posada El Quijote, for instance, is only 3 miles from the capital city and makes for a good option for exploring the Central Valley.

Don’t miss eating at La Posada de las Brujas, where the menu boasts more than 100 items. This is a great place to get a traditional Costa Rican chicharron. There’s a kids play place, cold beer, and the prices can’t be beat. It’s one of the best restaurants in San Jose.

Surrounded by gorgeous tropical gardens and packed with plush in-house facilities, this elegant bed and breakfast offers executive-style pampering and has all you need to make your stay comfortable and memorable.

Barrio Escalante

Barrio Escalate is home to the most eclectic cuisines in Costa Rica and Central America- it houses some of the best places to eat in San Jose. If you’re a serious foodie, this neighborhood has some of the trendiest spots to make your taste buds dance with delight.

Try authentic Mediterranean plates at Sofia Mediterraneo, indulge in some delectable Latin fusion at Al Mercat, and transport yourself to Italy with traditional Italian recipes of L’ancora da Ciro & Tony! Not a fan of these? No problem. Calle 33, aka the gastronomic walk, has row after row of eateries that have something for everyone.

But the diverse food scene aside, why else should you stay at Barrio Escalante? For starters, the neighborhood is only about 3 miles from the city center, allowing you to easily access all the thrills the capital city of Costa Rica has to offer. Not just that; this is a pretty safe area and there is a host of places you can stay.

I would recommend staying at Finca Escalante. This low-key hostel located 12 miles from Juan Santamaria International Airport features a terrace, a garden with seating, a communal kitchen, a BBQ area, and a lounging area with a fireplace.

Rooms have a kitchen, free Wi-Fi, and shared bathrooms. Staying here not only gives you convenient access to the scrumptious cuisines of Barrio Escalante; but you’ll also be close to supermarkets, banks, parks, museums, galleries, and shopping centers, as downtown San Jose is a walking distance away.

Downtown San José

The downtown area is the heart of the city and it’s where you’ll find the most things to do in San Jose. Within the network of streets and avenues, you’ll find most of the town’s museums, galleries, plazas, hotels, and restaurants.

The main street, Avenida Central, is the busiest, with street vendors peddling all kinds of stuff (my favorites- Costa Rican street food and Costa Rican fruit!). Tourists and local pedestrians use the walkway to access some of the best parts of the city including the Central Market, the National Theater, and Central Park.

If you want to be at the core of it all, Hotel Presidente or Gran Hotel Costa Rica would be some of the best places to stay. The colorful, boutique hotels are both on Central Avenue and place you within walking distance of shops, bars, restaurants, public parks, and major cultural attractions. Hotel Presidente is, however, more pocket-friendly and will even allow you to bring your pet!

If you prefer something quieter but still close to downtown, I would recommend Hotel Grano de Oro. Sitting about a 10-minute walk from San Jose’s main attractions, this extensive property that was once a private mansion exudes a historic but opulent vibe with its unique paintings and handmade furniture that are distributed across its 40 rooms.

The restaurant on site serves some of the best local and international cuisines, and there are two jacuzzis on the rooftop where you can unwind after a long day of exploring the city.

Airport Region

Staying near SJO International Airport may not be many people’s definition of experiencing Costa Rica, but here’s the thing. Just because you’re close to the airport doesn’t mean you cannot have the perfect Costa Rican vacation. Hotels in the airport region can still provide you with an opportunity to experience the ticos’ hospitality and culture as well as the country’s natural beauty. You just need to pick the right ones.

I personally love Adventure Inn, and I think it’s one of the best hotels in the area. Well, not only because it is only 10 minutes from the airport but also because it’s a short drive to downtown San Jose.

Plus they have a shuttle to pick you up from the airport and back at no extra cost, so you don’t have to worry about looking for transportation when flying in late or departing early. It’s the best location too- you don’t hear the airplanes from the airport either!

Also, rooms are spacious and comfy with all the amenities you need to stay cozy. And there’s a restaurant and fitness center on-site as well as an outdoor pool where you can all lounge and soak up the sun. Click here for 10% off your stay.

If you are looking for the best San Jose airport hotels, you can also check out Hampton Inn SJO and Doubletree Real Cariari.

Photo courtesy Villas del Rio

San Pedro – University Region

If you’re looking for a place with a more youthful vibe, try San Pedro. Home to the University of Costa Rica, the largest public university in the country, this part of San Jose is where you’ll find some of the best bar scene and nightlife for people under 30, thanks to its heavy student population. The hip, youthful air brings fresh energy to the city, attracting great crowds and giving the area a different feel compared to adjacent neighborhoods.

You’ll find several affordable hostels and bed and breakfasts here, but the neighboring area of Escazu is where you want to stay if you prefer a little peace and quiet, yet still be close enough to the city center.

Villa del Rio, for instance, would be a great place to stay. Situated in Escazu midtown and only 5 miles from downtown, you’ll be close to the main attractions and far enough from all the noise of San Pedro and the busy city. Rooms are elegant and comfortable and the larger ones can accommodate up to 6 guests!

La Sabana

The La Sabana area plays host to the biggest and most popular urban park in Costa Rica, the La Sabana Metropolitan Park. During the day, the paths in the park become a relaxing place for nature lovers to jog, stroll, or hang out with their loved ones.

There are so many activities to do here – including visiting the stadium, playing sports, walking/jogging, skating, boating, and visiting the art museum – that are fun for the whole family. It’s no wonder this part of San Jose is one of the most visited by both tourists and locals.

Parque de Lago Boutique Hotel is among the hotels closest to the park and one of the best places to stay if you’re visiting. With free parking, business facilities, and modern rooms that feature a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and cable TV among other amenities, you will enjoy a comfortable stay just a stone’s throw from the park. There’s a restaurant on-site, but you can explore many other eateries in the vicinity and try some amazing local and international cuisines. 

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Christa Jimenez

Welcome! I’m Christa, a Spanish teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. We’ve spent over 25 years living in and traveling to Costa Rica with our daughters, and this website is my love letter to all things Costa Rica- and to bilingual parenting too. You can read my full story here. Thanks for stopping by!

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