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Costa Rica: San Jose, central highlands and central valleys

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Costa Rica’s busy capital, San José, is a city on the move, where the choking traffic and crowds are mitigated by the eager friendliness of the people. There are some good museums and excellent restaurants but no colonial core: it’s a modern place, full of offices, North American style bars and malls - many US citizens visit or are resident in the country and their cultural influence is strong. The landscapes around however are delicious, both in the rolling coffee country of the highlands and in the fertile central valley, watched over by the smouldering Poás and Irazú volcanoes.

Our holidays to San Jose, central highlands and central valleys

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Things to do in San Jose, central highlands and central valleys

Chestnut Mandibled Toucan

Explore Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Rio Tarcoles crocodile

Rio Tarcoles crocodile experience


Poas volcano crater

Visit Poas volcano

Rafting

Go white-water rafting on the Pacuare river

Our insider tips for San Jose, central highlands and central valleys

Sophie Barber

Sophie Barber

Riding the foaming white-water class 3 & 4 rapids  down one of Costa Rica's excitable rivers, the canyon-bedded Pacuaré, a couple of hours’ drive from San José.  You’ll relax in the company of your competent pilots and then enjoy a scrumptious picnic. 

Lina

Lina Fuller

This is Costa Rica so a visit to a coffee estate is almost obligatory. You are shown the coffee production process all the way from the seed bed to your cup.

Caroline Maber

Caroline Maber

Comparing and contrasting the bleak, barren landscape on the slopes of the country’s highest active volcano, Irazú, with the fertile, flower-rich valley below.
Margot

Margot Chard

Whizzing along a zipline through the rainforest canopy close to Braulio Carrillo National Park, pause to catch your breath on one of the canopy platforms, making eye contact with the curious exotic birdlife. 

What our experts say

I suggest that you stay on one of a number of delightful countryside hotels outside the capital. Fortunately there are a lot of attractions in the Central Valley which more than compensate for the lack of them in the capital. A visit to one of the nearby volcanoes is a must, Poas is especially striking if the mists permit. Alternatively head for Irazú volcano with fertile slopes giving way to a cap of grey volcanic dust, occasionally whipped up by light tremors.   

Margot

Margot Chard

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