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3 Day San Jose Highlights

3 Day San Jose Highlights

Begin or end your vacation with a three-day journey around the Central Valley's highlights, including Poas Volcano, butterfly gardens, museums and coffee estates.

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San Jose

Discover Costa Rica’s effervescent capital and surroundings in just three days. Visit lively markets, explore the city’s vibrant art and culture and enjoy nearby attractions in this action-packed itinerary.

Day 1: The Art & Culture of San Jose

Dive into local culture at San Jose’s bustling market, Central Market. Shop for handmade leather goods, wood handicrafts, and unique souvenirs. Sample tasty Costa Rican fare (we recommend an empanada arreglada – a turnover with all the fixings) before visiting the National Museum for a journey through Costa Rican history and culture. A walk through the museum’s butterfly garden is the perfect prelude to your next stop: the National Arts and Culture Center. Elegant colonial architecture and a large amphitheater complement the center’s art galleries.

Day 2: Delightful Destinations

Begin your morning on the fertile slopes of Poas Volcano at Doka Estate, a working coffee farm for over 70 years. Learn about the history of coffee and how it grows from seed to fruiting plant before tasting several rich varieties – be sure to try the peaberry! Continue north to Poas Volcano National Park, home to Costa Rica’s most visited volcano. You’ll find a steaming crater more than a mile wide holding the world's largest, boiling lagoon. If clouds obscure your view, a quick hike on the Botos Lake Trail leads to a stunning cold-water lake. From Poas, travel east to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a nature park, wildlife refuge, butterfly garden, and serpentarium all wrapped up in one. Enjoy a gourmet buffet lunch before hiking the park’s luxuriant trails past four immense waterfalls.

Day 3: More City Highlights

Experience the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, a hidden oasis amid the urban sprawl of San Jose. Walk among 30 species of butterfly as you leisurely stroll the garden’s peaceful trails. Next, head to the Jade Museum, where pre-Columbian carvings and jewelry are displayed; don’t miss a visit to the indigenous village exhibit that puts all the artifacts into context. After touring the museum, stop for a traditional meal at one of the area’s small, family-run restaurants. Finish up your day at the Plaza de la Cultura, which is framed by the National Theater as well as numerous shops for last minute souvenir purchases.

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