San José & the Central Valley
San José, Costa Rica’s capital city, is encircled by the green mountains and volcanoes of the fertile Central Valley. Here you’ll find all manner of museums, galleries, shops and eateries. While it may lack the depth of historical sites found in some other Latin American capitals, it is a great city for people watching and immersion in contemporary Costa Rican culture.
San José is also an excellent base for excursions into the surrounding Central Valley, home to volcanoes, farms and national parks. Visit coffee plantations to learn about the journey from bean to cup, traverse the rainforest and cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, and marvel at the orchids within Lankester Gardens.
Poás Volcano, around 40km from the centre of the capital, is most famous for its smouldering crater lake. The lake’s vivid turquoise waters contrast with the surrounding ashen rock, and are best admired from the public viewing platform. La Paz Waterfall Gardens – set on the volcanic slopes between Poás Volcano and Braulio Carrillo National Park – is also a worthy diversion, with its numerous trails, butterfly garden, and resident hummingbirds.