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San Jose - Costa Rica's Urban Jungle   by Jenelle Gonsalves


When people think about Costa Rica their minds automatically conjure up images of beautiful beaches, lush forestation and incredible wildlife. However, this is not all that Costa Rica has to offer. A fascinating country, this tiny Central American nation has much to see and explore, case in point being Costa Rica's cosmopolitan capital, San Jose City. A vibrant and bustling metropolis of more than a million people San Jose is not only Costa Rica's largest city, but it is also the transportation and financial hub of the country. Filled with world-class restaurants, topnotch shopping malls, museums, theaters, nightclubs, bars and cinemas, this city makes for a wonderful place to discover.

Founded in 1737, today, very little of San Jose's colonial past remains. Overcrowded, chaotic and disorganized, this urban jungle nevertheless still manages to retain a charm that is all its own. If you look past the traffic, smog and congestion, you will find that San Jose is actually a city with a lot of character and soul. The people here are wonderful, warm and friendly and despite its many drawbacks, there is much to enjoy. The ideal place to use as a base camp while exploring the rest of the country, San Jose has plenty of accommodations to suit every budget ranging from the more luxurious hotels to reasonably priced apartotels.

A city on the go, San Jose sits right in the heart of Costa Rica's gorgeous Central Valley and is surrounded by verdant green volcanic mountain ranges. The climate here is near perfect with a spring-like temperature throughout the year. Offering stunning panoramas of the encompassing countryside, San Jose is the perfect place to savor the very best of Costa Rica.

The Jade Museum, the Contemporary Art & Design Museum, the Crime Museum, the National Museum and the Art Museum are all great places to get a feel for what this city is all about. While in San Jose, also worth visiting has to be the National Theater and the Catedral Metropolitana located close by to one another. San Jose's various markets or mercados, especially the Mercado Central in the downtown area are also worth a look at.

Extremely popular with tourists, one very good reason for staying in this urban jungle is that is a great place to learn to speak Spanish. Here you can find plenty of Spanish language schools and teaching centers where one not only studies the language, but also learns how to use it practically.

With Costa Rica's public bus network situated in downtown San Jose, many people also use this city as a starting point to their vacations. From here you can catch a bus to anywhere in the country, with the coast being no more than a 3-hour drive away.

If the downtown area gets too busy for you then San Jose's beautiful suburbs offer the perfect quiet respite one needs to get away from the humdrum of the city. Santa Ana, Escazu, Los Yoses, San Pedro, La Sabana, Rohrmoser and San Antonio de Belen are just a few of the neighborhoods where one can go and relax.

One of the best times of the year to visit this city is in March, when San Jose plays host to the biannual Festival de Arte. Showcasing the country's finest performers, artists, musicians, dancers and film makers, this event lets you see San Jose in a whole new light.

About the Author

For more details on San Jose, visit www.govisitcostarica.com/region/city.asp?cid=325. A comprehensive website, www.GoVisitCostaRica.com has a plethora of travel and tour information available to make your vacation a truly memorable one. Additionally, you can also reserve your hotels, book activities and hire transportation all on our website.

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