We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time to San Jose - Need help!

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
5 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
First time to San Jose - Need help!

I am traveling to Costa Rica for the first time with my husband and two friends in November. We will be flying into San Jose so my four questions are:

1. What neighborhood is best to stay in San Jose and how many days would you recommend staying?

2. Is it OK / safe to rent a car when I get to San Jose to drive to beach towns?

3. What is the best beach town to drive to from San Jose? I am willing to drive a few hours.

4. If you have any other recommendations on where to visit , that would be great!

Thanks!

Mentioned in this post
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
10 replies to this topic
Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
8,615 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

SJO airport and the city of SJ are not the same thing. Unless you have a reason or specific purpose to stay in the city for a few days, many on this forum might say to head to the other destinations that CR is more known for - nature, wildlife, etc., though there are museums, ( free) walking tours, theatre, etc.

If you meant you were looking for an overnight stop closer to the airport for the first / last night of your vacation, see www.twoweeksincostarica.com/hotels-near-sjo/ . We stayed for our last night in Adventure Inn mentioned on that list, during our 2 most recent trips to CR.

The topic of car renting, info. recommended car rental companies, mandatory insurance and driving in CR issues in general has been widely discussed on this forum. Use the Search line above this thread and then filter the results by Date, not by Relevance, which is the default choice there.

Also see the Top Qns about CR on the right side of the screen for Travelling options in CR, incl., besides renting own car, shared shuttle vans (Interbus and others), public buses and private transfers.

Some of your decisions re destinations might depend on the weather. See costa-rica-guide.com/travel/… . It is rainy season on the Pacific, but things vary yr to yr., and one area to another.

Some of your trip planning might depend on the times of your international flights to and from CR, and if you will require the first / last nights closer to the airport; and the length of your trip.

This Destinations Summary here: twoweeksincostarica.com/costa-rica-destinati…

and the ready-made itineraries here : www.twoweeksincostarica.com/itineraries/ or here : costa-rica-guide.com/trips/… might help in your trip planning.

Mentioned in this post
Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
Interbus
Interbus
397 Reviews
San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
49,731 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

Depending on the time of arrival at SJO….rent a car and hit the road…

Just 3 hours from SJO….one incredible area…Manuel Antonio…wild life…nice beaches…all kinds of hotels…

Or you can drive the other way to Guanacaste…many great beaches….like…Hermosa…coco…Penca…Potrero…brasilito…Conchal…Playa Grande///Tamarindo .

Later you can check…Samara…Nosara …Ostional…greg beaches…TURTLES!!

roadadvisor

Mentioned in this post
Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Manuel Antonio
10,794 Reviews
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Tamarindo
Tamarindo
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Nosara
Nosara
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
north carolina
Level Contributor
6 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

I would stay in the Rohrmoser area. It is very clean, and safer than some other neighborhoods. Some of the embassies are there and they cater to those who are here from other countries. There are some nice little high end grocery stores, good restaurants and a Starbucks across from the Stadium. We do not stay up there because we want to be closer walking distance to our dentist who is further on past the park.

north carolina
Level Contributor
6 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

We have never rented a car there but others do. I feel that they drive really fast and the pedestrians have NO right of way. Walking is somewhat hazardous as well so you have to be aware of that. No right of way for pedestrians.The cars start honking their horns before they get to an intersection to let you know that they are coming and aren't going to stop. Just be aware. The best beach is Manuel Antonio and there is a now a highway that goes in that direction.

Mentioned in this post
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
JENSEN BEACH
Level Contributor
11,180 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

We never have a problem renting a vehicle and always choose Vamos. When staying in/near San Jose no need for us to bother with a car. Traffic and parking can be a nightmare. I only stay in/near San Jose when going for business or dental. Otherwise head out of the crowded city toward the mountains or beaches or both! You don't say how MANY days you have. I like Dominical just S of Manuel Antonio...different strokes. We find MA very "touristy" and prefer less crowded beaches etc. In Dominical you can visit a variety of beaches, visit waterfalls a variety of smaller locally owned restaurants. Not sure of your budget. Ck villas Alturas there for a terrific place to stay high above the sea with awesome views. A day with Diamante Verde Tours nearby has stood out as a highlight among all our CR visits. If You are animal lovers ck out Toucan Rescue Ranch. A great place to spend your first or last night about 40 minutes from SJO. If you want to get away from the crowd and stay in a cloud forest I loved Gerardo De Dota for two nights on a recent visit. Arenal is a very popular destination about 3 hours from SJO with lots of adventure activities....

Mentioned in this post
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Dominical
Dominical
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Diamante Verde Tours
Diamante Verde Tours
282 Reviews
Dominical, Costa Rica
Toucan Rescue Ranch
Toucan Rescue Ranch
272 Reviews
Heredia, Costa Rica
Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
43 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

Thanks for your post. Me and my adult daughter are travelling to CR at the end of the year.... after doing a Windstar Cruise around CR and Panama we’re heading to Monteverde and hence to Rancho Margot near El Castillo, Costa Rica (a sustainable organic property that seems very interesting to visit?). Thence we were planning a few nights in SJ on our way out to Fort Lauderdale before heading back to Sydney, OZ. After reading the forums I’m not so sure about San Jose as we don’t like ugly cities that have high levels of crime? We were planning to stay for two nights in the city but can stay in a ranch or property a bit out? Any suggestions would be helpful...

Edited: 08 October 2017, 04:20
Mentioned in this post
Panama
Panama
Central America
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Rancho Margot
Rancho Margot
344 Reviews
El Castillo, Costa Rica
Hotel Castillo
Hotel Castillo
32 Reviews
San Jose, Costa Rica
Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale
Broward County, FL
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
2,970 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

It's funny that you mention that cruise. We will be doing the exact one in December. Any thoughts to pass along?

I agree that you should avoid spending nights in San Jose and I do have recommendations for you.

(I hope that you're spending enough time in Monteverde; most people don't take full advantage of everything it has to offer.)

You should check availability at the Tree House hotel near Arenal. They have a two night minimum and this would be perfect for the end of your trip. It's about 30 minutes from the main town, La Fortuna, and closer to SJO. You can leave there the morning of your flight if it departs in the afternoon. Another quirky option closer to the airport is Land of Love B & B.

Mentioned in this post
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
Calexico, California
Level Contributor
45 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

All the same questions I have planning the week of thanksgiving

Houma, Louisiana
Level Contributor
23 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

How was Adventure inn? Going in May

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
8,615 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First time to San Jose - Need help!

@9, are you asking me? We stayed there twice. For us, it was good. The link in my first post above gives you a discount code to save on booking. They give you a "free" airport shuttle and a full breakfast (menu + some fruits, etc from the buffet). Not a huge choice, but we found it sufficient. The service was good. Solid mid range option, with a small outside pool, if you have time. A big, 2-storey souvenir store is about 15 walk away from the Inn - good choice if you want to do a bit of souvenir shopping before flying home.

They also offer a variety or tours and car rentals.

Reply to: First time to San Jose - Need help!
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted