Don’t stay a single night in San Jose. If you’re going to nearly anywhere in Costa Rica, you’re almost certain to fly into this airport hub before going elsewhere. From the volcanoes to the beaches to the rainforests, there’s no doubt that you’re coming to the region for the quieter spots. But it’s still tempting to see the capital of the country. How bad could it be?
It’s the asscrack of Central America. Some of the cities in the far less wealthy countries of Nicaragua and Honduras are said to be worse, mostly due to their exorbitant crime rates. But you’re not going there anyway. San Jose is right there on your way in. Skip it. It’s a charmless hole with no good public spaces, uninspiring architecture, no form of cultural or historical appeal, craptastic restaurants and no avenues to stroll.
If going to Central America, go straight to your first destination. Try Fortuna to see the volcano and take a dip in the hot springs. Or Tamarindo for the beach and surf scene. Out of 30 capital cities visited across the globe, San Jose ranks dead last in nearly every category. It’s even behind Vientiane, Laos. And that says a lot.
Costa Rica is a cool place, so don't take the criticism to harshly, just resist the temptation to try San Jose.