The Colorful Streets of San José, Costa Rica

SJO Vive Gingerbread

san jose costa rica sign

  • Three SJO ¡Vive!, San José Lives, signs can be found throughout San José. In 2017, the new branding was created in hopes of the city becoming a tourist destination, rather than a stop along the way.

san jose costa rica

art statues in streets of san jose

san jose dog statue

  • A series of 6 iron dog sculptures are displayed in the center of San Jose bringing awareness to the high number of stray dogs in Costa Rica. The artist himself has adopted over 20 strays.

orange dogs statues in san jose

  • The artist feels Costa Ricans and stray mutts have many similarities, both are of mixed origins, intelligent, hardy, and street smart.

la chola statue san jose

  • La Chola, created by Manuel Vargas, is a bronze statue to honor the Costa Rica mothers (pictured left).
  • As part of a movement to create a more pedestrian friendly city in 2008, the Cow Parade was brought to San Josè. Over 100 artists were given the opportunity to decorate a glass, white cow that would be displayed in the city (pictured right).

The Presentes Statue San Jose

  • Near the center of San Jose, at Banco Central, stands a group of bronze statues. The Presentes, created by Fernando Calvo in 1982, represent the everyday people of Costa Rica. The statues are here, unmoving, regardless of what happens around them.

jose m castro madri san jose statue

  • Jose M Castro Madriz, served 2 terms as president of Costa Rica from 1847 to 1849 and 1866 to 1868.

san jose buildings

Circulo de Arte Santos Catolicos San Jose
Circulo de Arte Santos Catolicos (pictured right), San José

Mercado Central

mercado central san jose

  • The Central Market, Mercado Central, takes up 1 city block. It is the largest market in San José and attracts more than 20,000 visitors each day.

mural in central market san jose costa rica

fruit for sale

  • There are many stands selling fresh produce at the Mercado Central. Feeling adventurous, we purchase 3 pink, hairy Mamón Chinos, also known as Rambutan (pictured right). Peeling away the outside, a white fruit similar to a green grape surrounds a hard brown pit.

seafood at the central market

  • Seafood and meat must be sold from glass, refrigerated cases to help control the amount of insects in the market.

cheese at the market

traditional costa rica food for sale at central market

  • Weaving through the maze of narrow walkways, we enter a food court. After taking our breakfast orders of Gallo Pinto, the waitress clips the paper to a string. Using a pulley system, the order travels upstairs to the kitchen. Waiting for our food, tortillas, bags of rice, and other items are tossed between the restaurant and kitchen through a hole in the ceiling.
flowers for sale at central market
The scent of fresh flowers fill the market as we encounter vendors selling freshly cut arrangements.

herbs drying in central market

medicinal herbs for sale in central market
Dried herbs for medicinal purposes and cooking can be purchased in neat packages, dried bundles, or bulk.

souvenirs for sale in central market

  • Much more than produce and meats are for sale at the Mercado Central. Vendors sell shoes, backpacks, hats, traditional clothing, coffee, kitchen gadgets, and ceramic pots.
bunnies for sale
There is even a pet store inside the Mercado Central where visitors can purchase rabbits, chickens, a variety of birds, and fish.

Streets Outside of the Mercado Central

Costa Rica.png
Outside of the Mercado Central, vendors sell their produce along the street.
Costa Rica.png
Vendors without a shop sell their produce in crates, buckets, pallets, or cardboard on the street.
costa rica.png
Distracted by the colorful produce, Stephanie almost bumps into a skinned pig being carried from the butcher shop to a nearby store.
costa rica.png
Drawn by the smell of sweet bakery items, we order a couple of cream filled pastries.

costa rica

  • As we begin to wander farther from Central Avenue, a man leaning against a light post advises us to be careful with our belongings in this area. Grateful for the advice, we abruptly return to the more crowded area.

Parque Central

Costa Rica

  • In 2003 this bronze street sweeper statue was placed in Central Park to honor the city workers of San José.

costa rica

Costa Rica

costa rica
Joaquim José da Silva Xavier in Parque Central, San José.

Plaza de la Cultura

costa rica

  • In the 1970’s three architects worked to create a space locals could gather. Arriving at the grand stage in Plaza de la Cultura, preparation for a performance is underway. We watch 3 men jump off a platform onto a trampoline and gracefully bounce back up to the stage.
costa rica.png
Located below the Plaza de la Cultura is San José’s gold museum, Museo de Oro Precolombino. 

Costa Rica.png

  • Located in Plaza de la Cultura at the center of San José, the National Theatre is one of the most treasured historical buildings in Costa Rica. Construction began in 1891, initiated by coffee growers for a place to gather. The 3 statues on top of the building represent dance, music, and fame. Consuming food inside the theatre is forbidden. Guided tours are available Monday – Sunday 9:00am – 4:00pm.
San Jose.png
Boutique Hotel Casa Orquideas

In 4 hours we are able to see most of San José. We return to Hotel Casa Las Orquídeas, say goodbye to our G Adventures group, and begin the journey home.

Traveling Gingerbread Tip: Cost comparing with other group members, we learned taking an Uber from the airport was cheaper than a taxi.

* For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures Costa Rica on a Shoestring.

April 2018

Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

The Traveling Gingerbread is a place for us to share budget travel tips for people with full time jobs, fun facts, itineraries, and where to find the best craft beer. We have been traveling together since 2013. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, experiences, and local breweries. We can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. In 2019, we brewed our first beer and were hooked, although, we have no intentions of brewing more than small batches. We'll continue our self appointed roles of professional testers and creating craft beer trails.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.