Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

San José, Costa Rica Neighborhoods

Aranjuez and Barrio Amón

Aranjuez and Barrio Amón

Old meets new in the areas of Aranjuez and Barrio Amón, two historic neighborhoods situated to the north of El Centro (about 10 minutes from San José by car). The adjacent areas are being revived as we write this, with efforts to evolve them into arts and culture hubs. Refurbished colonial-style structures are now occupied by artisan shops, art galleries and boutique hotels. One of these buildings, which was formerly occupied by the Fabrica Nacional de Licores (FANAL; or National Liquor Factory), now houses the Centro Nacional de Artes y Cultura (National Center of Art and Culture), the Ministry of Culture and Youth offices, the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo (or Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, MADC) and a dance theater.

Downtown (El Centro)

Downtown (El Centro)

Much of the downtown area may be about business and politics, but it also stands as the historic heart of the city. El Centro is home to a few museums — including the Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro (Jade Museum), Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (National Museum) — as well as the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica (National Theater of Costa Rica), an icon and symbol of Costa Rica’s past. The Neoclassical-style National Theater in particular, opened in 1897, was built with tax money collected from the export of coffee, which at the time was a valuable commodity. Still in use today, the theater is a perfect stop for guided tours (in Spanish and English) and live performances. Colorful and vibrant El Centro also offers opportunities for shopping and people-watching — stroll along the pedestrian-only Avenida Central boulevard, an eight-block-long stretch lined with shops and eateries (more below), and keep an eye out for live street performances along the way.

Escazú

Escazú

If country clubs are your speed and if you’ve got golf on the itinerary, Escazú neighborhood, 20 minutes’ drive from capital, could be the destination for you. Surrounded by mountains and blessed with temperate weather, the chic suburb situated five miles west of central San José offers emerald-hued views and the conveniences of a city, sans some of the chaos. Here, you can enjoy the comforts and indulgences of modern accommodations and upscale restaurants and boutiques; be exposed to culture and heritage traditions via local artisanship (masks, coffee products and more) and international festival events; and immerse in the peace and serenity emanating from the Costa Rican nature.

Santa Ana

Santa Ana

Further west from Escazú, Santa Ana offers a similar vibe; find a balance of creature comforts — golf courses, gourmet dining and designer shopping — and the charm of its local arts (check out the ceramics and pottery), culture and history, in a beautiful nature-filled setting. The climate is also warmer and drier than that in San José, but cooler than that at the beaches along the Pacific coast. Make the most of the good weather by wandering the outdoor markets (the Sunday farmers’ market is a must), attending festivals and catching live performances, or going horseback riding.

Back

For you