Where to Stay in San Jose, Costa Rica → 5 Top Areas & Hotels

The Metropolitan Cathedral of San José, Costa Rica, with its neoclassical architecture and green domes.

Decided to answer Costa Rica’s call and finally plan your trip to the capital? Then hop on this guide on where to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica and get ready to travel like a pro!

I’ve lived in San Jose for a few months, explored the whole country and got to know the city and its neighborhoods pretty well! 

So read this post and find out which are the best 5 areas in San Jose for tourists and the top hotels in each of those places, which I listed from most to least expensive!

Don’t worry, I carefully picked all the hotels in the list so you’ll find only the ones with top-notch reviews! 

In short, Downtown is the best area to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica, as that’s where you’ll find the main attractions and some fab accommodations! If that’s not your scene, just scroll down and you’ll find other options! 

Costa Rica’s capital (and the whole country) is becoming more and more famous, so I highly recommend booking your hotels in advance, and you might even score a better price!

P.S. Make sure you don’t confuse this town with the San Jose in California, especially when looking for hotels. 

Quick Picks for Your Stay

If you want to book now, then I highly recommend quickly browsing this list with the best hotels where to stay in San José, all located in the Downtown area:

Here’s a map of all the areas where to stay in San José that I will be talking about in this post:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in San-Jose-Costa-Rica, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation
  1. Downtown: for first-timers
  2. Escazú: for relaxation
  3. San Pedro: for nightlife
  4. Barrio Amon: for families
  5. La Sabana Park: for nature lovers

1. Downtown – where to stay in San Jose for the first time

A bustling street in San José, Costa Rica, lined with cars and people, with mountains in the background.

Welcome to the heart of the capital city! 

Downtown San José is the historic and business hub of the country and the best area to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica. Here you can dive into the culture, eat delicious food, and learn more about Costa Rica’s history!

When you arrive, head over to Central Avenue, also known as Avenida Central (map) the area’s main street and get a glimpse into the local’s life! From there you can walk to Plaza de la Cultura (map) which has some popular sites like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and the National Theater.

Avenida Central is also pretty close (around a 10 min walk) to the San Jose Central Market (map), which I highly recommend visiting. While you’re there, definitely try some of their super fresh and yummy fruits! 

You’ll find that Downtown is a super walkable area and you can get pretty much anywhere on foot, which is always a plus!

Some other fun museums that I visited and really liked while I was living in San Jose were the Jade Museum, which is the biggest jade museum in the whole world and the Costa Rica National Museum, which is such a cool place and so interactive! 

But don’t think central San José is just all museums. You’ll also be able to enjoy Costa Rica’s authentic nightlife scene here too!

There are lots of bars in Downtown San Jose where you can enjoy some drinks like Central Pub (map).

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in San Jose: a modern hotel lounge with blue walls and marble flooring, a cozy bedroom with elegant lighting, and a stunning exterior view of a white building lit up at dusk.

Ever wondered how it is to stay in a historical and architectural monument? Well, now you can find out! This amazing San José accommodation offers city views and a great location, just a stone’s throw away from all the attractions. Head to the on-site restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal or spend a cozy night in your spacious rooms that have cable TV. 

Other accommodation options in Downtown San Jose

Mid-Range
A cozy hotel room with two double beds, tropical-themed bedding, and a warm ambiance

Set within walking distance of the attractions, this hotel has rooms with a private bathroom and a restaurant

Budget
An outdoor seating area with vibrant chairs surrounded by lush greenery.

Drink your morning coffee in the garden of this hotel which offers city views, spacious rooms, and free Wi-Fi

Airbnb
A cozy living and dining area in a home with rustic decor and an open kitchen.

Feel at home in this city center place that’s close to all the attractions and has a kitchen and spacious rooms


Hotel Presidente – Since Downtown is so popular, here’s one more incredible hotel that’s perfect for one night in the town (or more) which has modern rooms, a restaurant, and free parking. 

Things to do in Downtown San Jose

  • Explore the Central Avenue
  • Buy some delicious fruits from San Jose’s Mercado Central
  • Admire the architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San José (map)
  • Catch a play at the National Theater of Costa Rica in San José
  • Enjoy the city’s nightlife at the Central Pub
  • Go for a walk in the Central Park (map)
  • Head to Plaza de la Cultura and visit the nearby Jade Museum
  • Learn more about San Jose’s culture at the National Museum of Costa Rica and the Pre Columbian Gold Museum 

2. Escazú – best place to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica for shopping

A beautiful villa with terracotta roofing, surrounded by tropical plants and elegant outdoor decor.

Welcome to Escazu, a more tranquil area located 5 miles (8 km) southwest of San Jose’s city center. This neighborhood is often referred to as Costa Rica’s own Beverly Hills, thanks to its various shopping stores and American vibe that lingers on the streets.

Escazu’s atmosphere is a bit more chill than what you’ll find in Downtown San Jose so if you’re looking for that or traveling with family, this might be the neighborhood for you!

This trendy, residential area is pretty big and although it doesn’t have any major attractions you’ll still find some things to do like shopping for souvenirs in the Multiplaza Mall Escazú (map) and admiring the views from Mirador Ecológico La Cabaña (map).

You’ll also find some authentic churches like San Miguel de Arcángel Church (map), San Antonio de Padua (map) and others. 

Once you get hungry, head over to La Posada de las Brujas restaurant (map), one of the top dining places in the area where you can try the traditional Costa Rican chicharron, a dish made with pork meat. 

And if you want to head to Downtown San Jose you can always use public transport or a car rental to get there!

But before you do that, definitely take a moment to explore the streets of Escazú as you’ll spot lots of charming houses, and you’ll get a glimpse into the local life, here in Costa Rica’s capital city. 

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in San Jose: an aerial view of a hotel with a large swimming pool and lush greenery, a spacious bedroom with a plush bed, and a stylish living area with comfortable seating.

The best location for anyone who wants to relax all day long in a quiet location! This luxury option has rooms with space for the whole family and it offers 4 restaurants and spa services. Enjoy the San José sun by one of the 3 swimming pools and chill in the hot tub all day long.

Other accommodation options in Escazú

Mid-Range
A cozy bedroom with a wooden ceiling, large windows, and a comfortable bed.

Chill by the swimming pool and enjoy the city views in this San José hotel that has breakfast included

Budget
An outdoor swimming pool area with a shaded dining space and lounge chairs.

Feel like you’re in a jungle in this hotel that has breakfast included, a swimming pool and family rooms

Airbnb
A bright living area with a staircase, glass doors, and a small dining table.

A perfect and tranquil San José place that has a kitchen, a nice garden, free Wi-Fi and a kitchen

Things to do in Escazú

  • Buy souvenirs from Multiplaza Mall
  • Admire the houses around the San Rafael area
  • Visit the San Miguel de Arcángel Church
  • Enjoy the views from Mirador Ecológico La Cabaña
  • Eat traditional food at La Posada de las Brujas restaurant
  • Explore Costa Rica’s Central Valley
  • Take the kids to play with the butterflies at the Mariposario Butterfly Kingdom Costa Rica

3. San Pedro – where to stay in San José for nightlife

Aerial view of a roundabout with a large costa rican flag, manicured greenery, and cars, under a cloudy sky in an urban area.

Home to the city’s university, San Pedro is located 5 miles (8 km) east of the city center and it’s one of the best neighborhoods to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica if you’re traveling on a budget and also if you like getting some drinks once the sun sets! 

A while ago, this area was independent of San José and, as you’ll discover, you’ll still get that feeling as if you’re not in San José here.

It’s also probably because of all the young students that San Pedro has this different atmosphere. Here everyone wants to party, hang out in trendy cafes, and explore all the shopping centers and nightlife. 

San Pedro is a pretty big area, so I’d recommend finding lodgings in the part closer to Downtown San Jose, especially if you want to visit the attractions there. 

As I mentioned, this area is known for its fun vibe, so if you’re looking to grab the drinks and mingle with the locals then head to Bar La Cali (map), Rafa’s Bar (map) and also Agüizotes Gastro Pub (map) if you want to grab a bite too. 

During the day, you can explore the University campus (map), shop at Mall San Pedro (map) and even go roller skating at Salon de Patines Music (map)!

PRO TIP: Barrio Escalante did not make it to our list officially, but it is a lively area located in between Amon and San Pedro with tooooons of bars and restaurants too, so anything you find there is also very good and very walkable to the downtown (7-10 mins depending on where you are).

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in San Jose: a charming living room with wooden furniture and colorful cushions, an exterior view of a quaint white hotel surrounded by greenery, and a bedroom featuring a cozy bed and traditional decor.

Feel at home in this amazing boutique hotel in Costa Rica’s capital city that’s set within walking distance of the attractions in the area. The accommodation has a great design and it offers a lush garden where you can relax and it also has breakfast included in the price. 

Other accommodation options in San Pedro

Mid-Range
A small kitchen with a dining table and basic appliances.

These modern rooms have a private bathroom, a small kitchenette, and a cable TV

Budget
A bedroom with a yellow accent wall, wooden bed frame, and blue bedding.

An affordable place that comes with shared and private rooms, a garden and a terrace

Airbnb
A stylish living room with a dark sofa, colorful cushions, and a dining area.

Enjoy your stay in San José and drink your coffee on the balcony of this modern place that has a comfortable room

Things to do in San Pedro

  • Enjoy some drinks at Bar La Cali
  • Explore the university’s campus 
  • Buy souvenirs from Mall San Pedro
  • Go roller skating at Salon de Patines Music
  • Explore the lively Barrio Escalante

4. Barrio Amon – best place to stay in San José for families

A public park with people relaxing and a distinctive circular monument.

Located 2 miles (3 km) north of the city center, this up-and-coming area is San Jose’s hidden gem!

Home to some lovely colonial houses, cool cafes, and restaurants, Barrio Amon also happens to be the best neighborhood to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica with your kids.

Not only is Barrio Amon super close to Downtown San Jose (around a 10 min walk) but it has lots of fun places to explore with your little ones! Some of the biggest ones are the Simón Bolívar National Zoological Park and the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, where you can enjoy some fun outdoor activities with the fam.

The best way to explore Barrio Amon is to walk on foot, that way you can spot all the stunning architecture and some other cool attractions like Castillo Del Moro (map). 

And when you need a break from all the walking, check out the cafes and restaurants around. Café Rojo (map) is a great place to grab a bite and a cup of coffee.

By the way, if you’re looking for more things to do with your kids, definitely head to the Children’s Museum, just a 10 min walk away from Barrio Amon, which has lots of interactive activities!

Now let’s see the best hotels in San José, in Barrio Amon:

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in San Jose: a uniquely decorated bedroom with artistic wall designs, a casual lounge area with a piano and blue couches, and a modern sitting area with vibrant yellow and gray furniture.

Enjoy a nice and long massage at the spa center after a day of exploring San Jose, while staying in one of the best boutique hotels that has rooms with a great style, cable Tv and air-conditioning. This modern hotel also offers a terrace where you can enjoy drinks and a bar. 

Other accommodation options in Barrio Amon

MID-RANGE
A hotel courtyard with a jacuzzi, lush greenery, and a multi-level building.

Go for a dip in the pool of this great boutique hotel that has vintage decor, family rooms and offers breakfast

BUDGET
A cozy bedroom with a large bed, colorful pillows, and wooden flooring.

A lovely place surrounded by tropical gardens that has family rooms, a restaurant and free parking

Airbnb
A homey kitchen with wooden cabinets, a breakfast bar, and a variety of appliances.

I love the design of this San José accommodation that has lots of space, a kitchen, and a balcony

Things to do in Barrio Amon

  • Take the kids to the Simón Bolívar National Zoological Park in San José
  • Explore Barrio Amon on foot and admire the cool architecture
  • Buy delicious local products from the Feria Verde Farmers Market (map)
  • Have some family fun at the Butterfly Garden
  • See some cool art at Galería Talentum (map)
  • Visit the Children’s Museum
  • Check out Castillo Del Moro
  • Eat a delicious meal at Café Rojo

5. Around La Sabana Park – where to stay for nature lovers

A scenic view of San José, Costa Rica, with mountains and modern buildings

Located 2 miles (4 km) west of the city center, the area around the Metropolitan Sabana Park is the best location to stay in San José for anyone who wants to be close to nature.

We all know that sometimes all the crowds and noise can get a bit too much, especially in a bustling city like San Jose. So having your accommodation near a park can be the best of both worlds as you can get a good night’s sleep and breathe in some fresh air. 

And in this case, it’s even better because this area is super close to the city center if you want to visit some of the attractions there.

The Sabana Park (map), also nicknamed the “lungs of San José”, is just an oasis of silence! Made for different types of activities like jogging, biking, or just reading somewhere under a tree, this little natural corner can be the perfect escape from the city.Besides the park, you’ll also find some nice attractions in this part of San José, which are worth a visit, like the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the Historical and Technological Museum, and the Natural Science Museum.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Nashville: a sleek hotel bedroom with contemporary decor, a chic dining area with stylish seating arrangements, and a rooftop pool offering scenic views.

How can you say no to a hotel that has a rooftop pool? I think they are so cool, and just imagine the stunning city views you’ll get, especially at night! This San José accommodation near La Sabana Metropolitan Park has modern rooms with ceiling-to-floor windows and a flat-screen TV.

Other accommodation around La Sabana Park

Mid-Range
A hotel pool area with blue sun loungers and a colorful mural.

Go for a dip in the pool of this great boutique hotel in the city that offers breakfast and has family rooms

Budget
A hallway with green and beige walls, decorated with art and vintage furniture.

Affordable accommodation in San José that has a sun terrace, spacious rooms, and free Wi-Fi

Airbnb
A modern bedroom with a large window, ceiling fan, and dark wood furniture.

Drink your coffee on the balcony of this amazing penthouse that has 3 rooms and a shared pool


Barceló San José – Here’s another great hotel near the Park that comes with 3 restaurants, a spa center and 2 tennis courts. 

Things to do Around La Sabana Park

  • Admire the paintings at the Museum of Costa Rican Art
  • Explore La Sabana Park and catch a sunset by the pond
  • Learn new things at the Historical and Technological Museum
  • Visit the Natural Science Museum
  • Check out Costa Rica’s National Stadium (map)
👑 Luxury price:$140
💵 Mid-range hotel:$70
🛏️ Budget:$40
📍Best area:Downtown San Jose
👪 Best area for families:Barrio Amon
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Gran Hotel Costa Rica
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Sleep Inn Paseo Las Damas
👛 Best budget hotel:Cando Living Apartments

BONUS: Best hotels near the Juan Santamaria International Airport

An empty check-in area at Juan Santamaria International Airport with ticket counters and informational signs.

San Jose has 2 international airports but the main one is Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Since many of you will be looking for accommodation in the city near the airport, especially if you’re just staying for a day or two and then heading to other areas in Costa Rica like Arenal Volcano or Monteverde, I thought I’d make this bonus with 3 top hotels for each price range.

So let’s see!

  • Luxury: Courtyard by Marriott – Located less than a mile from the San Jose airport, this accommodation offers a free airport shuttle, a 24-hour reception desk, sound-proof rooms where you can relax, an on-site restaurant and a bar, and access to an outdoor pool and gym. 
  • Mid-range: Holiday Inn Express – This great hotel includes a free 24h-shuttle to the airport (which is set less than a mile away), an outdoor swimming pool, a gym and a complimentary breakfast that you can take away. Their rooms are super cozy, have cable Tv and a coffee machine. 
  • Budget: Casa Garitas GuestHouse – A more affordable hotel set less than a mile away from the international airport that comes with spacious, bright rooms with a Tv and mountain views. They also offer a free airport shuttle.

FAQs about where to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica

A bronze statue of a musician playing a flute in front of a historic building

❓ What is the best part of San Jose, Costa Rica to stay in?

Downtown is one of the best areas to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica, as that’s where you’ll find all the main attractions and some amazing hotels like Gran Hotel Costa Rica.

🏙️ Is it safe to walk Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica?

Yes, it’s safe to walk around Downtown San José but try to avoid walking alone at night in secluded areas and maybe use Ubers at night if you’re coming home from a bar or restaurant.

👪 What are some family-friendly suburbs in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers great suburban options for families, including Santa Ana and Escazú, known as the safest place to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica.

🚶Is San Jose, Costa Rica a walkable city?

Yes, San Jose is a walkable city, especially the Downtown area, where everything is within walking distance.

📅 How many days should you stay in San Jose?

I’d recommend spending 2 to 3 days in San Jose, or more if you’re planning to explore other towns in the country.

✈️ Where to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica near the airport?

Courtyard by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express are some of the best places to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica near Juan Santamaria International Airport. The hotels come with an airport shuttle and great facilities. 

🚗 Do you need a car in San Jose, Costa Rica?

No, if you just want to explore the city you can use public transport or Uber. But you might need a car if you want to take day trips to certain places.

Final thoughts on where to stay in San Jose Costa Rica

The writer of the post standing on a balcony overlooking the illuminated city at night.
The night view of San Jose from Barrio Escalante

Costa Rica’s capital city, sure is fun! I had a great time while I lived here for a few months and I’m sure you’ll love exploring it and its surrounding areas, especially after reading this guide on where to stay in San Jose, Costa Rica in Central America. 

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the hotel options, let me give you my 2 favorite ones, both located in Downtown San Jose:

Just remember that the earlier you book, the better! Booking in advance will secure you the room and hotel you want for your stay in San Jose, Costa Rica!

Have a fabulous trip! And don’t forget that you can always drop me a comment below if you’ve got any questions on San Jose. I’d be happy to help you out.

Safe Travels,

Yulia


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4 Comments

  1. cam 12.04.2024 at 21:35
    • Marija Petrushevska 15.04.2024 at 09:54
  2. Nancy 16.02.2023 at 06:46
    • Yulia 16.02.2023 at 12:04

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