In short, not a lot to say about San Jose. But let’s take it methodically.
The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose is also the largest city, with 300k people. Adding the metro area around it you get 2 million, or almost half of the country’s population. Situated at an altitude of about 1000 meters, the temperatures are enjoyable during the day and cool during the night.
What’s there to see in the city? Definitely not the architecture. With the exception of a handful of buildings, the center is pretty meh. There’s a pedestrian area lined with stores and the typical fast food restaurants. If you’re eating at a McDonald’s during your holiday here, you’re doing it wrong. This pedestrian area is pretty crazy by day (not in the negative way). Besides the standard street performers (singers, jugglers, living statues), you will see a lot (A LOT) of people selling whatever, with stuff lined up neatly on the pavement. Surprised to see so many guys selling counterfeit DVDs – like Romania 15 years ago.
A place I’ve visited frequently – even several times a day – was El Mercado Central. There are a bunch of sodas (local restaurants) inside, where you can eat for about $6-7 a meal. This was my go-to place for food and fruits while in San Jose.
Also visited El Museo del Oro Precolombino. Learned a lot about the people living here before the Europeans “discovered” the area, about their customs and the way they processed gold.
That’s pretty much all I saw in San Jose. We were also considering the day trip up Irazu Volcano, but decided to spend that day in another location.
So why did I spent 8 nights there? Mostly because San Jose is the transport hub of Costa Rica. If you want to get from someplace to some other place, you will most likely change a bus in San Jose. North of the pedestrian there area are a lot of bus terminals. That area looks a little shady and I’d advise against walking around there at night. Better take a cab, even if it’s only for one kilometer.