With three days in San Jose, you can relax into the city’s natural rhythm, which blends the sounds of tropical birdsong, bustling markets, and salsa beats. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the key sights, including Costa Rica’s lush rain forest, volcanic peaks, and coffee farms. Here’s how.
The quaint town of Sarchí is famous throughout Costa Rica for its handicrafts. From the brightly painted oxcarts that were once used in the coffee industry to decorated bowls, handmade jewelry, leather goods, and furniture, visitors looking for memorable souvenirs should plan to visit the town, only an hour’s drive from San José.
Highway 118, Sarchi, 4150
At 3,280 feet (almost 1,000 meters) above sea level, the town of Sarchí is located in Costa Rica’s beautiful and lush central valley amidst coffee and sugar plantations. Local artisans have been making crafts in the town for many years, and there are more than 200 stores selling items from carved wooden utensils to leather chairs. Although farmers no longer use the intricately painted oxcarts for which the town is known, the carts are still an important feature of parades and religious celebrations. To watch artisans painting the decorative oxcarts, visit the Joaquín Chaverri Oxcart Factory.
Full-day tours to Sarchi and the Central Valley from San José typically include transportation and stop at a coffee plantation for lunch and in the picturesque village of Grecia.
Things to Know Before You Go
Sarchí is ideal for those interested in traditional handicrafts and Costa Rican heritage.
A leather and wood rocking chair is one of the most popular items to buy here.
Make time to see the charming town church painted in pastel colors.
How to Get There
Sarchí, in Alajuela province in central Costa Rica, is fewer than 30 miles (48 kilometers) from San José—easily accessible by car or as part of a guided day trip. There are also daily public buses from San José to Sarchí.
When to Get There
Most shops in Sarchi are open seven days a week.
Adventures in Sarapiquí
For a true rain forest experience head to the area of Sarapiquí, home to several national parks and nature reserves. Here you can zipline through the forest canopy, hop on a wild white-water rafting ride, or just try and spot some of Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife—from howler monkeys and crocodiles to colorful parrots and slow-moving sloths.
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- Orosi River Valley (El Valle del Rio Orosi)
- Rescate Animal Zooave
- Poas Volcano National Park
- Turu Ba Ri Tropical Park
- La Sabana Park
- Costa Rican Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)
- Children's Museum (Museo de los Ninos)
- San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)
- National Theater (Teatro Nacional)
- Plaza de la Cultura
- Gold Museum
- Jade Museum (Museo del Jade)
- Metallic Building (Ed)ificio Metálico)
- Yellow House (Casa Amarilla)