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San Jose or Alajuela?

Toronto, Ontario...
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San Jose or Alajuela?

We're flying in to SJO and I believe that's closer to Alajuela. We (2 people) have a few hours before we head out to Arenal, so we were wondering if it would be better to walk around Alajuela or go to San Jose? Are there any cool things to do/see in a few hours? I thought about going to the Central Market in San Jose, but we will have all our luggage with us, so I'm not sure if it's the safest place to go in terms of pickpocketers.

Thanks for any tips!

Costa Rica
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1. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

The airport is in Alajuela, yes.

If you are going to Arenal by shared van shuttle, you can take a taxi to a nearby hotel for the shuttle pickup (they provide hotel to hotel service), drop your luggage and then use your taxi to go to the center of Alajuela. Check out the Central Market, do some banking or shopping, have a meal, get an ice cream cone and sit in the Central Park.

Toronto, Ontario...
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2. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

Thanks for the reply! Any idea how much a taxi from the airport to San Jose would be? Do hotels just let you drop off your stuff in their lobby (and is it safe)?

Would there be anything to do in Alajuela? I've looked around TripAdvisor and it doesn't seem very interesting. I'd much prefer to check out San Jose depending on safety and cost.

Costa Rica
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3. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

A taxi from the airport to San Jose will be around $25 to $30 depending on where you are going. It's about 30 minutes or so (providing there's no traffic accident, bridge problem or protest).

Hotels don't just let you drop off your stuff in their lobby -- unless - you have a shuttle booked that is picking you up at that hotel. And yes, your luggage will be safe.

If you go to San Jose, be careful. Wear your daypack in front and watch for pickpockets. Don't use an Ipod or cell phone or wear expensive jewelry. Best to use a money belt if you have one for most of your cash, passport and cards.

Montreal, Canada
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4. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

Hi Nick,

With only a few hours, I would not go to San Jose but hang out in Alajuela, which is only a few minutes away from the airport by taxi. If you go to San Jose you can get caught in long traffic jams, depending on the hour. Also, you don't want to be walking around San Jose with your luggage, the sidewalks can often be packed with pedestrians and some sidewalks are narrow in San Jose. They have regular buses between the airport and Alajuela - ask somebody in the airport where the bus stop is, it's just a few paces from where you come out of Customs and Immigration at the airport. Make sure you take the bus to Alajuela, not San Jose. There are a couple of fellows who work for the bus companies and they usually shout out "Alajuela" or "San Jose" when a bus arrives at the stop to pick up people. However, and depending on how much luggage you have (might be cumbersome on a bus), just take a cab to Alajuela, it should not be expensive (about 4 or 5 bucks for one of those regular red taxis, which you can find lined up out near the bus stop) - if you take a taxi marked "Airport Taxi", which are orange vehicles, you might have to pay a minimum fee to Alajuela (not sure, it could be $10 or $20).

Once in Alajuela, you can visit Central Park and the Juan Santamaria Historical Museum tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g309224-d59… which is just one block north of Central Park. You can also check out the Alajuela Cathedral, which is adjacent to Central Park, and then the Central Market, which is one block west of Central Park (there is also a Farmers' Market in Alajuela on weekends). There are one or two nice souvenirs shops in Alajuela.

Photos of other places in Alajuela, including some of those mentioned above, can be seen here:

alajuelenses.com/galeria-de-fotos-alajuela-c…

Finally, anywhere you go in Costa Rica, be vigilant of your surroundings, never leave your luggage alone, and watch out for people following you. A couple of years ago, I saw a guy rip off a camera from a tourist and then run around a corner where his accomplice was waiting on a running motorcycle.

Enjoy your trip to Costa Rica!

Strato

Slovenia
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5. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

Due to air flight delays your "couple of hours" might very easily shrink to one or two. Although I am not adverse to San Jose, it is a capital of the country, I also suggest you to skip it in favor of Alajuela. You do not have time to visit any of the museums, and all other things you will find easier and orientation friendlier in Alajuela.

Winnipeg Canada
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6. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

Thanks for the information.

7. Re: San Jose or Alajuela?

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