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San Jose or Santa Ana?

Darlington, United...
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San Jose or Santa Ana?

We are booked on a Costa Rica tour in a couple of weeks and were due to spend the first two nights in San Jose (at the Palma Real Hotel) which we were looking forward to/ But we have just been advised our holiday company have relocated us to Santa Ana (Holiday Inn Express San Jose Forum). A town/suburb which to us looks much smaller and far less interesting.

We won't have a lot of free time as we arrive reasonably late the first night, have trips the second day and leave early for Arenal the third so anything we do get to see would need to be pretty much on the doorstep or just around the corner for which San Jose seemed to fit the bill... from a perspective of wanting to experience as much of the country as possible in our short time there and thinking that the architecture of the capital city would compliment the volcano, cloud forest and beach stay of the rest of the tour.

Can I ask your valuable advice as to whether you think we might enjoy Santa Ana more (or at all?) or would I be better to stand my ground and insist they give us the location we paid for?

Edited: 22 April 2017, 03:39
7 replies to this topic
Canada
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1. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

Santa Ana (and nearby Escazu) are upscale suburns inhabited by Expats and wealthy Costa Ricans. There are more shopping malls and expensive restaurants than anything of cultural intrest. On a good traffic day it is only 15 minutes to downtown San José but good traffic days are extremely rare.

San Jose has some interesting stuff to see but only you han decide if that is what you want rather do than another day in the rain forest.

Darlington, United...
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2. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

just a brief update. We are actually due to arrive at San Jose airport earlier than I first thought, at 13:15 so I imagine clearing the airport & being at the hotel between 3-4pm. So in reasonable time to actually get out and about to see something on our first day.

It sounds from CanaTico's reply (thank you) that Santa Ana has little by way of cultural attractions but is good for shopping malls and expensive food, both of which hold absolutely no interest for us! That it's a little more upmarket is a positive but as I said earlier with Arenal volcano, Monteverde cloud forest and La Posada beach resort to come I would really like to take in some of the architectural/cultural sights like the National Theatre building and the like, see what the parks hold, walk down streets where locals frequent, see life in the local bars and cafes? The last thing I want to do in Costa Rica is shop... the last thing I want to do anywhere to be honest is shop!

I am just thinking with a couple of weeks before we fly out there it still gives me time to put pressure on the holiday company to get me back in San Jose if that's what you guys advise.

By the same token if, from what I've said, you think I will be better to stay in Santa Ana and catch a bus into San Jose that works for me.

Canada
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3. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

The Gran Hotel Costa Rica right beside the National Theater is where you want to be then. It is a little dated but good enough for the Kennedys'

You won't be able to do much other than stroll central avenue and go for dinner the first night. Take a cab if you go off property after dark.

Edited: 22 April 2017, 07:01
Canada
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4. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

Contact these guys for your first full day. https:/…

Darlington, United...
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5. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

...any comments or help from the destination experts?

Edited: 23 April 2017, 16:50
Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

It sounds like you won't have any time to explore San Jose except after dark since you arrive late on the 1st night and already have a tour planned on day 2. You may not realize how early sunset arrives in the tropics. The sun typically sets between 5:30 and 5:45. San Jose is not a city you wander around after sunset. Taxis are recommended if you go out for dinner or nightlife. As a result I don't think it makes a great deal of difference in your case unless you're an early riser and want to go for a walk and wander around at 6am before much of anything is open. While I'm not a fan of generic corporate hotels, one advantage of staying outside downtown is that you will be closer to the airport on arrival and closer to Poas Volcaano/La Paz Waterfall Gardens which I am guessing is your day 2 trip. If you were in the center of the city, noted most for its major traffic congestion, you'd have to endure longer bus rides out in morning rush hour and again on your return in the afternoon rush hour. If you had an afternoon off, it might be a different matter, but it doesn't sound like you do. Keep in mind that San Jose is not a scenic colonial city, its pedestrian downtown shopping street is not memorable and the highlight of downtown IMO is its museums.

Darlington, United...
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7. Re: San Jose or Santa Ana?

Thank you for your input crfan. I did in fact imagine a sunset around 6pm. You have obviously read and understood precisely how little time we have available to sightsee and that we are on a tour over whose itinerary we have no control. Whilst we would like to make the most of what free time the itinerary affords us, we don't want to do so by putting ourselves at risk from snakes, either reptilian or human! I think, dependant on what time we actually make it to the hotel on arrival day we will plan to take a taxi ride into San Jose for a couple of hours or so and then head back for a drink in the hotel and maybe an early night to have us rested and time adjusted to enjoy the tour.

Thank you for taking the time to understand precisely what we were asking. It is very much appreciated and makes your input and advice so helpful.

Edited: 24 April 2017, 14:31
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