Location information for San Jose
Car rental San Jose
San José is the capital of Costa Rica, a country in Central America. It is the social, economic, political and cultural centre of the country. It is a busy and relatively young city. San José only began to be developed in the second half of the 19th century. This is why there are relatively few buildings from Spanish colonial times - compared to many other Latin-American cities.
Officially, the city has 350,000 inhabitants, but that number applies to San José Canton, roughly the centre of the city. Including the suburbs, more than a million people are living in San José. Costa Ricans speak Spanish, but many of them have some knowledge of English.
San José is located in the middle of the Central Plateau (Cordillera Central) of Costa Rica, at an altitude of over 1,100 metres. The city is surrounded by green mountains and valleys.
Costa Rica's economy is built on agriculture and eco tourism (about 70% of Costa Rica is National Park). In the city itself there is little evidence of that: San José is the administrative and business centre. Recently, foreign investors have invested a lot of money in the development of the pharmaceutical and electronics industry in San José. The hotel business is also an emerging industry.
Juan Santamaría Airport is located 20 kilometres to the west of the city. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the city by car, although during morning and evening rush hour it may take considerably longer.
Public transport in San José is provided by buses. The question is whether you want to use the bus system, because it is the place where pickpockets are most active. There are also regional bus connections, and there are international bus connections to neighboring countries Nicaragua and Panama. The buses are fairly comfortable, though you should never lose sight of your luggage. You should certainly never agree to have your luggage stored in the luggage compartments.
Taxis are cheap in San José. Use only the official taxis with a meter. Official taxis are red with a yellow triangle with a number on it. The airport taxis are orange.
Traffic and Parking
You will probably need some time to get used to driving in San José. The roads are narrow, and the way the locals drive also takes some getting used to. Drivers use any little gap they see to gain a few metres, especially during morning and evening rush hour. The road signs also leave something to be desired. Many streets, for instance, lack any kind of identification. On roads outside the city, you need to beware of holes in the road surface. Avoid driving at night. If you should receive a fine, never pay on the spot but let the rental company take care of it.
You can park your car in the street in San José, but there are streets were that is illegal during morning and evening rush hour. There are many public parking facilities where you can leave your car safely. Never leave anything of value in your car, not even in the boot. And of course: lock your car carefully. It is a good idea to lock the doors while driving. If you get a flat tire, refuse any 'help' from strangers. They may be after your valuable possessions.
San José has an ample supply of hotels. The best of them are not located in the city centre, but outside it. Although Costa Rica is a popular destination because of its beautiful wildlife, few tourists decide to spend much time in the capital. We do, however, recommend booking your hotel room in advance, if only to avoid being an obvious tourist wandering the streets in search of a place to stay.
For more information about San José, we recommend Google, and the following sources: