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Costa Rica's Central Market

Costa Rica’s Central Market is a well-known place, where many tourists experience the real daily Costa Rican life. This important market, along with Costa Rica’s Central Plaza and National Theater, are the most representative places of old San José.

San José was called by its ancestors ‘La Buca del Monte”. It served as the main entrance to the central part of the country and many farmers settled down with their families, which marked the beginning of a future metropolitan area.

Costa Rica’s Central Market is not just a commercial place; in fact, it has a life of its own. From sunup to sundown, it has a particular bustle that attracts over 20 thousand people a day. It’s a place to experience Costa Rica’s culture and history. The market is a meeting spot where people gather everyday to greet and discuss current national affairs.

The Central Market, best known as Mercado Central, was founded in 1882. It has been remodeled several times through the years, but it still keeps its labyrinth-structure, where one may enter and loose itself inside. The market has several doors that flow out into main streets and avenues in the capital city.

Typical Costa Rican food restaurants are the Central Market’s treasures. Delicious, steaming food is served into big pots for your delight. It is absolutely delicious, and the secret lays on the fact that everything is made out of old recipes with a touch of the cooks’ creativeness and innovation.

Mercado Central is often visited by tourists and public employees whose office buildings are located in the surrounding areas. However, many people from other provinces, such as Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago, visit the Central Market as well, and enjoy the legendary delicacies at this wonderful place.

Some of the traditional dishes found at Costa Rica’s Central Market are the famous ‘casados’ (rice, beans, salad, cheese, plantains, tortillas and meat), ‘gallo pinto’ (rice with beans) and the deliciously sweet drink ‘agua dulce’ (water with national sugar candy).
While shopping for food and other merchandises, you can smell the aroma of the delicious tortillas with a bit of fresh cheese, which gives it a unique flavor - Costa Rican style. For the tidbits lovers there’s a wide variety of options such as guava marmalade, figs in syrup mangoes, special desserts: rice and milk, sugary bananas and the delicious fried plantains.

Featured Hotels and Activities


Then, after experiencing the sights and sounds of the central market, you can unwind in one of the nearby hotels, and maybe enjoy a relaxing dip in the pool or look across your room window or balcony and bask in the vibrant hum of the city at night at the Presidente Hotel in downtown San José, with a stunning view of Central Avenue, and close to all the shops, museums, theaters, and more. Or perhaps the Crown Plaza Corobic located close to the Sabana metropolitan park and the Costa Rican Art Musuem. This hotel features a spa, casino, a Japanese restaurant and more.

Hotel Presidente Crown Plaza Corobici


The National Theater which is located near Central Avenue is an excellent choice. The theater offers world-class ballet, a symphony, and has a scrumptious café on the premises. I would also recommend the National Museum which is also centrally located in San Jose.

San Jose City Tour Irazu Volcano
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