The central valley of Costa Rica is the geographic and philosophical heart and soul of the country. It is where the Spanish first settled and where the coffee bean prospered to create an economically relevant nation. Between the capital city of San José and its prominent surrounding towns of Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago, approximately 70-percent of the country’s population can be found here.

Chepe—as locals affectionately refer to San José—is almost entirely European in its attitude. The city’s historical neighborhoods house not only the cultural treasures of the city, but also impressive colonial mansions converted into contemporary art galleries, impressive international culinary powerhouses, and exquisitely presented boutique hotels. Take time to orient yourself through the beautiful Sabana Park before visiting the National Theater, a true masterpiece in art and architecture, the Supreme Court, and some of the many unique museums of Costa Rica found along the city’s eclectic streets.