An exemplary capital of a country also considered an example for its Central American neighbours, San José is safe, beautiful, clean, and boasts much lower levels of violence than those recorded in that region of the globe. The city is a mandatory stop on travel itineraries across the country, both for being the main gateway to Costa Rica and for its central location, which ends up making it necessary to pass there more than once on trips that traverse the territory from north to south, from east to west.
A few days in San José, home to over one third of all Ticos, will give you an insight into the true character of the nation. The city's markets are colourful and vibrant, and its nightlife is as sophisticated (or as debauched) as you want it to be. The city is also home to several galleries and museums, and there are a few neighbourhoods in the city still show colonial style. The assault on the senses that is Chepe is perhaps your best opportunity for understanding the complexities of modern-day Costa Rica.