From local crafts to classical concerts, urban art to creative gastronomy, Costa Rica has much more to offer than ecotourism. The last few years have seen a boost in the cultural activities available for locals and visitors, mainly in downtown San José. This was sparked by a couple of initiatives, the first from the Costa Rican Hotel Chamber Association, who pushed for the area to be declared of Cultural-Touristic interest. This was followed by the creation of the “Paseo de los Museos”, or Museum Tour. Within less than a mile you can visit several spots, from the National Museum, created in 1887, to the Jade Museum, boasting an extensive collection of pre-Columbian artifacts.
GAM Cultural is an entity that has been bridging cultural offerings in the greater metropolitan area of Costa Rica and its potential public for the past six years. They have created a project called Art City Tour, an initiative that has inspired the revitalization of urban spaces and brought together thousands of Costa Rican people and tourists several times a year, who can visit museums and art galleries for free. There are live music venues and a variety of food options to choose from.
The “Feria Verde” or Green Market is another effort that has been evolving in the past few years. An organic farmer´s market set up twice a week, Tuesdays in Ciudad Colón, the West part of the city, and Saturdays in Barrio Aranjuez, east San José. Project came about as a non-profit effort to bring together farmers and consumers wishing to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only can you purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, but ready-made food, bread, dairy products and they also have handcrafts and live music to make it a well-rounded experience.
If you’re are interested in more elaborate food options, the Paseo Gastronomico La Luz, in Barrio Escalante, is an urban project, set up in an area of about 7 blocks where restaurants have flourished in the past years. The restaurants that are part of the project range from Mediterranean to Italian cuisine, pub style restaurants and cafés. Their objective is to achieve sustainability in their businesses while being able to strengthen the local community. They have set up food festivals a few times a year that have been overwhelmingly successful, showing how thirsty the Costa Rican people were for these kinds of community activities where food, music and handcrafts may be shared in a positive environment.
The National Theater in the heart of San José offers “Theatre at Noon” at least once a month, a very accessible show, either musical, dance or variety, for locals and tourists to escape to at lunchtime. They offer shows almost every day of the week ranging from plays, to comedy, drama, classical music and more. Check out their calendar of events at https://www.teatronacional.go.cr/Calendario.
So come to Costa Rica not only to discover our amazing biodiversity, but be surprised and welcomed by its vibrant music, arts and cultural scene.
Article by Katie Widdowson