Conscious City Guide: San Jose, Costa Rica with Sumak Travel

This post is on of several in a series on ethical tourism in Costa Rica, written by myself as well as Kasi (The Peahen Blog) and Simone (The Ethereal Edit).

To learn more about our experience with Sumak Travel, read Simone's post on Finca Sura organic farm, my post on the Juanilama Community, and Kasi's posts on slow food and secondhand fashion

After visiting Costa Rica on a trip coordinated by ethical travel agency Sumak Travel, I can attest to the fact that this beautiful country is a conscious consumer's paradise. Fresh, organic, farm-to-table food? Check. An abundance of eco-friendly lodging options? Check.

There are many opportunities to use your travel time to support small businesses and local initiatives focused on rainforest conservation, something that is so, so important given the rate at which the world's forests are disappearing

Of course, you'll want to spend time in nature while visiting Costa Rica, but don't skip over soaking in a little city culture in San Jose! This vibrant city is nothing but a quick stopover for many travelers, who head straight out to other areas once their planes have landed, but don't underestimate it: San Jose is full of surprises, with lots to do and see. 

My friends at Sumak Travel have kindly helped me pull together a list of some of the highlights! 


Al Mercat

Al Mercat offers an elevated twist on traditional Costa Rican dishes. I visited Al Mercat on my first evening in San Jose and enjoyed a wonderful sampling of mostly veggie-based dishes featuring locally harvested produce from the restaurant's own farm! 
Facebook // Instagram // Al Mercat Finca (farm) Instagram
Phone: 00506 2221 0783


Sample delicious + ethically sourced Costa Rican coffee at Cafeoteca! 23 types of Costa Rican specialty estate coffee are offered, making this the dream destination of any hardcore coffee aficionado. 
Facebook // Web
Phone: 00506 2253 8367

Photo Via Mantras Veggie Cafe 

Photo Via Mantras Veggie Cafe 


Mantras Veggie Cafe

For vegan food, look no further than Mantras Veggie Cafe. A casual setting to grab a salad or wrap before you head out to explore! 




Manos en la Masa

Check out this bakery/cafe for brunch! Definitely get the Costa Rican beans and rice. Trust me on that. It's also a great spot to grab lunch on the go, with a variety of sandwiches, tamales, etc. 



Galeria Namu

If you're looking for fine art, sculpture, and decorative crafts, Galeria Namu is the place to shop! This gallery practices fair trade principles and pays artisans up-front rather than using a consignment model. 

Web // Facebook 


Chieton Moren

Chieton Moren is a local art and handicrafts shop + museum! The shop holds goods sourced from 73 individual artists and artisans from various regions around Costa Rica. Admission to the accompanying museum is free. 


Me Extrana

Me Extrana keeps offcast and secondhand American clothes from entering the landfill by refashioning garments and reselling them in San Jose. Expect to find unique clothing with a bohemian flair. 



Boutique Kiosco

Another great source for locally made clothing and crafts, Boutique Kiosco has a bit more of a moden vibe. Expect to find super-wearable jewelry and garments, plus practical gifts to bring back home. 



Tienda Eñe

Tienda eÑe offers a wide range of Costa Rican design including shoes,  leather goods, clothing, bags, jewelry, and artwork. The shop has been running for over 10 years, and boasts a community of 60 artists and makers. 




Free Tour San Jose

This walking tour through San Jose will introduce you to local landmarks as well as the hidden gems most tourists won't find. About 2.5 hours long, You'll be sure to learn lots about the local culture and history! 




Carpe Chepe

Experience a night out on the town like a local with Carpe Chepe! Hop on the bus (painted by a local artist) and enjoy a pub crawl featuring tucked-away local establishments. San Jose is home to a burgeoning craft beer industry, and the folks at Carpe Chepe will give you all the details on where to find the best brews! 

Facebook // Web 


Enjoy some active and eco-friendly fun by participating in a bike tour around the city. There are several different routes to choose from which will take you to local hotspots like Central Market, National Monument, Old National Liquor Factory, the Otoya neighborhood, Barrio Amón, Parque España, Parque Morazán and Temple of Music.



If yoga's your thing, stop by this yoga venue and organic vegan cafe. Take a class, connect with other yogis, or get some great natural health and wellness recommendations from the community of experts. 




Hotel Boutique Luz de Luna

This small, locally owned hotel offers comfortable accommodations, wifi, great service, and a delicious traditional breakfast in the morning! Located in a beautiful neighborhood with many amazing eateries, shops, and art displays.

Phone: 00506 2225 4919


Friendly staff, comfortable rooms. The hotel itself is charming and beautifully decorated. Just a short walk away from lots of lovely local spots. I'd stay here again!

Facebook // Web
Phone: 00506 2280 6265

Hotel Presidente

If you prefer slightly more upscale accommodations, stay downtown at Hotel Presidente- a stunning, locally owned boutique hotel with all the amenities. 



Want some expert guidance on your trip to Costa Rica (or South America in general)? Get in touch with Sumak Travel! Sumak Travel's off-the-beaten-path trips highlight fair trade initiatives, authentic cultural experiences, and eco-friendly travel. 
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Phone: 844-677-7010 (US Toll Free)