San José is the capital city, the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of Costa Rica. When visiting anywhere in this country, you’ll probably spend at least one night here at the beginning or end of your trip. Don’t worry, San Jose has plenty of diversions, with wild nights on the town and some of the nation's best gay clubs for dancing, cabaret, strippers and drag performances. The Marcha y Festival de la Diversidad, is the area's Pride celebration each June.
San Jose’s high altitude keeps evenings cool, meaning that it’s never too hot, even during the day. A little afternoon rain might fall during most of the “green season" from mid-May to mid-November, but rarely enough to keep you indoors; plus rates are often lower than in the winter months. During the many holiday fiestas in this land of Catholic faithful, the streets and parks can become very crowded with celebrating Ticos (local slang for Costa Ricans).
A pleasant day trip from San Jose is Cartago, the old capital 23 kilometers away, where two cathedrals draw tourists. One is a 500-year-old ruin, the victim of several earthquakes; the other, famous for an appearance of the Virgin Mary, attracts pilgrims by the millions.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport is about 20 minutes from San Jose in the town of Alajuela. Taxis are the hassle-free way to get downtown.
TUASA city buses depart every five minutes from the airport to downtown Alajuela, downtown Heredia, or downtown San José (a trip of about 35-minutes), all for about US$1. When returning to the airport from San José to the airport, inform the bus driver of your destination. Bus stations are located on 2nd Avenue, on the north side of the Nuestra Señora de La Merced church.
You definitely don’t need a car in San Jose, as the traffic is terrible and the one-way streets are confusing. If you’re staying overnight before heading out to other parts of the country, arrange for your rental car company to deliver the car to your hotel.
When heading for town after dark, have your hotel call a taxi. Fares are cheap but be sure there's a meter, or set the price in advance, or risk overpaying. Note that addresses here can be a bit complicated, but businesses often print "what to tell the taxi driver" instructions.
Currency and Money
The colon is the currency of Costa Rica. There are plenty of ATMs in downtown San Jose, so no need to carry a lot of cash.
Use caution when walking or night cruising for hustlers in Parque Nacional (Avenidas 1 and 3 at Calles 15 through19), or in Sabana Park.
Check out Squirt.org for more local cruising information.
Media & Resources
For our gay and lesbian businesses listings, map and resources with contact and website information, plus some restaurant and hotel suggestions, see our gay San Jose travel listings.
Costa Rica Gay Map and Costa Rica Gay Vacation have listings for the whole country, including San Jose, both in English. GayCosta Rica website and GayCostaRica Facebook page also have local events listings.
TravelCostaRicaNow is another website in English with general and gay-specific info about various parts of the country.
OrgulloGay, a Costa Rican local and international gay news blog, is in Spanish only.
Gecko Trail assists clients with their travel needs, providng customized vacation tours by experts with deep and wide knowledge of this country.
Gente 10 is a glossy magazine with local coverage of the Costa Rican LGBTI community, and an online reader to flip through their pages.
Ticosos.com website covers what's going on with the bear community in Costa Rica.
Colours Oasis Resort, a long-time gay and straight-friendly destination in San Jose, has listings for local bars, clubs, saunas and restraurants, plus tour information for destinations throughout Costa Rica.
Our San Jose Activities pages have 14 entries with information about other regions around Costa Rica, including national parks, wildlife refuges and eleven out of the way guesthouses of interest including Banana Azul on the Caribbean Coast and Villa Roca in Manuel Antonio.
To help protect some of Costa Rica's natural beauty, see SeaTurtles.org for news and information.
For general news about Costa Rica, in Spanish, incuding coverage of LGBT issues, see La Nación.
Hotels & Guesthouses
Casa Rainbow Canyon (Calle Copey off Radial Colón, Santa Ana), between the airport and the city, a men-only bed & breakfast with pool and patio, cable TV, AC, DVD and WiFi. Open year-round.
Colours Oasis Resort (Blvd de Rohrmoser, at Parque La Lomita), a long-time gay and straight-friendly destination in San Jose, offers modest luxury, rooms and apartments; pool, spa, massage, and their concierge can help you find local bars, clubs, saunas, restraurants, and area tours.
Hotel Kikoldi Garden (Avenida 9, Calles 5 & 7, Barrio Amón), gay-friendly small art deco hotel, tropical interior garden, 10 rooms, private bathrooms, telephone with free local calls, cable TV, free WiFi and computer for free use of guests.
Secret Garden B&B (Blvd de Rohrmoser 14), guestrooms with private baths, pool, garden courtyard, cable TV, WiFi, full breakfast.
See more hotel options at our map & listings pages.
Outside San Jose there are several resorts and guesthouses that cater to gay travellers. Each has a website with information on tours and scenic local attractions.
Villa Roca resort, between Quepos and the National Park at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, exclusively for gay men, lesbians and their friends.
Banana Azul, operated by two gay Canadians, on the Caribbean Coast at Playa Negra, near Puerto Viejo and Limón.
Bar/ club listings for San Jose, never easy to compile, became even more difficult recently as websites have gone down, and facebook pages lack updates. Our list uses sources available in February 2017. See the concierge at Colours Oasis Resort for updates, if staying there, or try La Avispa, Bochinche, El Teatro or Pucho's first, then ask around about the other places. See our gallery pages for some photos of locals out and about town.
Bochinche (Calle 11, Avenidas 10 & 12), aka Club Bo, video bar and dance club, full of guys, mostly younger crowd goes all night long Saturdays.
Buenas Vibraciones (Avenida 14, Calle 7 & 9), Lesbian-owned bar on avenida 14 (between 7&9th), open nightly, mostly women, but men-friendly too.
Club El Teatro (Calle 2, Av 14 & 16), gay/mixed Friday/Saturday dance club, men/women mostly young crowd, stage shows, strippers/go-gos; former site of Club OH!
El 13, (Avenida 14, Calle 9), daytime cafe, evening upscale dance club/ lounge and restaurant; shows, theme parties, chic young gay mix.
La Avispa, (Calle primera, Av 8 & 10), long-time gay dance and show club with a mixed crowd, salsa, samba and merengue plus chart hits; big Sunday afternoons for latin disco/ salsa dance mix.
Olio Restaurant & Pub (Calle 33, Barrio Escalante), gay favorite Mediterranean lunch and dinner pastas, seafood, carpaccios, steaks, tapas: cocktails; elegant and friendly atmosphere.
Oráculo, Bar and Grill (Calle 11, Av 8 & 10, upstairs), nightly gay club, strippers, S&M/ erotic naked shows, darkroom, shows, performances, bear nights; above Pucho's.
Pucho's (Calle 11, Av 8 & 10), late-night bar and disco men's club with raunchy strippers and go-go boys who get quite erotic in “anything goes” performances - especially on "Caligula" nights. Also hosts TicOsos bear parties.
Venue (Mall San Pedro, East Side), large dance club, open to all, but very gay friendly, with periodic circuit take-over dance parties.
Zona Rosa Xtreme (paradas de San Isidro), popular LGBT sports bar, dark rooms, cruising, underwear nights.
Between Alajuela and the airport, northwest of San Jose, Casa Vieja, (400m east from Iglesia de Monserrat, Alajuela), is lively gay bar and restaurant, with cabaret drag shows and theme parties.
100° Celsius Lounge (Calle 2, Ave 16) - CLOSED - men's sauna club, cabins, Jacuzzi, dark room, porn video room, sling, glory holes, DJ music lounge, theme party nights.
Blue Door Massage (Calle 3a, Avenida 7 & 9), nothing fancy decor, men for men erotic massages, mostly locals.
Cinema Rexxx (Avenida 1, 75m east of Parque Nacional corner), adult video screenings, gay cruising, open nightly midnight to noon.
Sauna Club Hispalis (Casa 1762, Avenida Segunda 1762), modern sauna and steam room, busy cruise maze, big jacuzzi, and swimming pool, plus bar and restaurant. Full-nude days, especially crowded Sunday afternoons.
Las Termas de París (Avenida 7, Calle 7), older facility north of Parque Morazán, sauna, large Jacuzzi, social area, porn videos, cruise maze.
See our gay San Jose listings section for these and more, with locations, websites and contact information.
Also check out the Pacific coast resort towns of Manuel Antonio and Quepos.
See our Activities page for information about other destinations in Costa Rica, including: Braulio Carrillo, Cartago, Copa De Arbol Beach, Guayabo National Park, Manuel Antonio, Playa Grande, Poás Volcano National Park, Quepos, Puerto Viejo and the Southern Pacific Zone.