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San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central) Tours

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San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)
Bountiful produce stalls, local-approved cafeterias, and vendor stalls selling everything from coffee beans to cowboy boots give visitors to San Jose’s Central Market (Mercado Central) a taste of real Costa Rican culture. Visit as part of an epic errand run or for a chance to look behind-the-scenes at everyday life in Costa Rica. 

The Basics
Whether you’re looking for free entertainment or you just forgot to pack your floss, most San Jose visitors will find themselves in the Central Market at some point during their stay in Costa Rica’s capital city. As the largest market in the city, the Central Market usually offers the lowest prices around town on every good imaginable, but with the highest hustle and bustle. Be prepared for sensory overload, and take your time browsing the maze of more than 200 stalls and eateries. 

To learn about the many goods on offer, including products unique to Costa Rica, visit the market as part of a guided tour. San Jose walking tours and sightseeing tours sometimes include the market for a look at local culture, while niche local experiences such as food tours and art tours will help you explore the market from a distinct lens. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Vendors are typically open to bargaining.
  • Ask permission before taking photos. 
  • Avoid overwhelm by taking your time or visiting with a tour.
  • The Central Market is suitable for visitors of all ages.
  • The market is close to other attractions such as Mercado Borbón.

How to Get There
The San Jose Central Market is located in downtown San Jose just four blocks northwest of Central Park and bordered by Avenida Central and 1 and Calles 6 and 8. The market is most easily accessed in one of San Jose’s many taxis, and a handful of bus stops, including Leon XIII and Quesada Duran, are also within walking distance.

When to Get There
The Central Market is roughly open from sunup to sundown. Plan your visit for early in the day to avoid large crowds and fill up on a hearty breakfast with a sweet cup of coffee, or head over around midday for the full effect and plentiful lunch options. The market is closed on Sundays.

Old Money
Though it may seem like a chaotic flea market, the Central Market unassumingly combines history and modern commerce, having served as a marketplace since 1880, though it was probably quieter back in the day.
Address: Avenida Central, San Jose 10101, Costa Rica
Admission: Free
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12 Tours and Activities to Experience San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)

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San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture

San Jose Walking Tour: Food, History and Architecture

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Get a taste of San Jose’s culture and cuisine on this 3-hour walking tour. Explore Costa Rica’s capital accompanied by an expert guide and learn about the city’s history, architecture and flavor. Explore the produce stalls of two traditional markets and discover what makes Costa Rican coffee so delicious as you sample some local brews. The tour is capped at 12 people for a personalized small-group experience.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$38.00
From
$38.00
Taking safety measures

San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group Tour

San Jose By Night: Food and Culture Small Group Tour

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Discover San Jose’s hidden delights with this unique evening tour of the Costa Rican capital. Wander through a maze of vendor stalls and to learn about staples of local cooking at the Central Market, and see the opulent National Theater and other architectural highlights on a twilight walking tour. Drive to the ritzy Paseo de la Luz the east side of San Jose well known for its gastronomy. Finish the night with a 3-course meal and wine pairings at a gourmet Costa Rican restaurant.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$74.00
From
$74.00
Taking safety measures

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

San Jose Walking and Bus City Tour

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Explore the Costa Rican capital’s rich history, landmark buildings, and modern culture on a combo bus and walking tour of San Jose. Get a great introduction to city highlights like the National Theater and Art Museum, and stop to walk through bustling markets and public plazas to feel the pulse of this modern Central American metropolis. Get an extra boost of Costa Rican culture by listening to traditional folkloric music onboard the bus.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$60.26
From
$60.26

Lonely Planet Experiences: San Jose Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit

Lonely Planet Experiences: San Jose Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visit

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Enjoy an insider’s perspective of San Jose on this half-day city walking tour. Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll get a sense of daily life in the Costa Rican capital as you ride public transportation, stop by a beautiful local park and visit the artisan workshop of a third-generation craftsman. Taste local flavors while you browse stalls at the historic Central Market, savor a traditional lunch at an 80-year-old inn and learn to make tortillas.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.00
From
$65.00
Taking safety measures

Cartago Day Trip by Rail from San Jose: Bike Ride and Market Tour

Cartago Day Trip by Rail from San Jose: Bike Ride and Market Tour

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Escape the ordinary on this immersive bike-riding day trip to the charming town of Cartago. Experience the Costa Rican rail system with a short train ride, and then hop on your bike for a two-wheeled tour around Cartago’s historic streets. Learn about the town’s colonial history with your expert guide, and visit a local market to sample delicious produce and traditional treats before heading back to San Jose by bus. A small group limit of 12 people provides a personalized experience on this half-day tour.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$63.00
From
$63.00
Taking safety measures

San Jose Beer Tasting Tour

San Jose Beer Tasting Tour

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Tap into Costa Rica’s emerging craft beer movement with this 4-hour beer tour in San Jose. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll explore the Barrio Escalante, the heart of San Jose’s pub culture and home to many brewpubs. Taste 10 different varieties of beer, accompanied by traditional tapas — the Costa Rican version of bar snacks. You’ll also have a chance to pick up a few souvenirs at the Artesanos Market. A small group size helps create a more personalized tour experience.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$75.00
From
$75.00
Taking safety measures

VIP City Bus Tour From San Jose

VIP City Bus Tour From San Jose

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Kickstart your time in San Jose on a panoramic bus tour that’s designed to provide an introduction to first-time visitors. As well as enjoying unobstructed views of San Jose’s historical centre from the top deck of the bus, you’ll be party to facts and anecdotes that you’re unlikely to find in the guidebook. Plus, exploring by bus allows you to cover more sights in less time, making this tour ideal for time-pressed travelers.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$69.00
From
$69.00
Taking safety measures

Local Food Markets of San José

Local Food Markets of San José

Visit three of San Jose’s bustling markets on this food-focused tour. First up: San José Central Market. Established in 1880, it’s the largest and oldest market in the city and contains more than 200 shops, stalls, and restaurants within its narrow walkways. You’ll also visit the meat market and Borbón Market, which focuses on fresh produce.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$65.00
From
$65.00

Half-Day San Jose Evening Bus Tour with Dinner and Pickup

Half-Day San Jose Evening Bus Tour with Dinner and Pickup

star-4
Experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of San Jose on an evening bus tour. Starting from your hotel, a comfortable double-decker bus with onboard WiFi serves as your transportation for the evening. See over 25 of the city’s landmarks and stop for a bilingual guided tour at key locations, including the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Enjoy an included dinner of local cuisine, before drop-off at your hotel.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$66.00
From
$66.00

San Jose City Tour Half Day

San Jose City Tour Half Day

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Immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture and history on this guided tour of the capital city. Highlights include the National Theater, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, the University of Costa Rica, the Supreme Court, and Central Market. A bilingual guide is on hand to answer questions and provide insight about what you see along the way.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$71.60
From
$71.60
Taking safety measures

Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe

Explore the Central Market's History and Food with a Local Expert by Carpe Chepe

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Visit the Central Market in San Jose on this guided tour and learn about its 136-year history. There, sample regional staples like tropical seasonal fruit, tortillas, ice cream, Costa Rican coffee, and other local specialities. Plus, find out how and why San Jose became the capital city of Costa Rica.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$48.00
From
$48.00

San Jose Small Group Walking Tour by Carpe Chepe

San Jose Small Group Walking Tour by Carpe Chepe

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Discover historical monuments and the latest San Jose hangout spots during this small-group walking tour in the capital of Costa Rica. Your local guide shows you important landmarks and shares the inside scoop on the city’s best cafes, eateries, and shops. Meet downtown at The National Theater, or upgrade for hotel pickup and drop-off.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$40.00
From
$40.00

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What's the best way to experience San Jose Central Market (Mercado Central)?