San Jose nightlife continue to be one of the major attractions of this bustling capital city, but travelers in search of a good time should also remember to use good common sense when partying.
Knowing which San Jose bars and clubs are safe and exciting and using common safety precautions can mean the difference between a great evening out and some serious regrets.
While San Juan Costa Rica at night is mostly safe, the same precautions anyone would take in an unknown American or European city apply. Don’t travel alone, avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods, and always have a safe way back to the hotel.
With that in mind, San Jose bars offer some of the best Central American music anywhere, as well as a diversity of other musical and entertainment styles.
Conveniently located right downtown, the San Jose Costa Rica bars Chellis and Bar Morazon offer a safe place to have a nightcap, an afternoon beer, or a drink with friends and some bocas—popular Costa Rican appetizers traditionally served with alcohol.
El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte is one of San Jose Costa Rica’s most popular bars, and features live music and an even livelier crowd that includes artists, students, and well-heeled young people looking for the opposite sex. Usually packed shoulder to shoulder on weekends, El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte is a bit of San Jose nightlife not to be missed for those who like clubbing.
The Shakespeare Bar, located next to the San Garbo movie theater, is a quiet little place where visitors looking for a quiet drink can relax and discuss cinema or anything else that comes to mind.
For a livelier cinematic-themed San Jose Costa Rica bar, try El Observatorio. Owned by a local filmmaker, El Observatorio features movie décor, occasional live music and film screenings, and tasty appetizer.
Merdiano al Este, a San Jose Costa Rica bar owned by the music group Editus, remains one of the best places in San Jose Costa Rica to catch live music. The food is simple, but the acoustics were carefully planned to be exceptional, and the place is usually packed. Expect to stay awhile.
For dancing the night away, try El Tobogan or Café 83 Sur, both Tico favorites that serve up a nightly mix of Latin rhythms such as salsa, cumbria, and merengue. Café 83 Sur is strictly DJ and recorded music, but El Tobogan usually features a live dance band.
La Plaza is the San Jose Costa Rica nightlife experience favored by the young, beautiful, and well off. The crowd at La Plaza is younger than most other places in town, and occasionally reggae bands are the featured entertainment here.
Finally, to see salsa dancing the way it was meant to be, check out Salsa 54. Some of the best salsa dancers in Costa Rica hang out here, but beginners are welcome too, so watching and trying it out are both acceptable. Tourists are rare at Salsa 54 but the place is friendly and welcoming, and you never know—you just might catch the salsa bug!
Most San Jose Costa Rica hotels can hook visitors up to salsa classes easily and cheaply, and once salsa gets into your system, it’s hard to let it go!