Costa Rica (Republic of Costa Rica)

Languages: Spanish

Currencies: CRC · Costa Rican colón (₡)

Capitol: San José

Continents: North America

Borders: Nicaragua, Panama

More useful information

Area: 51,100km2

Population: 5,094,114

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +506

Timezones: UTC-06:00

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Last updated on August 11, 2023

Cartago was the capital city of Costa Rica until 1823 when it was relocated to San Jose. It served as the first permanent Spanish settlement and the first capital city of Costa Rica.

Cartago is known for its religious festivals, including the annual pilgrimage to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles on August 2nd, which attracts millions of people from around the country.

The city is located at the foot of the Irazú Volcano, which is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica. It last erupted in 1994 and visitors can climb to the crater rim to see breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

Cartago is home to numerous pre-Columbian archaeological sites, including the Guayabo National Monument, which is believed to have been a significant city during the period between 1000 BC and 1400 AD. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins and learn about the culture and history of the indigenous people of Costa Rica.

The Orosi Valley in Cartago has lush vegetation, diverse flora, and fauna, and a tropical climate. It is an idyllic spot for coffee plantations that produce some of the best coffee in the world. Visitors can take coffee tours and learn about the history of coffee production in Costa Rica.

The city along with the province villages have been damaged numerous times by natural disasters including various earthquakes.

Best things to see in Cartago, Costa Rica

How to get to Cartago from San Jose?

Cartago is easily accessible from San Jose bus terminal (Avenida 10) and it only takes 45 minutes to get there. Cartago is a great alternative from crowded San Jose, full of interesting monuments and completely different than present capital. It’s a great idea for a day trip to chill in a nice atmosphere of the city. 

Exploring Cartago.

Take a walk through the town to explore the place and cosy restaurants. Local guide can be a very interesting option in this town. It is so much to tell about the place that they actually have great stories to offer. Taste traditional cuisine – Cartago offers a variety of restaurants where you can savor delicious Costa Rican dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local delicacies. We landed in one of the Mexican restaurants and I must say the food was brilliant!

Cartago is known for the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, where a significant religious pilgrimage takes place on August 2nd each year. This pilgrimage attracts millions of people from all over Costa Rica and is a unique cultural experience.

Cartago is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in Costa Rica and was the country’s capital until it was moved to San Jose. Despite being damaged by earthquakes, Cartago has retained its historical charm and offers a glimpse into Costa Rica’s colonial past.

Best atractions to see in Cartago.

Explore the Lankester Botanical Gardens. Take a stroll through the beautiful Lankester Botanical Gardens, which showcase a diverse collection of orchids and other native plants. 

Discover the ruins of the Cartago Central Market. Explore the remains of the Cartago Central Market, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1910. The ruins provide a glimpse into the city’s past and offer a unique photo opportunity.

Take a day trip to Irazú Volcano. Just a short drive from Cartago, Irazú Volcano is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica. Enjoy a hike to the summit and witness breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including the turquoise waters of the crater lake.

Explore the Guayabo National Monument –  located near Cartago, Guayabo National Monument is an archaeological site that preserves the remains of an ancient pre-Columbian city. Take a guided tour and learn about the rich history and culture of the indigenous people who once inhabited the area.

Visit the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles. This iconic basilica is a popular pilgrimage site in Costa Rica and an important religious landmark. Admire the stunning architecture and learn about its rich history.Santuario Nacional Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles is the most iconic landmark of the place. The church is a masterpiece of woodwork. Take a walk toward ruins of the Church of Cartage next to the major town square – Plaza Mayor, regarded as the center of the city. 

The poorest districts along with a giant grey factory are located at the surburbs of the town… I recommend a trip to this area to see the full picture of the place. 

One of the best day trips from San Jose is a tour to magnificent Poas Volcano.

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!

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