Things to see in Cartago, Costa Rica’s first Capital

Things to see in Cartago, Costa Ricas first Capital


The historic first capital of lies just around 15 miles from the modern buzz of San Jose. It is a great day trip to take because there are many historic monuments and natural wonders all set in a more relaxed and local atmosphere. 


Getting to Cartago from San Jose:

Bus # 300 leaves San Jose frequently from a station on Avenida 10, between Calles 5 and 7. The most recent bus fare is calculated at C595, and the trip takes around 45 minutes. There is also a train between the two cities: The first train leaves the station in Cartago at 5:30 a.m. and arrives at the Estación del Atlántico in downtown San José at about 6:13 a.m. A train leaves the station every 30 minutes until 8 a.m. Service starts again at 4 p.m. and runs every 30 minutes until 7:30 p.m. A good way to avoid traffic in peak hours.


Things to See:


Things to see in Cartago, Costa Ricas first CapitalThe Ruins:



The heart of Cartago is home to a major town square built around the ruins of a previously proud cathedral. The beautiful gardens that grow within and around the aging church walls give it a natural and appealing look.


Orosi Valley:


Just beyond the town limits of Cartago lies a beautiful panorama. Orosi is a small town set in a lush valley where the first settlement of Costa Rica began. It houses the country’s oldest church and nearby the Cachi Dam makes for stunning water views. This is a great place to stay in a small hotel, enjoy a coffee plantation and delve into local culture.


Irazú Volcano:


One will have to venture another 20 miles from the center of Cartago to see this famed volcano. Travelers many book a trip with a guide or hotel (often more costly), but there is an option to go on your own on Sunday mornings.  A bus from San Jose picks up near the bus terminal in Cartago sometime after 8:30AM 4000 colones return and returns at 12:30PM from the National Park. There is a Park entrance fee for tourists: 5020 colones.


Basilica La Virgen de los Angeles:


This is a focal point for the entire country being the shrine of the national patron. The church is a masterpiece of woodworking and it is constantly occupied with worshippers. Pilgrims come all year round, but especially at the end of July when 1.5 million people make a walking devotion to the shrine from across the country. It is a spectacle during Holy Week as well.


Things to see in Cartago, Costa Ricas first Capital


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