A visit to Costa Rica would simply be incomplete without taking the time to appreciate its thriving and unique cultural scene. Artists have long been inspired by Costa Rica’s beauty and vibrant culture, using its natural resources for inspiration and, occasionally, instrument.
If you like both art and adventure, check out the list below. Some places are off the beaten path and some are right in the heart of the city, but all of them are unforgettable.
The Museum of Stone Spheres
The Museum of Stone Spheres, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Diquís Delta, is home to more than 300 stone sculptures. Colloquially known as “Las Bolas”, these spheres – much like Stonehenge – are of nebulous origin and purpose, though archaeologists have dated them back to about the year 600. Their mysterious nature and historical significance have even inspired modern art.
The town of Sarchí is world-renowned for its woodwork, leather shops, and ceramics. Located at the base of the Central Valley Mountain Range, Sarchí is also famous for its oxcarts – brightly-painted, beautifully decorated symbols of Costa Rican tradition. The oxcarts line the shop-lined streets, where you can purchase and admire any manner of artisanal crafts and furniture.
This downtown San José gallery specializes in fair trade and indigenous art of Central America. It features hundreds of unique and exceptional pieces, from tribal masks to pottery. Namu prides itself on its mission statement – “to respect and celebrate the permanence and legacy of the first people” of Central America – and its commitment to paying artists quickly and fairly. They also have an online shop with both original and replicate items.
The Monte Azul Boutique Hotel preserve sits at the base of Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest mountain, and is surrounded by 125 acres of lush rainforest. Its living spaces are expertly and beautifully curated by the hotel’s artist-in-residence. Between the stunning natural environment and the luxurious and expansive accommodations, Monte Azul is truly an inspired experience.
The Museum of Costa Rican Art
An old airport in San José’s La Sabana Park is now the Costa Rican Art Museum, which features sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more. The museum hosts the works of Costa Rica’s most famous artist, Francisco Amighetti, a surrealist who specialized in showing the daily life of Costa Ricans.
Be sure you plan before you go: the museum offers complimentary admission on Sundays and is closed on Mondays.