For many, San Jose is merely seen as the gateway to Costa Rica's top destinations such as Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio, but by simply flying in and out of the capital, visitors do in fact miss out on a host of great attractions.
Indeed, San Jose is arguably the finest and most cosmopolitan city in Central America, so it's well worth spending at least a couple of days here soaking up the atmosphere before moving on to the volcanoes and jungles.
If you want to learn more about the history of Costa Rica, San Jose is the place to do it.
Visit the Gold Museum for the story of the pre-Columbian peoples of Costa Rica told through more than 1,500 glittering artifacts dating back to as early as 500 AD, before learning about the more recent history of the city at the National Museum, whose building is an exhibit in itself.
Look closely at this beautiful ochre fortress for evidence of the country's brief civil war in 1948 in the form of bullet holes in the stonework. This was a landmark period in Costa Rica's history that lead to the abolishment of the military - rendering the country a peaceful place once again.
Inside the museum, you'll find collections of pre-Columbian pottery and gold, giving further insight into what life was like in Central America before the arrival of the Spanish.
If you have kids also be sure to check out the Children's museum, built in the old prison. Here kids can enjoy loads of hands on science experiences, pretend to fly a helicopter, and learn how bananas get processed. I can't mention everything available but suffice it to say this is a full day and fun for the whole family!
If you fancy getting out in the fresh air after exploring San Jose's museums, then head for the 'lungs of the city', La Sabana Metropolitan Park. Chill out on the grass, go for a jog around the lake in the centre and take a look at Costa Rica's National Stadium, which is situated at the western end. On Sundays locals congregate here and there is often music, vendors, and activities for children.
Other parks in the city include the National Park, Peace Park and the Japan-inspired Parque Okayama.
The National Stadium isn't the only landmark in the city by any means. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the National Theatre, which is ornately decorated with gold fittings, marble sculptures and frescoes, creating a distinctly European feel.
Also look out for the Metropolitan Cathedral and the towering 'Tradition, stability and justice' sculpture by Ibo Bonilla in Justice Square.
Your visit needn't be entirely cultural, of course. Why not take advantage of the city's wealth of restaurants, clubs and bars before you head to places like Monteverde, where things are much quieter and slower paced?
For a top meal, try the Park Cafe located inside an antiques shop in Sabana Norte. It's not a place you'd expect to find a Michelin-starred chef, but European cook Richard Neat is the main reason for the Park Cafe's rave reviews. Other enjoyable ways to spend an evening in Costa Rica include checking out the live music at Bar Morazan and dancing the salsa at Mojitos.
With so much to see and do, make sure that when you're planning your trip to Costa Rica you make some time for San Jose, one of the liveliest cities in Central America. It's worth more than just a flying visit.