Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), San Jose

It would be a pity to leave San Jose without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to San Jose, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Costa Rica » San Jose (See other walking tours in San Jose)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Paragueria Rego
  • El Tostador
  • Libreria Lehmann
  • Pre-Columbian Gold Museum Gift Shop
  • Chieton Moren
1
Paragueria Rego

1) Paragueria Rego

In a country where the annual rainfall measures 250 centimeters nationwide, an umbrella is a must-have accessory. Rego is a household name in Costa Rica that has been selling paraguas (for men) and colorful sombrillas (for women) for over sixty years. Close to the equator, it is also popular to carry a sun umbrella. If you are planning to spend several days at the beach, you can pick up a beach umbrella at Rego.

Compact designs small enough to fit in a purse start at $8. Beach umbrellas range in price from $60 to $85. While many stores and supermarkets throughout Costa Rica sell the Rego brand, it’s fun to make a purchase from the tiny shop on the corner of Avenida 2 and Calle 1o, which tends to customers over the counter. Rego offers a similar intimate and customer-oriented environment in a slightly larger shop just up the street on Avenida 4, one of the capital’s pedestrian walkways (www.regocr.com or 506-2222-2163).

What to buy here: Umbrellas.
2
El Tostador

2) El Tostador

Costa Rica refers to the coffee bean as a “grano de oro,” or gold nugget. Coffee has played a major role in the country’s development. Big name brands and boutique labels decorate supermarket shelves, and hand-weighed pounds pass straight from the roaster to the customer in coffee shops. One-pound bags selling for as little as $3 are sure to please even the most discriminating coffee palate.

Auto Mercado supermarkets throughout the capital have a well-stocked coffee aisle displaying the popular 1820 and Café Britt brands, among others. But if you want to select fresh-roasted beans from a bin, try El Tostador, located on Avenida Central and Calle 10.

What to buy here: Coffee
3
Libreria Lehmann

3) Libreria Lehmann

The fact that Costa Rica is home to 4 % of the world’s biodiversity makes it a stunning place to photograph. It’s no surprise that stacks of coffee table books grace the shelves of bookstores. Magical Trees by Juan José Sergio and Giancarlo Pucci (2nd Edition), a soft-covered book about the trees of Costa Rica with text in English and Spanish ($38). (One of the writers is Jaime Gambo from Costa Rica’s famous band Malpais.)

Among the large selection of creative bilingual children’s books, there is a story and coloring book called Magical Trees ($7) that talks about five of Costa Rica’s native trees. You can also find coffee table books highlighting the guaria morada (orchid), which is Costa Rica’s national flower, and birds. Costa Rica is home to 860 recorded bird species. (That’s more than the recorded number in the U.S.A. and Canada combined!)

Along the city’s bustling Avenida Central are Libreria Lehmann, Universal and Libreria Internacional, all of which sell a great variety of books about Costa Rica.

What to buy here: Books
4
Pre-Columbian Gold Museum Gift Shop

4) Pre-Columbian Gold Museum Gift Shop

Forming part of Costa Rica’s dynamic arts scene are jewelry designers working in gold, silver, glass, semi-precious stones, clay and recyclable materials. Boutique shops throughout San José sell a variety of unique designs. Prices range from $10 to the hundreds. The gift shop in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum sells Pre-Columbian replicas and modern designs in gold (14K solid and 24K plated) and silver (950). The jewelry is designed and made by artists producing pieces exclusively for the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum (www.museodelbancocentral.org or 506-2243-4214).

What to buy here: Costa Rican Indigenous Art | Indigenous Textiles | Pre-Colombian Jewelry |
5
Chieton Moren

5) Chieton Moren

Costa Rica has tremendous biodiversity as well as ethnodiversity. Each of the country’s eight indigenous groups creates unique arts and crafts, including hand-carved and painted masks, hand-woven textiles and straw goods, intricately carved gourds, hand-sewn clothing and jewelry.

Outside of purchasing goods on a visit to an indigenous community or at an artisan fair, the best place in the capital to buy indigenous arts and crafts is Chíeton Morén. With the help of the La Dolorosa Catholic Church and the La Flor Group in Boruca, San José now has a museum and gallery dedicated to Costa Rica’s indigenous people. The space is designed to educate visitors and provide an opportunity for all indigenous groups to sell their arts and crafts without an intermediary.

Prices range from $5 for a hand-woven change purse to $20 for a small ceramic vase to $40 for a hand-woven straw hat.

What to buy here: Ceramic Art | Costa Rican Indigenous Art | Indigenous Textiles.

Walking Tours in San Jose, Costa Rica

Create Your Own Walk in San Jose

Create Your Own Walk in San Jose

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Jose is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Architecture Tour

Historical Architecture Tour

What's known today as San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, came into being as a small settlement during the Spanish invasion, circa the mid-16th century. From a town of little importance, San Jose eventually evolved into a densely-populated cosmopolitan city, built mostly with proceeds from coffee trade.

The historic architecture of San Jose is a mix of European and Latin American styles...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
San Jose Introduction Walking Tour

San Jose Introduction Walking Tour

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, was founded in 1736 by an edict from the Catholic Church of Spain. The Cabildo de Leon, as it was called, wanted to create a central area for all inhabitants of the valley. The first construction in San Jose was a small chapel that was dedicated to St. Joseph of Nazareth. This is how the city was given the name San Jose.

The city officially became the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Shopping and Food Walking Tour

Shopping and Food Walking Tour

Walking the pedestrian-friendly promenades of Costa Rica's capital – San Jose – is a great way to experience the local culture. Despite an occasional rainstorm, the country's tropical weather makes outdoor shopping an undeniably fun experience. The downtown part of San Jose has no shortage of department stores, traditional marketplaces and souvenir shops selling handcrafts.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


17 Uniquely Costa Rican Things to Buy in San Jose

17 Uniquely Costa Rican Things to Buy in San Jose

Not to be confused with San Jose, the sunny California, San Jose, Costa Rica is the capital city of a wet (250 centimeters of rainfall per year) and colorful Latin American country renowned for its diverse craftsmanship (courtesy of the numerous indigenous tribes), splendid coffee and rich cultural...