Mercado Central, San José

Get into the labyrinth of narrow streets of Mercado Central and meet the real city of San José in depth

Mercado Central, San José
Mercado Central, San José
© Richie Diesterheft

The Mercado Central (Central Market) of San José is one of the most significant places of the city, where you can get to know by first hand the Costa Rican daily life. It was built in 1880, close to The Metropolitan Cathedral, and it is the biggest market of the capital as it covers an entire block with more than two hundred stands: fruit, meat, fish, etc.

Getting into its labyrinthine route of alleys is one of the best ways of living San José. The market it is very characteristic for its red beef and crispy pork scratching in which stalls you can taste fresh papaya, vegetable pear (also known as “chayote”), lychee fruit or cas (a sweet and sour fruit used as a base for fresco de Cas, an acidic fruit drink). You can also buy a huge variety of exotic products such as flowers, medicinal herbs, snakeskin boots, etc.

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Also, this Latin American traditional market has also numerous “sodas” (snack bars), in where you can eat cheap cooked meals made with fresh food.

It is advisable to remember that it is one of the most crowded places of San José, so you might be sometimes surrounded by people in a noisy and strong food-smelling atmosphere, something to take into account in case you do not feel comfortable with it.

During your visit to Mercado Central, you can take the opportunity to meet the Philatelic and Numismatics Museum of Costa Rica and Fischel Chemist´s, one of the oldest of San José.

One of the advices that you should take full account of is that valuables should be kept out of sight and reach, because it is a place surrounded by many pickpockets and thieves.

More information:


Between 6th and 8th Streets and 1 Avenue, in the city centre, San José.

Opening hours:

Monday through Saturday from 8:00 to 16:00.

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