On our first day in San Jose, we walked through some of the Central Market but did not see anything worth buying.
Friday morning March 1st we went to the Mercado Artesania. We did our last souvenir shopping here. I was trying to buy a creche but couldn't figure out the Spanish for that. I didn't want a ceramic one because I figured (correctly) that they wouldn't ship well. I did get a wooden puzzle box and I did eventually find a creche.
Then we took the bus back to the hotel, and flew out that afternoon.
Consists of about 3 blocks and storefronts of market things, fruits, t-shirts, veggies, bakery, etc…. Supposed to be many pick-pockets working the area, but it wasn’t all that crowded and didn’t seem that way to me. Near the Coca-Cola train station, which is supposed to be a bit dangerous too—especially at night.
The central market in the city center is more of my type of market than the craft one. This one is a huge indoor market where vendors sell items catered more towards locals. Buy fresh meats, vegetables, drinks, or meals here. Get cheap clothes, shoes, jewelry, luggage, whatever. Try some olla de carne; apparently it's a special here. The labyrinth market is not as daunting as some I have seen in other countries. It is actually quite manageable. Once again, try your luck with bargaining. It always helps if you know a little bit of Spanish.
The craft market is full of vendors selling anything from earrings to hammocks. Most of the stuff they sell here caters to tourists. These are souvenir-type items. The types of things I buy for others because they want them, but the type of stuff I hate to buy for myself because I find a lot of it tacky. Jewelry, clothing, pottery, woodcarvings, you name it. Be wary that the prices they charge here are a little exorbitant, but would you expect them to do otherwise? They actually put price tags on their items expecting tourists to pay those prices, and many usually do. However, you can bargain with them and they will drastically reduce the costs, especially if you tell them you know you can get it for a lot cheaper elsewhere. I don’t have fantastic bargaining skills, but I got by just fine. I didn’t really have time to run around the city to find cheaper prices, and with this market at such a central location (along Avenida Central), it’s super convenient. I'll be honest - it's rather difficult to find these souvenier things around the country, so you may just end up here.
Mercado Central is located at the end of the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose. It's a truly eclectic experience. You can find knick-knacks, pack-packs, t-shirts, crafts, flowers, and whatever else you never knew you needed.
There are "sodas" if you want cheap eats and there is the most amazing sorbet/ice cream place nestled somewhere in there. I just kept asking for "los helados" until I was directed to the correct place.
Mercado Central could probably also go under tourist trap or warnings. Just be smart and watch your back and pockets. Definitely worth the trip!
This is San Jose's main market in a colorful building of Av Central. It ranges from souvenirs to fresh meat and fish.
Similar to central markets, but more authentic, this is where the locals go to get their fresh meat, vegetables and produce.
Listing in the guide books as a 'must see', I disagree.
A run down market that sells fruit, cheap and tacky tourist goods, and smelly meat. Have a look, but nothing great here to see.