When I (Ligia) started working in tourism, one of my first jobs was as a volunteer coordinator. I was in charge of orientations and city tours to help volunteers to know the town of San Ramon. I was even the go-to tour guide for my friends coming to visit from San Jose!
We decided to create a tour of downtown San Ramon that can be done on foot for free. This guide is based on the city tour that we have done with volunteers and tourists in the past.
We recommend this tour for people who are staying in San Ramon or for those who are on the way to Arenal Volcano, Puntarenas, or Guanacaste. Add this tour to your trip to get to see one of the most traditional towns in Costa Rica!
Recommended starting point:
- Sunday through Thursday: Church
- Friday and Saturday: Farmers Market
Recommended finishing point:
- Central Market
- approx 2 hours
- If you are coming by car, the main church provides a parking lot for a small fee. It is one of the safest places to park.
Let’s begin our tour!
We recommend starting at San Ramon’s “central park.” Like most towns in Costa Rica, San Ramon’s central park is located in front of the main church. If you come on a Friday or Saturday, we recommend starting at the Farmers Market (Search on Waze: Feria Del Agricultor San Ramon, Avenida 16, San Ramon).
Read more about: A Guide to the Weather in San Ramon, Costa Rica
Stop 1: Central Park
The park is named in honor of Alberto Manuel Brenes, who was born in San Ramon. He was a biologist, botanist, taxonomist and Costa Rican artist.
If you stand in the center of the park facing away from the church, at the right side of the park you will see what we call the Kiosco. Almost every park in Costa Rica has a stage area for performances or a place where people can gather. All presentations must be approved by the local government. The park represents the meeting point for people, for social activities, and for festivals. It is the heart of the city.
You can do a circle around the park, and if you pay attention to the ground, you’ll notice a yellow line. In every corner, the line has a square with dots that are used for the blind population of San Ramon.
Stop 2: The church
Crossing the main street from the park, you will see the San Ramon Parish Church. The church contains a lot of history dating back to 1885.
1885: Construction began, with crews using rocks and wood from surrounding areas.
1924: Construction was finally completed. However, the church had to be rebuilt after a part of the temple was destroyed due to a forceful earthquake.
1928: After a lot of sacrifice, Casa Krupp from Germany sent the metal infrastructure to Puntarenas and the material was transported by oxcart all the way to San Ramon to complete the rebuilding process.
Go inside the church and you can take some pictures if you are discreet.
The church is also used as the main landmark in town. Surrounding the church, you will find many local shops, cafeterias (local food joints), ice cream shops, bakeries, restaurants, banks and supermarkets.
You can take the left exit, cross the parking lot and across the street you will see the museum.
Stop 3: José Figueres Ferrer Museum
This museum was built in the house where the president Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer was born. He was a very important president for the history of Costa Rica, especially because he abolished the Costa Rican army in 1948. The museum is open to the community, offering a space for culture, arts and entertainment.
Schedule: Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
More information: http://centrojosefigueres.org/
After you’ve explored the museum, turn right out of the exit and walk to the corner where you will see the other museum just diagonal from the church.
Stop 4: Regional Museum of San Ramon
Created by the University of Costa Rica, the main goal of this museum is to promote the cultural patrimony of the town. The building is one of the oldest in San Ramon. Inside, you will see exhibits with detailed information about the history of San Ramon and the Costa Rican lifestyle in the old days. The biology department has a great permanent exhibition about sea turtles and giant sloths. There is also a reading program run by the students of the university to motivate the kids of the area with reading habits and other activities that are in the cultural agenda of the museum.
The exhibits change regularly as the professors and students develop topics of social and environmental importance.
Schedule: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am until 6:00 pm (Closed for lunch 12:45 pm until 1:45 pm)
Entrance Fee: You put the price in donations at the main door
When you are done with the visit, go to the left. Behind the museum, you will see the central market.
Stop 5: Central Market
Each town in Costa Rica has a central market building where local commerce takes place.
During the week, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from local vendors, as well as cheap “sodas” (local restaurants with local dishes at a very fair price!) If you want to eat where the locals eat, local sodas are a great place to end your tour around town.
Stop 6: Farmers Market
For Friday evenings and Saturday morning tours:
We highly recommend exploring the local farmers market if you are in town and have the chance. It’s located a few blocks straight up from downtown. You can ask a local for directions.
The farmers market is the best place to immerse yourself in the local culture, with the local people. Producers from different areas come on a weekly basis to sell their products. You will see a variety of things that local people produce and sell. Try the tortillas that are there. They are delicious.
We hope this tour will give you a better orientation to Costa Rican culture. San Ramon represents the unique aspects of Costa Rica pretty well, and it does not take that long to explore, so it can fit easily in your itinerary. Since San Ramon is not a big city, another advantage is it will save you the traffic and is a safer town than San Jose. However, if you can do both, it will be great because you will see the two lifestyles between the different cities. Because at the end of the day, Costa Rica will be remembered not by the nicest architecture or cities, but by the people. As cheesy as it sounds, the Pura Vida lives in the heart of the Costa Rican people.
So take a look around San Ramon, and if you are in town, let us know! We would love to have a cup of coffee with you!