Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Cartago



Cartago is a city in Costa Rica.



Sights and Activities

  • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica). 08:30-16:30. As the legend goes, the Basilica was built on the exact site where a figurine of the Virgin Mary appeared to local native girl Juana Pereira in 1635, the girl brought the figurine to her house but it disappeared, without her noticing she found another figurine and brought it back again to find that the first one was missing, this happened many time and she told the local priest, who locked the figurine in a copher and the same thing happened again, therefore they built this site. Holy Water is available on the premises and is customary to fill a bottle by the visitors to bring back home. Also, the stone where the figurine kept appearing is located to the left and behind the altar of the Basilica. Free.
  • Ruinas de la Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol (Saint James the Apostle Parish Ruins). 08:30-16:30. In the middle of the Main Square of downtown Cartago, these carefully preserved ruins include a small garden, but this garden is barred by steel gates most of the time and not commonly open to the public. As the legend goes, two brothers were in love with the same woman, one was single and was chosen by the woman, and the other a priest. In the first day of the year 1577 he saw his brother celebrate Mass, and he killed him in the night. For penance he built the church, which was obliterated by an earthquake the same day it was finished. This happened each time it was rebuilt, and it was never attempted again after the 1910 earthquake. Free.



Getting There

By Train

Take the train to Cartago from Estación al Atlántico in San José. The service doesn't get affected by rush hour traffic but it is far slower than taking a bus or driving a car.

By Car

From San José (and the rest of the Central Valley) to Cartago through Ruta Nacional 1 (Interamericana).
From the south (Pérez Zeledón, Panamá, etc) also take Ruta Nacional 1 (Interamericana).
From the Caribbean, go through Turrialba.

By Bus

Take the Lumaca buses in San José. There are many buses running between San Jose and Cartago. For ₡500 (colones) and up, you will be able to catch a bus in San José downtown along Avenida 2. They run every 15 minutes, and take 45 minutes. "Indirect" buses from San Isidro de El General to San Jose stop on the outskirts of Cartago next to a stop for local buses.



Getting Around

Cartago downtown is perhaps the smallest of the main cities in the Central Valley, it is possible to walk all around the city in short time.

There is an effort by the local city government to make Cartago a bicycle-friendly city, because of that and thanks to a donation, the city constructed a bicycle-only loop track around the city.




Ask for "comida tipica" or typical food when you get to Cartago. These restaurants are found specially on the way to the tourist areas as Irazu Volcano, Paraiso, Orosi or Turrialba.

In Cartago downtown besides typical restaurants and International food you can find chains like Burger King, McDonald`s, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Pollos Campero and Pollos AS.




"Chaguite" is the name of a beverage that was invented in Cartago many years ago. This drink is hard to find nowadays but you can go to the central market and ask for it. It has a sweet flavor like anis.

"Guaro Cacique" is the national drink of Costa Rica and is like a vodka. This drink can be found in bars, restaurants or supermarkets.



Keep Connected


It's easy to find internet access, and although you can still can find a lot of internet cafes, wifi is growing fast in the country. The further away you get from San Jose, the slower and more expensive it becomes when you are using an internet cafe. Wifi is generally free of charge at most places though and apart from off the beaten track parks, jungles and mountains, the connection generally is ok. Some internet cafés also offer international calls via either phone or IP using services like Skype.


See also: International Telephone Calls

  • The country calling code to Costa Rica is 506.
  • To make an international call from Costa Rica, the code is 00.

There are plenty of phone booths around and you will get the best rate using a pre-paid international card (can often be purchased in internet cafés and other small stores). There is usually a connection fee making short calls extra expensive. International calls are fairly expensive. The cheapest way to make them is over the internet using a service such as Skype at an Internet café. But making short calls using the domestic calling cards (you can make international calls using these but the denominations of the calling cards are quite small so your call will be short!) or the international calling cards available within Costa Rica (all from the government phone monopoly ICE) is the next best deal.

Those travelling with a mobile phone and willing to pay the roaming costs should ensure it supports 1,800 MHz GSM network. Note that the GSM phone systems in the United States and Canada use different frequencies and that travelers from there will need a "world" handset, such as a tri-band or quad-band phone, if you want to use your existing cell phone. If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica - all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country. Try using companies like Grupo ICE under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil, Movistar and Claro.


Correos de Costa Rica (website in Spanish only) is the national postal services of Costa Rica. You can find post offices (correos) in almost any city and town and they are generally open from 7:30am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to noon on Saturdays. There are not that many mailboxes, so it's best to ask your hotel or go directly to the post offices. Services tend to be slow but generally reliable and on the whole cheap regarding letters and postcards. It costs about US$0.20 to the USA and Canada (taking about 1 week to 10 days), US$0.25 to Europe (about 2 weeks) and US$0.30 to Asia and Australia (3 weeks or even more). All in all, if you can try and arrange your mail from the capital San José as it's generally quicker from there. Small packages are also no problem, though take them to the post offices unpacked for inspection first! Otherwise, arrange things through private international courier services like UPS, FedEx, DHL or TNT.


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This is version 2. Last edited at 9:47 on Jan 23, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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