Founded in 1738, San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and the country’s bustling commercial centre. Sadly many of the original monuments have been destroyed by subsequent earthquakes yet the city’s architecture still maintains a distinctly European feel with historic theatres and museums set against modern tower blocks. Few visitors linger long in the San Jose, however, before heading straight into the beautiful central valleys. There, lush, rolling hills of coffee plantations give way to steamy cloud-forest which teems with birdlife, orchids and tropical plants. As the sun rises, the last of the morning’s mist burns off burn off to reveal jagged peaks and smoking volcanoes. This is a wonderful starting point for any visit to Costa Rica. Guests can relax amidst the tropical gardens of coffee fincas or launch straight into riding, biking, hiking or rafting through the surrounding national parks.