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Central Market (Mercado Central)

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Address: Bordered by Avdas. Central and 1 and Cs. 6 and 8 | Barrio La Merced, San Jose, Costa Rica

This collection of stalls and restaurants contains the country's first ice...

This collection of stalls and restaurants contains the country's first ice cream vendor.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 332 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 78
  • 93
    Very good
  • 46
  • 9
  • 8
Assault on your senses

This was a fun place to visit with hundreds of small stalls and places to eat. It is crowded and active with bustling activities, conversations, aromas, and transactions. You will... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 11 May 2016
Tom D
Ambler, Pennsylvania
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332 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 234: English reviews
Kona, Hawaii
Level Contributor
121 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 June 2016

We walked through on a Saturday afternoon and it is crowded and pretty intense. Lots of food items and some handicrafts although the crowds made it tough to hang out very much. I took one photo on my cell phone and was yelled at, so maybe you should not do that. It was of a display sign, not a person,... More 

Thank Alohamary
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 June 2016

Full of little shops and food. We found a place that sold freshly made potato chips by the kilo. There were so many interesting restaurants that served snacks and food you can't find in the more touristy areas of Costa Rica. Plus the cost was so much cheaper.

Thank Aitch M
Level Contributor
23 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 May 2016

We were amazed by the nice items that were for sale here. Please note; most shop-owners own more than one stall. It might give you a better position for bargaining if you buy more from one shop-owner. They will do free inscriptions on wooden items. Make sure however that you have it done by a person with a nice handwriting.... More 

3 Thank s p
Ambler, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
91 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 May 2016

This was a fun place to visit with hundreds of small stalls and places to eat. It is crowded and active with bustling activities, conversations, aromas, and transactions. You will be better served if you know how to calculate the currency exchange. The price in US dollars initially quoted to me had to be adjusted once I questioned the vendor... More 

3 Thank Tom D
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
55 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 May 2016 via mobile

Short, easy walk from Balmoral Hotel. This market has been in business since the late 1800's, and was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. You could basically hey anything you would ever want or need here, from fresh meat, to souvenirs. Live chickens, puppies, ice cream, flowers, clothes, you name it. People have mentioned that there is a risk of... More 

2 Thank LISA L
Rockledge, Florida
Level Contributor
59 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 May 2016 via mobile

Walked from Hotel Balmoral, wandered the market, literally anything from flowers, puppies, live chicken, meat, poultry or touristy souvenirs available. Prices negotiable at most stands. Very reasonable everywhere we noticed. Gets pretty warm and very close quarters in places. Had been told to watch jewelry/wallets. Just used common sense and never felt at all uncomfortable or unsafe. Nice walking area... More 

1 Thank angelndskys12
New Minas, Canada
Level Contributor
98 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 May 2016

Great place to buy or try traditional food of the place that you are visiting and eat it while on the streets with the locals that have come to the market. Shop for local arts or more traditional items.

1 Thank Belinda G
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
963 reviews
781 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,724 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 May 2016

Most cities have an equivalent of Mercado Central, such as Seattle’s Pike Place Market and Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market. Like those, Mercado Central is crowded and aromas (and odors) permeate. Stalls lining alleys hawk traditional farmers market staples, and some prepare fast food. Take care, however, when purchasing food from these kiosks. Many have only one worker, who prepares... More 

4 Thank DeanMurphy2020
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 April 2016 via mobile

If you happen to be fortunate enough to visit the Mercado Central make your way to the Cafe Central where you can invite your tastebuds to sample the world's best coffee! Grab a kilo or two to take home and you will be eternally grateful!!

1 Thank Susanne L
Reigate, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 April 2016

A very bustling, lively, varied place. A big indoor market with all sorts of shops, butchers, fishmongers, grocers, herbalists. Plenty of restaurants with delicious food. We ate in one of them, had great laughs with the waitresses as we don't speak any Spanish and they didn't understand English! But we managed to eat a lovely meal! From there we walked... More 

1 Thank Frogandco

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Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Central Market (Mercado Central) and other visitors
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Columbia, Maryland
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
over a year ago
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
over a year ago

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Questions? Get answers from Central Market (Mercado Central) staff and past visitors.
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Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?