When I moved to Costa Rica almost 10 months ago, I knew I was embarking on the adventure of lifetime – and was super excited that the adventure in question included living quite far from everything in the heart of the forest, while still less than an-hour ride from the capital.
Though living in the mountains of the Cartago Province in Costa Rica has obvious perks (waterfalls only 30 minutes away, living next to a river and seeing rainforest animals on a daily basis), it can sometimes get lonely. I went on a quest to find the spaces where I felt I belonged in the surrounding cities. While I have found an amazing yoga studio and now work for a Holistic Therapies School, my all-time favorite is actually a one-of-a-kind market (or feria). I consider it to be the best I have seen in all Costa Rica, at least so far.
Here are the five reasons you should absolutely visit the Feria Verde if you find yourself in San Jose on a Saturday – this can also be the perfect way to load on yummy local products before heading outside of San Jose, which you’ll definitely want to do if you come to visit the land of Pura Vida. Cooking yourself instead of going out all the time will help you save some cash (that you can then spend on other fantastic activities!):
- The food
This is one of my favorite things about the Feria Verde: while it offers an incredible selection of produce, there is an entire area dedicated to food and drinks. You can get anything: healthy burgers and Panini’s, smoothies of all kinds, turmeric juice, green coffee, normal coffee and amazing baked goods. My friend Martha is always hard at work when it comes to offer delicious vegan and gluten free goodies, all made in her own home. If you come by you should definitely try her papaya brownie, or grab a Popsicle on the way!
- Cheap organic & alternative products
I’ll admit it, one of the thing that usually stresses me most about traveling or moving to another country is whether or not I will be able to have access to affordable and organic healthy food.
A committee reviews each supplier and their products before they can have a stand at the Feria Verde, therefore quality is guaranteed. Contrary to popular belief, prices are often equal to supermarkets, which happen to be very expensive in Costa Rica.
I usually buy all my groceries there, from greens and fruits to pasta and pesto, and spend between $40 and $50 a week. They also offer bread and brioche that are out of this world, along with alternative flours (other than wheat), olives, raw snacks and even fish.
- The art & classes
The Feria Verde is the perfect place to buy souvenirs from your trip in Costa Rica that are completely unique. There is always a wealth of jewelry items, including necklaces, earrings made out of (found) butterfly wings, and indigenous jewelry. You should also check out the post cards and print designs that are available – some of them are unbelievably cute and will add some Pura Vida to your living room’s wall. Depending on the week you come, there might also be stands offering hand-made shoes, bags and leather bracelets.
If you don’t feel like shopping, check out the time of the different classes offered: hula hoop, African dance, and yoga. If you plan on coming with children, no worries! Families abound at the Feria Verde and there are children’s activities available during the morning!
- The music & instruments
There is always music playing at the Feria Verde! While a cool radio provides music in the produce section, you can sit down with your favorite food or sip your coffee in the sitting area and listen to the music – different bands play every weekend, and you probably will see some toddlers advancing towards the stage to show off their dance moves. That’s the Costa Rican way of life.
If you’re a musician yourself, check the stand of Instrumentos Del Mundo Costa Rica, and you will be able to bring home rattles, tambours, and didgeridoos! The people of Instrumentos Del Mundo usually can be found playing flute at their stand before the next band comes on stage.
- The people
Regardless of what is sold there, the best part of coming to the Feria Verde is the atmosphere. The crowd there is relaxed, welcoming and happy to start the weekend by sharing their passion for living well with others. You will most likely end up chatting with a bunch of people while sitting at the same table or ordering your favorite smoothie. People are also extremely welcoming of foreigners and will probably ask you where you are from and what you are planning to do while in Costa Rica.
Funny enough, both shoppers and sellers hanging out at the Feria tend to be travelers themselves, so if you want to find a few friends to talk about travelling, this is the right spot!
Bonus: if you like sweet and well-behaved dogs, they seem to like hanging out at the Feria Verde too!
Close enough to the airport, the Feria Verde is a stop you must take before heading out of San Jose or boarding your flight to go go back home. It will give you a nice (and non-touristy) peak into the Pura Vida way of life as it is done here, even in the middle of the busy capital. Also, contrary to other ‘hippie’ spot, there is very little cultural appropriation – actually, the Feria is an occasion to celebrate what Costa Rica has to offer and the best aspects of its culture.
If you can’t make it to the Feria Verde, or are staying in another part of the city, it is also worth checking out the Feria de Ciudad Colon and the Mercado Natural de Curri. Though there are not as large as the Feria Verde, the same kind of products (and crowd!) can be found there.