Bearing in mind the decreasing financial support from the national government, the quality of the arts in San José is very high. Josefinos especially like theatre, and there’s a healthy range of venues for a city this size, staging a variety of inventive productions at affordable prices. If you speak even a little Spanish it’s worth checking to see what’s on.
Costa Rica’s National Dance Company has an impressive repertoire of classical and modern productions, some by Central American choreographers, arranged specifically for the company – again, ticket costs are low. The city’s premier venues are the Teatro Nacional and the Teatro Mélico Salazar; here you can see performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and National Lyric Opera Company (June–Aug), as well as visiting orchestras and singers, usually from Spain or other Spanish-speaking countries. The Teatro Mélico Salazar occasionally stages performances of traditional Costa Rican singing and dancing.
Going to the cinema in San José is a bargain, though many venues have decamped to the suburbs, particularly to shopping malls, such as the Cinemark in Escazú’s Multiplaza, which you can only reach by car or taxi. There are still a few good downtown cinemas left, however, several of which retain some original features, along with plush, comfortable seats. Most cinemas show the latest American movies, which are almost always subtitled. The few that are dubbed will have the phrase “hablado en Español” in the newspaper listings or on the posters. For Spanish-language art movies, head to Sala Garbo.