The cluster of shops, restaurants, bars and discos that make up the Centro Comercial El Pueblo – generally known simply as “El Pueblo” – lies about 200m north of the zoo across the Río Torres. For a tourist complex, El Pueblo is well designed and a sensible initiative that gives both tourists and Josefinos – who love it – an attractive, atmospheric place to shop, eat, drink and dance, all within the same complex. El Pueblo’s whitewashed adobe buildings with wooden staircases evoke a type of colonial architecture that has found it hard to survive in Costa Rica, due to the successive tremors of earthquakes. Walking to El Pueblo means running a gauntlet of pedestrian-unfriendly traffic, however, and most people take a taxi, which costs around $2.50 from the Plaza de la Cultura. The adjacent Spirogyra Jardín de Mariposas (daily 8am–4pm; $5) has a wide variety of butterflies fluttering about, with daily guided tours pointing out particularly unusual and pretty ones.

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