ALAJUELA

Costa Rica’s second largest city in terms of size, Alajuela lies 20 km northwest of the capital San Jose in the beautiful Central Valley. This city has an important place in Costa Rica’s history, as it was an active supporter of independence from Spain. Known as Villahermosa and La Lajuela, Alajuela was even capital of Costa Rica for a brief period. However, this city’s biggest claim to fame is that it is the hometown of the country’s national hero Juan Santamaria, a drummer boy, who sacrificed his life to save his country during the battle of the Hacienda Santa Rosa, in 1856, against the forces of William Walker.

HEREDIA

A thriving urban center, Heredia is also the capital of the province of the same name and home to the National University and OVSICORI, the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica. The city has a beautiful shady central park where residents enjoy sunny summer afternoons on the weekends in front of a majestic church built in the 1790’s. The city has grown rapidly in the last two decades and commuting traffic is heavy. Retaining many older buildings around its central park, nearby Barva de Heredia is a picturesque community and the hills above Barva are dominated by dairy pastures, coffee fields and forests around the peak of Barva Volcano in Braulio Carrillo National Park.

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Areas

Monteverde

The Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilaran Mountains of northwest Costa Rica is one of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists. A cloud forest is an especially beautiful and rare type of rain forest created by frequent mists from low-lying clouds. This cool and moist environment is characterized by massive trees covered by thick “carpets” of small plants. Much of the resident wildlife is endemic to these habitats. In addition to forest hikes, visitors can enjoy many other area attractions including horseback riding; dining in numerous restaurants; live frog and butterfly exhibits; bird watching; crafts and gift shopping; “zip line” tours and bridge walks in forest canopies; a visit to a native orchid garden and more.

Areas

Sarapiquí & Caribbean Lowlands

Also known as Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, it is only a 1.5 hour drive north of San Jose. One route takes you past the dramatically forested mountains of Braulio Carrilo National Park, the other past Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. Lowland offers exceptional wild and birdlife. World famous La Selva Biological Station is located here. Monkeys, parrots, toucans, iguanas, caiman, sloths, poison dart frogs and basilisk lizards are regular rainforest residents.. The Sarapiquí River is great for Class III white water rafting upriver and wildlife boat cruises downriver.

Areas

San José

The city of San José is the national capital and economic center of Costa Rica. It is currently undergoing a renaissance with pedestrian streets and modern high rise buildings. Yet it still retains much of its past multicultural heritage in restored elegant old buildings, historic statues and parks. Its many international restaurants offer excellent cuisine, and its theaters host numerous concerts and performances. Nightlife abounds in clubs with dancing to salsa, merengue, or rock music! San José has several public museums including The National Museum, Gold Museum and Jade Museum. All have excellent exhibits and the latter two feature artworks by prehistoric indigenous people.