Central Valley Travel Guide


Photo of Central Valley Photo: Linda137, Fodors.com member

Plan Your Central Valley Vacation

As you set out from San José to explore the towns to the north, you first encounter nothing but asphalt, hotels, and malls—not especially scenic. Santo Domingo and San Antonio de Belén blend into the outskirts of San José, and it's only when you get to the heart of these small towns that you feel you've arrived in Central America. Farther north, Alajuela and Heredia are bustling provincial capitals with charismatic central parks. Throughout this area, tucked into the urban scenery and lining volcanic slopes, are fields of that quintessential Costa Rican staple, coffee.


Central Valley Hotels

Most international flights fly into Costa Rica in the evening and head out again early the next morning, meaning you likely... read more


Central Valley Restaurants

Growing Escazú has become as metropolitan as San José and has the restaurant selection to prove it. Elsewhere, as befits... read more

Things To Do

Things To Do in Central Valley

Explore the best sights, entertainment, and shopping with our top choices and insider tips.


Central Valley Experiences

  • Top Reasons to Go to Central Valley

    Avian adventures: Flock to Tapantí National Park to see emerald toucanets, resplendent quetzals (if you're lucky), and nearly... Read more

  • Volcán Irazú

    The word Irazú is likely a corruption of Iztaru, a long-ago indigenous community whose name translated as "hill of thunder." The... Read more

  • Eco-Lodges in the Central Valley

    Suburbia oozes out with each passing year, eating up once-idyllic Central Valley land, but it's still surprisingly easy to find vast... Read more

  • Speaking Costa Rican

    Spanish in Costa Rica tends to be localized. This is a land where eloquent speech and creative verbal expression are highly valued. For... Read more

  • A National Hero

    When the Costa Ricans drove U.S. invader Walker's army from their country in 1856, they chased his troops to Rivas, Nicaragua. The army of... Read more

  • La Negrita

    On the night of August 1 and well into the early-morning hours of August 2, the road to Cartago from San José clogs with worshippers,... Read more

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