Central Valley Travel Guide

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

Plan Your Central Valley Vacation

The main attractions near the bustling market town of Turrialba are its namesake volcano, an internationally famous agricultural research center and the pre-Columbian archaeological ruins of Guayabo. The town lies considerably lower than the Central Valley, so it enjoys a more moderate climate, a transition between the cooler Central Valley and the sweltering Caribbean coast. There are two ways to reach this area from San José, both of which pass spectacular scenery. The more direct route, accessible by heading east through both Cartago and Paraíso, winds through coffee and sugar plantations before descending abruptly to Turrialba. For the second route, turn off the road between Cartago and the summit of Irazú near the town of Cot, heading toward Pacayas. That narrow route twists along the slopes of Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes past some stunning scenery—stately pollarded trees lining the road, riotous patches of tropical flowers, and metal-girder bridges across crashing streams. As you begin the descent to Turrialba town, the temperature rises and sugarcane alternates with fields of neat rows of coffee bushes.

Hotels

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

Restaurants

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.

Hotels

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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