Central Valley: Places to Explore

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  • Alajuela

    Because of its proximity to the international airport (5–10 minutes away) many travelers spend their first or last night in or near Alajuela, but the beauty of the surrounding countryside...

  • Atenas

    By the time you get this far west in the Central Valley, you’re likely headed for Costa Rica’s famed Central Pacific beaches, but the countryside holds some splendid scenery, from the steep...

  • Carara National Park

    In the wilderness of Carara National Park and surroundings, you might encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys in the trees or crocodiles lounging on a riverbank. The region is extremely...

  • Cartago

    Although earthquakes have destroyed most of its structures from the colonial era, Cartago still has some attractive restored buildings, most of them erected after the devastating 1910 earthquake....

  • Escazú

    Costa Rica's wealthiest community and the Central Valley's most prestigious address, Escazú nevertheless mixes glamour with tradition, BMWs with oxcarts, trendy malls with farmers’ markets,...

  • Grecia

    The quiet farming community of Grecia is reputed to be Costa Rica's cleanest town—some enthusiastic civic boosters extend that superlative to all of Latin America—but the reason most people...

  • Heredia

    The lively city of Heredia, capital of the important coffee province of the same name, contains a couple of the country's best-preserved colonial structures, along with a contrasting, youthful...

  • Irazú Volcano

    Costa Rica’s highest volcano perches on Central America’s "continental divide," offering splendid views of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts from the summit, assuming the skies are clear, that...

  • The Orosi Valley

    If you have a day to spend near San José, this idyllic valley makes a classic day trip, passing through coffee plantations shaded by poró trees—their flame-color flowers make a stunning sight...

  • Poás Volcano National Park

    Arenal may be Costa Rica's most famous volcano, but you can walk right up to the crater here at Poás. That gives it an edge in the "cool volcano visit" department.

  • San Antonio de Belén

    San Antonio de Belén has little to offer visitors but its rural charm and proximity to the international airport. The latter led developers to build several of the San José area's biggest hotels...

  • San Ramón

    San Ramón hides its real attractions in the countryside to the north, on the road to La Fortuna, where comfortable lodges offer access to private nature preserves. There's not much to see in the...

  • Santa Ana

    Santa Ana's tranquil town center, with its rugged stone church, has changed little through the years, even if metro development, with the accompanying condos and shopping malls, spreads out in all...

  • Santo Domingo

    Between Heredia and San José, the pretty town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, established in the early 19th century, has wide streets and fine examples of traditional, tile-roof houses, and a...

  • Sarchí

    Tranquil Sarchí is Costa Rica's premier center for crafts and carpentry. People drive here from all over the country to shop for furniture, and tour buses regularly descend upon the souvenir...

  • Turrialba

    The relatively well-to-do agricultural center of Turrialba is a bustling town, with a youthful vibe from the nearby university, a colorful open-air market, and a tree-shaded central park filled...

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