Places in Central Valley & Highlands
Alajuela & the Northern Valley
Volcanoes shrouded in mist, undulating coffee fincas (plantations), bustling agricultural centers. The area around the provincial capital of Alajuela, 18km northwest of San José, seems to have it all – including Juan Santamaría International Airport, just 3km outside the city.
Around San José
Over the years, as San José’s urban sprawl has crawled up the hillsides of the Central Valley, the boundary lines have blurred between the heart of the city and the villages that encircle it. Here you will find a little bit of everything: from crowded slums filled with immigrant workers to stylish residential neighborhoods where modernist houses hide behind 3m-high walls.
Costa Rica’s second city is also home to one of the country’s most famous figures: Juan Santamaría, the humble drummer boy who died putting an end to William Walker’s campaign to turn Central America into slaving territory in the Battle of Rivas in 1856. A busy agricultural hub, it is here that farmers bring their products to market.
Tours and activities
Tips and articles
Viva the new San José: how Costa Rica's capital became cool
There you are, playing table tennis with a stranger in the middle of a park. All around you loom primeval trees festooned with vines...
Top five nerve-shredding road trips in Costa Rica
Renting a car in Costa Rica is costly and can even be dangerous if you're not prepared for what's to come. It’s also ridiculously good fun. There are plenty of reasons not to rent a car in Costa Rica...
Top beaches on Costa Rica's northern Pacific coast
This year, Costa Rica’s wet season took a turn for the dry, and it seemed like the whole country headed for the beach...