The sunny rural capital of Guanacaste has long served as a transportation hub to Nicaragua, as well as being the standard-bearer of Costa Rica’s sabanero (cowboy) culture. Today, tourism is fast becoming a significant contributor to the economy. With an expanding international airport, Liberia is a safer and more chilled-out Costa Rican gateway than San José.
Most of the historic buildings in the town center are in need of a paint job (some locals dream of it becoming a historic district like Nicaragua's Granada), though the ‘White City’ is pleasant, with a good range of accommodations. Still, it’s largely a launch pad for exploring Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja and the beaches of the Península de Nicoya, rather than a destination in itself.
The area may be transformed by Discovery Costa Rica, a billion-dollar, 2200-acre (890-hectare) theme park due to be built between 2018 and 2020.