Towns and Cities
Location: 3 kms from the Juan Santamaría International Airport and 19 kms northwest of San José

Weather: Warm days and mild evenings; the dry season runs from December through the end of April.

Temperatures: Daily from 72 to 85 °F; evenings range 61 to 70 °F

Altitude: 957 meters above sea level

Population: 200,000 including suburbs

With modern amenities, local charm and a close proximity to the international airport, Alajuela is a convenient base for sightseeing in the Central Valley. Although Costa Rica’s second largest city, Alajuela maintains a provincial atmosphere where locals relax on front porches greeting passersby, and mango season incites a lively festival city wide. Boasting a movie theater, mall, internet cafes and plenty of shopping, Alajuela has all the frills of a modern city, but moves at a gentler pace and is easier to navigate than nearby San José.

Most visitors to Costa Rica are unaware that the Juan Santamaría International Airport is in Alajuela, not San José. Just a five-minute drive into town and visitors will find a variety of hostels and hotels, accommodating most budgets and tastes. Alajuela’s central location and accessibility are ideal for travelers who prefer taking day trips or group tours with the convenience of returning to a familiar hotel. Popular excursions include a nearby butterfly farm, Poás Volcano National Park and coffee tours to Doka Estate, all accessible by public bus.

Surrounded by farms and coffee plantations, Alajuela serves as capital of Alajuela Province and remains a principal trade center for cattle, sugar and coffee. Locals (known as Alajuelénses) are known for their friendly demeanor and penchant for bestowing amusing nicknames on friends, neighbors and even strangers. People watching is best in the picturesque Parque Central, where children play in the fountain and vendors sell Granizados, shaved ice topped with sweet syrup, fruit and condensed milk.

Every Saturday morning, Alajuela hosts one of the largest outdoor farmers markets in the country. Flowers, fresh produce, handicrafts and local music are offered at this traditional event. Whether exploring the maze of stalls at the Saturday market, or sampling authentic Costa Rican fare in the Mercado Central, Alajuela gives visitors a glimpse of rural Tico life with all the comforts of a contemporary city.
Province: Alajuela
Zone: Alajuela / Airport
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Customer Comment
Hello Rodolfo,

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we want to come back there again, we would also like to visit Panama or Nicaragua as you suggested.
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Neil Heyer
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My wife and I had a wondeful time in Costa Rica. You did a wonderful job selecting the hotels, arranging for the transportation, and planning the activities and tours according to our needs.

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January 2007