Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Alajuela

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Introduction

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Alajuela basically is a suburb of San Jose and closer to Poas Volcano and has some nice small B&B's and hotels.

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Sights and Activities

  • The Central Cathedral. Alajuela's Central Cathedral is the very center of the town as is traditional in colonial Spanish urban planning. The church is pretty, but not a spectacular piece of architecture. In front of the cathedral is the central park which is a nice spot for people-watching and you may get a glimpse of wildlife such as parrots and a sloth that is an elusive resident.
  • Iglesia La Agonía. Five blocks east of the Central Cathedral, this landmark church has an ornate Baroque style, even though it was built in 1941.
  • Parque Juan Santamaría. Alajuela is the hometown to Juan Santamaría, the Costa Rican National Hero. Around the city you can see the location of his home, although now there is just a small plaque and garden as the house in long gone. A block south of the Central Park is the Juan Santamaría park with a statue of the hero and a small collection of 1860s-era cannons.
  • Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría. A block north of the Central Park is the Juan Santamaría Museum, which shows some era pieces explaining the legacy of Juan Santamaría and the 1856 campaign against the filibuster invaders led by U.S. Southerner William Walker, who finagled their way into the Nicaraguan presidency and wanted to take control of Central America.
  • Poás Volcano National Park. 08:00-15:30, 365 days. The park is a popular destination for both foreign and Costa Rican tourists. Poás allows tourists to see into the crater of an active volcano. You can often smell sulfur from the crater while visiting the peak, and a couple of hiking trails to see Lake Botos, an acid water lake on a dormant crater. There are many guided tours offered to the volcano through private tour companies or you can catch a daily "tourist" bus provided by the TUASA bus company. The TUASA bus will take you to the top of the volcano and then return you to Alajuela after several hours. US$10
  • Jardín Botánico Else Kientzler - A 7 ha garden with well-tended walkways, rivulets and ponds. Developed since 1998 by a German-owned enterprise exporting decorative plants. The garden contains around 2000 plants from the Bahamas, Brasil, Costa Rica, the Guyanas, India, Japan, Java, Madagascar and New Zealand, among them trees that are threatened by extinction. And of course Costa Rica's national flower, the orchid Guaria Morada. Address: On Calle Sahinal, 800 metres north of Estadio Eliécer Pérez, Sarchí, Alajuela Province, Phone: 2454 2070, 2454 4956, Hours: 8:00am to 4:00pm, Price: Foreigners CRC 6600, locals CRC 2500.
  • Los Chorros Waterfall - A 40-metre fall in a swath of jungle, named Los Chorros Municipal Recreation Park. A 15 minutes' walk leads from the parking to the fall where one can picnic and swim in the pool. Address: Carrillos, Alajuela Province. A bus from Alajuela to Carrillos goes all the way to Los Chorros parking, cost CRC 270., Hours: Daylight, but inquire when the last bus returns to Alajuela., Price: Foreigners: USD 6, locals CRC 1500
  • Rock Bridge - Puente de Piedra in Spanish is a natural bridge. The river Poró runs through a hole in a rock while the road has been laid over it. Legend has it that a farmer outwitted the devil when he sold his soul for a bridge to his land. The devil should build the bridge in one night before the crowing of the cock. The farmer nudged the cock and it crowed just before the devil had fitted the last stone. It’s for visitors to find the spot where the last stone is missing. Address: On Calle Lomas between Crecia and Rincón de Salas, near the hamlet Puente Piedra, Hours: Daylight hours.

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Getting There

By Plane

Located only 3 kilometres from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), Alajuela is cheaper and quicker to reach from the airport than San Jose. A cab ride into the centre of town costs only around US$5, as opposed to US$25 to San Jose.

By Train

A train aimed mostly at commuters goes three times in the morning and twice in the evening to/from San José (Costa Rica) with an intermediate stop in Heredia.

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are often the easiest and a cheap way to get around the town. Taxies are red and there are many taxi stands scattered around the city. While the orange airport taxies will accept US dollars, the red taxies will only accept colones. Tipping is not expected, but you can let a taxi driver keep the change.

By Public Transport

There are lots of public buses that criss-cross the city or travel to nearby towns. There are two main bus companies, TUASA and Station Wagon, that provide service between Alajuela and the capital, San Jose. The buses are cheap, less than US$1, and run every few minutes. There are also buses that depart to other nearby towns like Sarchi, San Ramon, Heredia, and Poas. Also, you can catch buses to farther destinations that regularly travel through Alajuela on the way to Pacific destinations.

By Foot

Alajuela is small enough to take in by foot. You can see the entire downtown in one afternoon.

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Eat

There are some small 'soda's' in which to get local meals.

  • Freddo Fresas, Route 146, ☎ +506 2482-2800. Traditional restaurant going to Poás Volcano, their strawberry dishes, made with the local berries, are the treat of the place.
  • Colinas del Poás, Route 146, ☎ +506 2482-1212. 08:00-16:00. Restaurant and a lot of activities to do in this recreational park.
  • Jaulares, ☎ +506 2482-2155, e-mail: info@aulares.com. Buffet restaurant and private cabins accommodation.

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Sleep

  • Airport Hotel Berlor, ☎ +506 2431-4414, toll-free: +1 786 299-5881, e-mail: hotel@berlor.com. 5 minutes from Juan Santamaria International Airport in Costa Rica (SJO), breakfast and free shuttle to the airport. Rooms with A/C, cable TV, free Wi-Fi. outdoor swimming pool and safe parking.
  • Hotel Aeropuerto, ☎ +506 2433-7333. 5 minutes west of the SJO San Jose Airport. This hotel offers free transportation to and from the airport 24 hours.
  • Hotel Los Volcanes. Right downtown US$50.
  • Hotel Pura Vida. 1-2 km from downtown and offers a more relaxed atmosphere. US$80.
  • Hotel La Rosa de America, ☎ +506 2433-2741. 15 minutes west of the San Jose Airport, in the town of La Garita de Alajuela. This hotel offers sparking clean accommodation in twelve rooms and two family suites arranged in cabinas, located around a large beautifully maintained tropical garden and swimming pool. Breakfast at the restaurant is included.
  • Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast, Atenas, Alajuela (Sabana Larga Atenas), ☎ +506 2446-4272. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. 35 minutes from San José International Airport, the lush rolling countryside, with its bountiful fruit orchards and sweeping valley vistas, transforms as you ascend the winding mountain road that brings you to Vista Atenas B&B. 70.
  • Xandari Resort and Spa, 1 Km Ne Del Salon El Diamante (Alajuela), ☎ +506 2443-2020. The elegant Xandari Resort and Spa sits in the central valley region of Costa Rica, 20 minutes from the international airport. The central valley is wrought with volcanoes, lush plantations, and hillsides, and blessed with outstanding weather. San José is a short drive away and offers an abundance of international cuisine, shops, open markets and entertainment. US$195.
  • Christopher Panzer, Apartado 567-4250 (San Ramon), ☎ +506 2445-2100. A B&B that focuses on sustainability, that encompasses how the house was designed and built, vegetarian meals, and day-to-day operations, which include recycling and composting. It supports Habitat for Humanity Costa Rica. Volunteer opportunities are available, just ask. US$55.
  • Villa Calas, Route 120 (Between Poasito and Vara Blanca), ☎ +506 2482-2222, e-mail: villacalas@gmail.com. Chalet-style rooms and restaurant near Poás Volcano.
  • Maleku Hostel (50 metres west of Hospital Nuevo Alajuela), ☎ +506 2430-4304. Five-minute drive from the airport. Also has free Internet and free drop-off service to the airport (but not pick-up). A clean, homey hostel. dorm room US$15, single $25, double $38, triple $48, quad $64; taxes are inclued.
  • Hotel Aeropuerto, ☎ +506 2433-7333. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. An airport hotel surrounded by nature, more than 40 property extension is covered by trees and gardens. Hotel Aeropuerto is located near the international airport. With pool, restaurant, tours, room service, free internet (Wi-Fi), currency exchange, very secure facilities, free airport shuttle 24/7. 80.
  • Hampton Inn. US$105/night avg (from Travelocity) Right in front of the airport, adjacent to Fiesta Casino and a Dennys restaurant.
  • Trapp Family Country Inn, ☎ +506 2431 0776, +1 786-8379198. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. The Trapp Family Country Inn is 1.6 km from Juan Santamaría International Airport. Comfortable accommodations along with genuine family service in a peaceful atmosphere. This colonial style hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens with centenary fig trees. US$80.
  • Vina Romantica Bed and Breakfast, ☎ +506 2430-7621. Great entry/exit point for travellers, minutes away from main tourist pick up points and the airport. Provides comfortable rooms with memory foam mattresses, private bathrooms, restaurant and beautiful surroundings such as Doka coffee fields and Poas Volcano.

View our map of accommodation in Alajuela or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

It's easy to find internet access, and although you can still can find a lot of internet cafes, wifi is growing fast in the country. The further away you get from San Jose, the slower and more expensive it becomes when you are using an internet cafe. Wifi is generally free of charge at most places though and apart from off the beaten track parks, jungles and mountains, the connection generally is ok. Some internet cafés also offer international calls via either phone or IP using services like Skype.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

  • The country calling code to Costa Rica is 506.
  • To make an international call from Costa Rica, the code is 00.

There are plenty of phone booths around and you will get the best rate using a pre-paid international card (can often be purchased in internet cafés and other small stores). There is usually a connection fee making short calls extra expensive. International calls are fairly expensive. The cheapest way to make them is over the internet using a service such as Skype at an Internet café. But making short calls using the domestic calling cards (you can make international calls using these but the denominations of the calling cards are quite small so your call will be short!) or the international calling cards available within Costa Rica (all from the government phone monopoly ICE) is the next best deal.

Those travelling with a mobile phone and willing to pay the roaming costs should ensure it supports 1,800 MHz GSM network. Note that the GSM phone systems in the United States and Canada use different frequencies and that travelers from there will need a "world" handset, such as a tri-band or quad-band phone, if you want to use your existing cell phone. If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica - all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country. Try using companies like Grupo ICE under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil, Movistar and Claro.

Post

Correos de Costa Rica (website in Spanish only) is the national postal services of Costa Rica. You can find post offices (correos) in almost any city and town and they are generally open from 7:30am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to noon on Saturdays. There are not that many mailboxes, so it's best to ask your hotel or go directly to the post offices. Services tend to be slow but generally reliable and on the whole cheap regarding letters and postcards. It costs about US$0.20 to the USA and Canada (taking about 1 week to 10 days), US$0.25 to Europe (about 2 weeks) and US$0.30 to Asia and Australia (3 weeks or even more). All in all, if you can try and arrange your mail from the capital San José as it's generally quicker from there. Small packages are also no problem, though take them to the post offices unpacked for inspection first! Otherwise, arrange things through private international courier services like UPS, FedEx, DHL or TNT.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 10.01644
  • Longitude: -84.22126

Accommodation in Alajuela

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This is version 22. Last edited at 8:23 on May 19, 18 by theo1006. 1 article links to this page.

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