In Costa Rica, Alajuela is the second largest city and it is adoringly nicknamed as ‘the city of Mangoes’. Alajuela town is also renowned as one of the cleanest and safest cities in Central America. This town is a busy area with easy access to all services that make it very similar to the San Jose. Tourists find this town a convenient spot as it is located only 3 km from the Juan Santamaria International Airport and it is cheaper and quicker to reach this town than to San Jose. If you go to the center of the town with a cab ride, it will cost only around US&5 where it costs US&25 to reach the San Jose town.
Alajuela is a small town and you can enjoy getting around by foot. In one afternoon, you can enjoy exploring the entire downtown.
You can also travel around the town or to the nearby towns by public buses. There are two main bus companies-TUASA and Station Wagon. These two bus companies provide bus service between Alajuela and the capital, San Jose. There are also other buses go to the other nearby towns like Heredia, Sarchi, San Ramon and Poas.
To get around the town, you might find the easiest and cheap way is traveling by taxi. There are many red colored taxi stands scattered around the city and these red taxis only accept Costa Rican colones where the orange airport taxis will accept US dollars.
The Central Valley region is considered by many as one of the most comfortable climate in the world with temperatures usually hovering in the upper 70s during the day and lower 60s at night. From May through November, the rain season runs in this region though the heavy rains are generally falls during the month of September and October.
Situated in Alajuela, Hotel Aeropuerto is a desirable hotel for the budget minded travelers who are seeking a comfortable place with lush surroundings. This hotel is featured with a conference room for business travelers, crystal clear swimming pool, internet service, enchanting tropical gardens and restaurant.
Call: +(506) 2433-7333, +(506) 2433-7724, +(506) 2433-7352
Hotel Los Volcanes:
Situated in the heart of Alajuela in Costa Rica’s Central Valley, Hotel Los Volcanes is a quaint and comfortable bed and breakfast. Set just 5 minutes away from the International Airport, this hotel provides Standard room with shared bathroom, Standard room with private bathroom, Air conditioning, cable TV, hot water, free breakfast, safe deposit box, laundry service, gardens, kitchen facility, internet, terrace, sitting room with TV private parking, fan, internet access, wireless internet, hairdryer, gardens, and telephone.
Call: (506) 2441.0525
Hotel La Rosa de America:
This hotel is situated 15 minutes west from the San Jose Airport, in the town of La Garita de Alajuela. This hotel features clean accommodations in twelve rooms and two family suites arranged in cabinas. These rooms are surrounded by beautifully maintained tropical garden and the hotel property also has a swimming pool and a restaurant that serves fresh, delicious options for breakfast year-round and is open for supper in the high season.
Call: +(506) 2433-2741
Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast:
From San Jose International Airport, Vista Atenas Bed and Breakfast can be reached just within 35 minutes. It provides Valley view rooms, garden view rooms, cabins and casitas. It is featured with swimming pool, tropical gardens, parking lot, home-made breakfast and it overlooks amazing landscape.
Call: +506 2446 4272
Set in Tacacorí de Alajuela on a ridge, Xandari Resort overlooks Costa Rica’s majestic Central Valley in the foothills of Poas Volcano, 1200 meters above sea level. This resort is 20 minutes (7 kilometers) from Juan Santamaria International Airport. Its 24 villas feature private terraces with panoramic views and private gardens and its 17 villas and 2 lap swimming pools are set on the East hill, with easy access to the main building. Its terrace restaurant features a variety of healthy choices such as Costa Rican specialties and Californian and Mediterranean cuisines.
Call: +506 2443 2020
This hotel is situated to the center of the city of Alajuela, on a nice, quiet, secure street, in a friendly, wooded residential area. It provides 7 rooms available, 5 including private baths and 2 shares the last bath. Within close destinations there are many restaurants and there are also Bars and a Casino nearby for the party people. If you want to prepare your food, you can go to the hotel kitchen.
Call: 011-506-2443-9576 or 2443-9383
Villas San Ignacio:
Located in Alajuela, Villas San Ignacio is a three star boutique hotel. It provides standard room, deluxe room. It also features internet, conference room, Jacuzzi, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and spa. In its Pandora Restaurant, you will enjoy special home-made dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients. This hotel also features seven acres of verdant grounds and a variety meeting areas and it is an ideal place for corporate and special events.
Call: (506) 8492-1133
Trapp Family Country Inn:
Situated only one mile from Juan Santamaria International Airport, Trapp Family Country Inn offers comfortable accommodations along with genuine family service in a peaceful atmosphere. Surrounded by beautiful gardens with centenary fig trees, this colonial style hotel also provides other services including snack bar, parking lot, reservation desk, Internet access and safety desk box.
Call: (506) 2431-0776
Martino Resort and Spa:
This hotel is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and provides a Luxury Costa Rica Spa, fitness center and a five star gourmet restaurant. It also features Jacuzzi, swimming pool, business center and bar. It also offers internet facilities so that the guests can communicate with their relatives.
El Chante Vegano:
It is an organic restaurant serving made-to-order vegetarian food and vegan options, since Nov 2013. It offers a whole world of gastronomy for vegans and vegetarians. It is decorated with all the eco friendly materials and the products which can be recycled. This restaurant serves all the dishes prepared with fresh products.
Call: +506 8911 4787 | +506 2440 3528
Jalapeños Central Restaurant:
Opened on August 12, 2003, the Jalapeños Central Restaurant is situated in downtown Alajuela, on 1st street. This cozy little restaurant serves chimichangas, delicious burritos and tasty chalupas, quesadillas, tacos, Aztec soup and desserts.
Call: +506 2430 4027
This restaurant was opened in 2010 and since then it is providing delicious food and one of the best atmosphere in the area. It is situated in the heart of Alajuela downtown. It serves a great variety of sandwiches, pitas, wraps, entrees, salads, pastas and deserts. This restaurant also serves several vegetarian dishes and all the dishes are prepared with finest and freshest ingredients. For preparing delicious dishes, chefs make a fusion of Italian, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. You can also try from a wide range of drinks including beers, natural shakes, spirits and cocktails.
Call: +506 2443 5556
This restaurant is actually part of a B&B with seating set in lovely gardens. Situated 1 km north Laguna Fraijanes, on the way to Poas, Chubascos serves tortilla alineada, gallitos and more.
Monteleone Restaurante & Coctelería:
This restaurant is a great place in Alajuela, Costa Rica. It is set just two blocks north from the park at the center of the town and not too far from the Juan Santamaria International Airport. It serves excellent food, unique selection of drinks and all you will enjoy in a live entertainment. For appetizers you can enjoy cheeses and herbs in olive oil, sangrita lemon shrimp and ceviche. For the main dish, you can have filet of fish in shrimp sauce and grilled tenderloin steak with chimichurri.
The Cakery Restaurant:
Situated in La Garita of Alajuela, the Cakery Restaurant and coffee shop was opened in January 2014. This restaurant serves a wide variety menu including creams, entrees, sammies, wraps, salads, pastas, seafood and meats. You can also enjoy cupcakes and other sweets. It also offers hot and cold coffee and also natural juices. This restaurant also has catering service for special occasions and provides free WiFi, accepts credit cards and has ample parking and security.
Nightlife in Alajuela:
Though Alajuela town is not popular for its nightlife, you can visit some low-key neighborhood bars and enjoy fun time with your friends. Dance halls and discos are rare. Alajuela is one of the places for those who are looking to play their best hand at one of the local casinos which are great option for an afternoon or night indoors.
Located near the Juan Santamaria International Airport, at the Garden Court Airport Hotel in Alajuela, Fiesta Casino is considered as the most famous casino in the country and largest in the town. The casino is quite large and features all the popular games including Tuite, Caribbean Stud, Canasta, Pai Gow, and plenty of slots and video poker. You will enjoy live music, thrilling games and a fun and casual environment at this casino.
Call: +506 2430 9980
There are also other popular casinos in area including Garden Hotel, La Garita de Alajuela Casino and Casino and Martino Resort and Spa.
El Spectro Disco:
Situated on Calle 2, between Avenidas 10 and 12, El Spectro Disco is a good place for dancing to contemporary and Latin music. This place is popular with locals and packed on weekends.
Beer and Guaro:
There are several bars in the area. Beer and Guaro are the popular choices as they are cheap and affordable. Imperial and Pilsen are two of the most well known beer brands in the country. Imported beers like Heineken are also available in Costa Rica; however, they are quite expensive.
Alajuela Cathedral church was constructed in 1854 which has beautiful dome and white marble foundation. This neoclassical cathedral, facing the east side of central park, is a great place to visit.
Alajuela’s Central Park:
This park is a constant hub of activity with its several banks, shops, restaurant and the Catholic Church. This park is shaded by a lot of mango trees and royal palms that make it a pleasant spot for the nature lovers. People who want to watch and enjoy occasional music concert or local performer, they will also find the park perfect.
If you visit this central market, you can get fresh products, cheeses and you will also find butcher shops and shoe vendors. You can enjoy inexpensive typical meals like sopa negra, a hearty black bean soup served with a boiled egg or other local cuisine for less than $3.
Church of Agony (Iglesia la Agonia):
Located five blocks east of central park, Church of Agony was built in 1941 and it is a landmark church known for its organic Baroque style.
Juan Santamaria Park:
A tribute to national hero Juan Santamaria, this park is located within a block south of the Central Park. It has a statue of the hero and a small collection of 1860s era cannons.
Juan Santamaria Museum:
This museum highlights the plight of national hero and Alajuelense. Situated one block north of the central park, Juan Santamaria Museum displays focus on the events surrounding Santamaria’s defeat of William Walker in the 1856 Battle of Hacienda Santa Rosa. It also exhibits some paintings, historical artifacts and maps. This museum remains open from 10 a.m to 5:30 p.m Tuesday through Sunday.
Parks, Zoos, Coffee Plantations and Gardens:
Poas Volcano National Park:
This park is situated 22 miles north of Alajuela, via the scenic Fraijanes road. It features easy hiking trails through a small cloud forest and also has wheelchair accessibility. There is a visitor’s center with a small café and souvenir shop set close to the entrance of the park.
Situated in La Garita, Zoo Ave is a wildlife rescue and breeding center. In this zoo you will find over 130 animal species native to Costa Rica and also collected from other parts of the world. Bird watchers will love to find a spectacular bird collection including cranes, toucans, macaws, ostriches and resplendent quetzals. It also has many mammals and reptiles. It remains open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.
Doka Estate is located in San Luis de Sabanilla, about ten miles north of Alajuela via Fraijanes Road. It is a working coffee plantation on the slopes of Poas Volcano. It offers delightful coffee tours of its ample fields, mills and roasting room. If you visit this place during the time from October-February (coffee picking season), you can also sample ripe coffee cherries straight off the tree.
Botanical Orchid Garden:
Botanical Orchid Garden is located in La Garita. It is a great place to enjoy a nice day trip from Alajuela. It has trails meander through a demo orchid nursery laboratory, orchid showroom, and extensive gardens, where a permanent orchid flower exhibition is on display. There is also a coffee shop and souvenir store. It remain open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tues-Sun.
La Paz Waterfall Garden and Butterfly Observatory:
Considered as the largest butterfly garden of Costa Rica, La Paz Waterfall Garden and Butterfly Observatory has over twenty species of butterflies soaring freely in a natural habitat the size of an American football field. There are over 1.8 miles of walking trails passing several amazing waterfalls, serpentarium, a hummingbird garden, orchid exhibit and the butterfly observatory. La Paz is situated near the town of Vara Blanca, roughly 45 minutes from Alajuela.