Alajuela is Costa Rica’s second largest city in terms of size, and lies 20 km northwest of the capital city San Jose Costa Rica. Both cities are part of the Central Valley, along with Heredia and Cartago. The province of Alajuela has an important place in the history of the country, as it became a very active supporter of independence from Spain.
In the past, the province was known as Villahermosa and La Lajuela, before it was named as it is nowadays. As a curious fact too, Alajuela was even capital of Costa Rica for a very brief period. However, this city is best known for being the hometown of Costa Rica’s national hero Juan Santamaria, a drummer boy, whose story tell that he sacrificed his life to save his country during the battle of the Hacienda Santa Rosa, occurred in 1856, against the forces of the American foreigner William Walker.
Alajuela lies just a few minutes away from the Juan Santamaria International Airport of Costa Rica, the first and biggest international airport of the country. Driving distances in Costa Rica are relatively short and in terms of local transportation, getting in and out of Alajuela is not a big deal as there are plenty of bus routes and also train service. Even if you rent a car, there will be not a problem as the roads are easy to follow and they are in good condition.
Alajuela is also known among locals as a leading trade center for cattle –the lowlands of San Carlos in La Fortuna are a great example of it- and also for the sugar industries located in the neighboring areas of the city. The variety of local agricultural products is known and appreciated throughout the country, as the weather conditions of the area enables the production of high quality agricultural products.
The city is not only about farms and agriculture; Alajuela is also an incredible getaway to spend some great Costa Rica vacations. The wonderful Costa Rica weather in this area facilitates the enjoyment of different activities in the city, as well as pleasant stays for visitors. There are a great variety of Costa Rica hotels in Alajuela, and select the perfect one won’t be a problem.
For visitors looking for culture and close contact with the true essence of Costa Ricans, then Alajuela will be a great choice to spend holidays in there! Downtown in the city it can be found a big amazing red dome church just few minutes away from the central park - Parque Central in Spanish- of the town.
As in San Jose, Alajuela has its own Central Market, just right in the West of the park, and it is a great place to shop. The Juan Santamaria Cultural Historical Museum nearby the park is another great attraction of the city as it houses many historical maps, portraits, and memories from the battle of 1856.
As part of the cultural options in Alajuela, if visitors want to sample authentic Costa Rica food, then a visit to the market or any of the local restaurants –sodas- in the city is highly recommended.
Additionally, there are other interesting Costa Rica tours to see and experience while staying in the area or by driving to the nearby attractions.