Last Updated on March 10, 2023
The third largest city in Costa Rica, Alajuela has much to offer visitors. Located in the Central Valley, the city is part of the Great Metropolitan Area.
Alajuela is located very close to Costa Rica’s busiest airport, Juan Santamaría International, and so makes a great first port of call for those visiting the country.
If you are planning a trip to this city, you are surely wondering what thereis to see and do. In this article, we will detail the best things to do in Alajuela.
1. Alajuela Cathedral
One of the most exciting things for many people when visiting a city is paying a visit to the cathedral. These buildings are a great place to take in the local architectural style, and the cathedral in Alajuela is no exception.
This Catholic Church not only has a stunning exterior but an interior to rival most. The beautifully intricate gold dome within the building is a focal point. Built in the 1700s, the cathedral has undergone many renovations over the years.
2. Zoo Ave
If you have an interest in animals and their conservation, then a trip to Zoo Ave should be high on your list when visiting Alajuela.
The zoo is home to the largest collection of bird species in Latin America and is spread over 14 hectares, giving visitors plenty to look at.
The zoo originally opened in the 1960s, but it was reborn in 1990 when animal welfare took priority.
There are a wide variety of projects that take place at the zoo, such as animal reproduction and the Tropical Wildlife Rescue Center, which provide a wealth of educational material for guests.
3. Poas Volcano
This stunning volcano stands at an impressive 2700 meters and attracts a lot of tourists to the area.
It is extremely active, erupting 40 times in the last 200 years. The park was closed for a period of time for safety reasons, but it is now open again.
Visitors have access to an observation area and crater where they can get a look at the incredible landscape. It is worth noting that prebooking must be done on the website of the national park.
4. Balneario Ojo de Agua
What could be better than a refreshing dip to cool off from the hot Costa Rican weather?
This swimming location provides not only a man-made pool, which is excellent for those looking to exercise, but also natural pools for a more relaxed experience.
The water park features a basketball court and a beautiful lake, which is perfect for enjoying the views and having a picnic after a swimming session.
5. Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaria
If you want to get a feel for the history and culture of this city, then a trip to the Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaria is a great place to start.
There is a good variety of exhibitions, which you can view at your leisure or through one of the guided tours.
The museum was founded in 1974 and has remained a very popular attraction for the city. It aims to keep the history of the city and its hero, Juan Santamaría, alive.
6. Juan Santamaria Park
If you’re looking for a place to relax and recuperate after taking in the city sights, then you will love this park.
The park is dedicated to the memory of the city hero, Juan Santamaria, and there is an incredible monument of him on the grounds.
This is an ideal place to meet some of the locals or simply take a quiet, reflective walk. You might decide to have a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon taking in the scenery in this iconic park.
7. The Ara Project
For bird lovers, the Ara Project is an ideal stop off in Alajuela.
Dedicated to the conservation of the two main types of macaw found in the country, the project began as a zoo but was rebranded in the mid-2000s.
This wonderful place gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful birds and learn more about them and how they are being protected in Costa Rica. This makes an excellent educational day out for those with children.
8. Hacienda Alsacia-Starbucks Farm
Calling all coffee lovers, this is a must see when visiting Alajuela. The farm is outside the city and will require a little extra travel, but the nine miles is easily tackled in a taxi, bus, or private hire car.
Coffee is one of the main exports of Costa Rica. A visit to this farm give visitors an insight into the industry and an appreciation for the process behind coffee production.
There is a fully guided tour, and once you have finished you can have a drink and bite to eat in the onsite cafe.
9. Los Chorros Municipal Recreative Park
If you want to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty, then come to this stunning recreative park.
The park has excellent walking trails and incredible waterfalls, which must be seen to be fully appreciated. This is an opportunity to lose yourself in nature, whether you want to relax or cycle through this amazing landscape.
10. Botanico La Catalina Garden
A visit to a botanical garden is always peaceful and pleasurable. Being close to nature is a great way to recover from busy days wandering through the city. The gardens not only feature a wealth of stunning flowers, but also some very impressive water features.
11. Fraijanes Forest
If staying in a hotel isn’t your preference, then perhaps you might prefer a camping experience.
This area provides campers with the ultimate natural experience. There are many walking trails. This massive park is ideal for outdoor lovers and a brilliant place for the whole family.
12. Museum of Popular Culture
This museum is located in the former home of ex-President, Alfredo Gonzales-Flores, and features an interesting range of exhibits.
The pieces displayed here are mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century and include some rather spectacular giant head sculptures.
Visitors will get to look into the fashion and culture that was popular during this period.
13. Mini Golf
In Alajuela, there is a fantastic mini golf course, which is popular with both locals and tourists alike.
This is a great activity for those travelling with children. The course has a jungle safari theme, so kids will stay engaged and excited with this lovely little golf course.
There is the opportunity to take a golf lesson, and the site even caters for birthday parties, should your child have one while visiting this city.
14. Jalapeños Central
If you are looking for a good place to eat while staying in Alajuela, this Mexican themed restaurant is a popular choice.
The staff here are super attentive and friendly and the food is second to none. Full of flavor and well presented, this will be a dining experience to remember.
Additionally, the prices are very reasonable. The whole family can eat here without breaking the bank.
15. Church of the Holy Christ of Agony
This is a great church to check out if you are interested in architecture. The pristine white facade is impressive enough during the day but really comes alive at night when it is illuminated.
The inside of the building doesn’t disappoint either, and there are a variety of beautiful sculptures. For those who wish to attend services here, there are details of the different ones being held on the church’s website.
Alajuela is a stunning and vibrant city that draws many visitors every year. This should come as no surprise since the city has so much to offer. Whether you are traveling for culture, food, or nature, there are plenty of activities to ignite your passion in this city.