Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo



Central Valley

The central valley has an area of nearly 3500 square kilometers and it has the 4 largest cities of Costa Rica; San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia. The one day tours offered from San Jose cover most of the tourist attractions of the Central Valley.

San José

San Jose City was founded in 1737 and it is the capital of Costa Rica since 1823. It is located in the center of the country in the Central Valley at 3800 feet above sea level. The population, including the suburbs reaches 1 million inhabitants. All hotels in San Jose have trinkable water.The city is divided in streets and avenues. There is a pedestrian avenue in down town San Jose with restaurants and stores. The distance between the International airport and San Jose is of 10 miles. In a rush hour it takes 45 minutes to get there.

San Jose´s average temperature: 74 F degrees and varies only a little throughout the year. During December, January and February the temperature can drop a few degrees and a cool breeze is felt at night. We recommend to take a sweater or wind breaker during this time of the year.

The city has some attractions and a very active laboral life with entertainment. There are many restaurants, bars and discotheques.

The city is modern and it does not keep many of its old buildings because of the earthquakes in the past 50 years.

Most of the attractions of this zone are described in ONE DAY TOURS


The Guanacaste province is located at the North Pacific of Costa Rica. It is one of the regions with the lowest rainfall in the country and almost all the territory is covered by a dry tropical forest . Guanacaste is the folklore province of the country and its rural landscape has many attractive villages and the people are kind and friendly. The coast has many beaches and bays with all kinds of hotels. The capital is Liberia, which has an international airport. You can use one of the domestic airlines to fly from San Jose to Liberia and organize a transfer from there to the beach resorts. For beaches such as Samara, we recommend using the Tempisque river ferry to save time. At weekends there may be delays. For Playa Hermosa, Arenilla, Tamarindo, Conchal and Flamingo, the Liberia road is recommended since it is faster and in better condition. The best beaches and hotels are as follows:

National Park Santa Rosa:

This big park protects a vast extension of dry tropical forest. The most accessible site is the monument La Casona. This big ranch house is the site where the battle of Santa Rosa took place in 1856, and is now a museum. Near La Casona there is a good trail to learn about this kind of forest. ( 1 hour walk ) There is a suitable section of the park for camping by the beach; Playa Naranjo. This is a 12 kilometer drive from La Casona toward the beach. The road is only passable during the dry season and with a 4W Drive. At the beautiful beach there are places to camp and walk. Playa Naranjo is not frequented much and it is unspoiled, with few tourists. Perfect for camping near the beach. You should of course follow the normal rules of tidiness.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park:

This is a very special national park that offers different types of vegetation, mainly the dry tropical forest. This zone contains a wide variety of vegetation where the trees lose their leaves during the dry season when they bloom. During the rainy season everything looks as green as a rainforest.

The volcano has an active crater at 1800 meters altitude. A hike to its top requires very good physical condition. First you have to ride a horse for 2 hours and then you have a hike of almost 4 hours. The view from the top is spectacular! On a clear day you can see the Lake of Nicaragua, the Pacific Ocean and the lowlands of Guanacaste.

The main attraction, easy to reach, is the area of Las Pailas where there is a 2 hour trail to see all the fresh volcanic activity consisting of hot mud pools hotsprings with sulphur and a beautiful forest with important wildlife . The area is excellent for horseback riding and for swimming in natural pools with waterfalls. There are also sulphur hotsprings for taking baths.

National Park Palo Verde:

This park also protects a large area of dry tropical forest and wetlands formed by the Tempisque River. Access from the Panamerican highway is only possible during the dry season and 4W drive is recommended. Temperatures can be high with mosquitoes, but perfect for observing wetland birds. There are trails to see the wildlife of the dry tropical forest. The trail to the look out point offers a spectacular view of the wetlands and the Tempisque River Basin. The most popular tour offered by the hotels is a boatrip on the Tempisque River and the Park to see the birds, monkeys, iguanas and huge American crocodiles.

Tamarindo Beach and town:

Romantic white sandy beach near the Tamarindo Estuary. This beach is good for surfing near the estuary and has safe swimming and a good beach. Tamarindo offers a great variety of little hotels and restaurants of all categories, as well as bars and pubs for entertainment. Perfect for those who would rather go out instead of staying at the same hotel. In Tamarindo you can enjoy horseback riding, take tours to the estuary by boat or kayak, seaturtle night tours and others.

Playa Grande

This is a beautiful 7 kilometers long beach. It has been declared a protected area. It is a very important nesting site for the Giant Leatherback Turtle (biggest sea turtle in the world ). The beach has almost no shade but is pleasant for walking and for surfing. There are few hotels. One is the Hotel Las Tortugas, with beach front. During the sea turtle nesting season at night the beach is protected and a turtle walk night tour is offered. The tour is available from different hotels and requires a reservation. At the ranger’s house by the beach, the entrance fee is available with guide. The season is from November to February.

Conchal Beach

This is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Pacific coast. The water is clear light blue and the sand is white, formed of little shells. ( Concha: shell ). The hotel Melia Conchal is located on this extensive beach. The only way to this beach is by the little town of Brasilito and often not possible during the rainy season. This is why this beach is secluded! A quiet sea and secluded beach make it a splendid visit.

Flamingo Beach

This is another very beautiful white sandy beach and pleasant for swimming. There are many beach houses and hotels. There is no town, as such, but you will find a supermarket, a discotheque and a few bars. Most of the hotels have good restaurants and casinos.


This little town, a few kilometers from Santa Cruz, kept the pre-colombian tradition of producing pottery with almost the same methods and decorative motifs. Most of the families make their living by producing this pottery fired in ovens and painting them by hand. If you visit one of these houses they will show you the technic and you can make purchases at reasonable price.

International Airport Daniel Oduber

This is the second international airport of Costa Rica. It is used mainly for charter flights and by some domestic and international airlines. You can fly to Liberia daily with Sansa or Travel Air. It is 20 minutes away by car from Liberia.

Rafting on the Corobici River

This rafting is classified at level 2 only for nature observation. It is a beautiful river with a dry tropical gallery forest. On this boat trip you can easily see howler monkeys, iguanas, herons and many other birds. The rafts take 6 persons and paddling controlled by the tour guide. This is a perfect tour for families with children.