Alajuela Province

Alajuela Province holds the main hub of all international travel in and out of Costa Rica from the Juan Santamaria Airport  in the city of Alajuela, it's capital.  The Juan Santamaria International Airport has been the leading reason this tiny city grew to it's current size. As tourism increases Alajuela will continue to grow, bringing those looking for pristine beaches in the Caribbean and South Pacific, wildlife and amazing waterfalls. The number of eco-tourist coming through to experience the diverse eco-systems has grownso quickly that the airport recently was enlarged. Many tourists entering the country through this hub think they are in San Jose as they leave the airport but are surprised to learn they are in Alajuela.  Both cities lay next to one another and through the years they have merged together making it hard to distinguish the boundary.


The city of Alajuela is also famous as the home of the Costa Rican national hero Juan Santamaria.  Santamaría (nicknamed El Erizo (The Hedgehog) was a peasant boy who became the national hero during the Campaign of 1856-1857 when Costa Rica defeated the army of the North-American William Walker.  Santa Rosa National Park was dedicated at the sight of the one day war and is located in the Guanacaste Province in the cantone of Santa Rosa.  Alajuela Province is located in the Central Valley Region and expands to the north as far as Santa Cruz on the Nicaraguan border,  from Orotina in the west to the foothills of Barillo Carillo National Park in the southeast. 

North of the airport it turns into rolling hills and mountains with small districts scattered across the less traveled mountainous regions.  In the last few years a well developed highway system was cut through the north and southwest areas which made travel to the attractions it holds more accessible and bringing more tourists into some of it's less known districts.  Some of the old roads that wind through the small towns to the southwest are still favored by some as a means of getting around as there are quaint stops that can be made winding your way through the various altitudes.  Some of the views from the new highway system are wonderful, giving the tourist a quick glance as to how magnificent the terrain of the country is as you roll through valleys, foothills and spectacular mountains.

Cantons of Alajuela Province

Alajuela, San Ramon, Grecia, San Mateo, Atenas, Naranjo, Palmares, Poas, Ortina, San Carlos, Alfaro Ruiz, Valverde Vega, Upala, Los Chilies, GuatusoAlajuela map1


Small districts like San Ramon, Atenas, Upala and Grecia are tucked away in the mountains of this vast Providence and offer warmth, charm and welcoming smiles from the locals when visited.  Alajuela Province also is home to some of the most awe inspiring volcano sights you can imagine.  Volcano Poas and Tenerio display remarkable craters while Arenal Volcano is the largest active volcano in the country.  Some visitors may be a little hesitant to approach this active conic volcano but it has been making it's display of volcanic smoak and lava for as long as any of the locals can remember and is still one of the most visited sights in Costa Rica.   Arenal Lake is the largest lake in the Providence and is known to be one of the best windsurfing spots in the world.  Constant breezes come from all directions over the waters making it an ideal spot for the sport and can be enjoyed all year round.  The northern area is home to Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge and is well worth the trip to see the amazing animals and views. 

Main Attractions / Towns in Alajuela Province

Alajuela Cathedral Arenal Arenal Volcano
Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge Juan Castro Blanco National Park Juan Santamaria Museum
Juan Santamaria Park Lake Arenal Poas National Park
Tenorio National Park Zoo Avenue  


There are many great activities and sights to see in Alajuela Province.  While the larger districts offer a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants and tours, the smaller districts scattered in the higher regions have less choices.  Check out our tabs to locate convenient accommodations, restaurants, tours and more before or during your travels through Alajuela Province. 

Photo Credit: By Likeluis (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, By Shamhain (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons, © Dean Perrus