This inland region is marked by natural beauty and a series of spectacular volcanoes that make up the Cordillera Central mountain range. Volcan Arenal, Alajuela’s main attraction, is the most spectacular volcano in Costa Rica and possibly the world.
Tabacon Hot Springs Waterfall & Bridge, Arenal Volcano
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The provincial capital of Alajuela is about 11 miles (18km) northwest of San Jose and a short drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport. Alajuela sits on a gentle slope and is slightly warmer than neighboring San Jose, and thus attracts city dwellers in the summer months. Alajuela’s town center is much like the hectic street markets in San Jose, if a bit smaller and laid back; several nearby villages are even more slower-paced, and are popular among tourists.
Those visiting Alajuela are there for the volcanoes. Volcan Arenal is the most stunning view, but is out of the way and takes several days to visit. Arenal erupts regularly and on clear nights visitors can see the orange lava flow down the mountain. Arenal is next to Laguna de Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest inland body of water, which covers 48 square miles (124 sq. km). The lake’s natural depression is about two million years, but was expanded by engineers in 1973.
Volcan Poás or Poas Volcano is less of an attraction than Arenal, but is an easy day trip and when visible is also is very beautiful. Local residents were evacuated in 1989 and 1994, but today the volcano has more bark than bite. It continues to burble and belch, and tourists can climb to the top and stare down at its innards. The summit also boasts views of the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
Choose an Area in Alajuela:
San Jose Highlands
Tenorio Volcano & Miravalles Volcano
San Jose Metro (w/ Airport Area)
Arenal Volcano & Northern Lowlands
Click on the map of Alajuela to zoom into an Area.
Click to enlarge map - Alajuela Region Map
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