Zarcero, Alajuela

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The picturesque town of Zarcero is perched on the edge of the Central Valley in the San Jose Highlands. The town is elevated 1,736 meters above the sea level and lies in the Cordillera Central, some 67 km northwest of San Jose. Zarcero is the capital city of the canton of Alfaro Ruiz and one of the picturesque settlements in the Alajuela province.

Set in the northern hills of San Ramon, this charming town makes a great stop for those travelling to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano. Surrounded by coffee plantations and lush rolling hills, it is an ideal retreat for those who wish to spend a few days in a lovely place away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.

The town has a beautiful cottage style church. Admirers of religious architecture will be delighted by the interior of the church which is covered with detailed religious paintings and elaborate pastel stencil work. Standing right in front of the San Rafael church is the famed topiary garden of ‘Parque Francisco Alvarado’. Sixteen green arches stand before the church, inviting you to the evergreen paradise around it. Offering a series of vibrant shrubbery, sculptured and clipped into whimsical shapes, the garden is a must-see. Well-manicured shrubs in the park are fashioned as animals, dancers and oxcarts. You will even find a dinosaurs, helicopter, airplane and even Christ carrying a cross.

This highland town is lined with cedar trees and is also home to the Los Ángeles Cloud Forest Reserve. This private park offers amazing trails and wildlife viewing opportunities. Noted for its organic farming practices, Zarcero lies in the agricultural zone of Alajuela and is known for its brisk mountain climate. Lodging options available in Zarcero includes a number of cabins, villas, condos and hotels.

From here you can also head to the popular Poás Volcano National Park. With its lush forestation and plenty of dramatic scenery the park also offers plenty of accommodation options in the surrounding area.

Buses leave for Zarcero from the Coca Cola bus terminal in Downtown San Jose. Bus schedules can be checked at the main terminals in Alajuela. From Zarcero the buses will take you to the Arenal Volcano area. Nearby is the farming town of San Ramon while the Alajuela city is located some 50 km northwest from the town.