Alajuela is in Costa Rica. It is a relatively small town thus there is not very much to see in the town itself, but Alajuela is an excellent spot for beginning and ending a trip.
Located only 3km from Juan Santamaria International Airport, Alajuela is cheaper and quicker to reach than San Jose. A cab ride into the center of town costs only around US$5, as opposed to US$25 to San Jose.
Alajuela is small enough to take in by foot. You can see the entire downtown in one afternoon.
There are lots of public busses that criss-cross the city or travel to nearby towns. There are two main bus companies, TUASA and Station Wagon, that provide service between Alajuela and the capital, San Jose. The busses are cheap, less than $1 US, and run every few minutes. There are also busses that depart to other nearby towns like Sarchi, San Ramon, Heredia, and Poas. Also, you can catch busses to farther destinations that regularly travel through Alajuela on the way to Pacific destinations.
Taxis are often the easiest and a cheap way to get around the town. Taxies are red and there are many taxi stands scattered around the city. While the orange airport taxies will accept US dollars, the red taxies will only accept Costa Rican colones. Tipping is not expected, but you can let a taxi driver keep the change.
- The Central Cathedral - Alajuela's Central Cathedral is the very center of the town as is traditional in colonial Spanish urban planning. The church is pretty, but not a spectacular piece of architecture. In front of the cathedral is the central park which is a nice spot for people watching and you may get a glimpse of wildlife such as parrots and a sloth that is an elusive resident.
- Iglesia La Agonía - Located five blocks east of the Central Cathedral, this landmark church has an ornate Baroque style, even though it was built in 1941.
- Juan Santamaría - Alajuela is the hometown to Juan Santamaría, the Costa Rican National Hero. Around the city you can see the location of his home, although now there is just a small palque and garden as the house in long gone. A block south of the Central Park is the Juan Santamaría park with a statue of the hero and a small collection of 1860s era cannons. A block north of the Central Park is the Juan Santamaría Museum, which shows some era pieces explaining the legacy of Juan Santamaría and the 1856 Campaign against the filibusters invaders, who wanted to take control of Central America.
- Poas Volcano - Alajuela is the closest major city to the Poas Volcano National Park. The park is a popular desitnation for both foreign and Costa Rican tourists. Poas allows tourists to see into the crater of an active volcano. You can often smell sulfer from the crater while visting the peak. There are many guided tours offered to the volcano through private tour companies or you can catch a daily "tourist" bus provided by the TUASA bus company. The TUASA bus will take you to the top of the volcano and then return you to Alajuela after several hours. Entrance to the park: 15$US
- The Ara Project, (Finca Hatched to Fly Free is 600 meters east of the Hampton Inn. (Turn north at the traffic light opposite Super Santiago; go 400 meters to a Y-fork, then 200 meters uphill to the left; look for the gate on the right that says “Hatched to Fly Free—por conservación.”) Request a detailed map when making an appointment.), ☎ +(506) 8730-0890, . by appt. Three decades ago, Richard and Margot Frisius (U.S. expats in Costa Rica) initiated a rescue program for green and scarlet macaws at their home at Río Segundo de Alajuela, three kilometers southeast of Alajuela. [email protected] The Ara Project (www.thearaproject.org, guided tours $20)continues to breed these magnificent birds for eventual release into the wild. The home and breeding center, called Finca Hatched to Fly Free, features huge aviaries where pairs of breeding macaws are housed, plus flyways where they can fly and learn to flock. Visitation is strictly by appointment. $20 per person. edit
Futbol - Alajuela is home to Liga Deportiva Alajuelense ("La Liga") soccer club. It is a powerhouse in the Costa Rican soccer league and is regularly ending second in the Costa Rican First Division. The Morera Soto Stadium is very close to downtown and tickets are usually inexpensive. While the Alajuela crowd will be enthusiastic, Alajuela does not suffer from hooliganism, thus taking in a game is appropriate even for single women and families.
- Los Reyes, La Guacima (30 minutes from San Jose using the new Puntarenas highway), . edit
- Walmart, Radial Francisco J. Orlich. Not far (South) from Alajuela is a new Super Walmart. It's on the way to the airport. A bit of a hike but a short taxi ride. edit
- Hotel Aeropuerto, Tel: +(506) 2433-7333, http://airporthotelcostarica.com/. Located 5 minutes west from the SJO San Jose Airport. This hotel offers free transportation to and from the airport 24 hours.
- Hotel Los Volcanes is right downtown and costs about $50 a night.
- Hotel Pura Vida is just a kilometer or two from downtown and offers a more relaxed atmosphere for about $80 a night.
- Hotel La Rosa de America, Tel: +(506) 2433-2741, http://larosadeamerica.com/. Located 15 minutes west from the San Jose Airport, in the town of La Garita de Alajuela. This hotel offers sparking clean accommodation in twelve rooms and two family suites arranged in cabinas, located around a large beautifully maintained tropical garden and swimming pool. Breakfast at the restaurant is included.
- Vista Atenas Bed & Breakfast, Atenas, Alajuela (Sabana Larga Atenas), ☎ (506) 2446-4272, . checkin: 13; checkout: 12. A short 35 minutes from San José International Airport, the lush rolling countryside, with its bountiful fruit orchards and sweeping valley vistas, magically transforms as you ascend the winding mountain road that brings you to the vibrant celestial mosaic that surrounds Vista Atenas B&B. 70. edit
- Xandari Resort and Spa, 1 Km Ne Del Salon El Diamante, Alajuela, 4050, CR (Alajuela), ☎ 506 2443 2020, . The elegant Xandari Resort and Spa sits in the central valley region of Costa Rica, just 20 minutes from the international airport. The central valley is wrought with volcanoes, lush plantations, and hillsides, and blessed with outstanding weather. San Jose is a short drive away and offers an abundance of international cuisine, shops, open markets and entertainment. $195. edit
- Christopher Panzer, Apartado 567-4250 (San Ramon), ☎ +(506) 2445-2100, . One of Costa Rica’s newest and freshest B&Bs, we offer a slightly different take on vacationing in Costa Rica. Sustainability is our motto, and that encompasses everything from how the house was designed and built, to the vegetarian meals we serve, to our day-to-day operations, which include recycling and composting. We also have our community in mind — we are helping those less fortunate in San Ramon and Costa Rica by supporting Habitat for Humanity Costa Rica. Volunteer opportunities are available, just ask us. $55. edit
- Vida Tropical, (300 meters East and 300 N from the courthouse traffic light | in front of the Academia de Natación, Alajuela), ☎ +(506) 2443-9576, . A very pleasant and well managed B&B located very near the airport but not on any flight paths. It's a short walking distance to the central Alajuela business district. A number of amenities are standard including but not limited to free local phone calls, free fax service, a delightful breakfast, access to the kitchen for preparing you own meals, a short walk to a bus stop where you can connect to a variety of locations, free WIFI or use their guest computer, a laundry service which is very reasonable and free for long stays, a large collection of tour books, a lending library with many English (American) titles and so much more. The manager, Isabel, is extremely helpful and can arrange to satisfy most of your needs whether it be scheduling tours, transportation or medical needs. There is a wall safe available to store your valuables and/or passports. Rates are flexible for longer stays and off season. $35 (single). edit
- Maleku Hostal, (50 mts west of Hospital Nuevo Alajuela), ☎ +(506) 2430 4304, . Five minute drive from the airport. Also has free internet and free shuttle service to the airport. A clean, homey hostel. The best price $12 (on Feb 2009) in a dorm. Also Private rooms for little more. Rate is the best in town. edit
- El Patio Hostel and Camping, (25 mts west from Alajuela Fire Station), ☎ +(506) 24401487 / (506) 83409159, . Five minute drive from the airport. Also has free internet. Hostal is clean. Owners are friendly and helpful. It's a few blocks from Cathedral Square, the center of the downtown and a good place to people watch. $12 in a dorm & $20 for private room or tent.. edit
There are a number of small hotels catering to budget travellers, however they tend to be somewhat overpriced due perhaps to the city's proximity to the international airport.
- Atenas Located in Alajuela Province which had been ranked as the best weather worldwide. Atenas town in well known by the Americans community placed here. It is on the way to the central pacific beaches becoming a mandatory stop on the way to Jaco or Manuel Antonio National Park.