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Costa Rica Central Valley

San José is the Costa Rican capital and is a fantastic place to head to in order to get a taste for the local culture.

© Costa Rican Trails

Central Valley at a glance

Central Valley is a fantastic base for exploring the country. There is easy access to a whole host of fascinating natural and cultural sights.

Explorers can visit volcanoes and coffee plantations, or discover the secrets of the diverse rainforests.

The Central Valley is awash with great activities to try – you could try canyoning or zip lining through the jungle. You could even white water raft to your hotel which is nestled deep in the rainforest!

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Experiences in the Central Valley

For the adventurous the Central Valley region offers so much from ziplining, white water rafting and sleeping amongst the treetops but it is also a paradise for nature lovers and those looking for a relaxing spa!
Sleep within the jungle canopy.

Jungle Canopy Suite

Sleep within the jungle canopy.
Explore the jungle canopy of Costa Rica on this zip line adventure

Zipline through the Jungle Canopy

Explore the jungle canopy of Costa Rica on this zip line adventure
White water raft into your luxury jungle lodge.

White water raft to a Jungle Lodge

White water raft into your luxury jungle lodge.

General Information

With approximately 70% of the population living in this region the Central Valley has a lot of energy and is perfect for those who would like to enjoy some culture, nightlife and shopping. The region is home to the capital city of San Jose and its suburbs as well as the international airport. The regions location provides a cooler climate and as such can be a welcome escape from the hot coastal areas, especially during the hot dry season. There are also plenty of attractions that are within easy reach of the city of San Jose including the volcanoes of Irazu and Poas. Many visitors enjoy a couple of days here at the beginning or end of their trip to get to know the “real” Costa Rica.

Capital

San Jose

Population

3.6 million

Area

11,366 km²

Language

Spanish but English is widely spoken

Currency

Costa Rican Colon or USD

Best time to visit

Dry Season: December to April Green Season: May to November

Destinations in Central Valley

© Costa Rican Trails

San Jose

As the capital city of Costa Rica, San José is surrounded by volcanoes, rain forests, and coffee plantations.

  • San José is located in the Central valley and sits between mountain ranges, small valleys, and three active volcanoes.
  • San José is an ideal place to stop at the beginning or end of your Costa Rican adventure, as the city is close to the international airport and is home to several museums.

© Costa Rican Trails

Turrialba and Pacuare

Set in the lush Central Valley, Turrialba is a scenic town with stunning views of the local countryside. Just over 50km East of the capital San José, the area is ideally situated for visitors to enjoy both sides of Costa Rica.

  • Turrialba is a haven for thrill seekers thank’s to its location close to the river Rios Pacuare – the area known as Pacuare gets its name from the vast river which runs through it, and is a hotspot for kayaking and white water rafting.

© Costa Rican Trails

Alajuela

Alajuela is the second largest city in Costa Rica, after the capital San José, and is the birthplace to Costa Rica’s famous national hero – Juan Santamaria. Alajuela’s location only 20km from the international airport makes it an ideal destination to begin or conclude a Costa Rican adventure.

  • April is a fantastic time to visit Alajuela, when the city comes alive with the celebrations of Juan Santamaria Day. Parades and carnivals line the streets during the colourful national party for the anniversary of the Battle of Rivas!

© Costa Rican Trails

Bajos del Toro

The area of Bajos del Toro is filled with extinct volcanoes, nature reserves, flowing rivers and bursting waterfalls. It’s the ideal destination for lazy days or action packed adventures, with a new area to be discovered every day.

  • Catarata del Toro is Costa Rica’s biggest waterfall, cascading into a dormant volcanic crater. Experience the beauty of the nature surrounding this largely undiscovered gem!
  • Sitting in the shadow of the Poas Volcano, Bajos del Toro is an excellent destination for adventurous activities.

© Costa Rican Trails

Poas

Poas Volcano is an impressive site, with it’s rain-filled craters over a mile wide. One crater remains dormant, while the other stays active and regularly explodes into plumes of steam and debris!

  • In a fantastic example of Costa Rica’s respect for the power of nature, the Poas Volcano National Park remains closed due to recent volcanic activity, to protect both the visitors and the fragile nature around the volcano.

Travel Facts

Learn more about flights, climate and geography for this destination.

San Jose is Costa Rica’s main airport and transportation hub, making it the best places for visitors to use as a start point for their holiday of a lifetime. This province – and country capital – is centrally located so it is easy for travellers to get into and out of.

San Jose is in the Central Valley – a lush and beautiful region with landscape that is truly spectacular and weather that stays great through the year. In San Jose April is the hottest month (average temperature of 25°C) and the coldest is January (22°C on average). The most daily sunshine hours fall at around 7 hours in June. The wettest month is September with an average of 240mm of rain.

Situated directly between North and South America, Costa Rica is a country of intense diversity. With influences from both the nearby United States and the predominantly Latin culture to the south, this is a country of distinct variety; matched only by its wonderous geography and diverse climate.

Due to the large variety in climate and weather, Cost Rica is home to no fewer than 12 distinctive ecological zones; from cloud forests, rainforests, mangroves and dry forests to the wide expanse of beautiful sand at Tamarindo Beach; a surfer’s paradise where the rolling tides of the pacific make for perfect half-pipes.

The expansive rainforest is home to a wide variety of animal life; nearly 900 bird species alone. Jaguars, ocelots and pumas are just a few of the exotic species that can also be found beneath the dense forest canopy. There are numerous tours available for the adventurous minded to get up close to the local wildlife, making Costa Rica the perfect destination for those who wish to combine nature with some adventure alongside beach relaxation.

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