On the foothills of the Volcanic Mountain Range in Costa Rica, the Central Valley features the most important cities of four provinces (including the capital city) and countless attractions. Here, visitors will find everything, from cloud forests and sugar mills to theaters and museums.
This region is located in the middle of the country and rests on a valley that expands from San Ramon in Alajuela (west) to Turrialba (east), and from the Poas Volcano (north) to the Santos region (south).
The valley’s most important urban center is the capital city, San Jose, which offers all amenities found in large cities: broadband Internet connections for business meetings, museums and theaters.
Besides the capital, visitors will find the most important cities of three provinces: Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago, whose urban centers offer excellent hotel infrastructure and beautiful natural attractions.
Visitors may enjoy the majestic Poas Volcano in Alajuela, or the landscape and very cold temperatures of Irazu Volcano in Cartago. In Heredia, visitors can hike the trails up to Barva Volcano, or visit Turrialba in the eastern part of the valley, where they will find yet another impressive volcano.
But there’s a lot more to the region’s natural beauty other than volcanoes.
Visitors have a choice of several national parks that safeguard untouched rainforests.
One of the most important sites is Braulio Carrillo National Park, a rainforest with more than 100,000 acres that provide fresh air for the Central Valley. The park belongs to the Central Valley Volcanic Formation, between the Poas and Irazu volcanoes.
But it’s not a coincidence that the Central Valley is the most developed region. For more than two centuries, the national economy was based on the production and exportation of Costa Rica’s golden bean: coffee.
Coffee plantations required, and still do, climate conditions that can only be found in the valley’s highlands.
As years went by and after a long dispute, the country’s capital moved from Cartago to San Jose and it became the national metropolis with most of the country’s cultural infrastructure. The Gold, Jade, Art, Children’s, National and Contemporary Art and Design museums, and the National Theater are all located in downtown San Jose.
Rural communities like Turrialba, Los Santos, Barva de Heredia, Sarchi and Grecia, among others, offer the possibility to visit coffee plantations, sugar mills, milking facilities and adobe houses.
Poas Volcano. It has one of the largest craters in the world. At the summit, vistors will find two craters, the main one has a diameter of 0.93 miles and the second crater is now a cold water lagoon called Laguna Botos.
InBio. An internationally known scientific research institution that also features tourism attractions and the Biodiversity Park.
Coffee Tours. Tours of coffee plantations teach visitors all about the process, from planting the seed to enjoying a good cup of java. Among the different options, Cafe Britt (Heredia) and Doka Estate (Alajuela) are the most famous.
Braulio Carrillo National Park. The northwestern end of the valley includes more than 108 thousand acres of protected rainforest. Several dormant volcanoes are also part of the park.
Tapanti Park. This rainforest is the home to more than 45 mammal species, 260 varieties of birds and 30 kinds of reptiles. Here, visitors will find thousand-year-old oak trees.
Orosi Valley. The first two Spanish settlements (Ujarras and Orosi) were located in this valley. Colonial ruins and hot springs are part of this attraction.
Los Angeles Basilica. The home of Costa Rica’s patron saint was built in 1921 and combines Roman, Arabic and Gothic architecture.
Cerro De La Muerte. With a height of 11,300 feet above sea level, the mountain is covered by a unique forest and sometimes, it reaches very cold temperatures, even below 0 Celsius.
Irazu Volcano. The Caribbean and Pacific can be seen from Costa Rica’s tallest volcano, the 11,259-feet Irazu, which is still active.
Turrialba Volcano. This 3,106-acre park protects a 10,958-feet volcano. It stems from the Irazu’s base, which is why they are considered twin volcanoes.
Turrialba. This community located in Cartago is the doorway to the Caribbean. It is also known as a white-water rafting center due to the challenging rivers Reventazon and Pacuare.
Ruinas de Ujarrás. The Purisima Concepción del Rescate church in Ujarras belonged to Franciscan missionaries and it was built during the XVI Century.