Alajuela, Costa Rica

Central Valley views, volcanos, coffee, waterfalls, and more!

The Alajuela Vibe

The city of Alajuela located in the Province of Alajuela (yea thanks for that confusion Costa Rica) is not a city that really needs to be on your list of places to visit, but the beautiful Central Valley surrounding the city is amazing!

We suggest staying here for a few night at the very beginning or end of your trip if flying in/ out of Juan Santamaria International Airport.

alajuela map

Map Of Alajuela

Alajuela is located in the Central Valley region of the country next to the capital city of San Jose.

It is one of the biggest cities in the country and is the location of the main international airport. 

Alajuela at a Glance

Nearest International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela

Popular Things to Do

visit Poas Volcano, take a coffee tour, visit La Paz Waterfall Garden

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, walking in the downtown area

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April


Flights to Costa Rica

The easiest way of getting to Alajuela is by flying in to the biggest international airport in the country, Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO).

In fact, the airport is usually referred to as being in San Jose, but it is actually located in Alajuela.

For flight booking we suggest Skyscanner. They are our go-to flight booking site for great rates.


Transportation to Alajuela

Rental Car

(Most Flexible Option)

We like renting a car in Costa Rica because it will definitely give you the most flexibility for exploring. In general, you should feel comfortable driving here if you are a somewhat experienced driver.

Our favorite rental car company is a local company called Adobe-Rent-a-Car. They are the most honest, trustworthy, and just overall amazing rental company we have found here. 

Because we like them so much we asked if they would like to work together and they said, “yes.” 

So we have a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you if you book through us! 

Yay to saving money!

Even if you are considering renting through another company, please read through our rental car page first. There is mandatory car insurance here that you need to know about. 


The Adobe Rent-A-Car discount includes…..

– A 10% DISCOUNT  





The Driving Route

Downtown Alajuela is located about ten minutes away from the San Jose Airport (Juan Santamaria International Airport).

Just keep in mind that traffic can be really bad here especially during rush hour.

Which Car to Rent

For downtown Alajuela area, all cars will be fine. If you plan on visiting the hills above Alajuela, most roads are paved but they can be steep. A 4×4 is most likely not neccessary, but an SUV is always a good idea. 

Hotel Shuttle

If you are staying at a hotel near the airport you may be able to get a shuttle provided by your hotel. Some hotels offer this service free of charge while others might charge a small fee.

Your driver will usually be waiting for you with a sign when you exit the airport.


costa rica taxi airport san jose

If you are not planning on renting a car, the best way to get to Alajuela from the airport is by taxi.

When you exit the airport there will be a lot of mean asking if you need a taxi.

We suggest asking if they are a legal registered taxi driver before proceeding.

You NEED to make sure that your driver has a red or orange vehicle with a yellow or green triangle on the front and passenger side door. This is a legal taxi driver.

You can find out more with our guide to Costa Rica taxis.

Getting Around in Alajuela

Most people don’t spend an extended period of time in Alajuela, but rather use it as a place to stay after landing in Costa Rica or before leaving. Because of this, you will probably only be exploring this area for a day or two.

The downtown area is easy to explore by foot or with taxi. If you would like to take a drive in the mountains (which we definitely suggest) you will need a car. Most of the roads are well maintained, but it can be steep in some spots. We definitely suggest a vehicle with some clearance just for comfort.

After some nightmare rental car experiences with other companies, we have partnered with the only company we fully trust, Adobe, to bring our readers a 10% discount. You can find out more about it here!

Book Your Transportation

Alajuela Weather

From mid-December until April there is almost no rain in Alajuela Costa Rica.

The weather from December until February tends to be a bit cooler and windy. People here love it. We hate it because we find it cold. In reality, it is still usually in the 70’s during the day, but the wind is annoying.

From February until the start of the rainy season it can be hot during the day and cools off a bit more at night.

During the rainy season, it is difficult to predict. Typically it is sunny and nice until about 2 pm. The rain will then roll in for a few hours. Sometimes these storms are scary with crazy lightning strikes. The evenings are typically dry.

You just never really know here though. Sometimes we will have rain all day and other times we will have several days of no rain during the rainy season.

In all honesty, we love the weather here because it doesn’t typically get too hot and humid like it can in the beach towns.

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Alajuela Hotels

High-End Hotels

Pura Vida Hotel- Pura Vida Hotel is located on the other side of the city of Alajuela, but you can still be to the airport in about 15 minutes. There is an excellent Asian fusion restaurant on site. Also, the grounds are so pretty here! There is a free airport shuttle for guests.

Costa Rica Marriott – Hotel Hacienda Belen- The Marriott is located super close to the airport (under 5 minute drive). There is a free airport shuttle, outdoor pool, restaurant on-site, and fitness center. It is beautiful!

Xandari Resort and Spa- The resort features a spa village, yoga lessons, outdoor pools and hot tubs, restaurants, and 4 km of natural trails.  There is an airport shuttle service

Finca Rosa Blanca- Finca Rosa Blanca has been on my “must visit” list for a few years now. Unfortunately, we haven’t made it here yet. If you visit, let us know how you liked it, so we can live vicariously through you. 😉

The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, garden, a bar, a shared lounge, a restaurant, and room service. There is a paid-for airport shuttle.

Mid-Range Hotels

Casa Maria Aeropuerto- Cute place near the airport. Breakfast is available for $7. There is also an airport shuttle available.

Budget Hotels

Alice y Juancito Boutique Hotel- Breakfast is included and there is also a shared kitchen that guests can use. There is an airport shuttle service here but you do have to pay extra for it. There is also a cute little garden area for guests to hang out in.

Alajuela Homes & Villa Rentals

We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.

Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double check before booking.

Beautiful Apartment in Downtown – A two bedroom apartment which sleeps four guests. This place is located right in the city center, but it’s not typically loud.

Casa Cafetal – A modern condo in a gated community. This place is located in the hills above Alajuela, but you can be in the city center in 15 minutes. The condo sleeps 5 guests in 3 bedrooms. You will also have access to all the community amenities including a pool, ping pong table, and outdoor grill area. 

Casa Cielo Grande – A large three bedroom house which can sleep up to 11 guests. The views are great here, there is a private pool, and you can be to the airport in 20 minutes.