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 3 km from Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA: SJO), 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.
- Parque 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 plaque 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.
- Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría. 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.
- Poás Volcano National Park. 08:00-15:30, 365 days. The park is a popular destination for both foreign and Costa Rican tourists. Poás allows tourists to see into the crater of an active volcano. You can often smell sulfur from the crater while visiting the peak, and a couple of hiking trails to see Lake Botos, an acid water lake on a dormant crater. 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. USD $10.
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 ends first or 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).
- Freddo Fresas, Route 146, ☎ +506 2482-2800. Traditional restaurant going to Poás Volcano, their strawberry dishes, made with the local berries, are the treat of the place.
- Colinas del Poás, Route 146, ☎ +506 2482-1212. 08:00-16:00. Restaurant and a lot of activities to do in this recreational park.
- Jaulares, ☎ +506 2482-2155, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Buffet restaurant and private cabins accommodation.
- Airport Hotel Berlor, ☎ +506 2431-4414, toll-free: +1 786 299-5881, e-mail: email@example.com. 5 minutes from Juan Santamaria International Airport in Costa Rica (SJO), breakfast and free shuttle to the airport. Rooms with A/C, Cable TV free wi-fi. outdoor swimming pool and safe parking.
- Hotel Aeropuerto, ☎ +506 2433-7333. 5 minutes west from the SJO San Jose Airport. This hotel offers free transportation to and from the airport 24 hours.
- Hotel Los Volcanes. Right downtown USD $50.
- Hotel Pura Vida. Is just a kilometer or two from downtown and offers a more relaxed atmosphere. USD $80.
- Hotel La Rosa de America, ☎ +506 2433-2741. 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. Check-in: 13, check-out: 12. A short 35 minutes from San José International Airport, the lush rolling countryside, with its bountiful fruit orchards and sweeping valley vistas transforms as you ascend the winding mountain road that brings you to the vibrant celestial mosaic that surrounds Vista Atenas B&B. 70.
- Vista de Valle, Rosario de Naranjo, Costa Rica (Interamerican Highway in the direction of San Ramon. Keep strait at the fork of Alajuela and San Ramon. Don't take the Alajuela turnoff!), ☎ +506 2451-1165. 25 minutes from San José International Airport, with beautiful views of tropical forest and a deep valley. There is a beautiful hike that leads to a 300 foot waterfall, but not for the faint of heart. 100 - 180.
- 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.
- 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.
- Villa Calas, Route 120 (Between Poasito and Vara Blanca), ☎ +506 2482-2222, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Chalet style rooms and restaurant near Poás Volcano.
- Maleku Hostel (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.
There are a number of small hotels catering to budget travelers, 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.