Costa Rica's Central Valley is the most populated region of the country; the capital city, San José, is there and so is the Juan Santamaría airport.
- 1 San José.
- 2 Alajuela. Not to be missed for the volcano and national parks nearby. Also a convenient and better hub when arriving and leaving Costa Rica via San Jose.
- 3 Atenas. It had been ranked as the best weather worldwide. Atenas town is well known by the American community 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.
- 4 Cartago.
- 5 Heredia.
- 6 San Ramon.
- 7 Turrialba. Food bowl of Costa Rica and adventure sports mecca.
Most of the factories and services industries companies are also in the area; therefore, a lot of sleeper towns and cities surround and permeate the Central Valley. Still, there are many historical sights and because of the small size of the country, this area is the starting point of the many adventures available in the rest of the country.
The Costa Rican railway network was never all that extensive and has suffered in the 20th century, but in the Central Valley government investment in the 21st century has helped build a small network mostly aimed at commuters.
- 1 Braulio Carrillo National Park. Popular for the Holdridge's toad, the solitary eagle, the bare-necked umbrella bird, as well as several species of hummingbirds. It also has several different micro climates. There are several hiking trails in the park. The longest one from Puesto Barva to La Selva is a difficult and 4-day long trail. But there are other shorter trails include Los Botarramas and El Ciebo available.
- 2 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 2 TUASA bus to Poás will take you to the top of the volcano and then return you to Alajuela after several hours—leaves at 9AM, return 12:30PM or 2:30PM (ask!), US$3 return.
Make sure the volcano is not closed due to activity. Probably, it is best to buy the ticket during the bus ride to the volcano (if possible) or at most a day before. The bus driver will know whether it is closed or not. Getting a refund, if the volcano is closed, seems not properly working. US$15 (online ticket exclusively).
- 1 Freddo Fresas, Route 146, ☏ . Traditional restaurant going to Poás Volcano, their strawberry dishes, made with the local berries, are the treat of the place.
- 2 Colinas del Poás, Route 146, ☏ . 08:00-16:00. Restaurant and a lot of activities to do in this recreational park.
- 3 Jaulares, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Buffet restaurant and private cabins accommodation.