Photo of Alajuela

About Alajuela

A province lying in the northwest of Costa Rica, Alajuela makes for the perfect summer getaway. A laid-back, friendly and enchantingly beautiful region centred around the fascinating and otherworldly landscape of the Poas Volcano National Park. It teems with pre-colonial indigenous sites, carnivals, gorgeous churches and exotic wildlife. From the vibrant and compact small capital city - Alajuela - to the charming town of Fontana, there is plenty to see in this wonderful region. Our collection of the best places to stay in Alajuela features a varied list of rural getaways, from eco-lodges and tropical farms to chic boutiques looking out over the spellbinding landscape.

What not to miss

  • Visit Alajuela Cathedral and marvel at the marble structure and beautiful dome.
  • Check out the Butterfly Museum, on the outskirts of Alajuela City, and see thousands of butterflies.
  • Hike through the Poas Volcano National Park, past bubbling green pools and the steaming crater.
  • See Zoo Ave - a fantastic place whose purpose is to reintroduce endangered and wild animals into the wild again. There are toucans, cranes and ostriches, to name just a few.
  • Immerse yourself in the history of Costa Rica's struggle for independence, at the Juan Santamaria Museum.
  • Stand awestruck at the Fontana Waterfall.
  • Trek through the jungled wild of the Arenas Volcano National Park.

Where to stay

  • Alajuela is a relaxed and friendly city, and the hometown of Costa Rica's national hero - Juan Santamaria - a drummer boy who sacrificed his life during the Battle of Santa Rosa, in 1856, against the forces of William Walker. Boasting a central park lined with mango trees and royal palms, a central market where you can buy anything from shoes to cheeses, fascinating museums, and a marvellous marmoreal 19th century cathedral, it is a great stepping stone to seeing some great sights.
  • Fontana is a charming small town that's known as the gateway to the Arenal Volcano National Park. A great place for a hiking holiday, it has few of the amenities and none of the animated street life that Alajuela boasts, but it's ideal for people who want to explore the beautiful landscape. Nearby are waterfalls and miles and miles of ancient exotic forestry, the steaming Arenal Volcano and the Chato Volcano - a forested peak with a green lake-filled crater.

A beautiful landscape, full of volcanos, jungle, markets and museums. Great for intrepid travellers and hikers alike, browse through our list of the best places to stay in Alajuela to start planning your trip.

The best places to stay in Alajuela

For Fontana

  • Nayara Springs is a boutique adult-only luxury hotel hidden in the lush Costa Rican rainforest. Secluded villas are completely spoiling with private plunge pools, enormous outdoor bathrooms and secluded terraces. A choice selection of five restaurants with cuisine from the world-over. A honeymooners haven.
  • Leaves and Lizards is a tropical farm stay with epic views of Arenal Volcano. Traditional cabins feature plenty of wood, murals and large terraces to sit and enjoy the scenery. Dine on authentic local fare with produce coming from the area. Find a wide range of activities. Ideal for a bona fide Costa Rican experience.

For Alajuela City

  • Xandari Resort & Spa is a tranquil retreat set amidst tropical gardens. Bright rooms feature splashes of vibrant hues, plenty of light and stunning views. Feast on Costa Rican specialities in the candlelit restaurant and unwind over a massage in the spoiling spa. A rejuvenating stay.

Rural getaway

  • Luna Nueva Lodge is an eco lodge and homely hideaway in the depths of the rain forest. With the property's emphasis strongly lying on conservation be assured of a learned stay; from organic farming to rain forest protection. Dining is a particular highlight with almost all of the produce coming from the property. Superb.
  • Nayara is absolute luxury nestled amidst the lush rainforest. Elegant rooms feature polished wooden floors, conical shaped ceilings and dark antique furniture. Unwind over a massage in the outdoor spa bungalows. Feast on anything from sushi to tapas in the four superb restaurants. Romantic and relaxing.
  • Peace Lodge is a magical property set amidst the cloud forest. Cosy lodges feature open fireplaces, exposed stonework, beamed ceilings and large terraces to enjoy the spectacular views. Dine on traditional Costa Rican delicacies and spend evenings sipping cocktails in the atmospheric bar. A gorgeous rural escape.

For an apartment or hacienda

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of self-catering properties in the area.

Travel information

  • There's never a bad time to go. The climate remains temperate throughout the year, though to enjoy the colourful and animated Juan Santamaria Day parade, go during April. This carnival is not to be missed!
  • Fly to San Jose International Airport - it is only a few minutes outside of Alajuela City.
  • If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Alajuela

  • Luna Nueva Lodge 14 rooms from £82

    Alajuela

    An eco lodge and homely hide-away in the depths of the rain forest. With the property's emphasis strongly lying on conservation be assured of a learned stay; from organic farming to rain forest protection. Dining is a particular highlight with almost all of the produce coming from property. Superb.

    Foodies  -  Sample a piece of the forest with 90% of the ingredients coming from the property which grows organic and biodynamic produce.
    Eco break  -  A hotel with a cause. Luna Nueva protects large areas of primary rainforest and boasts an enormous medicinal garden.
    Great walks  -  Take an educational walk of the forest with one of the hotel's guides.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
    Check prices
  • Xandari Resort & Spa 24 rooms from £115

    Alajuela,, Alajuela

    Be awoken to joyful colour in this tranquil retreat set amidst tropical gardens. Bright rooms feature splashes of vibrant hues, plenty of light and stunning views. Feast on Costa Rican specialities in the candle lit restaurant and unwind over a massage in the spoiling spa. A rejuvenating stay.

    Hideaway  -  A colourful haven in the heart of the rainforest.
    Birdwatching  -  Spot birds right from the property including squirrel cuckoos, motmot, tropical kingbirds and various hummingbirds.
    Sights nearby  -  Make a trip to the active Poás volcano; a stunning sight.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
    Check prices
  • Leaves and lizards 9 rooms from £184

    Fortuna, Alajuela

    A tropical farm stay with epic views of Arenal Volcano. Traditional cabins feature plenty of wood, murals and large terraces to sit and enjoy the scenery. Dine on authentic local fare with produce coming from the area. Find a wide range of activities. Ideal for a bona fide Costa Rican experience.

    Country Escape  -  A rural escape on a tropical level. A farm-stay complete with volcano views, hammocks and exotic wildlife.
    Families  -  Ideal for families with plenty of activities to keep little ones entertained with.
    Birdwatching  -  An exciting area for birdwatchers with a countless array of species.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
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  • The Retreat 11 rooms from £227

    Alajuela

    A contemporary wellness centre set in a beautiful and remote hill location in the Alajuela Province. Bright rooms are decorated in whites and turquoise and large glass planes open onto stunning views. Extensive health and yoga programmes are offered alongside superb nutritional food.

    Spa breaks  -  The Retreat offers a range of holistic massage therapies to suit your needs
    Hideaway  -  Escape the hustle and bustle in this idyliic setting and boost your health
    Great walks  -  Explore the stunning surrounds in-between spa treatments
    Restrictions on children  -  This is an adult-only retreat
    Check prices
  • Nayara 44 rooms from £299

    Alajuela

    Find absolute luxury nestled amidst the lush rainforest. Elegant rooms feature polished wooden floors, conical shaped ceilings and dark antique furniture. Unwind over a massage in the outdoor spa bungalows. Feast on anything from sushi to tapas in the four superb restaurants. Romantic and relaxing.

    Total relaxation  -  A glorious spa, secluded rainforest location and attentive service all lead to total relaxation.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels
    Check prices
  • Peace Lodge from £330

    Vara Blanca, Alajuela

    A magical property set amidst the cloud forest. Cosy lodges feature open fireplaces, exposed stonework, beamed ceilings and large terraces to enjoy the spectacular views. Dine on traditional Costa Rican delicacies and spend evenings sipping cocktails in the atmospheric bar. A gorgeous rural escape.

    Back to Nature  -  Located high in the cloud forest and surrounded by flora and fauna. A nature lover's paradise.
    Birdwatching  -  View the wide variety of species at the Waterfall Gardens.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Check prices
  • Nayara Springs 16 rooms from £375

    Fortuna, Alajuela

    A boutique adult-only luxury hotel hidden in the lush Costa Rican rainforest. Secluded villas are completely spoiling with private plunge pools, enormous outdoor bathrooms and secluded terraces. A choice selection of five restaurants with cuisine from the world-over. A honeymooners haven.

    Honeymoons  -  An intimate adult only hotel with secluded villas and stunning surrounds. Total indulgence.
    Spa breaks  -  Unwind over a massage in the outdoor spa whilst hearing the noises of the rainforest.
    Restrictions on children  -  An adult only hotel.
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool.
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels
    Check prices
  • El Silencio resort & spa 15 rooms from £452

    Alajuela

    A tranquil jungle retreat and spa just an hour outside of San Jose. Luxurious rooms use natural materials; think polished hardwood floors and woven bamboo details whilst bathrooms are wonderfully indulgent. The cuisine is simply exquisite with much of the produce coming from the garden. Fabulous.

    Spa breaks  -  A fabulous spa and outdoor yoga studio inspired by the surrounding forest.
    Back to Nature  -  Located within the jungle with volcanoes and hot springs to visit.
    Sights nearby  -  Take a day trip to the Arenal volcano and be sure to stop at the Tabacón hot springs too.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
    Check prices