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The Central Valley in Costa Rica is the most populated area of Costa Rica, the center of commerce, industry, the government and labor opportunities.

The Central Valley in Costa Rica it’s the most important economic region of Costa Rica and a place where to find everything that you need at a short drive range.

Not as popular touristically speaking, the Central Valley in Costa Rica has a lot more to discover than we think!


The Central Valley is an area of about 3250 km² (1254 mi²), and its average height is 1400 m.a.s.l. (5600 f.a.s.l.).
If you arrive in the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), you will be arriving in the Central Valley in Costa Rica.
The distance from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia (LIR) is 208.93 km, 129.82 mi, (Around three hours).

As you can see in the map below the area of the Central Valley is right in the middle of the country, and surrounded by the Talamanca Mountain Range to the South, the Central Volcanic Mountain Range to the Northwest.

It is divided into two sections, the eastern area, and the center or western valley.

In the eastern region, we find the province and city of Cartago (The ancient capital city), and it goes all the way to the stunning Orosi Valley, its coffee plantations and hot springs.

Right next to it, we find the San José city and province, and on the other side, we find Heredia, and Alajuela (Where SJO is located.)

Weather in the Central Valley in Costa Rica

The Central Valley in Costa Rica is the most populated area of Costa Rica for a reason, with medium temperatures within 72 and 75 degrees throughout, the Central Valley has the most pleasant weather in Costa Rica.
And that is hard to beat.

It has two different seasons: the sunny season starting at the end of November and the rainy season starting in May,
however as you can see in our post about the weather in Costa Rica, you will discover that December, January, and even February can be very chilly at times, depending on where you are in the Central Valley.

March and April are quite warm raising the temperature to ’80s (28-32°C) starting to rain in May and getting two or three hours rains from May to August. September and October continue the pattern in regular days although this is the hurricane season in the Caribbean sea and sometimes it can get two or three days of solid nonstop rains if there are any climate phenomena.

(It is important to point that in Costa Rica, in general, we don’t get hurricanes up front, and the Central Valley is surrounded by mountains that protect it from severe weather conditions.)

Where to stay in Central Valley?

As we said earlier, the Central Valley in Costa Rica is divided into two different areas, that have diverse landscapes, climate, and even touristic attractions. And the decision of your accommodations while in the Central Valley in Costa Rica relates to the purpose of your stay.

Of course, if you are arriving in SJO (The Juan Santamaría International Airport) and arriving very late at night, it is ideal to stay in the Central Valley.

If you are going next to the Caribbean or to the Savegre region (In the Southern Mountains), we would highly recommend staying in San José downtown (Presidente Hotel, Grano de Oro Hotel) and its east side.

If you are going towards Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, or the Pacific Coast, we highly recommend staying in one of the many hotels close to the airport.

But if you are into experiencing all of the culture and history of Costa Rica, as well as its nature, there are some fantastic hotels surrounded by the rich Costa Rican nature that have shuttles to go to the city (Xandari Hotel or Finca Rosa Blanca).


What to do in the Central Valley in Costa Rica?

In the Central Valley, you can find any of the activities that you see in the touristic regions of Costa Rica

In the center of Costa Rica, you will discover mostly all the tours and attractions that you find outside in the country.  There are fantastic cloud, dry and rain forests, incredible birdwatching, and a couple of hours driving you can find beautiful beaches, rafting and floating rivers, and almost anything you can think of in Costa Rica.
Even trips like sunset sailing, dolphin quests or looking for the Resplendent Quetzal in the higher mountains can be enjoyed staying in the Central Valley.

Still, there are some very particular activities that you can exclusively experience from the Central Valley.

Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano is right now very active, it has quite a cloud forest, a gorgeous route to get there and you can get to the very edge of the active crater.

It is a 30 miles (49 km) drive from the city, in one of the most scenic roads of Costa Rica.

Waterfall Gardens

Close to the Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens is an astonishing place! A park that has all sorts of activities for nature lovers. With several rainforests surrounded waterfalls, a huge butterflies garden, as well as a large aviary, a rescue center, a serpentarium and frog pond and a typical Costa Rican house where they will offer you an oxcart ride and typical Costa Rican goodies.

Irazu Volcano

A gray moonlike scenery is encompassing an active volcano with a bright bubbling turquoise pond in the middle.
And if you are lucky, on a sunny day, you may even see the mighty and very active Turrialba Volcano. Plus you will pass through striking colorful landscapes road going up the volcano.

Orosi Valley

A beautiful small valley made by the Rio Grande or Reventazón that has a small artificial lake and hydroelectrical dam surrounded by coffee and squash plantations and a hot springs projects with breathtaking pools to bathe in.

And then, on the way to the Caribbean, the nature fans choice, the Aerial Tram, the rafting favorite Pacuare River and the Sarapiqui river floating tours.

In Conclusion

The Central Valley in Costa Rica is a comprehensive and assorted destination, and it is an excellent option if you are late in booking for peak season. It is luscious, stunning, and a wonderful center for anything and everything you like to enjoy in Costa Rica.

Please ask our travel experts to insert it in your holiday in Costa Rica! It is absolutely worth it!

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