The Central Valley of Costa Rica

The Central Valley, the "Valle Central" refers to the region around the capital San José. The valley stretches from the northern central mountains to the south of the valley, lying the "Cordillera de Talamanca". Here you find the International Airport Juan Santamaria (SJO).

In the central region around the capital San Jose, you will find the entire economic, political and cultural life of Costa Rica. Therefore, it is worth to spend a few days in and around San José. We recommend a place to stay in the countryside near the city, so you will be nearby the city, but still close to nature.


San Jose, Costa RicaSan José, capital of Costa Rica

San José is a nice town and worth to spend a day

San José has about 350,000 people, a serene size.

The city is situated 1160 m above the sea level, the average temperature of the year is around 20 C. San José and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer, so it is really worth staying here for a few days.

Santa Ana bei San JoseSanta Ana, nearby San José

You want to escape from the hustle and bustle of San José?

Head west to Santa Ana (29,000 inhabitants).

The best restaurants in the country are located there, the climate is drier than in the rest of the country (Sta. Ana was elected as the city with the 5th world's best climate) and it can be reached easily and quickly. San José and the International Airport Juan Santamaria are only about 15 minutes away.

San Jose, Costa RicaRecommended restaurants in the San José area

This is not a restaurant guide, but only a small, fairly subjective selection of particularly esteemed restaurants in San Jose and surrounding areas.


Wandern in Costa Rica, Santa Anamountains of Escazú

Cerros de Escazú- protected zone, perfect for trekking

Very close to the capital San José, between the two suburbs Escazú and Santa Ana is the nature reserve "Los Cerros de Escazú". It is known as the “green lung” of the central valley, with agricultural culture, a few small settlements, forest and meadows. The reserve extends over 7,000 hectares.


La Sabana in San Jose, Costa Rica

City Parks in the Central Valley of Costa Rica

In San José, there are plenty of large-scale and mostly well-kept city parks

There are some amusement parks to relax in the countryside as well.

Here is a selection of particularly appreciated, partly private institutions.


volcano Poas, Costa RicaPoás Volcano Alajuela

In April 2017 Volcano Poás had strong eruptions and reopened to the public end of August 2018. 

The Poas Volcano is one of the most visited volcanoes in the world.

The 2708 m high volcano is located just a short 1 hour drive away from Santa Ana. It is located in the national park, which covers an area of 5600 hectares. The volcano is considered active, even though it is usually quiet and resting. Since 1928, it has erupted 39 times, last time a heavy eruption in April 2017.

Volcano IrazuIrazú Volcano

The water in the crater of the Irazu volcano is garish green and it can be observed when looking down from above the throat at 3432 m high.

The Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica is not known as an absolute threat, but is considered the most unpredictable volcano in the country. The last eruption was quite delicate in 1993, in 1963 the Irazu collapsed very powerfully. The garish green color appears because the crater is an acid lake.

Ciudad Colon, Cosa RicaCiudad Colón near Santa Ana

Small town near a green mountain range

This friendly place is located only 8 kilometers west of Santa Ana ,with almost 12,000 inhabitants in a green setting at an altitude of 800 - 900m.

Ciudad Colon, originally called "Pacaca" by the Indians, was renamed in 1916 in honor of the discoverer of the continent, Columbus (Colón). It is located in the canton of Mora, a more agriculturally oriented Canton with a lot of coffee cultivation, fruit and sugar cane.

El Rodeo NaturschutzgebietZona Protectora el Rodeo

The Zona Protectora (nature reserve) El Rodeo is one of the last large contiguous forests that once covered the whole Central Valley. There is a secondary tropical rain forest, which partially becomes a mountain rain forest.

The reserve with 2256 hectare is part of the "Área de Conservación Pacífico Central", as well as the forests that lie between San José and the Pacific coast, and is located in Cantón Mora.

peace Costa RicaUniversity of Peace, UN

The University for Peace has its headquarters in Costa Rica and was founded in 1980 by the United Nations

The University of UPEACE is not subject to UN regulations and is autonomous. The main mission of the University is the world peace and the security of UN ideals, with a focus on education, discussion and research of peace or aggression. Other universities from the UPEACE are to be established worldwide.

Vulkan Barva, Braulio Carillo

The Braulio Carrillo National Park

The National Park largely consists of evergreen primary forests

It is suspected to host over 6000 different species of plants

The Braulio Carrillo National Park was established on the 15th of April 1978 and is, with 47.586 ha, the largest national park in the central region of Costa Rica, and one of the main water reservoirs of the capital.

Nationalpark Tapantigreat nature in Tapantí park

The Tapanti National Park, also known as the Orosi National Park

It is located near the slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca

The Rio Orosi  and several other rivers flow through the park. The National Park is a protected area of the National Park that represents Chrirripó. To reach the park from San José to Cartago you must first drive towards Paraiso and then to Orosi.

zum cerro de la muerteThe National Park Chirripó

Cordillera de Talamanca, altitude of 1000 m to 3820 (Cerro Chirripó)

The National Park Chirripó, at an average altitude of 1600 m, is located in the eastern Central Valley and includes the highest mountain peak in Costa Rica- the Cerro Chirripó. It has a height of 3820 m.


Rio Grande im Nationalpark la CangrejaThe National Park La Cangreja

Valle central, Puriscal

Area de Conservacion Pacifico Central

The National Park La Cangreja, with an extension of 2,520 hectares in the western Central Valley, was declared a National Park on May 6th 2002, making it one of the youngest National Parks of Costa Rica. The park is located in the region Puriscal and forms one of the main areas of tropical moist forests, in a very biologically diverse area.

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