Alajuela (Alajuela)

The second largest city in Costa Rica after San Jose and capital of the Alajuela district, your next stop is a cultural gem your group is going to love. In Alajuela, students will find classic Central Valley beauty, cultural insights into day to day life, and an interesting Costa Rican history lesson to boot.

This city, also known as La Lajuela, served a very brief amount of time as the country's capital but is overall most famous for being the hometown of well-known country hero, Juan Santamaria. Santamaria was the famed drummer boy who died for his country during the 1856 Battle of Hacienda Santa Rosa, today honored by local monuments, a museum, and even a festival in April. Aside from Santamaria’s story, this city played a vital role in being an ‘active supporter of independence from Spain’ in general.

While here take a stroll downtown and meet some local Ticos or head to lush Parque Central to take in your surroundings. To the west of the park, you will find the city block wide Central Market, an excellent spot to get a better taste of local culture. The famous red-domed church near the park is a popular spot to stop, as is the aforementioned Juan Santamaria Cultural History Museum, filled with maps and artifacts from the battle. Just outside of town, which is just 20 km northwest of San Jose,  your group can visit Zoo Avenue, Poas Volcano, and Butterfly Farm.

Alajuela is easily accessible throughout and is situated right near the international airport (SJO). As a popular trade community (cattle and sugar) with a temperate climate year-round, it is easy to see why thousands of tourists flock here each year to enjoy the history, culture, shopping, and other attractions (malls, movies, cafes.)

Note** For a truly authentic local meal during your visit head to Mercado Municipal.