5 interesting cities you have to check out in Costa Rica

MAL PAIS, COSTA RICA - JUNE 13: A female surfer walks down beach during sunset on June 13, 2015 in Mal Pais, Costa Rica. (Photo by Gabe LHeureux/Getty Images)
MAL PAIS, COSTA RICA - JUNE 13: A female surfer walks down beach during sunset on June 13, 2015 in Mal Pais, Costa Rica. (Photo by Gabe LHeureux/Getty Images) /

While some parts of South and Central America have safety concerns for travelers, Costa Rica is long been one of the safest for travelers by far. That being said, there are places you don’t want to be hanging around after dark. But that’s true of every country and city on Earth.

A place of incredible natural beauty, Costa Rica has placed itself at the forefront of ecotourism. It is a huge part of the economy. But there are also several cities that are worth checking out around the country, and on both coasts.

Liberia, Costa Rica

Up in the northwest corner of Costa Rica, Liberia is a short drive from the Pacific coast. It’s a key stop on the way tourists destinations closer to the beach, but the city itself is also worth a look. As the biggest center in the region, Liberia has a lot to offer.

Given its size, there are a great selection of stores and restaurants. The Museo de Guanacaste is key to the area’s cultural heritage as it’s filled with art from various local and national artists. Nearby Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is also a great spot.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

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SANTOS, BRAZIL – JUNE 10: A man reads next to the beach in Santos, host city of Mexico, Bosnia and Costa Rica on June 10, 2014 in Santos, Brazil. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent via Getty Images) /

Nicoya isn’t one of the biggest cities in Costa Rica by far but it is a special one. Tourists rarely plan trips to this city but those that do are amazed by what they find. It’s a place to learn the history of the region while enjoying its unspoiled natural beauty.

Located in the middle of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific side of the country, Nicoya is often discovered by travelers on a rest stop on their way to the coast. But they inevitably fall in love the region, and end up spending a bit more time there than originally planned.

Alajuela, Costa Rica

Perched in the Costa Rican Central Valley, Alajuela is only a few minutes drive northwest from San José. It’s well worth taking the short trip from Costa Rica’s biggest city to see what Alajuela has to offers visitors from around the world.

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The Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center is a massive draw in Alajuela. In addition to rescuing wildlife, Rescate also has extremely active programs to breed and release species extinct in their native regions back into the wild. If you go, your admission fee goes to straight to supporting their work.

Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

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LIMON, COSTA RICA – NOVEMBER 03: Glen Treminio of Costa Rica rides past palm trees during Day 3 of La Ruta de Los Conquistadores on November 3, 2018 in Limon, Costa Rica. during Day 1 of the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores on November 1, 2018 in Jaco, Costa Rica. La Ruta de Los Conquistadores is Costa RicaÕs premier mountain bike race, and one of the most difficult races in the world. It is a 3-day stage race that crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Caribbean coast in the east.Between its sea-level start and finish, the 161-mile route crosses 5 mountain ranges that force you climb a cumulative 29,000 feet. The route snakes through tropical rain forest, 12,000 feet volcanoes, banana plantations and tiny farm towns. It covers every imaginable riding surfaceÑ single track and fire road trails, gravel, hard-packed dirt, pavement, thigh-deep mud, sand, volcano ash, and more.The race was started in 1993 by Roman Urbina. Urbina, an elite athlete and adventurer, read about three Spanish Conquistadors, Juan de Cavall—n, Peraf‡n de Rivera, and Juan V‡squez de Coronado, who in the 1560Õs began a 20-year journey through the beautiful and treacherous mountains of Costa Rica. Captivated by the history of the Spanish Explorers, Urbina and 17 fellow riders met on the shore of the Pacific and began their own quest through and around the lavish rain forests, majestic volcanoes, spectacular mountain ranges and roaring rivers. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Known to many simply as Limón, this major city is home to the Afro-Costa Rican community. As such, the culture in this area is quite unique and is a wonderful place to visit because of this. It doesn’t hurt that Limón is on the east coast of the country.

Surrounded by stunning natural beauty and filled with incredible architecture, one could lose a day just wandering around the city. Just make sure you don’t miss out on sights like the Catedral Sagrado Corazón de Jesús or the Veragua Rainforest Park.

Cartago, Costa Rica

Founded in 1563, Cartago is a quick trip from San José and is well worth the drive. It is overflowing with history which can be taken in at the City Museum of Cartago. The Basilica of Los Angeles is also quite stunning, and should not be missed.

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The Central Market is also an absolute key stop to make. It’s just a few blocks from the Basilica, and has an unreal selection of spices, produce and much more. One can hardly set foot in in Cartago without spending some time here.