When you think of Costa Rica, San Jose automatically comes to mind. As the capital of the country, it typically gets the most attention, traffic and business. But, as the home of Costa Rica’s second largest airport, Liberia is fast becoming the nation’s rising star. Founded in 1769, it is one of the nation’s oldest cities and continues to remain the major economic center of the Guanacaste Province.
Liberia is the “Hub” of Guanacaste!
Located approximately 215 kilometers northwest of San Jose, the significance of Liberia’s existence is summed up in one statement, “All roads that don’t lead to San Jose likely lead to Liberia.” As a major contributor to the nation’s tourism industry, Liberia remains a small quiet city with a strong colonial atmosphere. In fact, it is so small that intercity buses don’t exist. By far, walking is the best way to get around Liberia, with taxis as the next best option.
It is one of the few towns that has maintained its quant colonial expression. Liberia is referred to as ‘Cuidad Blanca‘ (The White City) due to its many whitewashed houses and buildings as projection from the elements. Many of the white buildings still have their corner doors that were used, ingeniously, to let the morning sun in and the afternoon sun out, thus heating and cooling the interior throughout the day. This was an architectural feature left over from the colonial era and particular to this region even to this day.
Liberia is home to the second largest airport in Costa Rica. International flights from Canada, Europe and several South American countries to Daniel Oduber Quiros International airport in Liberia began on December 1st 2002. Since then, its popularity as an alternative airport to San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) has grown exponentially.
For those traveling inland, travel by air from one port to the next is less than an hour. By car, the trip easily becomes a 5-hour journey. Once there, Liberia is minutes away from some of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches in the northwest region such as Flamingo Beach, Tamarindo, Playa Conchal and the Papagayo gulf, home to the Four Seasons hotel.
Liberia leads in Costa Rica medical tourism sector
If you’re looking for total diversity all in one area then Liberia is the place for you. Along with every town’s usual city centered church, local shops and restaurants, Liberia has so much more to offer. It is the cultural epicenter of the Guanacaste Province.
Every July, Liberia hosts an expo celebrating the annexation of Guanacaste Province on 25 July 1824. It also has an African safari attraction or zoo called “Africa Mia” which makes you feel as if you’re on the African continent. The museum ‘Museo de Sabanero’ celebrating the cultures and traditions of Guanacaste is a must-see cultural attraction located in the downtown Liberia.
For the more adventurous type, the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is located just to the northeast of Liberia. Liberia is also one of the few places in Costa Rica that hosts Volcanic hot springs, bubbling clay pots, and numerous waterfalls and rivers found along its park’s hiking trails. With so much diversity to offer, there’s no end to what Liberia and its surrounding towns have to offer.