Liberia – Costa Rica’s White City

Travel Costa Rica

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Costa Rice’s northern Guanacaste Province is geographically distinct from the rest of the country. The rolling, semi-arid grasslands and smoky volcanoes are more reminiscent of the African Savanna than the steamy rainforests most tourists expect.  Yet the miles and miles of pristine beaches, clear Pacific waters, and world-class surfing attract tens of thousands of visitors annually.  

The region’s capital, Liberia City, is quickly rivaling San José in number of international arrivals because of the recently renovated Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) located just 11 km from the center of town. 

Liberia is also the closest major Costa Rican city to the sought-out beaches of Guanacaste’s Northwest Pacific Coast and the Nicoya Peninsula. Playa del Coco Beach, for example, is only 30 minutes (26 km) from the gates of LIR. 

Adobe Rent a Car has a full-service office located 7 km southwest of LIR. Operating hours are Monday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. Reservations can be made either online or by contacting the office directly at: opsgte@adobecar.com or by phone: +(506) 2542-4890; Toll free to the U.S. and Can: 1-855-861-1250 (8 am-5 pm Central Time).

Liberia Beaches
Liberia Beaches

Liberia Costa Rica Info – History

During Colonial times, Liberia was nicknamed the “White City” for the white stone used to whitewash its buildings and pave the wide roads crisscrossing town. Many of Costa Rica’s important Colonial monuments can still be found lining the avenues near the cathedral and central park. 

Because of its economic ties to Nicaragua, Liberia (then known as the town of Guanacaste) initially declined annexation to Costa Rica when many notable neighboring townships belonging to the Federal Republic of Central America chose to join.

After much dispute, the region was eventually voted into Costa Rican territory in 1824 during what is considered the country’s first democratic process. A commemoration of the symbolic event, known as the “Annexation of Guanacaste,” is celebrated annually on July 25.

The festival is among Guanacaste’s largest and a prime example of the region’s cowboy culture with cattle shows and Costa Rica’s (blood-free) bullfights. The town’s residents and school children don traditional clothing and take to the streets to participate in parades with Marimba music and folk dances. And local regional dishes are served by rows of street vendors surrounding the festivities. 

Visitors should check out the Guanacaste Museum (Museo de Guanacaste), which is housed in the town’s original military headquarters, jail, and armory. The museum was created to revitalize the local cultural heritage as well as showcase the country’s short military past, which culminated in the monumental abolition of the nation’s army.   

Another famous historical landmark is located in Santa Rosa National Park to the northwest of Liberia. It is the location of one of the country’s most heroic battles, which took place at the Hacienda of Santa Rosa on March 20, 1856. 

William Walker, a U.S. filibuster and an army of mercenaries intent on enslaving the region’s populace to quench his ambitions, were overcome by Costa Rican troops in a bloody battle that ended in the town of Rivas in Nicaragua. 

Juan Santamaria, a boy from Alajuela, was pivotal in the battle’s victory and became a national hero and namesake of the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela. 

In addition to its historical significance, Santa Rosa National Park protects essential nesting sites of the Olive Ridley sea turtle, in addition to the habitats of several endangered species, including jaguars and mountain lions. 

Liberia, Costa Rica, Weather

Guanacaste Province is characterized for its hot and arid climate even during the country’s rainy season, which starts gradually in May and peaks during September and October. Although it does rain during these months, it’s much less than in the tropical climates found further south and along the Atlantic Coast. In general, mornings are bright and sunny with light afternoon showers. September and October are the only months when Guanacaste might see rain for days on end with occasional flooding and landslides.

Most visitors prefer to visit Liberia Guanacaste, Costa Rica, during the dry season between late November and April. However, many skip the hottest and driest months of February and March because of the scalding temperatures and strong winds. 

A visit during the U.S. and European summer months from June through August is a great option. The unique Guanacaste landscape of semi-arid tropical forests and grasslands are in full bloom, and the animal and bird populations are at their most active. 

Liberia, Costa Rica, tourist information

 Although Liberia is considered more of a thoroughfare than a prime tourist destination, it serves as the region’s largest commercial hub. It also has two hospitals, several banks, and other essential government offices providing immigration processing, driver’s licenses, and other services. 

There’s also a relatively large shopping mall and a multitude of travel agencies and tour providers. Visitors looking for things to do in Liberia, Costa Rica, will also find some of the area’s more eclectic dining options side by side with local restaurants serving traditional fare and international fast-food chains. 

 Liberia, Costa Rica, airport

The Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia is booming. The installations, which were entirely renovated a few years back, received another facelift in late 2017, including additional boarding gates, restaurants, and a lounge area. The move was part of national efforts to attract international tourism to the northern tourist destinations and businesses. 

In fact, the LIR airport is increasingly gaining popularity among tourists flying to Costa Rica because of its proximity to popular beach towns, volcanoes, national parks, and other attractions. 

Today, several international airlines offer Liberia flights in Costa Rica, including American Airlines, Copa, United, and others. Two, in particular, Canada’s AirTransat, and Dutch airlines KLM offer triangle flight service between the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) near San José and LIR. 

Triangle flights mean customers can choose to arrive or depart from either of Costa Rica’s international airports with the same ticket.   

Improvements to critical infrastructure in and around Liberia have further made the region ripe for investors looking to take part in the expat housing and tourism boom. Such upgrades include, among other road improvements, a significant amplification of the Pan American Highway, which spans the country from Nicaragua to Panama. 

Things to do in Guanacaste Province

Visitors flying into Costa Rica’s SJO airport to the south can easily visit Liberia and the multitude of attractions in Guanacaste Province. Driving between Liberia and San Jose is a straight shot on the country’s Pan American Highway, known as Route 1 or the Interamericana. The trip takes close to four hours (210 km) and passes through the country’s scenic interior. 

National Parks and volcanoes 

En route to Liberia, drivers will pass near the biologically diverse wetlands and marshes of Palo Verde National Park. The park borders the Tempisque River basin and floodplains and can be explored both by foot, boat, and even horseback riding. 

Because of the diversity of habitats spanning its 45,492 acres, Palo Verde is a haven for birders and naturalists. It also harbors one of the last remaining tropical dry rainforests in Central America.

Among the several active and dormant volcanoes in Guanacaste are the Rincon de la Vieja, Miravalles, and Tenorio Volcanoes and National Parks. Rincón de la Vieja National Park draws particular international attention due to its fascinating geothermal activity erupting in numerous forms within the park.

Visitors will witness bubbling clay pots, fumaroles, and steam vents, in addition to the otherworldly landscape of flora and fauna inhabiting the mysterious landscape. Hot springs, too, enchant guests with their healing and rejuvenating properties.  

A visit to each of the three volcano national parks is an excellent option for hikers, mountain bikers, and other thrill-seekers. Numerous lodges and spas, ranging from rustic to luxury, are nestled throughout the countryside. Because much of the landscape surrounding Liberia is scarcely populated or protected as a national park, most lodgings offer full-immersion, all-inclusive packages that include all meals and activities.

Another must-see is the Rio Celeste River that emerges from beneath the Tenorio Volcano within the national park. The breathtaking waterfall and river are a startling turquoise color derived from the minerals and acidity in the water. Nearby hot springs and the scenic terrain keep visitors enchanted with their natural beauty. 

The Gold Coast of Costa Rica 

The northern stretch of beaches in Guanacaste Province, just west of Liberia, is often referred to as Costa Rica’s Gold Coast. The area is so named as much for the dozens of pristine golden-sand beaches found there as it is for the glitzy homes of “rich and famous” expats dotting the hillsides. 

Five-star resorts, such as the Four Seasons, JW Marriott, the Catalinas, and several others, also claim the pristine coastline. World-class sport fishing, surfing, sailing, scuba diving, and other water sports and outdoor adventures complete the appetizing menu for all types of visitors. 

The lively beach towns of Tamarindo, Conchal, Playa Hermosa, Flamingo, Playa Grande, and others located just past Santa Cruz, provide an ample array of lodging options that can accommodate travelers from all budgets.  

Those wishing to rent a car on the Gold Coast can find an Adobe Rent a Car office in the quaint town of Playa Conchal near Tamarindo. The office is conveniently located close to several popular beach destinations and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday.  

To contact the Conchal office directly call +(506) 2653-6262 or toll-free from the U.S. and Canada at 1-855-861-1250 (8 am-5 pm Central Time). Or email Adobe at flamingo@adobecar.com