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Liberia Costa Rica: Gateway to Guanacaste

General Information

Liberia Costa Rica, a quiet city of around 45,000 people, is the capital of the Guanacaste Province. Often referred to as the "the white city" by locals, Liberia features colonial-style buildings built out of a local white clay along with red-tile roofs.

Traditionally, Liberia was famous as a gathering point for the local ranching communities and as a hub for local transportation of all kinds. Recently, since the opening of an international airport outside of the city, Daniel Oduber International, Liberia has expanded into a much larger hub for people traveling to and from Costa Rica.

This new found status has helped shape the city that Liberia has become. With the increase of travelers coming through, Liberia Costa Rica has expanded in completely new ways and has developed into a far more international city to accommodate the increased tourism.

Located in the northwest of Costa Rica, Liberia is often considered a gateway to the nearby beaches of Nicoya and the ecologically rich national parks of the interior of the country. Although a quiet city by nature, Liberia functions as a base from which to explore the surrounding countryside.

While staying in Liberia, an intrepid traveller could sit on a Pacific beach one day and explore some of the most ecologically diverse rainforest in the world the next. By taxi, Liberia Costa Rica is about 30min from Playas Hermosa or Playas del Coco, where I worked as a scuba diving guide.

History of Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia, Costa Rica, has one of the most interesting stories of any cities within the country. To begin with, it was not always a Costa Rican city. Originally a part of Nicaragua, the entire province of Guanacaste voted on July 25, 1824, to join Costa Rica.

Even once attached to Costa Rica, Guanacaste remained a place apart. In much the same way as the American West, Guanacaste had, and retains, a unique culture called "sabanero", which centers on the ranching industry. Liberia is a place that loves its own traditions, cowboy hats and even the occasional call for independence. In many ways, Guanacaste is like a Costa Rican version of Texas.

Liberia also played a central role in one of the most important events in Costa Rican history. In 1856, Nicaragua was invaded by an adventurer from North America, William Walker, who planned to take over all of Central American. Costa Rica, which did not - and still does not - have an army, raised a militia to meet this threat. Almost 3,000 Costa Rican men met at Liberia before marching north. The Costa Rican militia met, and defeated, Walker's forces on March 20. The battle took place at Hacienda Santa Rosa, which is only 38 kilometers north of Liberia. Shortly thereafter, the Costa Rican forces pursued and eventually dispersed Walker's forces in Nicaragua itself.

Liberia's Nearby Attractions

Liberia, Costa Rica, is a city that is known more for the things that are close by than for the things that are within the city itself. For a long time, Liberia has been known as the gateway to Guanacaste. With the new international airport, this more true than ever today.

The most obvious attractions are the nearby beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. From Liberia, you can easily reach Playas del Coco or any of the other beach towns in the area. These towns are ideal places to spend a quiet day on the beach. Or, if your interests run to the more adventurous, there is excellent surf and numerous surf schools to teach you how to take advantage of it.

From Liberia, it is also quite easy to reach Tamarindo, which has always been famous for its surf, but is now also becoming famous for its vibrant nightlife. If you are tired of the more relaxed lifestyle of Liberia, Tamarindo might be the best option for you.

Some of the most famous places to go, however, are in the opposite direction from the beach. Liberia Costa Rica is renowned as the place to stay if you want to explore the Rincon de la Vieja or Santa Rosa National Parks. These parks offer the nature enthusiast a glimpse of wonderful natural diversity that has made Costa Rica famous.

Or, if you are really adventurous, you can head in the direction of San Jose and explore the Arenal Volcano National Park. This volcano, which towers over the surrounding countryside, is one of the most active in Costa Rica and regularly spews gas and steam into the sky.

General Tips for Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia, Costa Rica, is an ideal place to use as a base for further exploration of the Guanacaste area. Within a short distance you can find stunning Pacific beaches, active volcanoes and some of the world-famous Costa Rican eco-tourism.

Remember, although Liberia is a lovely colonial city, it is not the city itself that is the main attraction. The countryside around the city offers amazing opportunity for nature lovers, nightlife seekers and beach goers alike. Visit Liberia Costa Rica and use that time to plan your exploration of Guanacaste as a whole.

Honestly, I only visited to go to the Cinema there or to stock up on cheap food at the supermarket or just to catch a bus to Tamarindo or Nicaragua for a visa run (to renew my visa in Costa Rica).

Getting to Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia is most easily reached from abroad by plane into the city's Daniel Oduber International Airport (Code: LIR). There are many flights to Costa Rica that go directly to Liberia, saving you the hassle of going through San Jose.

American Airlines goes twice a week from Dallas and two times a week from Miami. Continental goes twice a week from Houston and once a week from Newark. Delta goes to Liberia every day from Atlanta. US Airways flies to Liberia twice a week from Charlotte.

Otherwise, there are connecting domestic flights between San Jose's Juan Santamaria International airport and Liberia with SANSA and NatureAir.

If you do fly into San Jose, there are other ground transportation options. A local bus runs from San Jose to Liberia pretty much hourly from 6am to 8pm and takes four hours and costs just under $5. Get there a bit early because tickets can sell out ahead of the hour of departure.

A private shuttle from a company like Grayline is another option, and will cost between $30-40. This is more comfortable than the public bus because you can actually request to pull over if you have to use the bathroom, whereas the public bus stops once...usually ;-).

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