Tourism does not necessarily mean long, tiring, and expensive trips to the beach.
In Costa Rica, there are many beautiful wet earth aroma destinations, located just over an hour away by car and with free or low-cost access.
If you don’t like the typical crowd of the Guanacaste beaches during summer, you can go for a ride into other attractive and more relaxing places within the mountains of the Gran Area Metropolitana (GAM).
Today we´ll recommend five very pretty and nearby spots to visit inside the GAM with your family or friends.
Buckle up and let's start the tour!
Here are two options to begin with: Poás or Irazú volcanoes. The first is located in Alajuela, within the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area. It is 2,708 meters tall and releases a lot of gases and water vapor from the different fumaroles located in the crater's inner cone. After its reopening, in August 2018, visitors can enter from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. divided into groups of 50 people and with the right to stay no more than 20 minutes at the main viewpoint of the active crater.
The Irazú volcano, on the other hand, is the highest in the country and offers impressive views. Located 31 kilometers from Cartago, the Irazú has five craters, a mountain environment, low vegetation, and a very wet, cold, and foggy climate (it can register temperatures between 5°C to 9°C). It opens every day -including holidays- from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Let's stay for a while in Cartago to visit the Ujarrás famous viewpoint. Located just 2 km east of the Church of Paraíso de Cartago, it's surrounded by green and quiet areas. A perfect place to enjoy a delicious lunch and breathe fresh air, together with your beloved ones. It has an everyday free admission and it offers ranches for BBQ, drinking water, security, and restrooms. Very close to there is the Orosi viewpoint, where you can spend quality time with your family or friends, watching an incredible scenic beauty.
Before leaving Cartago, let´s have one last stop at the Bosque de Prusia, part of the Irazú National Park. It has 16 km of trails to explore and is the most popular destination for runners who want a close experience with nature. One of its main attractions is the famous “haunted tree”, whose name comes from the former visitors’ custom of hanging objects around it, although today looks completely clean. You can also visit Cerro Retes, one of the highest points to see the Irazú volcano slopes; the Cerro Cabeza de Vaca, with its view of the Barva volcano or the Laguna del Reventado.
Bosque del Niño
Time to go to the “zona de Occidente”, specifically to the Bosque del Niño, in San Isidro de Grecia. Perfect for admiring nature, walking, relaxing, or even camping. It has trails, a waterfall (private property), ranches, and a soccer field. In Greece, you can also visit “Los Chorros”, where you can dive or take a dip in Zamora (60m) and Prendas (55m) waterfalls.
Bosque de la Hoja
We close this tour by some of the most attractive mountain destinations, in San Rafael de Heredia and its famous Bosque de la Hoja, a special place to walk, have picnics, rest flirt o simply got lost in its charm paths covered by cypresses. It has a soccer field, playground, bicycle track, ranches for BBQ, and restrooms. Heredia’s mountains offer other magical and 100% natural destinations such as Cerro Caricias, in San Isidro, and Cerro Dantas, 7 kilometers northeast of Monte de la Cruz.
Here we end today's trip. You already have the list of beautiful mountain places to visit in the GAM. Now you just need the right vehicle to start the adventure comfortably and without delay. At Toyota Rent a Car we have various rental car options so you can pick the one that best suits your budget and number of passengers. Most of the access routes to these places are in good condition, so we recommend a compact vehicle (Yaris or Raize) or a standard vehicle such as the Corolla Cross or Rav 4.
Ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our phones (4036-7422 / 7235-8722) and we will gladly help you choose the perfect rental car for your next exploration trip within the GAM.
Article written by:
José Ricardo Carballo Villalobos
Works as a journalist, blogger, writer, and freelance copywriter. He is a frequent press columnist, co-director of the digital media La Revista CR, and administrator of the current affairs blog: analistahoy.com. For more information about the author, visit his website or Facebook.
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