Liberia is a city in northern Costa Rica, near the Nicoya Peninsula. Home to Costa Rica’s second largest international airport, and just a stone’s throw from the border with Nicaragua (and some of the country’s most spectacular beaches), Liberia has long been a transportation hub and “pit stop” for travelers in the region. The capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste, known as the ‘White City’ because its streets were once paved with cascajo (a powdery white gravel) and lined with whitewashed adobe houses, looks rather different today.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is from mid-December to April (the dry season). This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches. That said, the dry season is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit. Liberia is also known to be one of Costa Rica’s driest cities and compared to the rest of the country, it doesn’t get much rain.
Top Places to Visit in Liberia
1. La Agonía Church
The Ermita de la Agonía is Liberia’s oldest church, built in 1865. With whitewashed walls made of a mixture of adobe, clay and even horse dung, it’s Guanacaste’s embodiment of Spanish colonial architecture.
2. Guanacaste National Park
This 86,000-acre national park sits adjacent to Santa Rosa National Park, and hosts habitats from coastal dry forest to mountainous cloud forest at higher altitudes. Home to the Orosi and Cacao Volcanoes, as well as diverse wildlife and fantastic views, Guanacaste National Park offers visitors a slice of rural paradise. Since this is the primary domain of scientists and researchers, not tourists, visitors can hike all day without encountering a soul.
About half an hour west of Liberia, visitors relax on the Gold Coast’s sun-kissed sands. The beaches surrounding the Gulf of Papagayo are wonderful places to sunbathe, swim and snorkel, and include Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama, Playa del Coco and Playa Ocotal. Farther south you’ll find Playa Ostional, known for its mass turtle migrations, and the neighboring beaches of Nosara and Samara.
4. The Guanacaste Museum
Museo de Guanacaste lies in Liberia’s former military headquarters or cuartel. The cartel used to include a prison and arms stockpile, but those days are long gone and the wonderfully renovated museum now offers permanent and temporary art exhibits and cultural presentations. One can include a tour of this museum, if interested.