Liberia, Costa Rica
Due to excellent facilities and its close proximity to scores of attractions, Liberia is an ideal stopover for many visitors. With the recent opening of the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, the once sleepy cowboy town of Liberia is undergoing comprehensive metamorphosis as it transitions from old colonial town to modern-day tourism hub.
Liberia's international airport, Costa Rica's second, receives flights from a number of major U.S. cities such as Miami, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta, and it serves famed destinations on Costa Rica's Guanacaste coast and Nicoya Peninsula. Tamarindo and many other popular Beaches lie within a short traveling distance, as do a number of interesting national parks: Rincon de La Vieja, Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, Barra Honda, and Palo Verde.
Yet despite its many international flight arrivals and rapid transformation, Liberia remains a small town at heart, with a population of only 40,000. It is one of Costa Rica's oldest towns, a fact that is clearly visible in the colonial appearance of many buildings. The buildings often feature red tile roofs that sit atop whitewashed walls, and they leave no wonder as to why Liberia is also known as the "White City." Broad avenues and sensible city planning make for easy navigation to the town's attractions. The historic church of Iglesia de la Agonia, the town's oldest, is a relic from the past colonial era. Its white exterior is beautifully adorned in typical Spanish fashion, sporting twin pillars and an arched entrance. Additionally, the Sabaneros Museum (Museo de Sabaneros) pays homage to Guanacaste's cowboy roots, while the surrounding blocks makeup Liberia's oldest neighborhood. The neighborhood is comprised of old colonial style houses that were constructed over a century and a half ago, and it holds no shortage of small architectural gems.
Many ranches surround the Liberia area, and the town plays a vital role in Costa Rica's cattle industry. It provides a market for farmer's goods, both locally and through international export. With so many ranches, the town's ubiquitous cowboy culture is central to Liberia's identity. Rodeos are a timeless tradition in Guanacaste, and they are the most popular of sporting events. From all over the region, rodeos draw many locals who are intrigued by the chance to see brave cowboys hurled by infuriated bucking bulls. During Guanacaste Day on July 25th, celebrations mark the province's independence from neighboring Nicaragua, which occurred in 1812. The celebrations include an annual horse parade, bullfight, and rural fair- all making for a lively cowboy fiesta.
Throughout the year, downtown Liberia offers good food, bars, entertainment, and accommodations. There are a wide variety of lodging options to meet the needs of any budget. Hotels often fill during the dry season, so visitors are advised to make reservations several weeks in advance.
Driving to Liberia from San Jose is usually a 4.5-hour endeavor along the Inter-American Highway, a span of 145 miles (234 km). In Liberia, bus terminals are numerous, and they offer countrywide transportation throughout the workday. Car rentals are also available at the Airport.