After Mexico's War of Independence from Spain, the settlement of Guanacaste, as Liberia was known then, transitioned from being a town in the Partido de Nicoya of the Federal Republic of Central America to being part of Nicaragua and then Costa Rica. Even though this happened later than the annexation of the rival town of Nicoya on July 25th, 1824, Liberia celebrates that day annually as it became the primary settlement of the Guanacaste province.
Liberia's economy centers around agriculture and tourism with the nearby coast and volcanic regions. Even though precipitation is relatively less than other parts of Costa Rica, it can still feel sweltering with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
- 1 Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (is called Liberia Costa Rica Airport LIR IATA) (13 km west of the city). Daily flights arrive in Liberia on several US airlines. Aerobell Airlines, Skyway Airlines and Sansa Air, the domestic airlines also land here. A bus travels between the airport and city center between 06:00-18:00.
There is an exit tax that must be paid on international departures. You can pay by credit card, but it will be recorded as a cash advance with higher fees.
A large public bus network services Liberia and connects it with San Jose, the beaches and the Nicaraguan border. From the only stop light in town along the Pan American Highway, go 300 meters north and turn right. There is the Pulmitan de Liberia bus stop with buses going to San José (US$5), and the Terminal Municipal 2 blocks away that will take you to Guanacaste beaches and the Nicaragua border.
Liberia is at the cross section of the Interamericana that stretches throughout Central America and the Route 21 that heads to famous beaches such as Tamarindo.
Public bus or on foot. Liberia is a small city where everything you are likely to wish to see is within walking distance.
- 1 Mario Cañas Ruiz Park. Town square in front of the Central Church of Liberia.
- 2 Museum Guanacaste, Av 1, Provincia de Guanacaste, ☏ . M-F 08ː00-16ː00. Housed in old city barracks, this museum is designed to relate information and history about the area. Kind of modest.
- 3 Museo de Sabanero (in the Casa de la Cultura). Museum about cowboy culture in Guanacaste province.
- 1 Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Curubande, Liberia, Guanacaste (Liberia, head 5 km north (La Cruz) and turn right for 17 km). 07:00-15:00 (Sector Las Pailas); 07:00-16:00 (Sector Santa Maria). Lots of volcanic activity, trails, waterfalls, plenty of wildlife to see. Entrance at Sector Las Pailas is closed on Mondays; the one at Sector Santa Maria is opened every day (including Christmas Day). US$15.
- Volcanic Mud Springs with Spa, Rincon de la Vieja. Pools with volcanic mud water for bathing, mud springs for mud treatment. At Rio Negro Hot Springs pools with spring water beside Rio Negro are used for bathing. The temperature of the water ranges from 36ºC to 40ºC. Massage service is offered. Admission to the Hot Springs and Mud Springs is US$25.
- Water Slide at Buena Vista Del Rincon (Rincon de La vieja), Rincon de la Vieja National Park (In Liberia, from Burger King 13 km on the Interamericana road, towards Peñas Blancas, until you get to the entrance of Cañas Dulces), ☏ . 08:00-17:00. Longest mountain water slide -- 400 m -- in the middle of the tropical forest. This is done with all the necessary security equipment. US$15.
- 2 Africa Safari Adventure Park (Ponderosa Adventure Park) (few km south of Liberia), ☏ . Daily 09ː00-17ː00. Safari with African species, kayaking, waterfalls, zip-lines.
- 3 Estadio Edgardo Baltodano Briceño. Home of first division soccer team A.D. Municipal Liberia.
- 4 Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.
- 5 Curubanda, ☏ . Aerial arts and poledance studio. You can text the studio on Whatsapp beforehand to inquire about class times and let them know that you are coming, but the classes don't seem to require reservation. Instead, this semi-outdoor studio frequented by locals adapts each class to accommodate whoever shows up that night. Classes are in Spanish, but it is easy to follow along even with limited fluency. The instructors are passionate and skilled, but the energy of the class is fun for all levels and non-competitive. In 2022, it was ₡ 5,000 for 2 classes.
There are several different options of restaurants in the area, ranging from American fast food chains to local food restaurants like Guanaburger. There are lots of "sodas" (small local restaurants) around Downtown Liberia that serve Costa Rican food, and also several bakeries including Musmanni and Panaderia Alemana (German Bakery).
In the city center
- 1 Soda El Viajero, Av. 3. Down home cooking.
- 2 Pizza Andina Liberia, Av. 5.
- 3 Super Pollo, C. 2.
- 4 Twenty's, C. 8.
- 5 Soda Los Comales, C. Central Rafael Iglesias.
- 6 Guanaburger, Av. 1.
At the intersection of the two main roads
In this area are chain restaurants like McDonald's, Taco Bell, KFC and Burger King.
- 7 Taquería Mazatlán, Centro Comercial Plaza Santa Rosa Local #39, 1. Mexican restaurant
- 8 Food Mall.
Near the city center
- 11 Masala Indian Restaurant (in Bolbaldi Plaza along Av 1), ☏ . Nice butter chicken here.
- 12 El Callejero (on Calle 8), ☏ . 11:00-22:00 closed M. Wraps and fancy salads and heavier things like onion ring burgers if you're ready to kick the low-fat diet your cardiologist probably wanted you to be on.
- 13 Guacamole, Central Ave. Tex Mex restaurant
- 14 Don Fran Restaurante, Av. 1.
- 15 Restaurante Tierra Mar Liberia, Av. 1. Peruvian cuisine
- 16 Ciudad Blanca Gastro Park, C. 10.
- LIB is a second story bar in the Plaza Santa Rosa. Modern design and sometimes modern music.
- Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport, Ruta # 21 across from the airport, ☏ . Built in 2008, the property is in front of Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), it has 169 rooms & suites, signature bedding, LCD TVs, swimingpool, modern fitness room, car rental desk, a restaurant and bar. US$60-129.
- Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica, Gulf of Papagayo 20 minutes from Liberia Airport, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Junior suites with private plunge pool. Amazing views US$99-459.
- Four Seasons Costa Rica, Pagapayo Peninsula, Guanacaste (40 minutes from Liberia Airport). Golf course that was named in the top 50 in the world. Check out the impressive ocean views from the back nine.
- 1 Best Western El Sitio, Hwy 21 (just west of intersection with Hwy 1) (next to Santa Rosa Plaza), ☏ . Simple rooms with air conditioning. Gym, casino and pool on site with large area for sun lounging. Double costs US$76 and includes breakfast. 45875 colones.
- 2 Las Espuelas, Hwy 1 about 2 miles south of city center, ☏ . A spacious, tranquil hotel. Pool and all the usual amenities. 40442 colones.
- Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, Rincon de la Vieja National Park (Curubande, Liberia, Guanacaste, at the entrance of Rincon de la Vieja National Park), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is in a traditional Guanacaste cattle hacienda that dates back to 1800. The national park, with all its beauty and activities, is in its back yard. US$50 per person.
- Hotel Guanacaste, Calle 12, between 1st and 3rd avenues. (25 m west of the Pulmitan Bus terminal), ☏ , email@example.com. Member of Hostelling International. Close to all bus terminals, clean, nice patio, Internet and Wifi, restaurant, tourism information available. Shared simple from US$8, private small simple from $11.
- Buena Vista Del Rincon Eco Adventure Park, Hotel & Spa (formerly Buena Vista Lodge), Rincon de La Vieja (Guanacaste), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. This eco-lodge in a hacienda offers spectacular sunsets and a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, volcanoes, plains and forests. US$78 double incl. breakfast/taxes.