Ciudad Quesada is a city in the North Zone of Costa Rica. It is the capital city of the canton San Carlos in the province of Alajuela. Although Ciudad Quesada is the official name, it is commonly called San Carlos.
The city is one of the region’s main trading and business centers. It is a rapidly growing and a vivid city untouched by tourism. The city itself does not have tourist attractions but there are several hot springs in the area, some of which have developed into resorts more popular with Costa Ricans than foreign tourists.
Quesada has frequent bus connections from, for example, San José and La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano). The bus terminal is located by Plaza San Carlos about 1 km north from city center. To get to the center, get a cab for about ₡800 (colones) or walk. To reach the center by foot, walk through the shopping center (to east), then up the hill to the first crossing street, turn right (to south) and walk about 800 meters.
The city center is small enough to cover by foot. Bus network is quite good but of course requires that you have some knowledge about the surroundings.
Attractions are located outside the city. There are not many (or possibly none) tour operators or tourists information centers.
- The Wildlife Rescue Center (Jardin Zoo La Marina) (8.5km northeast from Quesada, route between Palmera and Aguas Zarcas. Get a bus to Aguas Zarcas from the terminal, ride to the zoo takes about 30 minutes.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 8AM - 4PM. A non-profit zoo and wildlife rescue center. About 80 species, most of which were confiscated by the government from illegal private ownership. The facility also maintains a successful breeding program of tapirs. ₡2500.
There are plenty of stores in the city center. Mostly selling local stuff, but some international brands can be found as well.
There are a lot of restaurants in the center of Quesada, mostly serving typical Costa Rican dishes. If you feel like having something you're eating at home as well, at least Pizza Hut and KFC can be found.
As in most places in Costa Rica, there are not many places that are just bars - usually they're also restaurants.
- El Capitan (A block up the hill from the church). Nice basic bar with friendly staff, karaoke every night at 6PM. Beer ₡1000.
As the city itself is not a tourist attraction, hotels are pretty scarce.
- Hotel Cristal, Calle 2 (North from the park). Clean and cheap. Free internet, TVs in rooms. 24h security. ₡10 000 for double room with private bath, fan and TV.
- Hotel Del Valle, Avenida 3.
- Hotel La Central, Calle 2 (On the west side of the park (opposite to the church)). ₡16 000 for double room with private bath.
- Hotel Don Gayo, Calle 2 (In the corner of Calle 2 and Avenida 4, south from the park). 24h security, parking, safety boxes. ₡16 000 for double room with private bath.
- Hotel El Tucano Costa Rica (Outside the city, about 8km towards Aguas Zarcas), ☏ , fax: . Exclusive resort, mostly Costa Rican customers. Hotel El Tucano Costa Rica [dead link]