10 Things to Do in and Near Liberia, Costa Rica
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Situated in Costa Rica’s northwest region, Liberia is a major gateway to some of Costa Rica’s most intriguing places. With a population of roughly 55,000 and its own international airport, this city makes a perfect base for a tour to Costa Rica, to enjoy the nearby rainforests, volcanoes, and tropical beaches of Guanacaste's Gold Coast. One of Costa Rica’s oldest towns, Liberia has a rich colonial history as well as a distinct local cowboy culture, which creates interesting opportunities for tourism.
Whether you spend the day adventuring outdoors in the diverse region or enjoying the museums of this old colonial town, Liberia is a top destination for a Costa Rica holiday. As you plan your trip, make sure to include these activities on your visit to Liberia.
1. TREK COSTA RICA’S LARGEST AND MOST ACTIVE VOLCANO
An excellent option for a day trip being just 30 km northeast of town, Rincón de la Vieja National Park offers the best outdoor adventures of all Liberia tourist attractions. Test your bravery as you hike or bike through this volcanic terrain, which is home to the active Rincón de la Vieja volcano and the dormant Miravalles volcanoes. Witness impressive geothermal activity as you pass alongside bubbling mud pots. End your day with a relaxing soak in one of the many natural thermal springs.
- Best time to visit: December to February, as the drier weather will provide optimal conditions for outdoor activities and these months boast lush scenery.
- Good to know: Rincón de la Vieja National Park is located in a rural area with few commercial services and poor cell reception. Pack some lunch, water, and other necessary essentials for the day before leaving Liberia.
2. RAFT THE TENORIO RIVER
Thrill-seekers exploring what to do in Liberia, look no further than the Tenorio River. Starting in Las Cañas, 50 km southeast of Liberia, a whitewater rafting tour will take you through some of Costa Rica’s biggest rapids. Throughout the journey, experience a variety of class III and IV rapids, before bracing yourself for the drop-down of the 12-foot class V cascade.
- Best time to visit: June to October for full, rip-roaring rapids
- Good to know: Rafting the Upper Tenorio River is appropriate for people ages 11 and up and is not for the faint of heart; alternatively, the Lower Tenorio River portion is calmer and provides a more gentle float suitable for most ages.
3. LEARN THE HISTORY OF THE GUANACASTE REGION
As a regional hub for the province of Guanacaste, Liberia is home to several museums and historic sites that showcase the region’s cultural significance. At the Museo de Guanacaste, learn about the surrounding region and its history inside an old armory/jailhouse. Another popular attraction, the Museo de Sabanero, honors the local cowboy culture and is one of the most unique attractions in Liberia, Guanacaste. The town’s old quarter is also home to many historical churches.
- Best time to visit: Year-round, as the indoor exhibitions, can be enjoyed at any time; typical hours are from 9 am to 4 pm.
- Good to know: Liberia was considered part of Nicaragua until 1812. Day tours from Liberia to Nicaragua are convenient and a popular choice to experience two countries in one trip.
4. DISCOVER THE WILDLIFE IN PALO VERDE NATIONAL PARK
Over 300 species of birds, including Costa Rica’s largest population of waterbirds, call Palo Verde National Park home. An absolute must-see destination for birdwatching enthusiasts, this park is also an appealing attraction for anyone interested in wildlife sightings in Costa Rica. Other critters here include monkeys, coatis, and crocodiles. Boat tours are a great way to enjoy the day at Palo Verde, located 45 km south of Liberia.
- Best time to visit: Dry season (December to April) as birds flock to the Tempisque River basin due to scarcity of water in other regions
- Good to know: This national park contains diverse and endangered ecosystems, including one of Central America’s last tropical dry rainforests, creating a unique habitat for wildlife not found in other areas in the country.
5. RIDE HORSEBACK TO OROPENDULA WATERFALL
Rincón de la Vieja National Park isn’t just home to volcanoes. The surrounding forest landscape is diverse and is home to beautiful waterfalls worthy of a visit in themselves. The most popular, Oropendula Waterfall, is an impressive 25 meters high and is accessible on foot or horseback via the forested Las Pailas trail. Of course, in this rugged terrain, going for a horseback ride isn’t just exciting…it’s the most practical way to get around.
- Best time to visit: December to February to avoid heavy rains, which could limit access to the trails.
- Good to know: Rides can be extended through nearby farmlands to really mix up the day.
6. ENJOY THE AROMA OF LOCAL COFFEE ON A FARM TOUR
Costa Rica coffee is famous around the world and is one of the country’s top exports. Savor the delicious flavors as you tour local farms. Tours combine opportunities to learn about the crop’s history and production, get a peek into traditional life on a working farm, and quite literally enjoy the fruits of labor.
- Best time to visit: Farm tours can be enjoyed year-round
- Good to know: Local farmers typically have bags of coffee for sale. Bring some extra cash to buy a few bags for souvenir gifts or for yourself.
7. SWIM THE BLUE WATERS OF PLAYA HERMOSA
Heading to the beach is a great way to spend some time in Guanacaste. With so many beaches in Liberia Costa Rica, you’re sure to find a beach vibe for you. Playa Hermosa is one of the best beaches near Liberia for its tropical feel, idyllic black sand crescent beach, and convenient location 35 km west of town. It boasts calm and clear blue water perfect for a day of swimming or enjoying other water sports.
- Best time to visit: December to March for sunnier days; May to December for underwater activities, such as snorkeling or scuba diving
- Tips: Stick around till nightfall and walk the beach for a chance to witness bioluminescence, which is often reported throughout the Guanacaste coast.
8. SURF AT WITCH’S ROCK
Liberia beaches, also collectively referred to as Guanacaste’s Gold Coast, bring surfers from around the world to enjoy the seemingly endless variety of breaks. Whether you’re a pro or just planning your first surf lessons, the beaches offer great opportunities to catch a wave. But perhaps, the most famous spot is Witch’s Rock, listed as one of our best surfing spots in Costa Rica. Swells reach 8 meters consistently throughout the year and the scenic backdrop of a tall rock formation is postcard-worthy.
- Best time to visit: Surfing is best at high tide during the dry season, December to March
- Good to know: If you’re new to surfing or looking to advance your skills, several excellent surf schools are based nearby. If you’re lucky, you may even get lessons from any one of the numerous surf legends who have made these beaches their home.
9. SPLUNK THROUGH COSTA RICA’S BIGGEST UNDERGROUND CAVE SYSTEM
An hour and a half south by car, Barra Honda National Park offers a spectacular option for a day-trip adventure. More than 40 limestone caverns can be found in this park, with impressive depths of over 240 meters. Many of the caves can be challenging to enter, so a guided tour and advanced permits are required. In addition to caving, a network of several hiking trails provides varied opportunities to walk through dry tropical forest habitats.
- Best time to visit: January to April’s dry climate offers the best opportunities for caving and spotting wildlife as shrubs have dried out, allowing better visibility.
- Good to know: Overnight camping is permitted in the park at the designated campsites, which are equipped with basic facilities.
10. ATV THROUGH FARMLANDS AND CATTLE RANCHES
Wide-open spaces can be found in Liberia thanks to its abundant farmland. As this is cowboy country, you’ll likely encounter horse and cattle ranches, some of which open their property up for offloading adventures. ATV-ing throughout this region is one exciting way to get your adrenaline flowing while enjoying some solitude in more rural territory.
- Best time to visit: June to November for puddles and mud-slinging; December to May if you prefer dust clouds.
- Good to know: While you’re visiting a local ranch, consider taking a lesson or two from one of the cowboys to try your hand at cattle-herding.
The rich culture and many things to do in Liberia, Costa Rica make this destination a top choice for a Guanacaste holiday. A little planning for your holiday in Liberia will go a long way to ensure you enjoy Costa Rica’s greatest sites and activities from land to sea.
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, make sure to take a look at our travel guides on how many days to spend, the best time to visit, the top destinations, and top things to do in the country for in-depth travel tips. Feel free to get in touch with our local travel experts who can help you plan your next tailormade tour to Costa Rica.