Is Alajuela Costa Rica safe?

Yes, Alajuela is considered one of the safest cities in Costa Rica. The city is safe for solo travelers, groups, and families. The locals and the police cooperate reasonably, reducing crime. Most areas in Alajuela are well-lit, and police patrols are present throughout the city.

In Costa Rica, one of the cities I have traveled to is Alajuela to visit an expat friend. I found the city safer than most other Costa Rican cities. However, like any other place, I kept my belongings safe and avoided walking alone at night.

Key Takeaways From this Article

Safety in Alajuela, Costa Rica, is one of the factors to consider if you want to visit that part of the region. Overall, I would consider Alajuela safe. However, I want to highlight a few key takeaways you should note.

  • Alajuela has a very low crime rate compared to other Costa Rican cities.
  • Stay safe by avoiding walking at night, using reliable transportation sources, and keeping your valuables secure.
  • Avoid visiting unsafe neighborhoods in Alajuela and walking in unfamiliar places at night.
  • Remember the emergency numbers: 911 for the police and 128 for an ambulance.

What is the current crime rate in Alajuela?

The current crime rate in Alajuela is relatively low compared to other cities in Costa Rica and worldwide. The overall crime rate per 100,000 residents is 59.67, which is relatively low compared to other cities globally.

Crimes such as violent assault and homicide in Alajuela occur at a rate of 10 per 100,000 residents. While petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft occur, they are relatively few.

Here is a total overview of the crime rate in Alajuela, Costa Rica:

is alajuela costa rica safe

What are the safety initiatives taken by the local authorities?

Alajuela is the second-largest city in Costa Rica and is located 12 miles from the country’s capital city, San Jose. It is home to several industries and international companies. Alajuela is also a favorite destination for many international tourists.

As such, the local authorities have implemented several safety initiatives to maintain a low crime rate. There is a significant police presence in most areas of Alajuela, particularly downtown. You will likely encounter tourist police, local “fuerza publica,” and municipal officers.

The tourism police consist of highly qualified, bilingual personnel who assist foreign visitors to Costa Rica. Due to the Costa Rican authorities’ commitment to tourist safety, the tourism police can be found in all tourist areas of Alajuela and other cities.

How can you stay safe in Alajuela as a tourist?

Is it safe to travel to Alajuela? It is a question most tourists ask as they consider which town to visit in Costa Rica. Alajuela is a safe province compared to San Jose or other Costa Rican cities. However, as a tourist, you should always practice personal safety.

However, certain parts of Alajuela are not safe for tourists. El Infiernillo, located between Alajuela town center and Juan Santa Maria International Airport, is considered violent and dangerous. As a tourist, please avoid El Infiernillo, especially at night. Unfortunately, the area has a lot of rival drug wars.

According to The Costa Rica Star, safe neighborhoods in Alajuela include Zarcera, San Mateo, Trinidad, and Vargas.

Here are a few safety tips when visiting Alajuela, Costa Rica.

  • Buy a safe and keep all your valuables, such as passports, jewelry, and cash. Unfortunately, passport theft is one of the major crimes targeting tourists in Alajuela.
  • Learn some basic Spanish if you need to shout for help. Remember that the local police helpline number is 911, and the ambulance number is 128.
  • Stay in well-lit, populated areas and avoid walking in unfamiliar places, especially at night.
  • Using public transport in Alajuela is safe. Though crowded, the locals are friendly, and the conductors ensure safety. Keep an eye on your belongings. Alternatively, use reliable apps to request taxis.

Staying Safe During Outdoor Activities

Generally, Alajuela locals are welcoming and friendly. They will advise you on which areas to go to and which to avoid. Following their advice will keep you safe. Alajuela is home to the famous Arenal Volcano, the Rio River with 45 rapids, and various hot springs.

You can stay safe during your outdoor activities by following these tips:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Look out for any suspicious activities or people so that you can ask for help or move to a safer place.
  • Traveling in groups is safer. As a solo traveler, look for guided tours or use a certified tour operator. Make friends with other tourists, especially those staying in the same accommodations.
  • Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, cameras, phones, or cash.
  • Do not hike in any area without a guide. Most hiking areas have dense vegetation, making getting lost or injured easy.
  • Alajuela, home to the Arenal and Poas volcanoes, might occasionally experience volcanic activity. Local authorities issue alerts and advisories to keep visitors safe. Be sure to pay attention to them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Alajuela safe to walk around?

Yes, Alajuela City is a safe place to walk. Though a few incidents of petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, exist, they are not prevalent. Violent crimes, such as homicides, are very rare.

2. Which scams target tourists in Alajuela?

Avoid taking unofficial taxis. Most “scam” taxi drivers will overcharge you once you reach your destination. You might be forced to pay them, considering they have your luggage in their car boots. An official taxi has a red or orange-yellow color and a yellow triangle on the driver’s door.

Some taxi drivers refuse to turn on the meter and claim it is broken so they can overcharge you. Before entering the taxi, take a picture of the car’s license plate and let the driver see you doing it. You can threaten to take another taxi if their meter is not working.

Book tours only through official companies. Don’t pay any deposit to people on the street asking to take you for a tour.

Conclusion

Is Alajuela safe? Yes, but you must take precautions such as not walking alone at night, having a safe, and using public transport or official taxis. Engage a local guide for outdoor activities to avoid getting lost or venturing into unsafe areas.

Please share your experience in Alajuela with us and give us tips on staying safe.

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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