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From the market to the table

The experience of visiting Plaza Ferias in Alajuela, Costa Rica. A place where you can find products that maybe you have never seen before, at excellent prices and top quality. You buy directly from farmers, supporting them and their families. What are you waiting to come?

Let's go to the farmer's market

Many hotels and restaurants have the philosophy of preparing meals "from the garden to the table". This means, for the consumer, that most of the ingredients are harvested organically and also the products are fresh, therefore tastier and with a high level of quality.

But ... how it is called when you buy fresh food and take it home to prepare high-quality rich meals?! Well, I've called it "from the fair to the table". It has been more than five years, on Friday or Saturday of every week that I use to buy fruits, vegetables and much more at an unbeatable price and first quality.

And it is something inherited from my parents, who used to go to the fair in Plaza Víquez, in San José. However, when I moved to Alajuela, it was a surprise to find "Plaza Ferias" name that receives the biggest and safest fair in the country. With 30,000m2 of facilities, of which 7,600m2 correspond to an under-roof area and private parking for 330 vehicles with surveillance and security.

Why “Plaza Ferias” and not another fair?

If you are in a hotel near the centre of Alajuela and have an early arrival in this country, here you can buy fruits for the next few days. The fact of being able to leave the car safe while shopping and the convenient location of the stands, make my experience at the fair a very comfortable time. Not to mention that I do not have to carry the heavy watermelons, melons, papayas, potatoes, bananas, or squash on my shoulder, because, for a small amount of money, I can rent a supermarket cart and take everything I need.

While most of the fairs are held in a secondary street and outdoors, Plaza Ferias does not affect me. It doesn´t matter if it is raining or it´s too hot because I arrive at noon since the infrastructure of the space allows you to buy indoor.

Other fairs in the country offer fruits and vegetables, but in this, you find everything! And if I talk about everything, it's everything!


From the gas station “Total” (before known as “Santa Anita”) 300 meters West, next to Maxi Palí. Barrio Cristo Rey, Alajuela.

Opening hours

Friday from 1:00 pm - 9:30 pm and Saturday from 5:00 am - 2:30 pm every week


If you do not have a car, don´t worry. Here you can easily take a taxi to your hotel or downtown, from where you can go to other areas of the Central Valley.

Where to start?

In the beginning, my wife and I didn't know where to buy, we went to Plaza Ferias and that was when we were overwhelmed by the large number of options to choose from. All in one place. We walked through the rows and everything looked so attractive. Over time we were even making friends with those who sold us the products until we got to have our own suppliers every week.

Some from Zarcero, others from Cartago, La Tigra or Chachagua, San Carlos, and even those who come from Los Santos, an area located in the south of the country. Every week we have been able not only to taste their products but to know a little more about their idiosyncrasies and lifestyle, very different from the city.

Dare to try new fruit and vegetables. If you have some knowledge of Spanish, here you can practice very well and at the same time know a little more about the Ticos and the “Pure Life” philosophy. Thanks to the fair I have tasted many fruit and vegetables I have not even known they exist before.

From now on, learn vital words such as "mae", "tuanis", "en toas", very popular phrases in the Tico´s language.


If it's your first time at the fair, I recommend you first take a tour, observe what catches your attention, and finally decide what to buy.

What you can buy besides fruit and vegetables?

Here are not only fruit and vegetables, so as follows I share other products that you can see in this fair. I made a list of some items:

  • There is a section for dairy products: milk, sour milk, custard, yogurt, mature cheese, palmito cheese, soft cheese, smoked cheese.
  • In another section, you can find red meats, sausages, chicken, fish, and seafood stands that come from the coasts of the country.
  • Eggs: of all sizes, for all tastes
  • Flowers: several stands offer the most beautiful flowers, from ornamental, exotic, orchids, to grafted fruit trees. Here I bought a golden rain orchid and until today is still alive and it has an ever better flowering.
  • Homemade bread: sweet bread, salty, roasted tamale, cornbread, “empanadas de chiverre” are some examples of this.
  • Chips: we are used to potato chips but if you are fancy you can also find sweet potato chips, yucca, yams, ñampi, and even taro chips. All tubers are harvested in the country.
  • Sodas: If you arrive hungrily, do not worry, there are several “sodas” (typical Costa Rican restaurants) where you can find chorreadas, tortillas with cheese, empanadas, meatballs, potatoes or chicken, “olla de carne” and pork rinds. Here you can enjoy the original Costa Rican food. As for drinks, there is also a variety: freshwater, pipe water, coffee, cane juice, horchata, barley, orange juice, fresh fruit, mozote ...
  • Pots
  • Granola
  • “Tapa de dulce” (a solid form of sucrose derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice), sweet granulated, and "sobado" (cajeta made with sweet and nuts, almost peanuts)
  • Ground coffee and beans, an excellent souvenir for your return
  • Clothing: for all tastes and sizes, from aprons to baby shoes. Here you can also get shirts from the Costa Rica National Soccer team at great prices.
  • Popcorn
  • Clothing bags and shopping bags
  • Shoes
  • Perfumes
  • Clay pots and ornaments
  • Costume jewellery
  • Food containers
  • Wooden furniture and armchairs for the living room


If you have been told that you are lactose intolerant, I recommend you to visit the "Mennonites" stand. Once at the fair, you just ask and everyone knows who they are. Of course, you must go early, because if you arrive late, you probably will not find their products because they have a lot of demand. They come from Guatuso - Alajuela and once the product is sold, they go back home.

The Mennonites use artisanal production techniques, for example, they do not use any chemicals, but they move the product constantly to achieve the desired consistency. Many people are allergic to these chemicals and not necessarily to milk, but since most dairy products contain these substances, many confuse their allergy to additives with lactose intolerance. For this reason, sometimes we have to make a line and wait to be attended to get cheese, custard, yogurt, or even the delicious cinnamon rolls.

Advantages of going to the fair

Being sustainable

Being friendly with the environment includes consuming local products harvested in the country. This avoids transfer and import costs. At the fair, you buy what farmers and artisans have harvested on their farms and manufactured in their workshops.

You support the national producer and their families

When you go to the supermarket, you do not know what percentage receive the people who actually harvest the product. At the fair, you buy directly, without intermediaries, that is, 100% of the benefit will be for them and their families.

Contact with people from all over the country

Here come producers from all corners, with such a different idiosyncrasy despite belonging to the same national territory. It is interesting to know their perspectives and their way of seeing the world.


If you do not have friends, here you can make friends, share and meet new people. Excellent place to learn new words and practice Spanish.

You learn new things

Every week there is something new, for example, someone who sells essential oils, was encouraged that week to sell crepes and caramelized seeds. You cannot imagine the variety of things you can experience here!

You become a professional taster of all kinds of products

Here you can try the different types of coffee available: Tarrazú and Naranjo, for example, are producing areas that have won awards for the quality of their coffee.


If you plan to come to Costa Rica, I hope you visit this fair. As soon as new visitors arrive, I've seen their faces light up, they are full of astonishment surrounded by so much exotic food. For example, pitahaya, pipián, zapallo, uchuas, are some of the "little-known". The hard part is controlling yourself. You should not lose this opportunity! If you come, don´t miss to eat a good “manga”, they are delicious, either green or "sele", (Costa Rican term for food in an intermediate level between green and ripe) or ripe. Also, it is very close to the airport, in case you have a few free hours on Friday or Saturday.

I am proud to know that, when I visit the fair, I support the producer, not the intermediaries, and because of my purchase, many families are being benefited

And you? Do you want to go to Plaza Ferias? Let me know and we can go together.
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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

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  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
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    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
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    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
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    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
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    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
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    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

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  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

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    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

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  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
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    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
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    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
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    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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