Costa Rica

Everything You Need to Know about Parque Francisco Alvarado, Zarcero, Costa Rica

April 02, 2024
Bex Smith Bex Smith
Everything You Need to Know about Parque Francisco Alvarado, Zarcero, Costa Rica

Costa Rica emerges as a beacon of natural splendor, offering a tapestry of ecological wonders and cultural riches. This tropical paradise is renowned globally for its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife, inviting travelers to explore its unique landscapes and experience the pura vida lifestyle that defines its soul. Among its myriad attractions lies the charming town of Zarcero, a hidden gem that captures the essence of tropical serenity and beauty.  

At Zarcero, Costa Rica, lies the enchanting Parque Francisco Alvarado, a testament to human creativity and nature’s bounty. With its meticulously sculpted topiaries, this whimsical garden stands as a symbol of the artistic spirit and ecological consciousness that thrives within the country. 

As we go on a journey through the verdant pathways of Parque Francisco Alvarado, Zarcero, Costa Rica, we not only discover the artistic marvels that adorn its landscape but also immerse ourselves in the authentic Costa Rican way of life, uncovering the traditions and values that make this country a treasure trove of cultural and natural heritage. 

Where is Zarcero?   

Zarcero is in the Alajuela province of Costa Rica. It is a quaint mountain town renowned for its lush landscapes and the iconic Parque Francisco Alvarado, Costa Rica.  

At an elevation of 1,700 meters, its cool climate fosters a rich agricultural economy and a vibrant cultural scene, reflecting the essence of what Costa Rica is known for—biodiversity, environmental preservation, and a deep-rooted community spirit. With its artistic topiaries, Parque Francisco Alvarado epitomizes Zarcero’s unique blend of natural beauty and artistic creativity, making it an essential piece of the region’s cultural and economic fabric.

Zarcero Costa Rica

The History and Significance of Parque Francisco Alvarado   

Parque Francisco Alvarado symbolizes creativity and community spirit in Zarcero, Costa Rica. It has long been a centerpiece of the town’s cultural and social life. Evangelisto Blanco’s vision significantly influenced its development into the present-day park with intricate topiary gardens in the mid-20th century. Blanco’s artistic flair turned ordinary shrubs into extraordinary green sculptures, transforming the park into a living museum that captures the imagination of all who visit.  

This transformation began the park’s evolving role in Zarcero’s community life. Parque Alvarado has since become a gathering place for locals and tourists, offering a serene environment that fosters social interactions, cultural events, and community gatherings. It is a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty and artistic heritage. It reflects the broader values that make Costa Rica the happiest country known for its emphasis on sustainability and community well-being. 

The significance of Parque Francisco Alvarado extends beyond its borders, contributing to local tourism and the preservation of cultural identity. As a feature on platforms like Atlas Obscura, Costa Rica, the park draws visitors from around the world, eager to explore its verdant mazes and artistic displays. This influx of tourists supports the local economy and promotes a greater understanding and appreciation of Costa Rican culture and values. 

Moreover, the park’s allure and its role in promoting Zarcero highlight why visiting Costa Rica is a popular query among travelers seeking destinations that offer natural beauty, cultural richness, and community-focused living.  

Unique Artistry Features of the Tropical Garden   

In Zarcero lies a mesmerizing spectacle of green artistry— Parque Francisco Alvarado. This verdant space showcases the unique artistic talents of Evangelista Blanco Brenes, a local gardener whose vision and dedication transformed ordinary shrubs into a collection of magnificent living sculptures. His work began in the 1960s and has turned the park into a must-see destination for those exploring Costa Rica. 

The topiary gardens of Zarcero are not just a display of horticultural skill; they are a canvas where Blanco’s creativity interacts with nature’s whims. Each sculpture, whether an animal, mythical creature or geometric design, carries a story or symbol significant to the local culture and the artist’s imagination. This blend of symbolism and creativity invites visitors to delve deeper into the soul of Zarcero and Costa Rica itself. 

For travelers planning a Costa Rica travel itinerary for 10 days, Zarcero and its topiary gardens present a unique experience that encapsulates the beauty and artistic spirit of the country. This visit enriches the travel experience by offering a glimpse into the heart of Zarcero, Costa Rica, through the eyes of one of its most visionary artists. The best time of year to visit Costa Rica, typically during the dry season from December to April, is ideal for enjoying the lush, sculpted landscapes of Parque Francisco Alvarado at their finest.  

Top Attractions to Enjoy at Zarcero   

Zarcero is loaded with attractions that captivate visitors with its natural beauty, artistic flair, and vibrant culture. Here’s what makes it a must-visit destination on your Costa Rica tours

Parque Francisco Alvarado 

At the heart of Zarcero’s allure is Parque Francisco Alvarado, a testament to the town’s creative spirit. This park is famed for its intricately sculpted topiaries—ranging from animals to mythical creatures—crafted with precision and care by local artist Evangelista Blanco Brenes.  

Walking through this green labyrinth, visitors experience a unique blend of art and nature, making it a highlight in Atlas Obscura Costa Rica for those seeking the road less traveled. 

Iglesia de San Rafael 

Just steps away from Parque Francisco Alvarado, the Iglesia de San Rafael commands attention with its striking architecture and historical significance. This church is not only a place of worship but also a pillar of the community, showcasing a blend of religious faith and local tradition. Its intricate façade and serene interior offer a peaceful retreat and a glimpse into Costa Rica’s colonial past. 

Local Culture and Events 

Zarcero comes alive with a calendar full of Costa Rica holidays, cultural events, artisan markets, and festivals celebrating the town’s heritage and community spirit. From the vibrant Fiesta de los Boyeros, which honors Costa Rica’s traditional ox-cart drivers, to local farmers’ markets brimming with fresh produce and handmade crafts, these events deeply dive into the authentic Costa Rican way of life. 

Beyond the Gardens 

While Parque Francisco Alvarado may draw visitors to Zarcero, the town, and its surroundings have much more to offer—scenic hikes in the nearby hills, visits to local cheese factories to sample Zarcero’s famed dairy products, and exploring other natural wonders in the region round out a visit. Each activity offers a unique perspective on the serene beauty and rich agricultural landscape that defines this area. 


Planning Your Visit to Zarcero  

Planning your visit to Zarcero is essential to ensure you make the most of your vacation. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate your way to and around this picturesque town, known for its contributions to Costa Rica’s ecological tourism

Best Time to Visit 

The optimal time to visit Zarcero is during the dry season, from December to April. This period promises sunny days and cool nights, ideal for exploring the gardens and surrounding natural attractions. It’s also a fantastic time to participate in local festivals that showcase the vibrant culture of the region. 

Getting There 

Zarcero is conveniently located midway between San José and the Arenal Volcano, making it accessible by car or bus. The drive from San José takes about 2 hours, offering scenic countryside views. Buses from San José to Zarcero run regularly, providing an economical option for travelers. 

Facilities and Amenities 

In Zarcero, visitors will find a range of facilities to enhance their experience. The town boasts several cozy restaurants and cafes serving local Costa Rican cuisine. Public restrooms are available near major attractions, and there are numerous spots throughout the park for picnicking and relaxation. 

Daytrip Itinerary 

A day in Zarcero can include a morning exploration of Parque Francisco Alvarado, followed by a visit to the Iglesia de San Rafael to admire its architecture. Post-lunch, consider a stroll through the local artisan markets to pick up souvenirs. If time allows, a quick hike in the nearby hills offers breathtaking views and encounters with rich tropical biodiversity. 

Visitor Tips 

Here are some easy-to-follow and necessary tips for an amazing experience at Parque Francisco Alvarado –  

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes to navigate the hilly terrain of Zarcero. 
  • Bring a camera to capture the topiaries and scenic landscapes. 
  • Respect the local customs and the environment to support ecological tourism efforts. 
  • Consider hiring a local guide to learn more about the history and cultural significance of the attractions. 

Visitors can ensure a fulfilling and enjoyable experience in Zarcero by following these tips and knowing these essential details.

Zarcero Costa Rica


Zarcero offers a slice of pura vida experience, with Parque Francisco Alvarado showcasing the essence of this tranquil and vibrant lifestyle. 

For a deeper dive into Costa Rican life, rent a villa in Costa Rica near the Zarcero area, which is all-inclusive, private, secluded, and, most importantly, secure. Your luxurious stay will elevate your experience in this tropical paradise without letting you compromise on your mental peace and relaxation.  

This town combines artistry with natural beauty, making it a compelling destination. Its topiary garden is a labor of love and creativity, exemplifying cultural dedication and warmth. In essence, Zarcero isn’t just a visit but an experience reflecting the country’s rich heritage and the Pura Vida spirit. 

Related blogs

Dec 28 Sustainable Coffee Farming Practices Followed in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Sustainable Coffee Farming Practices Followed in Costa Rica

Imagine waking up to the gentle rustle of lush green leaves and the rich, inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee. This is...

Read More Read More
Jan 31 Top 6 Reasons Why Costa Rica Is One of the Best Luxury Vacation Destinations in the World!

Costa Rica, Vacation

Top 6 Reasons Why Costa Rica Is One of the Best Luxury Vacation Destinations in the World!

Are you searching for a luxury vacation destination that promises adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty all in one? Lo...

Read More Read More
Dec 01 How To Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Costa Rican Style?

Costa Rica

How To Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Costa Rican Style?

If you wish to celebrate the coming New Year and Christmas a little differently, there is no better place than Costa Rica....

Read More Read More