Grecia, Costa Rica is a town located in the Central Valley and despite the name (it means Greece in Spanish), there are not many influences from Greece around. It’s actually a fairly nice city surrounded by mountains and rolling valleys with a fresh and cool climate.
Named as one of the cleanest cities in Latin America, Grecia is the ideal place to visit to see a typical Costa Rican town and observe the culture.
Grecia, Costa Rica
It’s about a 45 minutes – 1 hour drive from San Jose.
Grecia is like other Costa Rican towns with a central park and church. It’s not a small one by any means but it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of San Jose. Instead, you’ll find families spending time at the park and going to church, kids skateboarding and people walking around enjoying their daily life.
You can find shops for all your needs, sodas and international restaurants. On the outskirts of Grecia are various neighborhoods that have great views of the valley.
Grecia is known for housing one of the largest expatriate communities in the country with foreigners retiring in Costa Rica’s supposedly best year round climate.
Curious to know if Grecia is the city for you to retire in?
Our friend Greg from CostaRicaCurious tells us why he and his wife Jen choose Grecia to begin their new life in Costa Rica.
If you love fresh mountain weather, Grecia has exactly that. It doesn’t get too hot like the coast and the air always feels crisp and clean. Sometimes during rainy season it gets down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) and it has moderate, spring like temperatures all year round.
For those who don’t like extremely hot weather, Grecia has the ideal climate. You don’t need to worry about AC!
The main attraction of Grecia is the church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes which is completely made out of red painted steel. This church has two funny urban myths as to how it came to this town.
1. The church was supposed to go to Greece but was incorrectly shipped to Grecia, Costa Rica
The story is that the church was supposed to go to Greece, the country in Europe but was accidentally sent to Grecia, Costa Rica. Oops!
2. The church was supposed to go to a city called Punta Arenas in Chile but accidentally disembarked in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
The church was on its way to Chile but got unloaded in Puntarenas when someone incorrectly read the destination name wrong. It was reassembled in Grecia and stayed there.
They also say that some parts of the church were missing so the back is incomplete. I think out of those two, the second one is my preferred version (I love puns).
The real story isn’t as funny and documents show that the church was built through a joint effort of the town and the Costa Rican government.
We loved visiting Grecia because it has been a long time since we both visited a city that wasn’t San Jose or Liberia and we absolutely loved the weather. When it comes to things to do, it’s close to the city and other attractions so you’re in a great location. You can visit natural attractions such as Catarata del Toro, Los Chorros waterfalls and many national parks.
The views in Grecia are just beautiful and it was a refreshing change from the beach. The locals are so friendly and I can definitely see why many expats choose Grecia as their new home. Maybe one day it will be ours too!
Want to read about more towns and beaches in Costa Rica? Here you go!