Heredia region of the Central Valley offers much for the visitor in downtown Heredia, and in many of the towns around Heredia, particularly in the north mountains, like Barva, San Rafael, San Isidro, where there are many coffee plantations and fresh air year round.
Downtown Heredia is a medium-sized town in the San José metro area. The town is unexceptional but friendly. The Universidad Nacional Autonoma (National Autonomous University) has its main campus there. Heredia is located near the Juan Santamaria Airport and San José.
Cities and towns
- Barva to the north is a small mountain town known for its preservation of old traditions, a museum (Museo de Cultura Popular) for that purpose and the August "turno" (fair) with masks are the most famous characteristics of Barva honoring Saint Bartholomew.
- San José de la Montaña and Sacramento are mountain towns in Barva on the way to the Barva Volcano section of the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
- San Rafael to the northeast is known for its many conifers tunnels that surround the main road that goes to the Castillo Country Club (private), it has a similar atmosphere to a European forest.
- Monte de la Cruz is a small section on the north end of San Rafael with a public park with excellent views of the Central Valley.
- Santa Bárbara is a residential town between Barva and Alajuela with a couple of boutique hotels.
- Santo Domingo, a town between Heredia and Tibás. The INBio research institute and park is located here.
In the middle of the Central Valley, Heredia is easily accessible by road and train.
From San José, there are four bus lines that stop in Heredia:
- Amarillas: Goes from San Jose, through the Interamerican Highway directly to Heredia.
- La 400: Goes from Uruca to Heredia, useful mostly for workers.
- Tibas: Visits Tibas and Santo Domingo, nice route to get a quick glimpse of small San José towns.
- Tuasa: Goes to Alajuela through Heredia, but not all of the rides. Ask the driver.
- From the airport instead of following the Interamerican Highway to San José, take a left turn on the first junction and follow the Heredia signs, this route goes through San Joaquín de Flores and directly to downtown Heredia. From Alajuela is a similar route, or you can take the internal route through Santa Barbara and Barva.
- From San José, take the Interamerican Highway and near the first roundabout or Juan Pablo II bridge, stay to the right without taking the bridge, follow the road, cross the Virilla bridge, keep your right and you will be in Heredia.
- Taxi: use an official taxi service, the orange ones (Airport-only shuttles) or the red ones with a yellow triangle. Never take an unofficial taxi, there are many crime reports about those. There is an informal service of porteadores with a blue circle, those aren't safe either, and can't pickup users in the streets legally, only from door to door.
- 1 Heredia Train Station. Take the train at the Estación Al Atlántico in downtown San José. Service is only available at commuting hours and the train gets very packed. The train also goes to/from Alajuela a few times a day, but the train station is some two kilometers from the airport.
- 2 "San Francisco" train station. This station with the delightful name of Saint Francis is served only by those train that go on towards Alajuela or come from there.
- 3 San Joaquin train station. Served by trains going to/from Alajuela and on to/from San José
You can easily walk most places in Heredia, or take a cab ride which will cost less than ₡1,000 (colones).
In the middle of Heredia downtown there is the central park.
- 1 Parque Central. The town's central square is adorable and charming, and contains most of the city's landmarks. Many shops and restaurants line this square, which is popular with college students and romantics.
- 2 Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción. Built in 1797, is the focal point.
- 3 El Fortín. The symbol of Heredia, though it is closed to the public. It was built in 1876 by the then president Tomas Guardia as a defense fort. In 1974 this monument was declared a National Symbol and property of the Heredia town.
- 4 Oficina de Correos. The old post office, still in use, give a glimpse of how the city looked back in its heyday.
- 5 Palacio Municipal. City council building.
- 6 Escuela República Argentina. Old primary school.
- 7 Casa de la Cultura. This historic house, once home of Costa Rican president Alfredo Gonzáles Flores, offers periodic rotations of art and music.
- 8 Facade of old building. The free-standing facade of a demolished building stands in front of what is apparently a parking lot.
- 9 Liceo de Heredia. Heredia's first high school. Occupies most of a whole block, beautiful architecture.
- 10 Iglesia del Carmen. Beautiful Catholic church, across the street is a renovated park.
- 11 Historic city center. Around the main square and surrounding the local church, most of the houses and buildings replicate the building techniques used in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The main square displays many sculptures and hold several artistic events through the year.
- 12 Museo de Cultura Popular. A museum managed by the National Autonomous University (UNA), created to preserve and share the old customs of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The main attractions is the away residence of president Alfredo González Flores.
- 13 La Paz Waterfall. A majestic waterfall on the route from Heredia to Sarapiquí through Barva, public access with no fare required but the parking space around the waterfall might be limited.
- 14 INBioparque. A small artificial park that provides a sample of Costa Rica's varied flora and fauna in a single place. They also actively research and catalog new species and collaborate with many foreign institutions. US$25.
- Buses from Heredia go out to small nearby mountain towns. In particular there is a bus to the town of Barva, ten minutes north. Barva is small and cute, but it has a river with gorgeous waterfalls and swimming holes. The bus route to Barva ends at the central plaza facing the church. If you face the church you will see one street running directly in front of the church. Walk to the left of the church and follow the first road to the left after the one that runs in front of the church. Follow this road for 400 m (¼ mile) and you will run into a playground, to the left of it there will be a trail going down to the river, follow this trail upstream for half a mile and you will find a 2½-m (8-foot) waterfall with a nice swimming hole and rocks that get great sun. There are more waterfalls and beautiful swimming holes further up the river, but the trail only goes so far.
- Cariari Country Club, Cuidad Cariari (Between the airport and San Jose and next to Real Cariari mall.).
- 1 Monte de la Cruz, San Rafael. A local government-managed recreation park in the heights of San Rafael, a very accessible fee is required for entrance. Beautiful views of the Central Valley, easy hiking trails, picnic and games, soccer and basketball pitches, big parking area.
- 2 Bosque de la Hoja (Las Chorreras), San Rafael. A very simple recreation park maintained by the Heredia local government and ESPH utility company for the purpose of protecting the nearby forests that produce most of the water for the region, located in the heights of San Rafael, a very accessible fee is required for entrance. Big empty areas with grass and a couple of hiking trails.
- 3 Britt Coffee Tour, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A guided tour in a recreated coffee plantation near Heredia downtown that explains all the process required to grow, prepare and taste coffee. US$22.
- 1 Paseo de las Flores. Standard mall with food court and cinemas. Probably the most visited in Heredia.
- 2 Plaza Heredia. The first shopping center in Heredia, but little by little most of their retail spaces have been rented by offices of the National University. A few restaurants are available.
- 3 Real Cariari. Shopping mall, popular with office workers.
- 4 Plaza Rubí. Small U-loop strip mall with a few restaurants and banks.
- 5 Feria del Agricultor (Farmer's Market), Avenida 14. Each Saturday morning at the south end of the city, The street is closed for car traffic.
- 6 Mercado Central, Avenida 6 and 8, and Calle 2 and 4.. City-owned market, with butcheries, grain stores, fish market and a couple of "sodas" (small restaurants). A visit is a must. Occupies a whole block.
- 7 Mercado Florense, Avenida 8 and 10, and Calle Central and 2.. Privately owned market with similar stores to Mercado Central near by.
Souvenir and crafts stores
- Galeria Octagono, Los Angeles de San Rafael de Heredia (Road to Monte de la Cruz), ☏ . 10 to 6. Handmade textile art and handicrafts. Natural wood furniture, clocks and lamps. Art classes.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||₡5,000 - ₡10,000|
Heredia has become a foodie paradise (relative to Costa Rica), there are many high quality restaurants preparing exotic dishes and local favorites with a very affordable range of prices for every customer.
- 1 Delicias Caribeñas de Mami, Calle Central, Avenidas 1 y 3. Pati, plantintá, rice and beans, all the exoticness of the Caribbean. ₡3,000.
- 2 Rinconcito Caribeño, Calle Central, Avenidas 1 y 3 (Calle 26, Avenida Central y 2), ☏ . Family business selling Caribbean rice and beans, rondón, pati and similar. Veg-friendly. ₡3,000.
- 3 Loving Hut (Calle 3, Avenidas 3 y 1), ☏ . Fully vegan local cuisine, served in big Latin portions. ₡3500.
- 4 Shawarma Nataly, Calle 9, Avenidas 2 y 4 (Next to Burger King). Huge mixed shawarma sandwiches with chicken, beef and falafel. Very cheap, delicious and satisfying. ₡2,000.
- 5 Restaurante Libanés Cedro, Avenida 2, Calles 5 y 7. Excellent service and amazing Lebanese food. ₡2,000.
- 6 Shawarma Hassan, Calle 9, Avenidas 4 y 6. Shawarma, falafel and other Lebanese dishes. ₡3,000.
Pizza and pastas
- 7 La Pentola D'Oro, Avenida 2, Calles 5 y 7. Authentic Italian dishes cooked by its Italian owner. Pasta specialists. Offers pizza at night. ₡4000.
- 8 Lung Fung, Avenida 4, Calles 5 y 7. Chinese. Huge spring rolls (tacos chinos) and dishes. ₡5,000.
- 9 El Barco de los Mariscos (San Rafael de Heredia). Staple Costa Rican seafood served in a beautiful mid-20th-century house. ₡7,000.
- 10 La Candelaria. Beef, steak and crepes, charismatic service and high quality dishes. ₡7,000.
- 11 KoB Café (Calle 9, Avenida 5, Casa Azul), ☏ . Vegetarian and vegan café. Offers lunch, dinners and desserts. ₡5,000.
- 12 Casona de mi Tierra. Staple food of Costa Rica, a bit on the expensive side. ₡7,000.
- 13 Soda Paco Alfaro. A typical "Soda", staple Costa Rican food and good service. Their original location is in the Mercado Central de Heredia. ₡4,000.
- 14 Añoranzas, ☏ , . A typical Costa Rican restaurant with nice view, plenty of outside games for kids and a medium museum of antiques. ₡7,000.
- 15 Fresas. Costa Rica's equivalent of an North American diner restaurant. Huge desserts and sandwiches; ask for the Lorenzo sandwich.
- 16 Casona del Maíz. All and any of the many corn- or maize-based dishes can be found here.
- 17 Sushi Home, Plaza Heredia. A popular sushi place among college students and office workers. ₡7,000.
- 18 Sushi Nippon, Plaza Heredia. A popular sushi place among college students and office workers. ₡7,000.
- 19 Ichiban, Paseo de las Flores. An upscale sushi chain. ₡10,000.
- 20 Makizu, Plaza Roble Sabana. This restaurant serves Japanese, Filipino and Korean dishes. ₡7,000.
- 21 Costumbres Argentinas, Calle 2, Avenidas 1 y 3. Delicious empanadas, beef dishes and pizza. ₡5,000.
- 22 Cubito. Cuban staple food, here is where you can get the Cuban version of Gallo Pinto, Congrí. ₡7,000.
- 23 Fiesta Mexicana. A veteran restaurant in Heredia with many years preparing delicious Mexican food. ₡5,000.
- 24 La Parrillita de Pepe. Colombian fast food, huge hot dogs and hamburgers. ₡7,000.
- 25 Ceviche del Rey, Santo Domingo, Avenida 3, Calles Central y 1. Great Peruvian restaurant, delicious ceviche and seafood, many other dishes like arroz chaufa and pastas are available. ₡8,000.
Pizza and pastas
- 26 Pizza Mangiare, ☏ . Huge pizzas, specialists in delivery. Flat rate pizza price according to size not ingredients. ₡8,000.
- 27 L'Antica Roma, Calle 7, Avenida 7 (Across from the Hotel Valladolid), ☏ . Good Italian food at a decent price. ₡6,000.
- 28 Tasty Pizza, Avenida 4, Calles 5 y 7, ☏ . Thick and juicy pizza at an affordable price. ₡5,000.
- 29 Bistro de Chamonix, Hotel Chalet Tirol (6 km North of San Rafael), ☏ . International cuisine. ₡15,000.
- 30 [dead link] Baalbek, ☏ . One of the oldest Lebanese restaurants in Costa Rica, famous countrywide due to the amazing view and the belly dance and live music. ₡15,000.
- Ganesha (In Hotel America, 50 meters south of Central Park), ☏ . This is an Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant. Great hummus, baba ganoush, seekh kebab, chicken tikka masala and lassis.
- 1 Green Dragon Pub & Grill, ☏ . At Hotel Chalet Tirol. 6 km north of San Rafael de Heredia.
- 2 Boulevar Relax. Very popular with university students. This place and its surroundings will be packed almost every Friday and Saturday night. Beers, bar food, pool tables, foosball tables, two floors.
- 3 Cardero.
- 4 [dead link] El Cadejo, Calle 1, Avenidas 11 and 13. Bar and restaurant with seasonal craft beer offerings and artisan made food.
- 5 Chichi's Sport Bar & Grill. American sports bar, with a lot of huge screens all tuned to sports shows, hot wings, hamburgers and the like.
- 6 Hooligan's, Paseo de las Flores. Sports bar with good selection of beers and huge hamburgers.
- 7 Hooters, Plaza Bratsi. Yes, the American chain.
Heredia offers hotels at several different price levels including the backpacker variety. Local buses ply the route between Heredia and San Jose, taking about twenty minutes to reach San José's main tourist areas.
- 1 [dead link] Hotel y Villas La Condesa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Atop the mountains of Heredia offers a great view of the city and the central valley. On Sundays there is a buffet on Patio del Conde restaurant open to all visitors. US$100.
- 2 Hotel Chalet Tirol, ☏ . Swiss chalets in the mountains and the international restaurant "Los Tiroleses". US$100.
- 3 Las Ardillas, ☏ . Cozy mountain cabins.
- 4 La Montaña de Milena, ☏ . Cozy mountain cabins (sister location to Las Ardillas).
- 5 Hotel Monte Campana (Quality Hotel), Birri, Santa Barbara (1.8 km in Barrio Jesus there is sign turn left, toward Birri. Turn Left again at traffic signal in Birri. Make the next 2 left turns and you will come to the hotel), ☏ . Many types of rooms, hostel to cabins with private kitchen and bathroom. The property has the Diligencia restaurant, and a swimming pool with slide and jacuzzi. US$35.
- 6 [dead link] Hotel El Cypresal, Birri, Barva, Heredia, ☏ .
- 7 Hotel El Pórtico, Birrí, Heredia, ☏ . With Italian restaurant "Las Tres Marías" and private hiking trails with access to a stream near by. ₡39,500.
- 8 Hotel Villa Zurquí, Route 32, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Cozy hotel with chalet-style rooms with restaurant (Restaurante Las Calas). Located on National Route 32, the main access from the Central Valley to Limón and the Caribbean. US$60.
- 9 Hotel Heredia, Calle 6, Avenidas 3 and 5 (About three blocks west and two blocks north from Parque Central. Managed by Hotel America). One of the cheapest hotels with adequate interior. Close to Parque Central.
- 10 Hotel America, ☏ . Probably the most comfortable place in downtown Heredia. It is half a block from Parque Central.
- 11 [dead link] Hotel La India, Calle 7 and Avenida 11, Heredia, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. US$50.
- 12 Hotel Valladolid, Calle 7 and Avenida 7, Heredia, ☏ .
- 13 Hotel Hojarascas, Calles 4-6, Avenida 8, Heredia (50m from "Los Angeles" church, in front of the "Mas X Menos" Supermarket parking.), ☏ .
- 14 Hotel Bougainvillea, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Sophisticated hotel in Santo Domingo, near INBio Parque and between Heredia and San José cities.
- 15 [dead link] Hotel Cibeles Resort, Route 113, ☏ , , , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Between the city and the mountains of San Rafael. US$60.
- The scenic route from Heredia to Poás Volcano goes straight from Barva to the north, look for Ruta 126 green signs and brown signs with directions to Volcán Poás.
- Also through Río Segundo to get fast to the Airport, just follow the Airport signs.
- San José: Follow the white signs, there are two ways, the more direct through Uruca that joins the Ruta 1 or Interamerican Highway, and also through Santo Domingo and Tibás that ends at the north end (Barrio Amón) of downtown San José.
|Routes through Heredia|
|Alajuela ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||E W||→ San José|
|San José ←||SW NE||→ Limón|
|Alajuela (Poás Volcano) ←||NE SW||→ END|