HerediaCentral 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.
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.
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.
Heredia Train StationTake 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.
"San Francisco" train stationThis station with the delightful name of Saint Francis is served only by those train that go on towards Alajuela or come from there.
San Joaquin train stationServed 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.
Parque CentralThe 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.
Iglesia de la Inmaculada ConcepciónBuilt in 1797, is the focal point.
El FortínThe 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.
Oficina de CorreosThe old post office, still in use, give a glimpse of how the city looked back in its heyday.
Palacio MunicipalCity council building.
Escuela República ArgentinaOld primary school.
Casa de la CulturaThis historic house, once home of Costa Rican president Alfredo Gonzáles Flores, offers periodic rotations of art and music.
Facade of old buildingThe free-standing facade of a demolished building stands in front of what is apparently a parking lot.
Liceo de HerediaHeredia's first high school. Occupies most of a whole block, beautiful architecture.
Iglesia del CarmenBeautiful Catholic church, across the street is a renovated park.
Historic city centerAround 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.
INBioparqueA 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.
- 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.
address: Cuidad Cariari
phone: +506 2277 1600A guided tour in a recreated coffee plantation near Heredia downtown that explains all the process required to grow, prepare and taste coffee.
Paseo de las FloresStandard mall with food court and cinemas. Probably the most visited in Heredia.
Plaza HerediaThe 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.
Real CariariShopping mall, popular with office workers.
Plaza RubíSmall U-loop strip mall with a few restaurants and banks.
Feria del Agricultoraddress: Avenida 14Each Saturday morning at the south end of the city, The street is closed for car traffic.
Mercado Centraladdress: 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.
Mercado Florenseaddress: Avenida 8 and 10, and Calle Central and 2.Privately owned market with similar stores to Mercado Central near by.
Souvenir and crafts stores
phone: +506 2267-6325address: Los Angeles de San Rafael de HerediaHandmade textile art and handicrafts. Natural wood furniture, clocks and lamps. Art classes.
Delicias Caribeñas de Mamiaddress: Calle Central, Avenidas 1 y 3Pati, plantintá, rice and beans, all the exoticness of the Caribbean.
Rinconcito Caribeñophone: +506 2237-4916address: Calle Central, Avenidas 1 y 3Family business selling Caribbean rice and beans, rondón, pati and similar. Veg-friendly.
Loving Hutphone: +506 2260 0707Fully vegan local cuisine, served in big Latin portions.
Shawarma Natalyaddress: Calle 9, Avenidas 2 y 4Huge mixed shawarma sandwiches with chicken, beef and falafel. Very cheap, delicious and satisfying.
Restaurante Libanés Cedroaddress: Avenida 2, Calles 5 y 7Excellent service and amazing Lebanese food.
Shawarma Hassanaddress: Calle 9, Avenidas 4 y 6Shawarma, falafel and other Lebanese dishes.
Pizza and pastas
La Pentola D'Oroaddress: Avenida 2, Calles 5 y 7Authentic Italian dishes cooked by its Italian owner. Pasta specialists. Offers pizza at night.
Lung Fungaddress: Avenida 4, Calles 5 y 7Chinese. Huge spring rolls (tacos chinos) and dishes.
El Barco de los MariscosStaple Costa Rican seafood served in a beautiful mid-20th-century house.
La CandelariaBeef, steak and crepes, charismatic service and high quality dishes.
KoB Caféphone: +506 8745 4819Vegetarian and vegan café. Offers lunch, dinners and desserts.
Casona de mi TierraStaple food of Costa Rica, a bit on the expensive side.
Soda Paco AlfaroA typical "Soda", staple Costa Rican food and good service. Their original location is in the Mercado Central de Heredia.
phone: +506 2267-7406, +506 2267-6481A typical Costa Rican restaurant with nice view, plenty of outside games for kids and a medium museum of antiques.
FresasCosta Rica's equivalent of an North American diner restaurant. Huge desserts and sandwiches; ask for the Lorenzo sandwich.
Casona del MaízAll and any of the many corn- or maize-based dishes can be found here.
Sushi Homeaddress: Plaza HerediaA popular sushi place among college students and office workers.
Sushi Nipponaddress: Plaza HerediaA popular sushi place among college students and office workers.
Ichibanaddress: Paseo de las FloresAn upscale sushi chain.
Makizuaddress: Plaza Roble SabanaThis restaurant serves Japanese, Filipino and Korean dishes.
Costumbres Argentinasaddress: Calle 2, Avenidas 1 y 3Delicious empanadas, beef dishes and pizza.
CubitoCuban staple food, here is where you can get the Cuban version of Gallo Pinto, Congrí.
Fiesta MexicanaA veteran restaurant in Heredia with many years preparing delicious Mexican food.
La Parrillita de PepeColombian fast food, huge hot dogs and hamburgers.
Ceviche del Reyaddress: Santo Domingo, Avenida 3, Calles Central y 1Great Peruvian restaurant, delicious ceviche and seafood, many other dishes like arroz chaufa and pastas are available.
Pizza and pastas
phone: +506 2560-6025Huge pizzas, specialists in delivery. Flat rate pizza price according to size not ingredients.
L'Antica Romaphone: +506 2262-9073address: Calle 7, Avenida 7Good Italian food at a decent price.
Tasty Pizzaphone: +506 2560-8787address: Avenida 4, Calles 5 y 7Thick and juicy pizza at an affordable price.
Bistro de Chamonixphone: +506 2267-6222address: Hotel Chalet TirolInternational cuisine.
phone: +506 2267-6683One of the oldest Lebanese restaurants in Costa Rica, famous countrywide due to the amazing view and the belly dance and live music.
Ganeshaphone: +506 8379-7951This is an Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant. Great hummus, baba ganoush, seekh kebab, chicken tikka masala and lassis.
Green Dragon Pub & Grillphone: +506 2267 6222At Hotel Chalet Tirol. 6 km north of San Rafael de Heredia.
Boulevar RelaxVery 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.
address: Calle 1, Avenidas 11 and 13Bar and restaurant with seasonal craft beer offerings and artisan made food.
Chichi's Sport Bar & GrillAmerican sports bar, with a lot of huge screens all tuned to sports shows, hot wings, hamburgers and the like.
Hooligan'saddress: Paseo de las FloresSports bar with good selection of beers and huge hamburgers.
Hootersaddress: Plaza BratsiYes, the American chain.
phone: +506 2267-6000Atop 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.
phone: +506 2267 6222Swiss chalets in the mountains and the international restaurant "Los Tiroleses".
phone: +506 2266-1003Cozy mountain cabins.
phone: +506 2266-1003Cozy mountain cabins (sister location to Las Ardillas).
phone: +506 2269-8724address: Birri, Santa BarbaraMany 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.
phone: +506 2266-0012address: Birri, Barva, Heredia
phone: +506 2266-1732address: Birrí, HerediaWith Italian restaurant "Las Tres Marías" and private hiking trails with access to a stream near by.
phone: +506 2268-8856, +506 2268-7026address: Route 32Cozy 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.
Hotel Herediaaddress: Calle 6, Avenidas 3 and 5One of the cheapest hotels with adequate interior. Close to Parque Central.
phone: +506 2260-9292Probably the most comfortable place in downtown Heredia. It is half a block from Parque Central.
phone: +506 2560-7161address: Calle 7 and Avenida 11, Heredia
phone: +506 2260-2905address: Calle 7 and Avenida 7, Heredia
phone: +506 2261-3649address: Calles 4-6, Avenida 8, Heredia
phone: +506 2244-1414Sophisticated hotel in Santo Domingo, near INBio Parque and between Heredia and San José cities.
phone: +506 2260-3176, +506 2261-3528, +506 8394-9685address: Route 113Between the city and the mountains of San Rafael.
- 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.