Once the coffee capital of Costa Rica, Heredia
has managed to retain a provincial quality, despite its 11-km. proximity
to San Jose.
"The City of Flowers," Heredia was
founded in 1706, and is the country's fourth largest. Downtown is a
jumping-off point to the charming mountain towns that dot its periphery,
where tradition is reflected in the faces, customs and architecture.
Buses leave from San Jose Parque La Merced, near the Catholic church
of the same name. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
What to do?
An 1876 brick fort tower makes a great landmark
in downtown Heredia on Av. Ctrl., just north of tree-lined Central Park.
The tower, featuring comical wrong-way peepholes, was never actually
used in battle and is closed. Nearby, the 1843 home of former president
Alfredo Gonzalez now houses a small collection of local art in Casa
de la Cultura. Overlooking Central Park, Church of Immaculate Conception
showcases European stained glass and historic bells imported from Cuzco,
In Barva de Heredia, beautiful Museum of Popular Culture is open
8 am to 4 pm. daily. It was built using ancient adobe process
called bahareque, features exhibits depicting Costa Rica traditions
in colonial times.
In the hills in San Rafael de Heredia, Monte
de la Cruz lookout point sports huge cross and picnic area, and Castillo
Country Club offers fine dining, country's only ice skating rink,
Hiking to Barva Volcano's crater lake in Braulio Carrillo National Park is tough but beautiful trek through
rain and cloud forest. Take San Jose de la Montana bus behind Central
Market to Sacramento and start two-hour hike to park entrance, or drive
up in 4-WD.
Plaza Real Cariari has 70 stores, 16 Outlets, food court, off
the General Canas Highway, northwest of San Jose. Monty's Recreation
Center in San Joaquin de Flores has the country's largest roller-skating
ring, weightlifting gym, kiddie ring, play area, cafeteria.
Take a drive through Heredia's surrounding villages and up narrow mountain
paths for spectacular views of Central Valley, area farms. Charming
central parks in Barva, San Isidro, Santa Barbara, Santo Domingo, San
Rafael, San Joaquin de Flores and San Jose de la Montana all good places
sit and watch small-town life.
Banco de los Mariscos delicious fresh seafood
in Santa Barbara, Penguins creative mexican/american menu, eclectic
atmosphere in Santo Domingo-Fresas near the National University,
lunch menu, bocas at the bar. Le Petit Paris great French cuisine
specializing in crepes, garden side dining. Añoranzas moderately
priced rustic restaurant/bar, tica fare in San Rafael. Las Tinajas
Tica favorite, friendly atmosphere, live music on thursdays. Champs
Elysee Discotheque live music, tues-friday, occasional special
occasions, American favorite.