During the 19th century, La Ciudad de las Flores (the City of the Flowers) was home to a cafetalero (coffee grower) aristocracy that made its fortune exporting Costa Rica’s premium blend. Today the historic center retains some of this well-bred air, with a leafy main square, and low-lying buildings reflecting Spanish-colonial architectural style.
Although only 11km from San José, Heredia is – in personality – at a remove from the grit and grime of the capital. Yet it still maintains a cosmopolitan vibe – largely due to the high-tech corporations that have settled amid the area’s coffee fincas. In addition, the Universidad Nacional (National University) keeps things a touch bohemian, and on any afternoon, you’re bound to find local bars and cafes abuzz with young folk idling away their time.
Heredia is also an excellent base from which to explore the little-visited Volcán Barva, within the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo.