About Heredia, Costa Rica
- Population: approx. 500,000
- Distance from San José: 5 miles
- Distance from the Pacific: 49 miles
Central Heredia is a great place to play with your host family!
Photo credit: Haley Tucker
Heredia is a quaint, colonial city nestled in the foothills above San José‚ the capital of Costa Rica. The city is surrounded by coffee plantations and ranches and is one of the gateways to the majestic Poás Volcano. The climate is temperate, with average year-round temperatures of 70°-80°F. Rainfall is spread throughout the year, but the rainiest period is May to October. Only 12 kilometers from the international airport and 25 minutes by bus from downtown San José and its one million inhabitants, Heredia offers the peace and rural beauty of a smaller city, while providing easy access to the activities of the capital. There is always something to do in Heredia, and it allows the benefit of a college city while offering a short, affordable bus ride to beautiful places such as INBIO Parque (a small local zoo), Monte de la Cruz (a hike to a beautiful lookout), and La Paz waterfall gardens. Heredia is central enough that it is an easy bus ride to all corners and coasts of the country.
La feria (farmer's market) -- a place where people can find almost anything for a reasonable price.
Photo credit: USAC Costa Rica
Heredia was founded in 1705 and is known as the Ciudad de las Flores (City of Flowers). Beautiful mountain scenery, lush vegetation, and gardens are abundant, as are a variety of Farmer’s Markets bustling with local Ticos and full of fresh vegetable and fruit. Heredia Central is where shops, restaurants, and cafes are located; Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, where USAC courses are held, is situated only a few blocks from downtown Heredia. It’s surrounded by different neighborhoods, each with their own festivals, schools, and rhythms.
Churches are usuallly a hub of activity most days of the week, but especially on the weekend.
Photo credit: USAC Costa Rica
Parque Central is the main historic square, surrounded by superb colonial architecture, and full of the downtown activity of cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops, and stores. It is common for the locals to sit in the park and enjoy the nice weather that Costa Rica offers. Most students in homestays will live in a neighborhood surrounding Heredia Central. Landmarks including Heredia’s historic La Immaculada Conception church, a music temple, and El Fortin—a wonderful colonial tower of the old Spanish fort.
The Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (USAC’s host university), as well as two other universities, create the feel of a college town in which you are typically surrounded by Costa Rican college students. The UNA campus is only a few blocks away from downtown Heredia. This campus allows USAC students to interact with locals and experience the culture. Here USAC students are invited to participate in classes with locals, take dance classes, play exciting games of soccer, and even have the opportunity to volunteer at local sites around Heredia.