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8.8km (5.5 miles) north of San José

Founded in 1706 on the flanks of the impressive Barva Volcano, Heredia is known as “Ciudad de las Flores,” City of Flowers, though that’s reportedly because of the large number of people here with the name Flores. It’s also said to represent the beauty of women from Heredia. Of all the cities in the Central Valley, Heredia has the most colonial feel—you’ll still see adobe buildings with Spanish tile roofs along narrow streets. Heredia is also the site of the National University, and you’ll find some nice coffee shops and bookstores near the school.

Surrounding Heredia is an intricate maze of picturesque villages and towns, including Santa Bárbara, Santo Domingo, Barva, and San Joaquín de Flores. The hills and fields surrounding these towns contain some of the best and most fertile coffee plantations in Costa Rica.