Just 11km northeast of San José lies the lively city of HEREDIA, boosted by the student population of the Universidad Nacional (UNA), at the eastern end of town. The town centre is a little run-down, with the Parque Central flanked by tall palms and a few historical buildings. Overlooking the Parque is the Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción, whose unexciting squat design – “seismic Baroque” – has kept it standing through several earthquakes since 1797. North of the parque, the old colonial tower of El Fortín, “The Fortress” (no access), features odd gun slats that fan out and widen from the inside to the exterior, giving it a medieval look.
Although there’s not a great deal to see in town, Heredia is a natural jumping-off point for excursions to Volcán Barva, and many tourists also come for the Café Britt tour, hosted by the nation’s largest coffee exporter, about 3km north of the town centre.