Santo Domingo de Heredia is without a doubt one of the loveliest little towns in Costa Rica, one of the very few left with a colonial air and look! While it is only a few minutes away from San Jose, this picturesque and delightful town has a quiet and relaxed atmosphere and pace while the locals are as easy going as their little Pueblo.
Located roughly between the city of Heredia and the Capital of San Jose, it is surrounded by mountains and great coffee plantations, indeed most of the coffee of Costa Rica comes from the hills of Heredia ! Santo Domingo is attached onto the hills of Zurqui, at the gate of Braulio Carillo National Park, one of the largest and certainly most beautiful rainforest of the country.
Costa Rica is not known for its culture, or its architecture, but for its natural beauty and amazing flora and fauna. Santo Domingo offers us Spanish Colonial architecture and history. Its churches are quite stunning; don’t miss the Rosario Church that stands out with its unusual Morris style. Most of Santo Domingo was built during the coffee era, between 1860 and 1930; the houses are mostly made of adobe, so typical of these days with their charming interior gardens set in the centre of the properties.
More and more tourists are choosing to stay in Santo Domingo as an alternative to San Jose and stay there as a base camp while visiting the country. This provides them with a clean and quiet atmosphere, in contrast with the chaos of the capital. Probably the best hotel in Santo Domingo is the Bougainvillea. This hotel gets its name for the abundance of bougainvillea flourishing in its gardens. The place itself is not unlike a cozy British pub, with a warm and cozy atmosphere, and small rooms in where to sit to enjoy a drink or a meal. This is also a very good place to eat; the cuisine is international and very well prepared, many people just go there to eat.
Santo Domingo is also home to the famous InBio Park, short for the Institute of Biodiversity. Do make this a must if you are interested in Costa Rica’s unique biological diversity. This educational park will give you an insight of what is to be found here, the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. It is excellent for children as it emphasizes on an awareness of Costa Rica’s indigenous animals and plants, showing no less than 600 species of plants, 50 species of birds, a mesmerizing butterfly farm, snakes, turtles, iguanas sloths, frogs and more! There is a research center and a small museum. It is well presented and set and with its lovely trails and pick-nick areas, it makes a perfect day out. InBio’s trails are all accessible for the handicaps.
Santo Domingo is a good alternative if you like a little history and enjoy architecture, in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. It also enjoys a good climate all for those who prefer a little cooler weather, however, it has the reputation of being very sunny!