Santo Domingo de Heredia Survival Guide
by Vanessa Johnson on Thursday, August 16, 2018
To truly get away from it all and enjoy life at a relaxed pace, surrounded by nature, set your sights on Santo Domingo de Heredia. Being surrounded by coffee plantations means you can start every day with a cup of local coffee so smooth and delicious you just might become a morning person.
As you walk around town you’ll quickly notice the Spanish influence on the beautiful architecture and design of the buildings and homes. The towering white basilica of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, built in the 19th century, is especially impressive.
Every August 8, on the feast day of St. Dominic (Santo Domingo), and October 7, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary (la Virgen del Rosario), the city holds a special festival celebrated with traditional games, sporting events, dances, fireworks, bands, masquerade parades, and ox herder parades. Did you know that UNESCO has recognized Costa Rican ox herding and oxcart traditions as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity? Oxcarts were used to transport coffee beans from the areas in the green central valley (including Santo Domingo) over the mountains to the Pacific coast, an arduous trip that could take up to two weeks. The festivals are also a good time to try the local food, like tamales, gallo pinto (rice and beans), and tortillas.
Santo Domingo is well under an hour away from Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of Costa Rica’s many green expanses and home to more than 500 bird species, 120 mammal species, and 600 plant species. You will see the flora and fauna change as you hike along one of the many trails. Remember to bring hiking boots and a rain jacket: this is a rainforest, after all!
Culture in the Capital
If you’re ready for a change of pace, the capital of Costa Rica, San José, is only a few miles away, so it’s easy to pop over on a bus in less than 30 minutes and enjoy a more urban environment. Live music and dance, theaters, parks, and museums are just some of the attractions that bring people to San José. You’ll also enjoy a wide variety of restaurants and cafés and the bustling Central Market, where you’ll find all sorts of typical foods and souvenirs.
Take advantage of the time you’re here by studying at don Quijote in Santo Domingo de Heredia. We limit our classes to a maximum of eight students to ensure you’re getting the attention and support you need to learn as much Spanish as possible as you build strong ties with other international students.