International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Getting Around Heredia

Most of Heredia is easily traveled on foot, which is often the most convenient and interesting way to explore the town. Heredia is fairly compact and sights, cafes, and shopping can all be accessed conveniently on foot. Some homestays, are located within walking distance to the university and various restaurants and cafes. The city is fairly hilly, so get ready for a good workout. It is important to remember when navigating Heredia, that Costa Ricans do not use addresses as we know them in the United States. Locations are known by landmarks and by distance to that place from various landmarks. So be prepared to locate places based on this. To learn more about different ways to navigate Heredia please read the descriptions below.

Buses between Heredia and San José run every day and night, and frequency depends on the time of day. The ride generally lasts about 25 minutes, depending on traffic, and is inexpensive. Costa Rica has an extensive and inexpensive bus system for travel both throughout the country and within cities like Heredia. There are several levels of bus service available, and it will vary depending on where you are and how far you are going in the country. Prices are generally fixed no matter how far you go, and price cards are located in the front of the bus. In Heredia, payment for the bus rides is made to the driver upon entering the bus. Confirm with the driver the destination before you get on the bus. Outside of Heredia, bus service in the Central Valley is similar to the service in Heredia. Buses traveling from Heredia or San José to the far points of the country are somewhat similar to Greyhound buses in the United States. The buses generally are not air-conditioned, but are usually clean and in good working order. Long-distance bus tickets may be bought in advance (some must be), and this is recommended for travel over the weekend. Rural buses stop more frequently, stopping often to pick up the local farmer heading to market with his vegetables or other items for sale. Your resident directors will have bus schedules, stops, and station information available in the ISA office

Taxis are the most common way for students to get around the city. They are very inexpensive and are very convenient as long as you follow some general guidelines and use common sense.

-Be aware of independent drivers, called Piratas, who may offer you a ride. All official taxis are orange/red and have a yellow triangle on the side.

-Some taxi drivers, realizing that you are not a local, will try to overcharge you (just as with anywhere in the world). It is easy to avoid this. All official taxis should have a meter inside, called a "maría". When you get in, simply ask the taxi driver "¿Tiene maría?" o "¿puede poner la maría?", and he will turn on the meter, which will calculate a correct and fair charge for your trip.

-Before you get into the cab, you should tell the driver where you want to go to make sure they know how to get there.

-If you find a taxi driver that you like, ask for his card. The next time you need a taxi, call ahead and request him/her.

-If at any time you feel unsafe in a taxi do not hesitate to ask the driver to stop, pay him, and then get out of the taxi.