If you're looking for an inexpensive way to explore the country and see the stunning scenery without renting a car once you arrive in Costa Rica, you can take the commuter train from the capital of San Jose to Belén, in the province of Heredia.
Slice of life
The San Jose-Heredia train line departs from Estación del Pacifico and takes about 30 minutes to reach Belén. This small city is surrounded by mountains, offering amazing views and plenty of hiking trails for active visitors. Much of Heredia's economy is sustained by agricultural production, including coffee plantations, onion, tomato and corn crops, as well as livestock. The locals in this region are friendly and hospitable, and there are plenty of exciting activities to indulge in throughout the area.
Make a splash
One of the most popular attractions in the Belén area is the Ojo de Agua Spa. Boasting several swimming pools, the spa derives most of its water supply from a subterranean spring that provides almost 7,000 gallons of fresh water every day. Some locals believe that the water from the spring has healing properties, and Ojo de Agua is the perfect place to take a dip after a long day hiking through the mountains or wandering the city's streets.
Belén boasts a thriving arts scene, and visitors can enjoy parades, festivals and street theater year-round. The city hosts large events to coincide with many of Costa Rica's national festivals, offering you the chance to see authentic Tico celebrations. Belén is also home to dozens of unique bazaars, market stalls and shops - the perfect place to grab a souvenir of your trip.
Flavors of Central America
Of course, exploring Belén can help you work up quite an appetite. If you're hungry, why not check out some of the local restaurants?
El Sesteo offers a wide variety of traditional Costa Rican food, including gallo pinto and casados. Many of the items on the menu incorporate a Latin American twist, and you can also choose from an extensive range of tapas or boca dishes as they are known in Costa Rica.
For a taste of home, head to El Rodeo, a Texas-style steakhouse that serves a variety of barbecue and American-style cuisine, or try some international dishes at Inhiban, a Japanese restaurant, or Pan e Vino, an Italian eatery renowned for its delicious pasta.