15 Exciting Things to Do in Monteverde, Costa Rica in 2023

woman walking across small wooden bridge in Monteverde Costa Rica
Hiking in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde Costa Rica is the top eco-tourism destination in the country and a must-visit along your Costa Rica itinerary.

At the top of my list of best things to do in Monteverde Costa Rica is a day spent in Selvatura Adventure Park. Fly down a Monteverde zipline and stroll across the top hanging bridges Monteverde offers. Selvatura Park also allows you an up-close look at Costa Rica sloths and several species of butterflies in their sanctuaries.

If a quiet nature hike is more your speed, spot the elusive resplendent quetzal along the trails of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve or observe 80% of Monteverde’s wildlife at night on a Monteverde night tour. Admire the rushing waters of the El Tigre Waterfalls on a half-day hike.

For something a little different, partake in a Monteverde coffee tour to learn how one of Costa Rica’s top exports is grown, harvested and produced.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

Hotels in Monteverde offer something for everyone. From luxury lodges tucked into the hills of the Monteverde Cloud Forest to cheap and cheerful guesthouses located in the centre of Santa Elena Costa Rica, the beating heart and main town of the Monteverde region.

This detailed guide will give you the low down on how to get there from popular Costa Rica destinations (like the La Fortuna to Monteverde route, and the San Jose to Monteverde route), the best way to get around Monteverde, the ideal time to visit and a little about Monteverde Costa Rica weather, in general.

This Monteverde Costa Rica travel guide will also give you information on the top Monteverde hotels for all budgets and preferences, the best Monteverde restaurants, talk about the difference between the region of Monteverde and the town of Santa Elena Costa Rica, and more!

Monteverde Costa Rica
Quick Guide

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*I used the single-trip policy in Costa Rica

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Luxury | Hotel Belmar
Unique | Chira Glamping
Midrange | Valle Escondido Hotel
Economy | Eddy’s Place
Hostel |Selina Monteverde

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Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour
Selvatura Adventure Park Ziplining Tour
Monteverde Rainforest Night Walk
Don Juan Coffee Tour
El Tigre Waterfalls Tour

This Monteverde Costa Rica travel guide was made as a one-stop shop for all the details you will need to plan your trip. There is A LOT of information in this post, so if you are looking for something in particular, I’d encourage you to use the table of contents below.

road surrounded by greenery and telephone poles in Monteverde Costa Rica
Just outside of the town of Santa Elena Costa Rica in the Monteverde region

Best Things to Do in Monteverde
Costa Rica

The majority of Monteverde Costa Rica things to do are based around the beautiful and mystical Monteverde Cloud Forest. Whether that be the wildlife-rich Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, ziplining through the Monteverde canopy, or strolling across some of the best hanging bridges in Costa Rica, nature will be the focus here.

Other top Monteverde activities include witnessing Monteverde’s nocturnal animals on a Monteverde Night Walk, a hike to the El Tigre Waterfalls, learning about Costa Rica’s top export on a coffee tour, and visiting a sanctuary for Costa Rica sloths.

Here is a list of top things to do Monteverde Costa Rica:

1. Ziplining

tandem ziplining above the Monteverde canopy
Tandem zipline at Selvatura Adventure Park

Monteverde Costa Rica is a popular destination for nature lovers and Adventure seekers alike, and one of the most exciting activities in the region is ziplining. The Monteverde zipline course at Selvatura Park takes you through the scenic Monteverde Cloud Forest canopy, where you can enjoy views of the lush rainforest. 

Ziplining in Monteverde Costa Rica is an adrenaline-pumping experience that is not to be missed and was one of my favourite Monteverde things to do. Zip across 8 lines, try out the tarzan swing and maybe even take a crack at flying superman-style!

Spend a Day at Selvatura Park

My recommendation is to get the full-day Selvatura Adventure Park package which includes ziplining, hanging bridges, a sloth sanctuary, a butterfly garden and a reptile exhibit.

WHERE | Selvatura Adventure Park

READ MORE | Monteverde Zipline Adventure at Selvatura Park

2. Hanging Bridges

suspension bridge fading off into Monteverde rainforest in Costa Rica
Hanging Bridges Monteverde

The hanging bridges of Monteverde are not your typical bridges. For starters, they’re hanging, which is pretty darn impressive. Jokes aside, the hanging bridges Monteverde offers allow for a unique and special way to experience the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which the region is best known for.

Some of the top hanging bridges in Costa Rica can be found at Selvatura Adventure Park with 8 suspension bridges in total. Lengths and heights of the hanging bridges vary from 2m-30m high and 50-600m long. 

READ MORE | Monteverde Hanging Bridges at Selvatura Adventure Park

Costa Rica hanging bridges are super safe and made with sturdy materials like steel and concrete. If you are scared of heights, rest assured that the hanging bridges provide a safe experience. Just be sure to hold on tight when crossing!

The hanging bridges combined with ziplining make a great day of fun.

I also really loved the Mistico Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna

3. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde rainforest canopy with mist in Monteverde Costa Rica
A misty morning in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Costa Rica. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has several well-marked trails (including a hanging bridge!) that wind through the forest and is home to an incredible array of plant and animal life.

Its high elevation means that hikers can also enjoy breathtaking views of the continental divide

READ MORE | Detailed Guide to Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde is also a renowned bird-watching destination, and it’s not uncommon to see exotic species like the resplendent quetzal during a hike. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Monteverde is one of the most popular places to go hiking in Costa Rica.

TIP | Make sure to check out the Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery on your way out of the preserve!

WHERE | Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

If hiking is your thing, you can choose to visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve for additional hiking in Monteverde. 

Hike up to an epic viewpoint on Tortuga Island!

4. Monteverde Night Walk

green pit viper wrapped around a branch at night on the Monteverde Night Tour
Pit Viper on the Monteverde Night Tour

Monteverde at night is a whole different world. The Monteverde night tour will take you on a journey through the rainforest after the sun has set over the Monteverde Cloud Forest. With trails only lit by your flashlight, you’ll be guided by an expert naturalist who knows the Monteverde rainforest like the back of their hand. 

Monteverde is home to a large and diverse range of nocturnal animals (80% of Monteverde wildlife comes out at night!), and on the night tour, you’ll have the chance to see them in their natural habitat.

Book the Monteverde Night Walk

I spotted scorpions, tarantulas, frogs, lizards, snakes and birds on my Monteverde Night Walk, and you can even have a chance to see a sloth and a few other furry Monteverde Cloud Forest animals. 

Monteverde is one of the most biodiverse areas in Costa Rica, and the night tour in Monteverde is the perfect way to experience it. 

READ MORE | The Best Monteverde Night Tour

5. Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica Monteverde

sloth hanging upside down in greenery in the Costa Rica sloth sanctuary in Monteverde
Sloth hanging out in the Sloth Sanctuary at Selvatura Park

The Monteverde sloth sanctuary is located in Selvatura Park and is a must-visit for anyone who loves these adorably slow creatures. The sanctuary houses orphaned sloths that have been rescued from the wild and provide them with a safe place to live. 

Visitors can take a guided tour of the sanctuary, and learn a few fun facts about Costa Rica sloths from a knowledgeable guide (spoiler, they aren’t always slow!).

And, of course, there are plenty of opportunities to get up close as they laze the day away in their sanctuary home. So whether you’re a die-hard sloth fan or simply looking for a unique experience at a top sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, be sure to add it to your Costa Rica itinerary.

Love wildlife? Check out the best things to do in La Fortuna

6. Monteverde Butterfly Garden

If you love butterflies, then a visit to the Monteverde butterfly garden is a must! Located in Selvatura Park, the butterfly garden is home to over 30 species of butterflies, including one of the largest and most beautiful butterflies in the world, the Blue Morpho butterfly.

The butterfly garden in Monteverde Costa Rica, with its striped dome interior, is a great place to learn about these amazing little creatures, from their lifecycle to their living habits. Have a chance to get up close to many colourful varieties living in their natural habitat. It’s an unforgettable experience and one that’s sure to delight kiddos to adults, alike.

WHERE | Monteverde Butterfly Garden at Selvatura Park

7. Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

small green hummingbirds around a red water feeder outside the Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica
Hummingbirds at the Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

Looking for what to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica for bird enthusiasts? The Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery is a one-of-a-kind gallery, devoted to the fascinating hummingbird (or ‘Colibri’ in Spanish). What I loved most about visiting the gallery was the up close and personal encounter with many hummingbirds flitting around out front of the souvenir shop. 

Make sure to check out the shop for all of your hummingbird souvenir needs, from feeders to paintings and so much more. Perfect after a morning hiking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve.

WHERE | Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery

8. Monteverde Coffee Tour

light, medium and dark roasted coffee beans in a tray while learning about coffee in Costa Rica
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Costa Rica Coffee

Ahh, the smell of a freshly brewed cup of joe… is there anything better? If you’re a coffee lover like me, then a Monteverde coffee tour is a must-do while you’re in Costa Rica. The Don Juan Coffee Tour offers a great overview of the coffee-making process, from picking the cherries to roasting the beans. 

Book the Don Juan Coffee Tour

The tour takes place on a working farm in the lush rainforest of Monteverde. Along the way, you will learn about the different steps involved in getting that perfect cup of coffee. And of course, you’ll also get to sample some of the delicious coffee made right there onsite. I particularly loved the traditional ‘sock’ method of brewing the coffee, too.

Chocolate more your scene? Read this guide on the best La Fortuna Chocolate Tour

If you can’t decide where along your itinerary you should take a Costa Rica coffee tour, I’d recommend Monteverde overtaking one in La Fortuna (coffee doesn’t grow in La Fortuna!).

WHERE | Don Juan Coffee Tour Monteverde 

9. El Tigre Waterfalls Monteverde

trails to the El Tigre Waterfall in Monteverde Costa Rica
Trails in Monteverde

Costa Rica is home to an incredible variety of natural wonders, including more than a thousand waterfalls. Among the most impressive is El Tigre, located in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a 30-minute drive north of Santa Elena

The 3.25 mile (5.2km) intermediate level trail will showcase four waterfalls and nine hanging and stationary bridges. The trail is very well-marked and easy to follow, making for a great half-day waterfall hike in Monteverde.

Check Price + Availability of El Tigre Waterfalls Tour

If you happen to be visiting in the rainy season between May and October, the El Tigre Waterfall will be at its best, bursting and overflowing with water. However, even during the dry season, El Tigre is an impressive sight, and well worth a visit for any visitor to Costa Rica.

WHERE | El Tigre Waterfalls, Monteverde

Check out the La Fortuna Waterfall and Rio Celeste Waterfall too

10. Bungee Jump Monteverde

Bungee Jumping Monteverde with panoramic views of the rainforest
Panoramic Views of Monteverde Cloud Forest

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Then bungee jumping in Monteverde Costa Rica is definitely for you! Nestled in the lush rainforests of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve at the Extremo Park, bungee jumping off the 143m (469ft) platform (the highest in Costa Rica and Central America!) is an exhilarating experience. 

Check Price on Extremo Bungee Jumping

With experienced staff on hand to make sure you’re safely harnessed, you can relax and enjoy the stunning views of the rainforest canopy and beyond. Bungee jumping is one of the most fun-packed Monteverde things to do.

NOTE | Maximum weight on the Monteverde bungee is 110 kilos (243lbs).

WHERE | Monteverde Extremo Park

Check out La Fortuna – the adventure capital of Costa Rica

11. Horseback Riding

Quietly explore a Monteverde Cloud Forest private reserve on this 2-hour horseback riding adventure.

With sweeping views of the Gulf of Nicoya and its pacific islands, pass by coffee and sugarcane plantations, through primary and secondary tropical forests, and witness a variety of local wildlife like toucans, bellbirds, green parrots, blue-crowned motmots, among other colourful birds. Also, keep an eye out for monkeys! 

Horseback Riding Monteverde Tour

Horseback riding in Monteverde is a great way to see the rainforest without the strain on your feet and joints. 

Santa Teresa Costa Rica also has some beautiful horseback riding excursions

12. Frog Pond

small frog with red body and blue legs perched on a mossy tree in Monteverde Costa Rica
Blue Jeans Frog in Monteverde, Costa Rica

A short walk outside of downtown Santa Elena Monteverde, you can find the Monteverde Frog Pond.

The Frog Pond is home to a large variety of frog species, including the red-eyed tree frog, the blue-jean frog, the blue jean frog and the poison dark frog. Explore the many habits, learning about frog’s ecology and ecosystem. Among the top things to do in Monteverde Costa Rica for kids!

WHERE | Frog Pond Monteverde

13. Watch Sunset from El Establo Lookout

sunset over the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
The Panoramic View from the El Establo Monteverde Viewpoint

Costa Rica is famous for its biodiverse ecosystem and natural beauty, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Monteverde cloud forest. As the sun sets, the sky erupts in a spectrum of oranges, pinks, and purples, providing a stunning backdrop to the lush greenery below. No better way to end a great day of Monteverde hiking and adventures

There are a few different lookouts scattered throughout the Monteverde region, but my favourite is the one at the top of the El Establo Mountain Hotel property. From here, you can see for miles in every direction, and the panoramic views are simply breathtaking. I also really loved the sunsets from the coastline towns of Santa Teresa and Nosara.

NOTE | You can enter the El Establo property free of charge, just follow the road up the mountain

WHERE | Monteverde Sunset Lookout

14. Watch Birds on Stella’s Back Patio

wood table with succulents at Stella's Monteverde Costa Rica
Stella’s Monteverde

I had the pleasure of snagging a seat on Stella’s back patio for lunch on one of my days in Monteverde Costa Rica. And, boy, am I glad. The variety of birds and small animals that came to visit during my one-hour lunch was plentiful, with Colibri (hummingbirds) flitting about their feeder and squirrels running across roof lines. 

It’s a quaint little experience not to be missed. Make sure to have a look at their well-maintained succulent garden and try the house quiche and iced tea!

WHERE | Stella’s Monteverde

15. Monteverde Art House Gallery

small wood building surrounded by greenery in Costa Rica Monteverde
The Monteverde Art House Gallery

While walking east on Road 620 you are bound to come across the picturesque spot that is the Monteverde Art House Gallery. Surrounded by a scenic little garden, it makes a perfect pit stop along your walk. 

Discover local jewelry artists and painters and take something home for family and friends, or simply to commemorate your trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica!

WHERE |Monteverde Art House Gallery

Best Monteverde Tours

the Monteverde canopy looking down from hanging bridges
The Monteverde Canopy

Planning out every detail of your Costa Rica itinerary can be stressful, that’s where guided tours come in. With the help of a knowledgeable local guide, you can experience the best of Monteverde through one or more Monteverde Costa Rica tours. 

Without a doubt, a tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve is a must on your visit to the region. The naturalist will provide you with information about the area, plus point out birds (Resplendent Quetzal!), animals and insects that you normally wouldn’t see. 

Then, experience the wildlife of Monteverde in a different and exciting way, via a Monteverde night walk. Since 80% of Monteverde’s wildlife is nocturnal, this is a fantastic way to round out your trip to Monteverde Costa Rica.

And, of course, a day spent in Selvatura Adventure Park is a must for all you adrenaline seekers. Zip through the Monteverde canopy on 8 ziplines, and appreciate nature while hiking some of the top hanging bridges in Costa Rica.

Top Picks for Monteverde Tours
Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour
Selvatura Adventure Park Ziplining Tour
Monteverde Rainforest Night Walk

Other Cool Things to Do in Monteverde
Don Juan Coffee Tour
El Tigre Waterfalls Tour

Best Monteverde Hotels in Costa Rica

Selina Monteverde wood lodge building with peaked roof and jacuzzi one of the best Monteverde hotels
Selina Monteverde

Let’s take a look at where to stay in Monteverde Costa Rica. It is not uncommon to stay on the outskirts of Santa Elena or further into the Monte Verde Cloud Forest, depending on your preferences. 

If you don’t have access to a rental car, are looking to socialize and would prefer more economical Monteverde hotels and guesthouses, you can stay in Santa Elena town centre. And, if you are looking for a more tranquil environment, with mid-range to luxury Monteverde resorts, I’d recommend opting for a Monteverde hotel outside of downtown Santa Elena

The Best Monteverde Hotels: Detailed Guide

When it comes to the style of Monteverde Costa Rica hotels, you can imagine similar to the wood lodges in the Swiss Alps. 1-3 story dwellings made with horizontal wood slatting or logs, surrounded by beautiful Monteverde rainforest vistas seen through large windows and from personal balconies. 

Monteverde hotels in Costa Rica offer some of the most luxurious hotels in the country, but you can most definitely find something suited for families and groups of friends with all budgets

Here are my top Monteverde hotel recommendations:

Best Luxury Hotels in Monteverde

Hotel Belmar via Booking.com

Hotel Belmar Costa Rica (Top Pick!)

Features: Mountain views, on-site brewery + juice bar, Organic restaurant + yoga studio

Best For: Couples, Small Families with Mature Kids

Distance from Town: 6-minute drive

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens via Booking

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

Features: Heated outdoor pool, onsite restaurant + bar, extensive garden

Best For: Couples, Small Families with Older Kids

Distance from Town: 3-minute drive

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Monteverde

Valle Escondido Nature Reserve Hotel via Booking.com

Valle Escondido Reserve Hotel (Top Pick!)

Features: Private reserve with trail access, eco-tourism property, farm-to-table cafe

Best For: Couples, Families, Groups of Friends, Solo Traveler

Distance from Town: 6-minute drive

Hotel Poco a Poco via Booking

Hotel Poco a Poco

Features: Swimming pool and hot tub, onsite spa, restaurant and bar

Best For: Families, Travellers without a rental car

Distance from Town: 6-minute walk to town centre

Best Economy Hotels in Monteverde

Selina Monteverde via Booking.com

Selina Monteverde (Top Pick!)

Features: Coworking space, dorm and private rooms, restaurant, bar, jacuzzis and fitness centre, social gatherings

Best For: Digital Nomads, Young Adults, Socializing, Solo Travellers

Distance from Town: 12-minute drive

Eddy’s Place via Booking

Eddy’s Place

Features: Exceptional breakfast included, communal area and complimentary parking

Best For: Couples, Groups of Friends, Small Families

Distance from Town: 2-minute drive, 11-minute walk

Other Costa Rica Hotel Guides
Best Hotels in La Fortuna
Best Hotels in Santa Teresa
Best Hotels in Nosara
Best Hotels in Montezuma

colourful sunset in Monteverde Costa Rica with panoramic views
Panoramic Views of the Nicoya Gulf from Monteverde

Where is Monteverde Costa Rica?

Where is Monteverde in Costa Rica? The region of Monteverde and the town of Santa Elena Costa Rica are located at the northern point of the Puntarenas Province in the hills of the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, and where the Alajuela, Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces converge. 

The town of Santa Elena, the central tourist hub of the Monteverde Costa Rica region, is located ~145km (90 miles) or a 2.5 hour drive from San Jose, ~110km (68 miles): or a 3 hour drive to La Fortuna, ~158km (98 miles) or a 3.5 hour drive from Tamarindo and ~159km (98 miles) or a 3.5 hour drive from Manuel Antonio.

Click on the map of Costa Rica Monteverde below to interact with Google Maps and find the perfect route to get to Monteverde along your 10 day Costa Rica itinerary.

Map of Monteverde Costa Rica
Monteverde in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica
monteverde costa rica map
The region of Monteverde in Costa Rica

About Monteverde and Santa Elena Town

About Monteverde Region

panoramic of Monteverde Costa Rica
Over Looking the Monteverde Region and town of Santa Elena Costa Rica

I think it’s important to note, that Monteverde is not a town, it’s a region. The region is home to many small communities, the largest being the town of Santa Elena, where most visitors will choose to stay. 

The literal translation of Monteverde is ‘green mountain’, so you can expect to find rolling rainforested hills, winding roads and wildlife everywhere. Named after the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest (not to be confused with the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve), the region offers many outdoor Monteverde things to do, including some of the best Costa Rica ziplining and hanging bridges, birdwatching and more. 

rainforest canopy in Monteverde Costa Rica
Monteverde Cloud Forest

The Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, in particular, is where Costa Rica’s continental divide splits the country in two and is situated a mile above sea level. If you are wondering, ‘what is a cloud forest?’. The term ‘cloud forest’ derives from a layer of ground-level clouds that create a misty fog that blankets the lush Monteverde rainforest. 

Because of this environment, many species call the Monteverde region home, including the elusive Resplendent Quetzal bird, 100 species of mammals, 160 reptile and amphibian species and thousands of insects. 

The Monteverde Costa Rica Cloud Forest is amongst the most pristine cloud forests in the world, and is a top attraction in Monteverde, bringing in thousands of tourists every year.

About Santa Elena Town

overview of Santa Elena Costa Rica in Monteverde

With the Monteverde cloud forest Costa Rica taking up the eastern edge of the region, you can find the town of Santa Elena at its heart, in the centre of the area. The small town of Santa Elena, with a population of roughly 2,000 people, is the main hub for public transportation, restaurants, hotels and amenities for the Monteverde region. 

From here, roads scatter throughout the countryside like veins, with the main road 620 leading to top attractions like the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Road 619, heading north, will take you to the Selvatura Adventure Park for ziplining and hanging bridges, and the thundering El Tigre Waterfalls.

It is common to arrive in Monteverde from other top Costa Rica destinations like the central Costa Rica towns such as La Fortuna and San Jose, or from towns like Tamarindo in the Nicoya Peninsula or Manuel Antonio further south in the Puntarenas province.

Is Monteverde Worth Visiting?

winding road leading up a hill in Monte Verde Costa Rica

A resounding yes, the town of Santa Elena and the Monteverde region is worth visiting. If you haven’t been to Costa Rica before, it’s hard to determine between La Fortuna and Monteverde, and I’m here to tell you that they each offer something different. 

La Fortuna is known for hot springs, waterfalls, Arenal Volcano trekking and hanging bridges (although Selvatura Park in Monteverde rivals La Fortuna’s Mistico Park). While Monteverde is better for ziplining, cloud forests and spotting birdlife. Monteverde also has a more eco-tourism feel to it, with higher care put into sustainability and preservation.

They are both worth visiting along your Costa Rica itinerary, but if you have to choose, here is my breakdown below:

La Fortuna vs Monteverde

Monteverde, Costa Rica

  • Less touristy
  • Cheaper
  • Hiking through cloud forests
  • Better birdwatching
  • Better night walks
  • Better zip-lining
  • High clearance vehicle required
  • More difficult to get to from the airport
  • Hilly landscape (could also be a pro)

La Fortuna, Costa Rica (Arenal Region)

  • More mammal sightings (sloths, white-nosed Coati)
  • Thermal hot springs
  • More activities (ilke waterfalls)
  • More diverse food options
  • More lodging options including luxury resorts Doesn’t require a 4×4 vehicle
  • Easy to get to from the airport
  • Flat landscape
  • More touristy
  • More expensive

How to Get to Monteverde Costa Rica

No matter where you are coming from in Costa Rica, the best way to reach Monteverde is by rental car. As the top mode of transportation for exploring Costa Rica on the whole, renting a car when you land at San Jose Airport, Liberia Airport or in the town of La Fortuna is your best bet, since Monteverde itself does not have any rental car companies. 

I use and recommend Discover Cars for booking all of my rental cars worldwide. What I like about Discover Cars is they compare local and international car rental companies to get you the best deal. Plus, full-coverage insurance is only $7USD a day.

TRAVEL TIP | When reserving your rental car, make sure to choose a car with high clearance due to rougher roads close to Monteverde

Monteverde also does not have an airport, so cheap flights from other cities or towns in Costa Rica are not an option. 

road through Monteverde Costa Rica surrounded by rainforest

But if renting a car in Costa Rica is not on the cards, I’ve broken down the top ways to reach Monteverde (including private and shared shuttles and buses) from other Costa Rica destinations like Liberia, Tamarindo, Jaco, Manuel Antonio and Santa Teresa, with La Fortuna and San Jose Airport being the most common.

La Fortuna to Monteverde

Without a doubt, a trip to La Fortuna is a must along your Costa Rica itinerary. So, how to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde (or even Monteverde to La Fortuna) can be done in several different ways depending on your budget and timeframe. The best way though is to use the van-boat-van service (frequently called the jeep-boat-jeep transfer). 

READ MORE | How to Get From La Fortuna to Monteverde

The company will pick you up at your La Fortuna hotel in a shared shuttle van. Then, from the comfort of an air-conditioned van, you will make your way to Lake Arenal to board a small water vessel to cross over to the other side. It is a relaxing ride with beautiful views of Arenal Volcano

Then hop into another shared shuttle van and make the trip along scenic mountain roads to reach your Monteverde hotel. The Arenal to Monteverde trip (or Monteverde to Arenal) should take roughly 3.5 hours.

La Fortuna to Monteverde Boat Transfer

San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica

Arriving at the San Jose Airport is likely where you will be starting your adventure in Costa Rica, and if your first destination is Monteverde here is how to get from San Jose Costa Rica to Monteverde. All in all, the San Jose to Monteverde (or Monteverde to San Jose) route is pretty straightforward. 

Whether you choose to travel by rental car, private/shared shuttle or public bus, they will all be taking the same roads with varying travel times. You can rest assured that each of these modes of transportation is a great way to get from San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica.

The distance from San Jose to Monteverde is ~90 miles (145km).

READ MORE | How to Get from San Jose to Monteverde

Book your transportation from San Jose to Monteverde:

Costa Rica shuttle on road in Monte verde
Typical Costa Rica Shuttle to Monteverde

Liberia to Monteverde

If you are spending time in the Guanacaste Peninsula you may find yourself arriving in Costa Rica via the Liberia Airport. To reach Monteverde from Liberia, you can choose to either rent a car (the best way to explore Costa Rica in my humble opinion) or opt for a shared or private shuttle

The journey from Liberia Airport or Liberia city centre to the town of Santa Elena in the Monteverde region takes approximately 3 hours drive or 81 miles (130km).

Liberia to Monteverde Shared or Private Shuttle

NOTE | if you do decide to rent a car for your Liberia to Monteverde drive, make sure to rent a car with high clearance to avoid potholes along road 606.

Manuel Antonio to Monteverde

Whether you are travelling from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio or Manuel Antonio to Monteverde Costa Rica, the trip spans 114 miles (184km) via a coastal road. The best way to get from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde is by rental car or private / shared shuttle

The drive by rental car will take 3.5 – 4 hours to complete and 4.5 – 5 hours via shuttle

Public bus between the two destinations while being the cheapest option is very time-consuming, taking upwards of 11-12 hours with multiple transfers.

Manuel Antonio to Monteverde Shuttle

Jaco to Monteverde

The drive from Jaco to Monteverde (or Monteverde to Jaco) is 71 miles (114km) and takes approximately 2.5 hours whether you complete the journey by rental car, private shuttle or shared shuttle. It’s an easy one! 

Alternatively, you can choose to take a public bus from Jaco to Puntarenas, then from Puntarenas to Monteverde, taking about 4.5 – 5 hours. A one-way bus ticket costs ~$4.75 USD in total.

Jaco to Monteverde Shuttle

Tamarindo to Monteverde

After surfing and beach lazing the days away in the coastal town of Tamarindo, the mountainous Monteverde makes a great next destination. To travel from Tamarindo to Monteverde (or Monteverde to Tamarindo), the best way is by rental car or shuttle along the 102 mile (164km) road. 

Travelling via private vehicle, whether that be a rental car or private transfer, the journey will take roughly 3.5 hours. The drive via shared shuttle is 4.5 hours.

Tamarindo to Monteverde Shuttle

blue house in the rainforest in Monteverde Costa Rica Santa Elena

Santa Teresa to Monteverde

There are two routes you can take from Sant Teresa to Monteverde (or Monteverde to Santa Teresa). First, you can simply take the road that leads up and around the gulf of Nicoya which is 137 miles (220km) or a 4.5 – 5 hour drive

Santa Teresa to Monteverde Shuttle

Secondly, and perhaps the most scenic is the drive-ferry-drive option. From Santa Teresa, make your way to Paquera where you will board a ferry to Puntarenas. The ferry crossing from Paquera to Puntarenas is $24 USD per car and $1.50 USD (810 CRC) per person and takes about 1.5 hours. Then, from Puntarenas, drive the rest of the way to Santa Elena town in the Monteverde region.

The whole trip should take approximately 5 hours.

Check Price + Availability on Costa Rica Car Rental

How to Get Around Monteverde

people walking uphill along a paved road in Monteverde Costa Rica
Travelers walking uphill on Road 620 in the Monteverde region

Best Way to Get Around Monteverde Costa Rica

The town of Santa Elena itself can be walked from end to end in about 20 minutes. This isn’t an easy-peasy walk along flat terrain though, expect to be walking up and down long hills and elevations and depending on your fitness level and mobility could find this challenging. 

But, I think it’s important to note that most of the best things to do in Monteverde are not located in the town of Santa Elena itself, rather they are scattered throughout the region. For this reason, I recommend renting a car in Costa Rica Monteverde.

NOTE | Monteverde region and the town of Santa Elena have no rental car companies. So make sure to pick up your rental car in San Jose, Liberia or La Fortuna.

Check Prices + Availability of a Rental Car

road leading through rainforest in Monteverde Costa Rica
Road 620 leading to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

By Taxi

If you do not have access to a rental car, you can reach your Monteverde activities via taxi. Take a taxi from the official Santa Elena taxi stand, or ask your hotel reception to call a taxi for hotel pickup. The minimum cost is $1.50 USD and most trips range from $2-15 USD within the Monteverde region. Taxi fares are only accepted in cash.

NOTE | Santa Elena town offers two types of taxis, the official red taxis and the pirate taxis. Both are safe to take, just make sure to ask to finalize the price before getting in.

Best Time to Visit Monteverde

Monteverde Cloud Forest canopy in Costa Rica with blue sky
A Sunny Monteverde Day in March

Monteverde is a year-round destination. The highest heat (about 32°C) is experienced in the summer months between June and August, with the most rain falling between September through December. 

It is important to note that Monteverde is essentially a large living and breathing rainforest and in order for that rainforest to thrive, it needs a good dose of rain all year long, so come prepared with a rain jacket and appropriate clothing whenever you choose to visit. 

The high season in Monteverde is January through March with the height of tourism settling in the month of January each year. This is when hotel and flight prices will be at their peak.

My Experience in March

On my visit to Santa Elena and Monteverde Costa Rica in mid-March, it was common to experience warm days and chilly evenings. I was constantly throwing on and taking off my sweater over top of my shorts or athletic leggings and t-shirt as the wind picked up throughout the day. 

Monteverde Costa Rica Weather

view from the lookout at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve
Expect rain and mist at any moment

The weather in Monteverde Costa Rica is quite unpredictable, seeing multiple weather changes from bright and sunny to gloomy and rainy throughout a single day. Always, and I mean always, carry a rain jacket with you. 

The dry season between December and April offers mainly sunny days with a few moody cloudy moments in the afternoon. The wet season of May-October provides the opposite, moody days with sunny breaks. September is the wettest month of the year in Monteverde. 

Albeit, because it’s a rainforest, you can find unusually sunny days in the wet season and unusually rainy days in the dry season, so just be prepared.

Temperatures of up to 32°C and lows of 18-20°C can be experienced almost all year.

Travel Insurance for Monteverde

Monteverde Costa Rica is known for nature adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.

Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!

I used HeyMondo insurance on my trip to Costa Rica and can recommend it.

What’s great about HeyMondo:

  • No out-of-pocket fees
  • 24/7 doctors available through their handy app to answer all of your questions
  • Covers travellers from any country in the world
  • Offers short-term, long-term and multi-trip annual plans (I recommend single-trip insurance for Costa Rica)
  • Covers trip cancellation – very useful these days!

>>> Find the perfect travel insurance for you. (and get an exclusive 5% discount for being my reader!)

How Many Days in Monteverde

man in Monteverde zipline gear walking up a forested path
My husband enjoying Selvatura Adventure Park

Is one day enough in Monteverde? No. It really isn’t enough for visiting Monteverde. My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in Monteverde (2 full days) along your Costa Rica itinerary. The journey to get to Monteverde from most other tourist destinations in Costa Rica takes a minimum of 3 hours, so it’s best to make the most of that travel time. 

Ziplining through the rainforest and strolling along hanging bridges at Selvatura Adventure Park is a full-day Monteverde activity on its own. Especially if you add a visit to the on-site sloth sanctuary, butterfly garden and reptile exhibit. And, you can’t come to Monteverde without a hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which is a perfect activity for the morning of day 2.

Simple Costa Rica Monteverde Itinerary:

Day 0: Arrive by sunset

Day 1 in Monteverde Costa Rica:

Day 2 in Monteverde Costa Rica:

Day 3: Transfer to your next Costa Rica destination

If you have only given yourself one full day in Monteverde, I’d opt to hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve first thing in the morning, then transfer to a half-day adventure through Selvatura Park. Finish your night with a Monteverde Night Walk or a leisurely upscale dinner at San Lucas Treetop Dining Experience. 

Best Restaurants in Monteverde
Costa Rica

Monteverde Costa Rica restaurants with large windows and wood tables and coffee bar on the left

Monteverde is home to a wide variety of restaurants for every taste and budget. If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, Monteverde has plenty to offer. 

For example, you can enjoy a mix of local and western cuisine in Santa Elena town centre at the ever-popular Tree House Monteverde, or try a tasting of craft beer at the Belmar Craft Brewery. For something truly special, book a table at San Lucas Treetop Dining Experience and spend the night in the rainforest canopy. 

Other great options for Monteverde Costa Rica restaurants I can recommend are Stella’s Monteverde (try the quiche and iced tea!), organic Celajes Restaurant, casual Taco Taco Tacqueria,  and Orchid Coffee for a great cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Heading to La Fortuna? Read about the top restaurants in La Fortuna

Budget for Costa Rica Monteverde

Costa Rica is a relatively expensive nation. What are the reasons for this? Costa Rica has a better national health system and, in general, a higher quality of life than many other Central American nations owing to its strong government (which is unusual for Central America).

Costa Rica’s main source of income is tourism, with most tourists coming from the United States. Due to this, the government decided that it would be beneficial to price tourist attractions and activities at prices similar to what they are in America.

The government also spends a significant amount of money on preserving Costa Rica’s natural beauty, which has resulted in some of Central America’s most well-kept forests.

You can travel to Costa Rica on a budget, just remember that you’ll need extra time for all the bus transfers.

Costa Rica uses both the Costa Rican Colones (CRC) and the American Dollar (USD).

Daily Monteverde Costa Rica Budget (for Couple)

*excludes international flights

  • Monteverde Hotel: ~$64USD Nightly
  • Monteverde Car Rental: ~75 USD Daily
  • Monteverde Tours: ~$55 USD Daily per Person
  • Monteverde Food: $20 USD Daily per Person

Total Daily Monteverde Costa Rica Budget (for Couple): ~$289 USD Daily Budget

Daily Monteverde Costa Rica Budget (for Family of 4) 

*excludes international flights

  • Monteverde Hotel: ~$120 USD Nightly
  • Monteverde Car Rental: ~75 USD Daily
  • Monteverde Tours: ~$55 USD Daily per Person
  • Monteverde Food: $20 USD Daily per Person

Total Daily Monteverde Costa Rica Budget (For Family of 4): ~$495 USD Daily Budget

Monteverde Costa Rica Packing List

Generally speaking, the dress code in Costa Rica is comfortable and casual. In Monteverde, with its sporadic rainfall, quick winds and humid rainforest climate, I would recommend layered clothing that is quick-dry or moisture-wicking, plus a rain jacket and sturdy walking shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.

I lived in my athletic leggings, long sleeve t-shirt and sweater for most of my visit to Monteverde Costa Rica. I always, ALWAYS, carried a water-resistant day pack with my rain jacket, reusable water bottle and mosquito repellent inside.
When the sun does come out in Monteverde, it can get really hot! So make sure to equip yourself with good sunscreen.

Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket, Black, Medium

RAIN JACKET | Because Costa Rica is covered in rainforest, that means the weather can be pretty unpredictable. Make sure to bring a hooded rain jacket with you that can pack up small in your day bag just in case. I definitely used mine.

ZOMAKE Lightweight Hiking Backpack Water Resistant,20L Packable Daypack Foldable Small Backpack for Travel

WATER RESISTANT DAYPACK | Costa Rica is a wealth of adventure and with that comes multiple day trips or days spent in and out of your rental car. Make sure to have a water resistant daypack that can carry your water bottle, snacks, mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

LARQ Bottle Movement PureVis - Lightweight Self-Cleaning and Non-Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with UV Water Sanitizer, 32oz, White/Pebble

PURIFYING REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | I travel full time, so I’ve seen the devastation single-use plastic can have on our environment. Once I purchased this purifying reusable water bottle, I never looked back. It’s super stylish and you can recharge it through USB!

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel,Blue,24 X 48 Inches

MICROFIBRE TOWEL | Costa Rica is humid, so a normal cotton towel will take forever to dry. Let’s try to avoid that moldy towel smell. For those day trips to waterfalls, hot springs, rivers and beach, make sure to carry along a microfibre quick-drying towel.

JOTO Waterproof Case Universal Phone Holder Pouch, Underwater Cellphone Dry Bag Compatible with iPhone 13 Pro 12 11 Pro Max XS XR X 8 7 6S, Galaxy S21 S20 S10 Note Pixel Up to 7.0" -2 Pack,Black

WATERPROOF PHONE CASE | Plan on repelling or canyoning down a waterfall? Snapping pics in the hot springs? You will need a good waterproof phone case.

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Sports & Active Use - Water Resistant Sun Cream –UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan, Reef Friendly Sun Lotion, 6oz

SUNSCREEN | Y’all, the sun is HOT in Costa Rica as the country is located close to the equator. Make sure to throw on some sunscreen even if it’s cloudy out. That’s what it gets you. There are some great reef-safe sunscreens out there nowadays, so let’s protect our ocean life!

Natrapel 12-Hour Insect Repellent, 6 oz. Eco-Spray Picaridin Bug Spray – Family Insect Repellent for Mosquitoes, Ticks, & More, Black (0006-6878)

MOSQUITO REPELLENT | Yup, there are mosquitos in the rainforest, who would have thunk? I like to use a more natural mosquito repellent.

Monteverde Costa Rica Practical Information

I’ve provided you with answers to commonly asked questions about Monteverde below.

Monteverde is definitely worth visiting! It’s great for adventure seekers and wildlife lovers with top things to do in Monteverde like ziplining, hanging bridges, night walking, hiking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve and more!

Monteverde is a top eco-tourism destination in Costa Rica, so if you love nature, wildlife, hiking and adventurous activities, Monteverde is for you!

Monteverde Costa Rica is known for the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the best cloud forest in Costa Rica. Among the cloud forest, you can enjoy activities like ziplining, hanging bridges and wildlife spotting.

Are 2 days enough in Monteverde? Yes, two full days and 3 nights are enough to see the top attractions in Monteverde. One full day in Monteverde is not enough.

Monteverde is a year-round destination, making it a great place to visit in Costa Rica during the rainy season and dry seasons. Try to avoid the high season of January when hotel prices and tourist crowds will be at their highest.

The best way to explore Monteverde is by rental car or guided tour. Since the terrain surrounding the town of Santa Elena Costa Rica and the Monteverde region is considered hilly, and activities are far apart, the best way to see everything on your itinerary is by vehicle.

The Monteverde night tour is definitely worth it since 80% of Monteverde’s wildlife comes out at night!

There are some Costa Rica sloths in Monteverde, although it is not their natural habitat due to cold evenings and nights. If you are looking for a sloth tour, it’s best to do one in La Fortuna.

No, you do not need a guide to visit Monteverde. Although I recommend a guide for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve if you want to see as much birdlife and wildlife as possible.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a very humid environment but can get windy and rainy quite frequently. Wear layers including long pants, a sweater and sturdy walking shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. Be sure to pack a rain jacket!

A visit to Monteverde is a great stop along your Costa Rica itinerary in combination with one of the beach towns along the western coastline. The nearest popular beach destination is Jaco Beach, a 73 miles (118km) distance or 2.5-3 hour drive.

Final Thoughts on Monteverde
Costa Rica

I thoroughly enjoyed my week-long visit to Monteverde Costa Rica. I enjoyed some of the best things to do in Monteverde. I ziplined through the Monteverde canopy, strolled across the best hanging bridges Monteverde had to offer, hiked through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve spotting beautiful exotic birds and wildlife, took part in an exciting night walk and enjoyed being amongst nature. 

Monteverde is also the second destination along this 10 days Costa Rica itinerary.

As a digital nomad, I stayed in the popular Selina Monteverde, one of the top hotels in Monteverde, and can also recommend the top-rated Hotel Belmar. Whether you are travelling cheaply or looking for a luxury stay, Monteverde has you covered.

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