How to Get from San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica (or Monteverde to San Jose)

shuttle along the road from San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica

Looking for the best way to get from San Jose to Monteverde, Costa Rica?

I will cover the many options available to you and give you all the detail you need to book your transportation from San Jose to Monteverde (or Monteverde to San Jose) right away and save you valuable time. 

As one of the top eco-tourism destinations in Costa Rica, Monteverde offers the best hanging bridges and ziplining in the country and the mystical Monteverde Cloud Forest, which can be explored on an exciting Monteverde night tour. I highly recommend a visit to Monteverde along your Costa Rica itinerary.

This detailed guide on how to get from San Jose Costa Rica to Monteverde covers all the information you need about the San Jose Monteverde route, the most common transportation options including rental car, shuttle, and public bus, plus a little bit about San Jose activities,  best things to do in Monteverde, top Monteverde Hotels and more!

green rainforest canopy with misty clouds reached along the San Jose Costa Rica to Monteverde road
Monteverde Cloud Forest

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San Jose to Monteverde Quick Guide

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*I used the single-trip policy in Costa Rica

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Unique | Chira Glamping
Luxury | Hotel Belmar
Mid-range | Camino Verde B&B
Economy | Casa Jungle B&B
Hostel | Selina Monteverde

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*Best way to explore Costa Rica

From San Jose: Full-day Monteverde Tour
*one day to spend in Monteverde

Luxury | Crown Plaza San Jose Corobici
Mid-range | Fleur de Lys
Economy | Costa Rica Guesthouse
Hostel | Selina San Jose

San Jose to Monteverde Map

This map of Costa Rica shows the journey that you will take whether you are going by rental car, private/shared shuttle or public bus. 

The San Jose Monteverde route is pretty straightforward and will follow Route 27, Route 23, Route 1 and Route 606 from San Jose to Monteverde, Costa Rica. Follow the same route in reserve to go from Monteverde to San Jose. 

Map of San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica route

Distance from San Jose to Monteverde

The distance from San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica remains relatively the same whichever transport you use:

San Jose to Monteverde by Rental Car | ~145km (90 miles) or a 2.5 hour drive

San Jose to Monteverde by Shared Shuttle | ~145km (90 miles) or a 2.5 hour drive

San Jose to Monteverde by Private Transfer | ~145km (90 miles) or a 3.5 hour drive

San Jose to Monteverde by Public Bus | ~145km (90 miles) or a 5.5 hour drive

About Monteverde

Where is Monteverde?

Panoramic of Santa Elena Town along the San Jose to Monteverde route

The mountainous region of Monteverde is located at the northernmost edge of the Puntarenas Province and where the Guanacaste, Alajuela and Puntarenas provinces converge. 

At the core of the Monteverde region, situated in the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, you will find the town of Santa Elena, the main hub for Monteverde accommodation. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve lies east of the town.

Things to do in Monteverde

Tandem zip lining through rainforest in Monteverde from San Jose

Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s premium eco-tourism destinations with so much to offer.

Take a hike through the misty Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, making sure to keep a lookout for birds and wildlife. Or, get your adrenaline pumping with the best ziplining in the country at the Selvatura Adventure Park, along with a walk through the picturesque Monteverde hanging bridges. 

Admire the many nocturnal species in the Monteverde rainforest on an iconic Monteverde night walk, one of the top things to do in Monteverde.

About San Jose Costa Rica

architecture in San Jose to Monteverde

Where is San Jose?

San Jose, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, is located in the central San Jose Province, in the mid-west of Central Valley and acts as a main hub of transportation for the rest of the country. 

Things to Do in San Jose

Like most cities in Central America, you can find a plethora of museums to peruse, markets to explore and street food to eat. Catch a show at the National Theatre of Costa Rica, shop for souvenirs at Mercado Centrale, partake in a delicious walking food tour, experience San Jose by night, or take a half-day ziplining and rappelling trip.

By Airplane from San Jose
to Monteverde

San Jose to Monteverde flight

A trip from San Jose to Monteverde by airplane cannot be made as the Monteverde region does not have an airport. If you’d like to go from the San Jose Airport to Monteverde or Monteverde to San Jose Airport, a rental car or shared/private shuttle is the best way to go.

By Rental Car from San Jose
to Monteverde

If you are comfortable driving in a foreign country, I highly recommend making the San Jose to Monteverde journey by rental car. Driving in Costa Rica is the best way to see the country.

I personally use and recommend booking through Discover Cars. Whether you are looking for a budget Costa Rica car rental or looking to rent a 4×4 in Costa Rica, this platform has you covered. 

Check Prices + Availability of Costa Rica Rental Cars

What’s great about Discover Cars is they compare local, national and international rental companies to give you the best price. Plus, they give you full insurance coverage for only $7USD a day (30% lower than booking directly with the local company). 

a woman walking across a small wood bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest easily reached along the San Jose Monteverde route
Walking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

San Jose Airport Car rental

The San Jose Costa Rica airport is located 10 miles (16km) or a 20-minute drive northwest of central San Jose city. The Airport is the largest in the country and is the hub of many international flights into Costa Rica. The airport’s official name is the Juan Santamaria International Airport and its airport code is SJO. 

For convenience’s sake, you can pick up your rental car at the San Jose International Airport, but there are a couple of important things to note. 

First, all rental car companies in Costa Rica are located away from the airport property requiring you to either take a shuttle (sometimes provided by your car rental company) or grab a taxi. This is because the SJO airport is too small to accommodate all of the rental car companies in its arrival hall. 

San Jose to Monteverde road winding through greenery
Road leading to the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Secondly, because you are technically picking your car up at the airport, some car rental companies will charge you an airport tax of 13% on the total of your Costa Rica car rental duration. 

A good way to get around the airport tax is to arrange a taxi on your own to the offsite rental car company and state that you did not come from the airport when you arrive there. Do this at your own risk and discretion.

San Jose Car Rental

The traffic in the city of San Jose is notoriously bad, so if you are arriving via the San Jose Airport and want to spend a few days in the city before moving on to other destinations in Costa Rica, I’d recommend not renting your car until you have completed your exploration of San Jose. 

Even better, travel back to the San Jose airport to rent your car for the remainder of your trip, so that you can skip the downtown traffic. That’s not to say you won’t experience traffic near the airport, but it will be less.

If you don’t reserve ahead through Discover Cars, you can find most San Jose Costa Rica rental car companies in the downtown core near La Sabana Park, including Avis, Alamo and Adobe rent a car.

people walking up the road from Monteverde to San Jose
Road leading out of Santa Elena town in Monteverde

Car Rental in Monteverde

There are no car rental companies in Monteverde, therefore please remember to reserve early to pick up your rental car either at the San Jose Airport, San Jose city centre, La Fortuna or Liberia Airport to ensure you have a car to explore the Monteverde region. Besides, it’s the absolute best way to see this area of Costa Rica!

Drive from San Jose to Monteverde

Whether you are travelling from San Jose to Monteverde or San Jose Airport to Monteverde, The majority of the route will remain the same.

Follow Route 27 leaving the city and heading west towards El Roble and Puntarenas. Then take Route 23 northwest out of El Roble, then turn right onto Route 606 for the remainder of the journey to the Monteverde region and the town of Santa Elena.

Do note, that these roads have toll booths. You will need to carry cash in either USD or CRC to pay the toll. Tolls per car are roughly 1500 CRC ($2.30USD). If paying in USD, you will receive CRC in change.

TIP | I recommend renting a vehicle with high clearance as route 606 into Santa Elena can be rough.

Sloth hanging from branches in the Monteverde sloth sanctuary

By Costa Rica Shuttle from San Jose
to Monteverde

A common way to get around Costa Rica if you decide not to rent a car is by shared or private shuttle/transfer. Most transfers will pick you up at your San Jose hotel, or at the San Jose Airport and drop you at your Monteverde hotel. It is a super convenient and smooth transition from A to B.

Most shuttles (both private and shared) will offer complimentary hotel pickup and drop off depending on where you are coming from. 

Whether you choose a shared or private San Jose to Monteverde shuttle, you will likely be riding in a large minivan, giving you plenty of space to relax. 

Costa Rica Shuttle from Monteverde to San Jose Costa Rica parked on the side of the road
Typical Shuttle

If you are arriving at the San Jose Airport and would like to go straight to Monteverde, after booking, your driver will be waiting in the Arrival hall with a sign with your name on it. They will then lead you to the minivan in the airport’s parking lot. 

All minivans are air-conditioned and shuttle San Jose to Monteverde journeys will always include pit stops.

I use Book Away to reserve my Costa Rica shuttle because they offer better deals than booking directly with the shuttle companies. 

Check Prices on San Jose to Monteverde Shuttle

Roadside shot of bright green building surrounded by greenery

By Bus from San Jose to Monteverde

The most economical way to get from San Jose to Monteverde or Monteverde to San Jose is by public bus. Buses on this route are air-conditioned and allow for a 23kg bag and handbag per passenger. 

TIP | The buses Monteverde to San Jose (or vice versa) state that the journey is 4 hours, but I would recommend planning for up to 5.5 hours for the trip to account for traffic delays and pit stops.

San Jose to Monteverde Bus

The San Jose Monteverde bus is offered by Transmonteverde and runs twice daily at 6:30AM and 2:30PM from Terminal 7-10. San Jose to Monteverde bus tickets can be purchased through Transmonteverde or simply through Book Away

TIP | Do not leave baggage unattended at the bus terminal and ensure you have your luggage ticket and your large baggage is boarded under the bus before getting on

red Bus waiting at the bus station from San Jose to Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde to San Jose City Centre Bus

If you’d like to take a bus from Monteverde to San Jose City Centre, you can catch the 5:30AM bus at  Monteverde Bus Station, running once daily. Monteverde to San Jose bus tickets cost ~$15 USD per person. 

The bus will drop you off at San Jose City Centre Terminal 7-10.

Monteverde to San Jose Airport (SJO)

If you would like to reach San Jose Airport (SJO) from Monteverde, opting for a shared shuttle is your best bet. Otherwise, you can take the Transmonteverde bus to San Jose City Centre and then take either public transportation or a taxi to the airport.

green Hummingbird on branch

Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for adrenaline-packed 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.

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