Monteverde, Costa Rica

A dense cloud forest with zip lining, hanging bridges, and plenty of wildlife!

The Monteverde Vibe

Monteverde Costa Rica is home to a unique cloud forest destination filled with lush green mountains and a cloudy moody feel. This area is great for hiking, wildlife viewing, zip lining, and more!

Downtown Monteverde is small and has some nice restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops that we enjoy. Just make sure you get out of the downtown and really explore. You’ll be happy you did.

Also, just to note when planning hotels, restaurants, things to do etc. Santa Elena is the name of the downtown area of Monteverde.

We have gotten a lot of questions from people wanting to know if Santa Elena Costa Rica is an OK place to stay if visiting Monteverde. The answer is yes!!

OK, now on to the Monteverde Costa Rica travel guide!

monteverde map

Map Of Monteverde

Monteverde is located in the mountains. At first glance, it is not too far from La Fortuna. However, to get between the two locations you’ll have to drive around Lake Areal which takes a while. 

Monteverde at a Glance

Popular Things to Do

zip lining, hanging bridge walk, night wildlife tour

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, walking in the downtown area

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April


Getting to Monteverde

Flights to Costa Rica

Monteverde is great because it is pretty centrally located between the Liberia airport and the San Jose airport. It will take you about two and a half hours to drive from either location.

More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be worth it for you.

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.


The best option to get to Monteverde is to rent a car. If coming from San Jose or from Liberia you can rent a car from close to the airport (but free transportation to the rental car office is provided from the airport).

We suggest using Adobe because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country and we have partnered with them to get a 10% discount for you on your rental car. You can find out more about renting a car here.

The drive from Liberia or San Jose is not too bad for the first half. The highways are well maintained. Things get a little crazy during the last part of the drive, though.

You will be driving on somewhat steep and curvy roads that are not paved in many parts. I would definitely recommend a 4×4 or at a minimum, all wheel drive.

Also, please don’t drive it at night. We made that mistake recently and because you are in the cloud forest you sometimes can’t see even a few feet in front of you.

The car we were driving did not have fog lights, so we literally couldn’t see anything. We had to wait for a truck to pass and follow them closely to get to Monteverde. NEVER AGAIN!  

If you don’t feel comfortable driving that distance on your own (I know, I’m not really selling it as a fun drive, but it’s not bad during the day), the cheapest option is to take the public bus. The bus leaves from San Jose every day at 6:30am and 2:30pm.

It will take you about five hours to get to Monteverde (the bus stops a lot). The problem with taking the bus is that it does not leave from near the airport. You will need to take an Uber (don’t take a taxi they are crazy expensive) to the bus terminal in downtown San Jose in order to catch the bus.

From Liberia there is no direct bus. You will have to take the bus from Liberia to Puntarenas and then Puntarenas to Monteverde.

The bus from Liberia to Puntarenas leaves every day at 5:00am, 7:45am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30. It will take about three hours to get to Puntarenas.

The bus from Puntarenas to Monteverde leaves at 8:30am, 1:30pm, and 2:15pm. This also takes about three hours.

It’s not the most comfortable ride, but it’s cheap (under $10 per person). Definitely get there early before the departure time because once all the seats are taken you may be left standing for a long ride.

Tip: If you don’t feel comfortable driving, a private shuttle is always a great option. Find out more here.

Getting Around in Monteverde

We like having a car while in Monteverde because it gives you the flexibility to do a lot of off the beaten path activities and not have to depend on day tours.

However, I will say that a lot of companies within Monteverde are really good about providing free transportation to and from your hotel. As I mentioned before, it is a popular backpacking destination and companies in Monteverde realize that.

If you do opt to rent a car (which we definitely suggest if going to more off the beaten path activities) we personally love Adobe rent a car.

We have partnered with them to bring you a 10% discount because, in a country where a lot of people will try to rip you off, Adobe is extremely trustworthy. Unfortunately, Adobe does not have a rental car office in Monteverde at this time.

This means that if you would like to drive while in Monteverde and would like to rent with Adobe, you will need to rent a car near the airport and make the drive yourself rather than taking the bus.

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