Monteverde is home to an amazing cloud forest. This area is great for hiking, wildlife viewing, zip lining, and more!
We think Monteverde is a bit overrated. Usually, when we meet travelers they are super excited to visit Monteverde and are disappointed after their trip. That being said, it is a beautiful area which we think is worth a visit if you do the right activities.
Downtown Monteverde is not a memorable place, but there are some nice restaurants and bars that we enjoy. Get out of the downtown and really explore. You’ll be happy you did!
Now on to the Monteverde budget travel guide!
GETTING TO MONTEVERDE
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.
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 a somewhat steep and curvy road that is not paved in many parts. I would definitely recommend a 4×4 for this part of the 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.
Pro tip: Download the free app Off the Grid Traveler to see bus connections and schedules to and from everywhere in Costa Rica. It’s seriously a lifesaver.
GETTING AROUND IN MONTEVERDE
We suggest depending on a car while in Monteverde. Most of the activities you will want to do in Monteverde are not in the actual downtown area. This means that if you don’t rent a car you will have to book day tours which include transportation. This can be really expensive.
Also, when you look at our favorite budget Monteverde activities you will see that most are off the beaten path activities. Day tours usually do not go to these locations.
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 Montverde 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.
If you need an alternative option we suggest using Uber. It is always about half the price of taxis.
THINGS TO DO
Go to the butterfly garden: For $15 this place is totally worth it. You get to see so many cool butterflies and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. Find out more here.
Take a coffee tour: There are several great coffee tours in Monteverde, but we suggest going to Cafe de Monteverde. Their tour is the most detailed and interesting, in our opinion. We like this place because they are very eco-friendly and we love supporting small local businesses which are amazing.
Visit some art galleries: There are a ton of really cool art galleries in the Monteverde area. To start you off we suggest visiting Sarah’s Gallery. Sarah is absolutely the cutest and her art is amazing. It is a bit of a jjourney to get here, but you can walk the access road to her house from the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Ignore the map on TripAdvisor to Sarah’s Gallery. It’s completely wrong.
Take an archery lesson: Total off the beaten path fun activity. Still Water Journeys is a retreat center that also provides archery lessons. For $20 per person, you can take a 1.5-hour archery lesson which goes through the proper techniques of shooting. The property here is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend this activity. It’s unique, relaxing, and not filled with tourists.
Go hiking in the cloud forest: There are several reserves you can hike at in Monteverde. We have only visited Reserve Bosque Nuboso Sante Elena, and we loved it. We paid $14 per person, which is a lot for a hike, but we took the time to hike pretty much every trail (we were there for about three hours) and I don’t regret paying the steep price. The cloud forest is seriously beautiful and something I think you’ll all enjoy experiencing.
Camino Verde Bed and Breakfast: This place is newly done and looks beautiful. You can expect to pay about $47 a night for a double room. Breakfast is included and there is a communal kitchen which you can use.
Manakin Lodge: Nice basic rooms. Some have amazing views of Monteverde. Breakfast is included. You can expect to pay about $35 a night for a double room here.
Casa Campo Verde: This place is amazing. The owners are the sweetest people ever and will help you out with whatever they can. For about $40 a night you can stay in a basic triple room.
Sarita’s Family Home: Perfect place if you want a whole house. Everything is nicely designed and you will have your own private kitchen. This place is a bit higher on the price scale. You can expect to pay about $60 a night.
Greemount Hotel: This place is the best. The owners are amazing people who are just trying to make their dreams come true (and we’re all about that). They are still working on making this place exactly how they want it (and are doing an amazing job at it). You can expect to pay about $35 a night here for a double room with breakfast included.
PLACES TO EAT
Orchid Coffee: Great place for an afternoon coffee and cake or dessert. Their baked goods are ridiculously good!
Beso Espresso: This is coffee snob heaven. I’ve never been to a place which is more knowledgeable about coffee than Beso Espresso. They have a few sandwiches and baked goods, but this is mostly just a coffee place (and it is perfect).
Taco Taco: Super tasty Tex-Mex style tacos at a good price. Go here!
Sabor Tico: Great typical Costa Rican food at an affordable price.
The Green Room: This is a great dinner spot. It’s definitely not the cheapest (you’ll pay about $20 for dinner) but it’s really tasty.
Tree House Restaurant: This is one of those tourist destinations that I think you should go to just for the experience. The food isn’t the cheapest or the best, but we suggest going just for a drink. After all, when else can you went to a treehouse restaurant?
ARTICLES ABOUT MONTEVERDE