๐ŸŒณ Monteverde Guide: 2-3 Day Itinerary + 7 Great Things To Do

The blog author hanging on a zipline overlooking a misty rainforest.

Monteverde, which translates to โ€œGreen Mountainโ€ in Spanish, is one of Costa Ricaโ€™s most visited destinations due to its famous cloud forests.

Two to three days is enough time to enjoy the cloud forests. These unique forests have a persistent cloud cover that creates a mystical atmosphere.

I spent a memorable trip in Monteverde, and here, I share great things to do and tips to optimize your itinerary. This post covers:

  • โญ๏ธ Top things to do in Monteverde
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2 to 3-day optimized itinerary
  • ๐Ÿ“ Monteverde map with key places
  • ๐Ÿš™ How to get around

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Costa Rica.

Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!

Monteverde at a Glance

Before getting into the itinerary, hereโ€™s some general information on Monteverde to help you plan your trip.

๐ŸŒณ What Is Monteverde Known For?

Monteverde is famous for its cloud forests, tropical rainforests with a persistent cloud cover at the canopy level, giving the forest a mystical appearance.

The three most well-known cloud forest reserves in the area are:

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve โ€“ the most famous and well-preserved one.
  • Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve โ€“ known for its biodiversity
  • Children’s Eternal Rainforest โ€“ the largest cloud forest in the world.

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ How Long To Spend in Monteverde?

You’ll want to spend two to three days in Monteverde to give yourself enough time to see the area’s top attractions.

The town is small, so unless you love visiting cloud forests or are open to taking several day trips, you’ll start running out of things to do around the fourth day.

I spent two days in Monteverde. Given the rainy and cold weather compared to the rest of Costa Rica, two days felt like enough time.

See how to spend ten days in Costa Rica.

๐Ÿ“ Where Is Monteverde Located?

Monteverde is a small town in Costa Rica, Central America, more than 4,600 feet above sea level in the Tilarรกn Mountain Range. The town is on the Continental Divide.

Hereโ€™s how far the town is in relation to other major cities and landmarks:

LandmarkWhere is Monteverde?
San Josรฉ City80 miles northwest
Guanacaste Airport in Liberia80 miles west
Monteverde’s Location in Relation to Cities and Landmarks
A map of Costa Rica with red pins highlighting key towns and an airplane showing the two international airports.
Monteverde’s location in Costa Rica.

โ›…๏ธ Monteverde’s Unique Climate

Due to its high altitude, Monteverde’s weather is unlike most of Costa Rica’s weather.

Misty and cool, Monteverde is a good break from the country’s heat and humidity. When almost everywhere else in Costa Rica is 70 ยฐF or above, Monteverde can dip into the high 50s ยฐF.

Pack some light, warm layers and a light rain jacket or rain poncho, especially if you plan to visit a cloud forest or go ziplining.

โ˜€๏ธ Best Time To Visit Monteverde

The best time to visit Monteverde is during Costa Ricaโ€™s dry season, which runs from December to April.

  • Dry season โ€“ During the dry season, intermittent rain is common, but overall rainfall is lighter. It’s a good time to be outdoors on nature hikes. I visited in March and experienced intermittent rain.
  • Rainy season โ€“ June through November is better for visitors who want to see the region in its full lushness. This is also a quieter and less crowded time to visit.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Is Monteverde Expensive To Visit?

Being one of Costa Rica’s major tourist towns, Monteverde is expensive to visit.

  • Mid-range budget travelers can expect to spend about $160 a day in Monteverde.
  • Budget travelers can expect to spend about $90 a day in Monteverde.

See my budget breakdown for my trip to Monteverde.

5 Essential Tips for Visiting Monteverde

Before getting into the itinerary, here are practical tips to know when traveling to Monteverde.

๐ŸŒง๏ธ 1. Pack bug repellent and a rain jacket.

Monteverde’s misty and rainier climate is unique in Costa Rica. Even in the dry season, you can experience rain in Monteverde, so bring a rain jacket or poncho and some warmer layers.

Costa Rica also has disease-carrying mosquitos; you’ll find more mosquitos in the wetter climate. I find that this lotion insect repellent works better than the spray kind (per the CDC: โ€œDEET offers the best protection against mosquito bites.โ€)

๐Ÿ˜ตโ€๐Ÿ’ซ 2. Don’t worry about altitude sickness.

Despite Monteverde’s higher altitude, the town is not high enough to make most people sick. Altitude sickness usually starts at around 10,000 feet of elevation, and Monteverde is below that.

However, if you get motion sickness easily like me, note that the roads around Monteverde are winding, so it’s a good idea to bring motion-sickness medication.

๐Ÿš™ 3. Getting around is easy.

Monteverde is a tourist destination, so don’t be surprised that all activities and experiences are packaged in a tour.

Almost all tours include transportation, so don’t worry about getting around. However, a few things, like the butterfly garden, require Uber or a taxi.

๐ŸŒ‹ 4. Visit La Fortuna before or after.

La Fortuna and Monteverde are two of the best places in the Arenal area of Costa Rica. I traveled to both places and think theyโ€™re different enough to each warrant a visit.

Due to their proximity, it’s a good idea to pair visiting La Fortuna with Monteverde.

La Fortuna is known for its different attractions, such as the Arenal Volcano, which heats the hot springs in the surrounding area, and the suspension bridges in the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges.

Check out La Fortuna’s top things to do.

๐Ÿ  5. Consider staying in an accommodation with stunning views.

Since Monteverde is on a mountain range, several accommodations are perched on the side of a valley and offer stunning views. These accommodations are usually a few minutes’ walk outside Monteverdeโ€™s main town area.

I stayed at Rainbow Valley Lodge, which offers cabin-style lodging. The views are incredible, and I saw a giant rainbow while staying there. However, the hotel is a 15-minute walk up a hill to the town area.

A giant rainbow against a sky over a valley.
Rainbow Valley Lodge in Monteverde.

Getting Around Monteverde

Hereโ€™s how to get to Monteverde and get around once youโ€™re there.

๐Ÿš™ How To Get to Monteverde

After flying into one of Costa Ricaโ€™s international airports (the Liberia or San Josรฉ airport), you can get to Monteverde in three different ways.

  • Rental Car โ€“ A standard rental car in Costa Rica costs about $40 a day, not including gas. Due to the road conditions leading to Monteverde, a 4×4 vehicle is recommended.
  • Shuttle โ€“ Several companies offer daily shared or private shuttles to Monteverde. You can take a shuttle-boat-shuttle across Lake Arenal from La Fortuna, which is the most direct way to visit between the two towns.
  • Public Bus โ€“ Taking public buses to Monteverde is the budget option and will take the most time (e.g., three to five hours from either airport).

๐Ÿš• How To Get Around Monteverde

Once in Monteverde, you can get around the town by renting a car, walking, taking a taxi, or using tour transportation.

  • Walking โ€“ Monteverdeโ€™s town is relatively walkable, although a bit hilly. If you stay a bit outside the town like I did, sidewalks arenโ€™t always available or well-maintained.

Most top attractions in Monteverde are not within walking distance, but tour operators will include pick-up and drop-off transportation from hotels.

  • Taxi โ€“ Taxis are readily available and one of the best ways to get around Monteverde. I spent, on average, $4 USD per ride traveling a little over one mile to and from the town.

All official taxis in Costa Rica are red and have a yellow triangle on their side. Unlike other tourist areas in Costa Rica, Monteverde does not have Uber.

  • Tour Transport โ€“ Almost all guided tours in Monteverde will include pick-up and drop-off transportation, usually by taxi or shuttle service.

Monteverde Itinerary Map

This map has all the recommended places in the Monteverde travel itinerary below.

Monteverde Itineraries

Below is a great way to spendย two to three packed daysย in Monteverde, featuring the best things to do in the town and nearby attractions.

To help you plan efficiently, Iโ€™ve includedย suggested times for each activityย based on my firsthand experience.

2-Day Itinerary for Monteverde

This two-day Monteverde itinerary focuses on the town’s best and most unique attractions.

The Costa Rica trip planner below has this itinerary prefilled.

Day 1 in Monteverde
โ˜๏ธGo on a Monteverde Cloud Forest tour7:30โ€“11 am
๐ŸฆฅVisit a sloth sanctuary1โ€“2 pm
๐ŸŒณZipline over a cloud forest2:30โ€“5 pm
Day 2 in Monteverde
๐Ÿฆ‹Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Garden12โ€“2:30 pm
๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธExplore Monteverde’s town area3โ€“5 pm
๐Ÿฆ‡Go on a wildlife refuge night walk7:30โ€“10 pm

3-Day Itinerary for Monteverde

This three-day Monteverde itinerary focuses on the town’s best attractions and incorporates a hike to a nearby beautiful waterfall.

Day 1 in Monteverde
โ˜๏ธGo on a Monteverde Cloud Forest tour7:30โ€“11 am
๐ŸฆฅVisit a sloth sanctuary1โ€“2 pm
๐ŸŒณZipline over a cloud forest2:30โ€“5 pm
Day 2 in Monteverde
๐Ÿฆ‹Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Garden12โ€“2:30 pm
๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธExplore Monteverde’s town area3โ€“5 pm
๐Ÿฆ‡Go on a wildlife refuge night walk7:30โ€“10 pm
Day 3 in Monteverde
๐ŸฏHike El Tigre Waterfall9 amโ€“1 pm
โ˜•๏ธGo on a chocolate and coffee tour3โ€“5 pm

7 Great Things To Do in Monteverde

Having spent two packed days in Monteverde, I share my recommendations and honest opinions on the top attractions and activities below, listed in rough order of priority.

Costa Ricaโ€™s main source of income is tourism, so almost everything can be or must be done through a tour operator. I write about the tour operators I used here, but you can also ask your hotel, Airbnb host, or a booking service for recommendations.

All prices mentioned in this post are in USD ๐Ÿ’ต .

1. Zipline Over a Monteverde Cloud Forest

๐Ÿค” Why: Ziplining over a cloud forest is a unique experience different from doing it in a regular rainforest. Monteverde has the longest zipline in Costa Rica (almost a mile long).

The blog author hanging on a zipline overlooking a misty rainforest.
Zip lining through Monteverde Cloud Forest.

๐Ÿ“ Where To Zip Line: Monteverde has several zipline tour operators. The longest zipline in Costa Rica (about a mile long) is offered by 100% Aventura.

I booked with Selvatura Adventure Park, which has the only zipline inside the Monteverde Cloud Forest. My tour included 12 cable lines and a Tarzan swing, which I highly recommend for its thrill.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Budget $50 to $60 for the basic package. Upgraded zipline styles (e.g., the โ€œSupermanโ€ style, where you are tied in head-first) are extra. I paid $93 for a sloth sanctuary and a zip line combo package.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 2 to 3 hours

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Ziplining over Monteverdeโ€™s cloud forest was one of the highlights of my Costa Rica trip. Iโ€™ve ziplined in other countries and the neighboring town of La Fortuna, but ziplining over a misty forest was more thrilling.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

2. Visit a Monteverde Cloud Forest

๐Ÿค” Why: Monteverde is famous for its cloud forest reserves. Some of its better-known cloud forests include:

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve โ€“ the most famous and well-preserved one
  • Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve โ€“ known for its biodiversity
  • Bosque Eterno de los Niรฑos โ€“ also called “Children’s Eternal Rainforest,” the largest one in the world
  • Curi Cancha Reserve โ€“ known for its biodiversity
The blog author standing on a platform surrounded by lush rainforest.
Monteverde Cloud Forest.

๐Ÿฆ Top Things To Do: Monteverde’s cloud forests are home to hundreds of different birds, reptiles, mammals (e.g., howler monkeys), and amphibian species (e.g., the iconic red-eyed tree frog), so wildlife spotting and bird watching are extremely popular.

The colorful quetzal or resplendent quetzal is the most famous of birds, and nature lovers often make it a goal to see one. Bird-watching tours are top-rated in Monteverde.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: You can visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest on a guided or non-guided walking tour.

  • Guided โ€“ I did this informative guided tour with Roy, which included pick-up and drop-off transportation. It’s more challenging to spot local wildlife without a guide.
  • Non-guided โ€“ If youโ€™re visiting without a tour guide, the cloud forest is approximately four miles away (about a 20-minute drive) from the town area.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest has an attached cafe, Cafe Colibri, that attracts many hummingbirds to the patio area. โ€Colibriโ€ means hummingbird in Spanish.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The entrance fee is $25. I paid $60 for a small-group tour, which included the fee.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 2 to 4 hours. The walking trail is about eight miles long. My group tour lasted from 7:30 am to 11 am, including transportation time.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Monteverde’s cloud forests can feel a bit touristy if you’re an avid nature lover or hiker (e.g., all trails are completely paved), but it’s still very cool to learn about the rainforests and see the diverse wildlife that calls it home with a guide.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

3. See Sloths Up Close at a Sloth Sanctuary

๐Ÿค” Why: Sloths are one of Costa Ricaโ€™s most iconic animals, and Monteverde has a sloth sanctuary home to 20.

A close-up of a sloth hanging upside down on tree branch while eating.
Monteverde’s Sloth Sanctuary.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The sloth sanctuary in Monteverde is located inside Selvatura Park, about 4.5 miles (about a 20-minute drive) away from the town area.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Budget $40 to $70 for this experience. I paid $93 for the sloth sanctuary and zipline combo package.

โฐ Suggested Duration: The tour is exactly 1 hour.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: The sloth sanctuary is a great way to see many sloths up close and learn about them. I visited the rainforest five times, and sloth spotting was rare in the wild. They were also often partially hidden or very far away.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

4. Go on a Wildlife Refuge Night Walk

๐Ÿค” Why: Monteverde is known for its biodiversity and wildlife. Since many animals become more active at night, a night walk gives you a better chance to see nocturnal animals.

A close-up of a tucan at night.
A toucan during the wildlife refuge night walk (photo taken through a scope).

๐Ÿš— Getting There: There are an endless number of night tours offered in Monteverde, and you can choose if you want a private or group tour, a specific location (there are several trail options), and even the focus of the tour (e.g., general, bird-watching focus).

Here’s a highly-rated Monteverde rainforest night walk.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Most night tours cost around $35. I paid $32, which included a tip.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 2 hours. All tours start after 7 pm.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: I went on multiple rainforest tours in Costa Rica and would happily replace any of them with a night tour if I had to. I didnโ€™t necessarily see more animals during the night tour compared to a day tour, but walking through a forest at night is a unique adventure.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

5. Visit the Butterfly Garden, Bat Jungle, or Frog Pond

๐Ÿค” Why: Monteverde is rich in biodiversity and wildlife, and some places have specialized in giving informative tours around a specific type of animal.

The blog author holding a monarch butterfly.
Monteverde Butterfly Garden.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, Bat Jungle, and Frog Pond are all five minutes from the town area. You can take a taxi to the former two and walk to the latter.

If youโ€™re running on a tight schedule, consider asking your hotel to book your transportation to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden or Bat Jungle in advance. Taxis are not always readily available outside the immediate Monteverde town area. I had to wait 20 minutes for my taxi when I left the garden.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The Monteverde Butterfly Garden has a $20 entrance fee, and the Bat Jungle and Frog Pond are $15 each.

If you like flowers, there’s a Monteverde Orchid Garden with a $16 entrance fee.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 1 to 2 hours

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Monteverde’s butterfly garden was more delightful than I expected. It was a chill way to end my otherwise active trip.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

6. Go on a Chocolate and Coffee Tour

๐Ÿค” Why: Costa Rica is known to produce one of the highest-quality coffee beans in the world. Most chocolate and coffee tours also include a tasting and a hands-on activity.

A woman holding and pointing at a cocoa bean.
Chocolate and coffee tour.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Most Monteverde cocoa tours will provide transportation to the farm. This highly-rated Monteverde coffee tour also includes a chocolate and sugar cane tour.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Budget $30 to $50 for a coffee and chocolate tour in Monteverde.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 2 to 3 hours

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Monteverde and nearby La Fortuna offer many cocoa tours. I did my tour in La Fortuna and found it to be one of the most informative and honest coffee tours Iโ€™ve taken.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

7. Hike and Visit El Tigre Waterfall

๐Ÿค” Why: El Tigre Waterfall is in a beautiful rainforest, and the entire trail takes you through lush rainforests and multiple waterfalls. The surrounding area is known for longer hikes while staying within a reasonable distance from Monteverde.

If you don’t want to hike the steep portions of the waterfall, a popular way to visit is through a horseback riding tour.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: El Tigre Waterfall is about a 30-minute drive from Monteverde, so you’ll have to rent a car or book a tour that provides transportation.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Access to El Tigre starts at $33.

โฐ Suggested Duration: The moderate hike takes about 2 hours to complete.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: This is a great addition to a Monteverde itinerary if you’re staying for three days or more. I chose not to do it since I was only in the area for two days and didn’t think it was unique enough of an experience for a two-day trip.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

Costa Rica Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Costa Rica trip planner.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

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