๐ŸŒณ Monteverde Guide: Itinerary + 6 Great Things To Do

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

Famous for its cloud forests, Monteverde (which translates to โ€œGreen Mountainโ€ in Spanish) is one of Costa Ricaโ€™s most visited destinations. With its high altitude, Monteverde is also known to have distinct weather compared to the rest of Costa Rica.

I spent two days in Monteverde and here, I share practical tips on taking a trip there. This post covers:

  • ๐ŸŒณ Monteverde overview
  • โญ๏ธ Great things to see and do
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2-day optimized itinerary
  • ๐Ÿ“ Map with key attractions pinned
  • ๐Ÿš™ How to get around

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica guide covers things to know before getting there, including tipping etiquette, common scams, cultural differences and what to pack.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Monteverde at a Glance

Below is some general information on Monteverde in Costa Rica to help you plan your trip.

๐ŸŒณ Known For

Monteverde is famous for its cloud forests, which are tropical rainforests that have a persistent cloud cover at the canopy level, giving the forest a mystical look.

Monteverde’s three most well-known cloud forest reserves are:

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (the most famous and well-preserved)
  • Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve (known for its biodiversity)
  • Children’s Eternal Rainforest (one of the largest in the world)

โ˜๏ธ Vibe

Monteverdeโ€™s town is on a hill and the weather is often misty, so with fewer people walking around, it can feel more secluded than it is.

You will be taken directly to most attractions, so you wonโ€™t necessarily walk around much of Monteverde.

๐Ÿ“ Location

Sitting at 4,600+ feet above sea level on a mountain range, Monteverde is a small town in Costa Rica in Central America.

It’s approximately two-and-a-half hours away from both Costa Rica’s international airports: Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose (80 miles south) and Guanacaste Airport in Liberia (80 miles west).

A map of Costa Rica with red pins highlighting key towns and an airplane showing the two international airports.
Map of Costa Rica, highlighting La Fortuna, Monteverde, Nosara and Manuel Antonio.

โ˜๏ธ Weather

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

Often misty and cool (e.g., dipping into high 50ยฐF when almost everywhere else in Costa Rica is 70ยฐF or above), Monteverde is a good break from the country’s heat and humidity.

Make sure to pack some light warm layers and a light rain jacket or rain poncho, especially if you want to visit a cloud forest or go zip lining over one.

โ˜€๏ธ Best Time To Visit

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

  • Monteverde’s dry season has intermittent rain, but overall less rainfall, so it’s a good time to be outdoors to enjoy nature. I visited in March and experienced intermittent rain.
  • Monteverde’s rainy season, which is from June through November, is better for visitors who want to see the area in its full lushness and have a quieter, less crowded experience.

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ How Long To Visit

Most people recommend visiting Monteverde for two to three days, which will give you enough time to see the area’s top attractions.

I spent two days in Monteverde and given how rainy and cold the weather was compared to the rest of Costa Rica, two days felt like enough time for me.

This Costa Rica travel guide has more general tips on the country.

Top Costa Rica Destinations: Monteverde vs. La Fortuna

La Fortuna and Monteverde are two of the most popular towns in the Arenal area. I traveled to both locations and think theyโ€™re different enough to each warrant a visit.

If youโ€™re deciding which town to visit, here are some of their key differences:

  • Known for: Monteverde is famous for its cloud forest and biodiversity, while La Fortuna is known for being right next to Arenal Volcano, which heats the town’s more than a dozen hot springs
  • Weather: La Fortunaโ€™s weather is what you would expect from Costa Rica: warm and humid. Monteverde has a colder and rainier climate, so make sure to pack some warm clothes and a rain jacket or poncho if youโ€™re visiting it.
  • Town center: La Fortuna has a bigger and livelier town center compared to Monteverde. Monteverdeโ€™s town is on a hill and a long, winding main road (the 606), so there’s no clear center area.
Two maps comparing the town shape of La Fortuna's and Monteverde's.
The shape of La Fortuna’s vs. Monteverde’s town areas differ.
  • Activities: While youโ€™ll find some overlap in activities offered (e.g., zip lining, sloth sanctuary, coffee tours), the two towns have different experiences for the same activities (i.e., zip lining over Monteverdeโ€™s cloud forest is different than zip lining over La Fortuna).

This La Fortuna travel guide highlights some of the differences between La Fortuna and Monteverde.

3 Essential Tips for Visiting Monteverde

Having spent time there, here are three practical tips for visiting Monteverde:

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

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

Costa Rica also has illness-carrying mosquitos and 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 Tip #2: Don’t worry about altitude sickness, but worry about winding roads.

Despite Monteverde’s higher altitude, its altitude 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 sick easily like me, note that the roads around Monteverde are winding, so it’s a good idea to bring motion-sick medication.

๐Ÿš™ Tip #3: Getting around is easy.

Monteverde is a tourist destination, so expect all activities and experiences to be packaged in a tour like most of Costa Rica.

Almost all tours will include transportation, so you’ll likely not have to worry about getting around much. There are some things (like the butterfly garden) where you will have to rely on Uber or a taxi.

Getting Around Monteverde

After flying into one of Costa Ricaโ€™s international airports (Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose or Guanacaste Airport in Liberia), you can get to Monteverde by rental car, shuttle, bus or taxi and boat.

Once youโ€™re in Monteverde, you can get around by walking, taxi or tour transportation. You can also get around through a rental car, but that’s not necessary.

๐Ÿš— Rental Car

Both Costa Rica’s international airports are roughly two-and-a-half hours away from Monteverde by car.

  • From the airport: Given some of the unpaved road conditions around Monteverde, a 4×4 rental is recommended when getting to the town by car.
  • In the town: Monteverde is a small enough town that you may not need a rental car, depending on where you’re staying. If you’re staying more than a ten-minute walk from the town area, a car is necessary or you’ll need to depend on taxis and tour transportation.

๐Ÿš Shared or Private Shuttle

Several companies offer daily shared or private shuttles to get to Monteverde from different locations. I came from Nosara (which is 93 miles away, approximately a three-and-a-half hour drive) through a Tropical Tours private shuttle and it cost $120 USD.

When taking private shuttles in Costa Rica, you can request to make a stop along the way. I stopped in Nicoya, one of the five so-called โ€œBlue zonesโ€ to buy fresh fruits.

๐ŸšŒ Public Bus

You can take a bus to Monteverde from San Jose, Liberia or La Fortuna. Taking the bus is the budget option and will be the most inconvenient.

๐Ÿš• Taxi and/or Boat

If youโ€™re coming from La Fortuna, you can take a boat-taxi-boat ride for the most direct road to Monteverde.

I took a shared van-boat-van (or shuttle-boat-shuttle) to La Fortuna for $30 USD.

All official taxis in Costa Rica are red and have a yellow triangle on their side. Given that itโ€™s a popular tourist town, taxis will be readily available around Monteverde.

๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Walking

Monteverdeโ€™s town is relatively walkable, although a bit hilly. If you stay a bit outside the town like I did, note that sidewalks arenโ€™t available everywhere.

However, most top attractions in Monteverde are not within walking distance, but tour operators will include pick-up and drop-off transportation, usually by taxi or shuttle.

Unlike other tourist areas in Costa Rica, Monteverde does not have Uber.

Monteverde Map With Recommended Places

This Costa Rica map has all the recommended places in Monteverde pinned.

6 Great Things To Do in Monteverde

After experiencing a packed itinerary in Monteverde, here are some of the best things I recommend doing in rough priority order.

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 ask your hotel, Airbnb host or a booking service to provide recommendations.

1. Zip line over a Monteverde cloud forest

๐Ÿค” Why: Zip lining over a cloud forest is a very unique zip lining experience. Monteverde also has the longest zip line experience in Costa Rica which is almost a mile long.

The blog author hanging on a zipline overlooking a misty rainforest.
Zip lining through one of Monteverde’s cloud forests.

๐Ÿš— Getting there: There are several zip line tour operators in Monteverde.

  • The longest zip line in Costa Rica (about a mile long) is offered by 100% Aventura.
  • I booked with Selvatura Adventure Park which has the only zip line inside the Monteverde Cloud Forest and they provide transportation.

โฐ Suggested duration: Most zip line tours in Monteverde will last two to three hours. My tour was from 2:30 pm to 5 pm and included 12 cable lines and a Tarzan swing, which I highly recommend for its thrill.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: Most tours will cost $50 to $60 USD for the basic package, and you can pay extra for upgraded zip line styles (e.g., the โ€œSupermanโ€-style where you are tied in head-first). I paid $93 USD for both a sloth sanctuary and a zip line combo package.

๐Ÿ€ My take: Zip lining over Monteverdeโ€™s cloud forest was one of the highlights of my Costa Rica trip. Iโ€™ve zip lined in other countries and the neighboring La Fortuna town, but zip lining over a misty forest was fantastical and thrilling.

2. Visit a Monteverde cloud forest

๐Ÿค” Why: Monteverde is famous for its cloud forest reserves and has three of them:

The blog author standing on a platform surrounded by lush rainforest.
Stopping at a viewing platform inside Monteverde Cloud Forest.

๐Ÿฆ Popular activity: Monteverde’s cloud forests have hundreds of different birds, reptiles, mammals (e.g., howler monkeys) and amphibian species, so wildlife spotting and bird watching is 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 very popular in Monteverde.

๐Ÿš— Getting there: You can visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest on a guided or non-guided walking tour. I did this informative guided tour, which included pick-up and drop-off transportation. If youโ€™re visiting without a guide, the cloud forest is approximately four miles away (about a 20-minute drive) from the town area. It’ll be very difficult to spot wildlife without a guide.

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

โฐ Suggested duration: You can spend two to four hours in the Monteverde Cloud Forest; the walking trail is about eight miles long. My group tour lasted from 7:30 am to 11 am and that included time for transportation.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: The entrance fee for the Monteverde Cloud Forest is $25 USD. I paid $60 USD for a small-group guided tour and it included the entrance fee.

๐Ÿ€ My 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 wildlife that calls it home with a tour guide.

3. See sloths up close at a sloth sanctuary

๐Ÿค” Why: One of Costa Ricaโ€™s most iconic animals is the sloth and Monteverde has a sloth sanctuary thatโ€™s home to 20 of them.

A close-up of a sloth hanging upside down on tree branch while eating.
One of the 20 sloths at Monteverde’s sloth sanctuary.

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

โฐ Suggested duration: The sloth tour is exactly one hour and many visitors wish it was longer.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: The sloth sanctuary tour and entrance fee vary from $40 to $70 USD depending on when you go and if you combine it with other tour packages. I paid $93 USD for the sloth sanctuary and zip line combo package.

๐Ÿ€ My 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.

4. Go on a wildlife refuge night walk

๐Ÿค” Why: Monteverde is known for its biodiversity and wildlife, and since some animals become more active at night, a night walk gives you an increased opportunity to see nocturnal animals.

A close-up of a tucan at night.
Spotting a tucan during a Monteverde 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.

โฐ Suggested duration: A Monteverde night tour is typically two hours and after 7 pm. My tour was from 7:30 pm to 10 pm.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: Most Monteverde night tours will cost approximately $30 USD. I paid $32 USD which included a tip.

๐Ÿ€ My take: I went on multiple rainforest tours in Costa Rica and I would have happily replaced 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 time is a unique adventure.

5. Visit the butterfly garden, bat jungle or frog pond

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

The blog author holding a monarch butterfly.
Holding the butterfly I tried to release into the Monteverde butterfly garden.

๐Ÿš— Getting there: The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, Bat Jungle and Frog Pond are all within a 5-minute drive from the town area. You can grab a taxi to the former two and walk to the latter one.

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.

โฐ Suggested duration: I went to the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens and easily spent two hours there.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: The Monteverde Butterfly Garden has an $18 USD entrance fee, and the Bat Jungle and Frog Pond are $15 USD each.

๐Ÿ€ My take: Monteverde’s butterfly garden was more delightful than I expected.

6. Go on a chocolate and coffee tour

๐Ÿค” Why: Costa Rica is known to produce one of the highest-quality coffees 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.
On a chocolate and coffee tour in nearby La Fortuna.

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.

โฐ Suggested duration: Most coffee tours will last between two to three hours.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected cost: You can expect to pay between $30 to $50 USD for a coffee and chocolate tour in Monteverde.

๐Ÿ€ My take: Both Monteverde and nearby La Fortuna offer a ton of 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.

Other Things To Do in Monteverde

If youโ€™re spending more than two days in Monteverde, here are other activities you can do there in no particular order and roughly how much you can expect to spend per activity:

  • Canyoning tours ($50 to $60 USD)
  • Hike to El Tigre Waterfalls (here’s a highly-rated tour that has real hiking) ($50+ USD)
  • Sky tram and skywalk tours ($70+ USD)
  • Hanging bridges tour ($60+ USD)

2-Day Itinerary for Monteverde

Below is a great way to spend two days in Monteverde that you can incorporate into your Costa Rica itinerary. For more downtime, you can do everything in three days.

This two-day itinerary is the improved version of my Monteverde itinerary. Iโ€™ve included some of my actual timestamps to give you an idea of how long you might need for each activity and how to efficiently sequence things.

The Costa Rica trip planner below has this itinerary prefilled.

Day 1โ˜๏ธ Monteverde Cloud Forest tour (7:30โ€“11 am)
๐Ÿฆฅ Visit the sloth sanctuary (1โ€“2 pm)
๐ŸŒณ Cloud forest zip lining (2:30โ€“5 pm)
Day 2๐Ÿฆ‹ Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Garden (12โ€“2:30 pm)
๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Explore Monteverde’s town area (3โ€“5 pm)
๐Ÿฆ‡ Go on a wildlife refuge night walk (7:30โ€“10 pm)

For other Costa Rica itineraries: here’s an itinerary for La Fortuna, a nearby town with an active volcano, and a four-day itinerary for Nosara, one of Costa Rica’s top beach towns.

Accommodations in Monteverde

Here are things to consider when choosing where to stay in Monteverde and where I stayed.

๐Ÿ  What To Consider

When choosing accommodation in Monteverde, here are some things to consider:

  • Proximity to the main town area. Monteverdeโ€™s main town area is located on a hill and the areas right outside of it donโ€™t always have sidewalks. If you donโ€™t plan to eat at your hotel every day, you might want to stay closer to the town area since it has several good, authentic food options.
  • Hotel view. Monteverde is on a mountain so several hotels offer amazing views of the mountains.
A woman standing next to the end of a big rainbow.
A view of Monteverde’s rainbow right outside my accommodation.

๐Ÿ  Where I Stayed

During my trip to Monteverde, I stayed at a hotel and here are my honest thoughts on the accommodation:

I stayed at Rainbow Valley Lodge and paid ~$58 per night. The hotel offers cabin-style lodging where each booking gets their own bare-bone cabin that has a bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms.

  • Pros: The staff was nice and helpful, but Rainbow Valley Lodge’s biggest selling point is the view you get as most of their cabins are on the edge of a mountain.
  • Cons: The hotel is a 15-minute walk into the town area, which is usually very doable, but the colder climate and the lack of a consistent sidewalk made the trek into town for food somewhat inconvenient.
A giant rainbow against a sky over a valley.
A rainbow view from the Rainbow Valley Lodge.

Monteverde Trip Cost

My two-day trip in Monteverde cost a total of $544 USD and I averaged $272 per day.

Total CostCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$115$57
๐Ÿ› Food$59$29
๐Ÿš— Transportation$126$63
โญ Activities & Misc.$245$123

All my travel expenses are broken down by location and category in this Costa Rica cost guide.

Costa Rica Trip Planner

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

The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the 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 the Costa Rica trip planning template (built on Notion).
A Notion template screenshots is shown giving more details to the itinerary.
Preview of the Costa Rica trip planning template (built on Notion).

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

๐Ÿง‹ This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours writing each article to ensure its accuracy and conciseness. If you find my site helpful, you can say thanks by buying me bubble tea!

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