Traveling with Stephy

A complete Monteverde travel guide: everything you need to know

When you picture Costa Rica, you probably think first about unspoiled beaches and intense jungle, correct? What if I told you that in addition to all that, there is a place in the middle of Costa Rica where there is a huge Cloud Forest? Monteverde is, without a doubt, a must-do while in Costa Rica! In this blog post, I share my ultimate Monteverde travel guide with everything you need to know to organize your trip and enjoy the region to the fullest! 


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Monteverde is located inside the Puntarenas Province in the Northwestern part of Costa Rica. More precisely, the Monteverde region can be reached from San Jose airport or Liberia airport in more than 2 hours by car. Book your car at the best prices now!
In case you don’t want to rent a car, no worries, I got you! Indeed, there is a direct bus from San Jose MEPE Terminal that gets to Monteverde. It costs less than 3 colons per person and takes about 4.5 hours with many sinuous turns. Plan ahead and book your journey now!
“Due to its location, Monteverde can be a great first (or final) stop of your Costa Rican road trip!”

How long to stay in Monteverde?

Since Monteverde is in the middle of the Costa Rican mountains, the place is perfect for people that love hiking and seeking some thrilling adventures such as zip lining or rafting! Consequently, I highly recommend staying in Monteverde for at least 2 entire days. If you have the chance to slow travel, spending a week in the area is even more ideal! 
“As mentioned above, Monteverde’s climate is different from the other parts of Costa Rica. Therefore, I highly suggest taking a rainjacket and pullover as the temperature drops at the end of the day.”

Where to stay in Monteverde?

One thing to know is that usually visitors don’t stay in Monteverde town but in Santa Elena town (the town next to Monteverde village). One of the reasons is that Santa Elena offers cheaper accommodation options with notably a lot of different hostels. The center of town is also alive, packed with many restaurants and bars. On the contrary, Monteverde town is well-known to have various luxury resorts but without many things to do in the center of town.

We stayed in a lovely and clean hostel right in the center of Santa Elena town and I can’t recommend enough this place! We had a private room with an en-suite bathroom and two big double beds for less than $20 US per night. How awesome is that! On top of that, the common kitchen is massive with all you need to cook. 

How to move around Monteverde?

The Monteverde region is only served by one public bus, that goes from Monteverde town to Santa Elena center back and forth. Hence, it can be a bit tricky to go from one place to another by public transportation other than the center of the town. That’s why I highly recommend that you rent a car during your stay in Costa Rica or at least during your time in the Monteverde region. However, if you don’t have the budget for renting a car, you can still do some activities thanks to the shuttle provided by the tour operator. Note that Uber or Grab apps won’t work in the Monteverde region, unfortunately.  

Where to eat in Monteverde?

Santa Elena town offers different types of cuisine but from what we experienced, I can highly recommend the following two restaurants:
  • Tree House restaurant for a great pizza night and cocktails // prices: $$
  • The Open Kitchen for a great breakfast and deserts // prices: $$

What to do in Monteverde?

Monteverde is packed with many things to do from ziplining and kayaking to hiking in the rainforest. The place is a pure Heaven for all nature lovers up there! Don’t forget to check out the best tour experiences in Monteverde here! There are so many guided activities you can do during your stay in Monteverde, it would be a shame to miss them out.

El Tigre Waterfalls

El Tigre Waterfalls is a private lush reserve located 30 minutes away North of Santa Elena town. The park offers breathtaking sceneries along an 8,00 km path through nature. In addition to incredible views and green landscape, you will cross several hanging bridges. Not to mention that you will chase four huge waterfalls! Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit since you can even swim in the natural pool of some of them. 
Since the trail is quite long and steep, hiking shoes are necessary. Actually, staff won’t let you in if you don’t have proper and closed shoes. It takes approximately 4 hours to complete the hike if you take time to stop at the several waterfalls.
Alternative option: 
If you don’t feel to hike that much, there is an option where you have to hike “only” the five first kilometers, and then you can finish the walk by jeep. In addition, you will have a typical lunch at the restaurant. 
“As this place is very remote, I highly suggest you arrange transportation with El Tigre waterfalls directly (even though you have your own car). It costs $10 US round trip.”

entrance (hike only): $ USD 29
entrance (hike + jeep + lunch): $ USD 59

open daily from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm (last entrance)

Aguti Reserve

Aguti Reserve is a protected area that is part of the largest conservation complex that includes notably Monteverde Reserve and Santa Elena Reserve. One great advantage of this place is that you can reach it on foot from Santa Elena town. It takes approximately 25 minutes. 
The reserve is filled with many trails inside a rainforest. Count about 3 hours to complete all the hikes within the park. I must warn you that the direction of the trail is not very well indicated at some point. Therefore, I advise you to download the hiking map at the entrance of the park with the QR code for the map. 
“Aguti Reserve is a great place if you want to spend some time in the primary forest and hike several kilometers. It was not the best place to spot wildlife (even though we saw different birds and a group of coatis during our hike) but definitely a great place to observe the impressive flora!”

self-guided hike: USD $ 15

open daily from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm

Valle Escondido Nature Reserve

Valle Escondido Nature Reserve is a private reserve of 17 hectares that offers also nice accommodation. The property is filled with easy trails along the pristine forest and offers great unobstructed views of the Could forest with several observatory platforms. Consequently, this park is ideal to do a bird-watching tour (by yourself or with a guide).
“The park can be reached on foot from Santa Elana town in 30 minutes towards the south.”

self-guided tour: $ USD 18 per person
bird watching tour: $ USD 65 per person

open daily from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm

Reserve Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena

Reserve Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, also known as Santa Elana Cloud Forest is a place from another world! No words are strong enough to describe the atmosphere you will feel once you are inside the cloud forest. 
The park is packed with different trails for a total of about 12 kilometers. The trails are well-marked and easy. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete all the different trails.
The reserve can be reached by car as the road is alright or by shuttle ($ 6 US round trip from Santa Elena town). No public bus available. 
“I know that usually people visit Monteverde Cloud Forest instead of Santa Elena Cloud Forest. However, at the time of our visit, the famous reserve had its main bridge completely broken.”

$ USD 16 per adult

open daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

In conclusion

In summary, Monteverde is the ideal place to visit if you are seeking some adventures in nature! Moreover, Monteverde is one of the rare places where you can spot the national bird of Costa Rica called the Quetzal
Anyway, I sincerely hope my ultimate Monteverde travel guide has helped you plan your next visit to Monteverde and that you will love the region as much as we did! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
In the meantime, don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Costa Rica.
Sending you lots of love, 
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