9 Best Things to Do in Monteverde, Costa Rica (Full Guide)

9 things to do in Monteverde

Monteverde is a unique place and not to be missed while traveling to Costa Rica! Drive a beautiful winding road across the mountains to reach the small hilltop town of Santa Elena. There are many hotels and restaurants here, making Santa Elena a great base from which to explore Monteverde’s amazing nature.

1. Monteverde Cloud Forest

A visit to the Cloud Forest is one of the most popular things to do in Monteverde. This is mainly due to their rare and unique properties (cloud forests make up only 1% of all forests in the world!). Due to its high altitude, this forest type gets its name from the low clouds and fog that creep through the trees. It also means they are a haven for many wildlife, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest is no exception.

As you explore the forest, you’ll discover hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and insects, as well as fascinating flora and fauna, such as hanging legs like the waterfall La Fortuna.

Open 7 days a week from 7 am to 4 pm. Self-guided tickets are $25 per person, but a guided tour is recommended to see more animals. It can be cloudy and rainy, so please bring what you need.

2. La Reserva Bosque Nuboso, Santa Elena

Because of its popularity, Monteverde Cloud Forest can be crowded with people on the trails. Another alternative is the equally beautiful but much quieter Santa Elena Cloud Forest. With 13 kilometers of trails, you can explore a fantastic diversity of plants and animals.
Open daily 7am – 3pm

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Things to Do in Monteverde Costa Rica

memo: Santa Elena and Monteverde Cloud Forest are beautiful with or without a guide. However, if you want to see more animals, we recommend that you accompany your guide here. But suppose you really want to see one of the most jaw-dropping rainforest sanctuaries on the planet. In that case, we recommend Mistico in La Fortuna, which is about a three-hour drive away.

3. Colibri Coffee

Located at the entrance to the Monteverde Mistweed Forest, Colibri Cafe is a beautiful place to stop and refresh and enjoy the peace of nature after a hike. As you sit and sip your famous Costa Rican coffee, hummingbirds fly around your head and you are drawn to this spot by the sugar waters hanging around your patio. This is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. Getting up close to these amazing and unusual birds is very special.

4. Night Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest

You may have taken a walk during the day, but if you want a different feel, try a walk at night! Monteverde offers the experience of seeing fantastic wildlife living under the moon and stars in the rainforest. On foot, your guide will help you wander through the woods and find amazing nocturnal animals.

5. Zipline at Sky Adventure

Monteverde isn’t just about serene forests and peaceful wildlife. You can also pump your adrenaline with the many outdoor activities on offer. One of the most popular things to do is zipline through the forest with SkyAdventures. You will get the opportunity to fly over the forest and see the cloud forest from a completely different perspective. You can also try other activities, such as descents or Superman ziplines (where you lie on your front). The Zipline Circuit costs US$84 per person and is open from 8am to 3pm.

If you don’t like the adrenaline rush, there’s also a Sky Gondola that lets you climb high above the forest, or a more serene bridge where you can leisurely stroll among the treetops. (Book here)

6. Gorge, Monteverde

Canyoneering is also a popular experience in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This activity offers the opportunity to cross sheer walls and waterfalls into canyons and rivers that flow down. It’s a completely different way to see the majestic wildlife and nature with a little bit of freshness and refreshing water!

7. Frog Pond and Butterfly Garden

frog pond

Costa Rica is famous for its abundance of rare and beautiful wildlife. However, it is particularly popular as a habitat for red-eyed tree frogs and other colorful amphibian species. If you haven’t seen them in the wild yet, you can head to Santa Elena’s Frog Pond to see more than 25 different species of frogs.

Buy a ticket and enjoy a variety of colored frogs throughout the day. Or you can come at night with the same ticket. Many species are nocturnal, so this could be a better time. This means the Frog Pond actually comes to life with noise! If you want to learn interesting facts about frogs and get a little help in finding the more mysterious species, opt for a guided tour. Open daily from 9am to 8pm.

butterfly garden

Nearby is the Butterfly Garden, another natural oasis in Monteverde (it is home to 30 species of butterflies of different colors, shapes and sizes). It will be breathtaking to see all the beautiful and graceful butterflies flying in this tropical paradise. Along with your guide, you will learn some interesting facts about butterflies. Also, they will point to a variety of insects as well as monkeys that live just above the treetops. Open daily 9am – 3:30pm

8. Coffee Tour, Monteverde

Monteverde’s coffee culture is huge and there’s nothing better than enjoying a fresh brew on a morning when the fog clears and the sun rises. Besides tasting coffee, it is interesting to learn how coffee is made, a process that is a big part of Monteverde culture.

Close to the Cloud Forest, Cafe de Monteverde is one of the most famous coffee plantations in all of Costa Rica. There are daily guided tours (8:30am, 9:30am and 2pm) where you can learn about farming, harvesting, baking and production. You can also taste 5 types of freshly brewed coffee. Delicious! The cost is USD 35 per person for a 2.5 hour tour.

9. Equestrian Trekking

Equestrian trekking on the high ridges above Monteverde and below the deep green valleys is an experience like no other! It’s a different way to see nature and find secret trails off the untouched paths. Various tours depart from Monteverde, led by guides who are knowledgeable about the area’s horses and other wildlife. From one afternoon onwards, you can choose from a tour through the countryside for several days.

This horse tour is in Santa Teresa.

Horses are amazing animals that must be treated with great care and respect. For this reason, always carefully research your equestrian trekking tour to make sure it is properly maintained.

Best restaurants in Monteverde

Santa Elena in Monteverde has many restaurants to choose from and great cafes selling perfectly brewed local coffees. Here are our favorites:

  • Bon appetite! (Italian)
  • Taco Taco (Mexico)
  • Soda from Rancho de Juanita (Costa Rica)
  • Thomas & Thiago Restaurant
  • monteverde coffee shop
  • tree house

Where to Stay in Monteverde

Monteverde offers a variety of accommodation options. Choose from beautiful huts in the woods (such as Selina Monteverde) in Cloud Forest or within walking distance to hotels near Santa Elena. (View all hotel options here)

A popular spot is Santa Elena, as most accommodations are located here, and it is still a good base from which to explore the area. You can also find restaurants, travel agencies and supermarkets here. The town and surrounding area are very hilly, so we recommend a car to get from A to B easily.

Los Pinos Lodge

Kira Glamping

Are you staying in Selina? Discount Code: Use SALT-SELINA to get 10% discount on our website.

campsite

Planning a camping trip in Monteverde? Stay overnight at Camping Monteverde Tino y Carmen or Restaurante Turin – Camping & Jardines.

How to visit Monteverde, Costa Rica

by car

When coming to Monteverde, we recommend that you bring a powerful car as the road can be quite bumpy when going up the mountain. There is one well maintained paved road called Route 606 (for regular vehicles). Otherwise, Route 145 is bumpy and not suitable for regular vehicles. However, while you may want a more powerful vehicle for your trip, you don’t necessarily need a 4×4 to visit Monteverde.

  • The journey from San Jose Airport is 2.5 hours.
  • The journey from Liberia airport takes more than 2 hours.
  • About 3 hours and 30 minutes from La Fortuna.

When using public transportation/shuttle bus

Buses depart directly from San Jose to Monteverde and take approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes ($6 USD). However, for a more comfortable and slightly faster trip, opt for the public shuttle bus, which costs around $3.5 (about $55 USD per person). From La Fortuna it will take about 7.5 hours.

Buses depart from Liberia but are not direct. A taxi from Canas or Las Juntas should always be the last few hours of your trip.

Take a tour

Although Santa Elena is a small town, the hills are very high and it can be difficult to get around town and the area around Monteverde. Because of this, owning a vehicle is the best option. It also gives you the flexibility to tour the area with a variety of cloud forests. If you do not have a car, the hotel can arrange a shuttle bus. Travel agents also offer this service, usually as part of the ticket price or at an additional cost.

monteverde budget

Monteverde is slightly cheaper than most destinations in Costa Rica. Expect to pay 20 – 200 USD per night for a room and 7 – 30 USD for a meal. Most things to do in Monteverde have an average entrance fee of $20. For example, national parks and waterfalls. As in most places in Costa Rica, tap water is safe to drink in Uvita.

budget

  • Hotel: 20 – 200 USD/night
  • Hostel: 10 – 90 USD/night
  • Price per meal: 7 – 30 USD
  • Admission: 5 – 40 USD

Best time to visit Monteverde

Monteverde is blue and sweet all year round due to its rainy weather. Monteverde is 1440 meters above sea level, so it is much cooler in the mountains than on the coast.

December to April is usually the best time to visit as it is the best driver season to travel. Animals will also be more visible in the jungle as they do not escape the rain. Visiting during the wet season of September and October is not a good idea as the roads can be very muddy when it rains and travel can be particularly difficult.

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