One of my favorite aspects of traveling a country is it’s ability to make you feel like you have traveled to another planet simply by catching a bus or local flight. That feeling of being completely amazed and asking yourself if you’re still in the same country. Costa Rica did just that! After spending time at a remote beach soaking up the hot sun in Puerto Viejo we headed to San Jose – a large modern city with all the creature comforts and rather comfortable weather. And our final stop, Monteverde, a place where thick green cloud forest and eerie weather made us feel like aliens to the planet. Monteverde would be my favorite stop in Costa Rica and it’s likely to be yours too. This guide will explain all of the things to do in Monteverde and where to stay in Monteverde allowing you to be close to the cloud forest.
Getting to Monteverde
From San Jose – From San Jose their are only two direct buses to Monteverde that leave daily from Terminal 7 -10. The company is called “Trans Monteverde”, they only had two times 6:30am, 2:30pm (bus times are the same in reverse) and cost $5usd. The journey takes five hours and the bus really is not comfortable for tall people. Tickets can be booked online at www.laterminalcostarica.com or directly at the station. In high season I recommended booking in advance online. A private shuttle is available, however, this will cost around $50usd.
From San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – This journey is rather complicated by local bus and involves five buses. We have written an entire post about this journey, check it out here. There is the easier option of a private transfer. The transfer includes help crossing the border and a more pleasant bus journey. These cost around $50usd (although we have heard of one for $35usd) with that in mind it only cost us $11usd by local bus.
Where to stay in Monteverde
If you, like us, are heading to Monteverde to see unique and amazing wildlife then why stay in the town of Santa Elena? We had no interest of staying anywhere but in the surrounding forest and there are a few options for those a little more adventurous. With our budget in mind we chose Hotel El Bosque. Hotel El Bosque is 2.5km from town and its location is perfect. We had not only put ourselves in walking distance from the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest but also where we could watch humming birds from our bedroom window. The hotel was clean, staff were friendly and the grounds where breathtaking. So my advice is to get out of town and surround yourself with nature.
Things to do in Monteverde
Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest
As far as things to do in Monteverde go, this was my favorite by far! We only had time for one cloud forest in Monteverde and this was our best option. The place is simply amazing, from the moment we walked in I was blown away. Although more expensive than the other cloud forests, Monteverde Cloud Forest also boasts a beautiful waterfall, several amazing lookouts and a massive hanging bridge! Their are about 6 different trails that take you through this amazing forest so make sure you allow yourself ample time to explore.
Entrance Fee – The entrance to the park is $20usd however be sure to take your student ID for a 50% discount!
Getting there – All taxi’s will take you to Monteverde Cloud Forest and will charge around $6-$8usd for the trip from Santa Elena. There is, however, a bus that leaves from the terminal in town and picks up from anywhere on the main road (route 620) on the way to the cloud forest. Departure times are 6:15am, 7:00am, 1:20pm and 3:00pm and return at 11:00am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. The bus costs $1usd each way and does not need to be booked in advance.
*Important – On your way to the Monteverde Cloud Forest about 1km from the entrance there is a sign to buy tickets/tourist information. This is a waste of time and in no way connected to the park. The rangers told us that in peak season stopping here in the morning can add 2 hours to your wait time to enter the trails.
Climb the Famous Ficus Tree
Located just outside of the town Santa Elena is where you can climb this magnificent tree. Hollowed out all the way to the top with the trees root and body system, this Ficus tree is like no other. Climbing the tree is not for the faint hearted and once you reach the top you can climb out onto the branches some 50ft up. There are no guard rails or climbing aids so be sure to hold on!
Cost – Climbing the tree is free!
*Important – Please see map below for location
Bird watching is very popular in Monteverde and many people take a local guide and go explore. With our budget in mind we took it upon ourselves to explore and see some amazing birds. And lucky for us right next door to Hotel El Bosque was one of the famous bird watching areas, I loved the humming birds the most and if you haven’t seen many before I guarantee you will here!
Cost – Tours started from $20usd but seeing them for yourself is free!
There are many more things to do in Monteverde however we couldn’t find time to do it all! Let us know if you did anything amazing not listed here!
Where to go Next
San Jose – One very underrated city that offers some interesting stuff to do! Check out our guide to San Jose Here.
Nicaragua – If your heading North then San Juan del Sur would be an awesome next destination! Read our visitors guide here.
That wraps up my things to do in Monteverde guide and my favorite place in Costa Rica! I hope you enjoy Monteverde as much as I did. If you found this blog helpful please leave us a comment, we really appreciate any support we can get! Cheers!
Like it? Pin it! Click HERE