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Monteverde at a glance

Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde means green mountain in Spanish, and rightly so, as it is a lush, misty and cloudy small town nestled in the North Region at the edge of the Tilaran range, 110 miles from San Jose, but well worth the trek, as it is considered a premiere ecotourism destination. Newsweek recently named it as one of the 100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear, appearing as the Americas’ No. 14. National Geographic has named it the “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves.” It is no surprise that tourists and naturalists flock to this region to experience the captivating natural beauty, and unrivaled biodiversity that is Monteverde.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve was created in 1972, and is a 10,500 hectare region, composed of 90% untouched virgin forest, and thus considered one of the regions most prized travel locations.

Monteverdes’ variable climate and high altitude has helped to produce an extremely high level of biodiveristy. It is home to 2500 plant species – containing an unprecedented 34 our of 500 species worldwide, the highest concentration in any area.

The region boasts 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects. For this reason, in 2007, this area was named as one Costa Rica’s Seven Wonders, along with Isla del Coco, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Cerro Chirripó, Río Celeste and Poás Volcano. Monteverde is recognized around the world as being one of the most compelling wildlife refuges, and as such draws more than a staggering 250,000 scientists and tourists per anum.

Map of Monteverde

Monteverde Map
Travel times to popular Costa Rican destinations from Monteverde

From Monteverde to:
San Jose 2 h
San Ramon 2h:30m
Alajuela Airport 2h:45m
Arenal Volcano 4h:30m
*Approximate driving times

Car Boat Car transfer to La Fortuna (Arenal) has a duration of 2h:30m

Getting to Monteverde

Monteverde is approximately 95 miles from San Jose, and travel time by car or bus will generally run a minimum of 4 hours and it is not easy to get there, as you have to drive up a mountain to get to the cloud forest. Currently there are no flights into Monteverde, so you will need to go by bus, shuttle, car or boat. If you opt to go by car, you will actually be driving to Santa Elena, a small town just a few miles outside of the Monteverde Cloud Biological Reserve. For your convenience, we have posted driving directions.

Public Bus

Travel by bus albeit a more economical option, is not recommended if you are travelling with luggage or valuables, as it is less secure than the shuttle service. Also, for elderly passengers or those that are more sensitive to the elements, it should be noted that public buses generally do not have air conditioning, and tend to make many of stops along the way, thus making for a longer trip overall compared to the shuttle service option.

Shuttle Service

Shuttle service to and from Monteverde is a highly efficient, safe and comfortable option. In most cases the shuttle routes operate on a daily basis with multiple departure times. It is important to note that shuttle buses unlike a public bus, are more secure, direct, and comfortable as they are equipped with air conditioning and offer more personal attention to passengers and more direct routes translating to shorter travel times. The shuttle service is often booked days in advance by visitors so it is important to reserve your seat in advance to ensure availability.

Shared Shuttle Service Routes and Rates
Arenal – Monteverde Car Boat Car


If you decide to drive, be sure to rent a 4×4. The roads to Monterverde are mostly dirt, and are not well maintained. During rainy season, May – November, the drive can be especially difficult, and you will be unable to get to the reserve if you are not utilizing a 4×4. That said, from San Jose, get onto Highway 1 north and eventually, you will take the Sardinal exit. Fortunately, sections of the road going up Sardinal are paved. Before arriving in Santa Elena, you will pass through Guacimal. When all is said and done, you will have drivin over 100 miles, and the trek will have taken you at least 4 hours if not more, depending on conditions. Godspeed.

Getting around Monteverde

From Saint Elena you will be bearing eastward via a paved road reaching Cerro Plano. Then you will take a winding dirt road up the rest of the mountain. You will know you are close to the Clould reserve when you pass the Monteverde Cheese Factory sign. The road terminates when you reach the Monterverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Have fun, and be safe. Oh, and I forgot to mention, public buses are only $2 US and leave Santa Elena for the cloud reserve several times daily; 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Or you an opt to take a taxi for around $8.50 one-way. I should mention, that if you want to take trip to Arenal volcano while you are in Monteverde, you can take the boat across Arenal lake to the volcano. The trip costs around $26 US per person and takes less than 3 hours.

Public Bus to Monteverde ReserveOfficial Taxi from Santa Elena

Main Tours And Attractions

Monteverde offers many opportunities to expore the natrual beauty that is unique to the region, such as the famous cheese factory and the auspicious cloud forests. For the more adventurous, there are many trails to hike on, as well as an 8 day 7 night tropical expedition tour which explores Monteverde and the surrounding area in more detail. Canopy and Zip lin tours are also available.

Or you might just want to bask in the natural envirnoment that is Monteverde.