San José is Costa Rica’s capital, a bustling city often neglected in travellers’ itineraries. Sure, it is not as iconic as the country’s many beach and jungle destinations, but it can also be quite charming if you give it a chance.
Check out the colonial buildings turned museums at Barrio Amon, try out the famed restaurants at Barrio Escalante, or party the night away in El Pueblo. Just a bit outside the city limits of San José, you can also visit Poas Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
How to get from Monteverde to San Jose
The driving distance between Monteverde to San José is 135 km (84 miles). The drive takes between 2.5 and 6 hours depending on whether you get there by minivan (2.5-3 hours), a private car (2.5 hours), or a public bus to San José(5.5-6 hours). Ticket costs range from ($5.50) – ($193).
3 ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose (Sorted by popularity)
The minivan is a very convenient way to get to San Jose with rates from $44 (27,000 CRC). Shared minivans offer free hotel pick-up in Monteverde and drop-off in San José. Apart from one bathroom break along the way, there are no other stops between the 2 cities so the journey can be completed in around 3.5 hours.
We recommend a private transfer for group travellers. It’s the fastest option at only around 2.5 hours to get to San José from Monteverde. If you travel with a group, the costs can be even cheaper than the shared minivan. Rates start from $193 (117,000 CRC) for a vehicle that can fit 7 people.
The bus is the cheapest option to get from Monteverde to San José, but not exactly the most reliable. While a ticket costs only $5.50 (3,000 CRC), buses make a lot of stops to pick up and drop off passengers so travel time can take up to 5.5 hours, 2 hours longer than the minivan. Buses in Costa Rica are also prone to petty thieves!
New to San Jose? Our compact San Jose guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to San Jose!
Because minivans make fewer stops, most minivans are faster and more reliable compared to buses in Costa Rica. We recommend them for solo travellers or couples who rather not spend more than 5 hours on the bus. The journey to get to San Jose from Monteverde by Minivan takes around 3.5 hours.
You can choose from 3 minivan operators to San José city centre: RideCR, Interbus and Gray Line. All of them offer free hotel pick-up in Monteverde and drop-off in San José. For easy and advanced booking, you can buy your ticket online on BookAway.
Want to travel from Monteverde to San Jose Airport? Then you can take Tropical Tours Shuttle. Reservation can be done via their own website.
Minivan rates start from $44 (27,000 CRC) per person.
Booking online will save you the hassle of visiting the minivan offices prior to your trip!
Monteverde to San Jose by Private Transfer
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: from $193 (117,000 CRC)
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: from $193 (117,000 CRC)
A private transfer is the fastest option from Monteverde to San José. That’s because they don’t make a lot of stops like the bus or the minivan. We recommend this especially when you’re heading to San Jose Airport and hoping to catch a flight.
Rates start from $193 (117,000 CRC) for a 7-seater car and the journey will take 2-3 hours. Looks expensive? Not when you’re travelling in a group. Depending on the number of people you travel with, sharing a 7-seater private transfer can be as cheap as $27.50. Even if you are with just 4 people, it will already be the same price as a shared mini-van.
For larger groups, there’s also an 18-seater bus from Monteverde to San Jose for $344 (208,000 CRC).
Also for the private transfer, we like booking our ride through BookAway. They offer spacious cars with good drivers. And in case you have any complaints, their 24-hour customer service is always ready to assist!
Bus tickets are around $1 cheaper when you buy them at the bus terminal. But since there is only one daily trip, it’s safer to book them online beforehand for $5.50 (3,000 CRC). Tickets are available on the Transmonteverde website.
You can also buy tickets through the popular booking platform Guatego, but they’re $10 more expensive there.
PRO TIP: Do be mindful of your luggage if you travel by bus! Bigger ones will be stored in the compartment below. Make sure they’re inside before boarding the bus and don’t forget to get your luggage ticket. As for smaller bags with your valuables, they’re safer in front of you (between your legs) than on the overhead bin.
Barceló hotel blows most other city hotels out of the water. It has amenities usually only found in resorts and for extortionate prices. Here you’ll find an outdoor pool, spa, gym, 3 squash courts and 2 tennis courts. Plus they offer a free airport shuttle.
If you don’t fancy venturing out of the hotel to get some food, no worries! There’s 3 restaurants and a bar on site offering a variety of different cuisines. The rooms are spacious and clean, offering comfortable beds for a good night's sleep.
Isla Verde Hotel is a real gem within the urban jungle that is San Jose. They have so many extras that you wouldn’t expect for the price - a gym, free shuttle to the airport and a great breakfast every morning.
The hotel is ultra-modern, boasting some beautifully designed rooms and seating areas. All of which are very clean and comfortable. If you don’t feel like venturing too far for food, their onsite restaurant selling Cantonese food is highly reviewed!
Eco Stay Hostel can start to feel like home after a while as it has a shared living room, communal kitchen, a lovely garden area, and even barbeque facilities. You can also spend your evenings having a friendly competition of snooker or darts.
The friendly hosts also make you feel at home. Making sure that your room is clean and comfortable, whilst offering their help in any way that they can. The rooms are basic, but nicely decorated and have everything you could need whilst in San Jose.