Monteverde feels like a tropical ski resort, nestled in the mountains, filled with cosy bars and restaurants, but without the snow.
It’s home to a number of adventure parks boasting bungee jumps, tarzan swings and the longest zipline in the whole of Central America.
Thanks to Monteverde’s location within the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, you’ll be treated to spectacular views everywhere you look. Imagine white dreamy clouds rolling across a landscape of lush mountains.
A reason for Monteverde’s biodiversity is the existence of two large cloud forests – Monteverde and Santa Elena cloud forests. These are areas with heavy moisture and rainfall that encourages different types of vegetation and ecosystems to grow compared to other forests.
If you’re visiting Monteverde soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this peaceful mountain town in Costa Rica.
Within hours of being in Monteverde, you will feel the friendly community vibe of the small town. Locals know each other really well and work together to preserve Monteverde, whilst promoting it as an ecotourism destination.
Monteverde sits at an altitude of 1,440 m, but don’t expect it to be that cold. The area has a tropical rainforest climate that remains warm, humid and rainy all year round. Although its annual temperature is around 29°C, there’s a lot of rain a lot of the time. Make sure to bring a raincoat!
How long should you stay in Monteverde?
Although there’s plenty to do in Monteverde, you don’t need to spend a full week here to explore its surroundings. The ideal length of time is between 2-3 days. This gives you enough time to do everything you’ll want to do like an adventure park, cloud forests, coffee tasting and night walks!
Picking where to stay in Monteverde is easy as there’s really only one option. Monteverde covers a large area, whilst Santa Elena is the town that you’ll want to stay in.
Santa Elena Downtown — the gateway to Monteverde’s widespread area
Santa Elena is the gateway to all that the area of Monteverde has to offer. It boasts a tropical ski-resort feel thanks to its location in the mountains and the cosy, quaint feeling of the town.
It’s also the main town where you’ll find the supermarkets, restaurants, bars and the majority of the accommodation.
You will find accommodation on the roads leading into Santa Elena, as well as actually within the town. Expect a whole host of options: from hostels, homestays and Airbnbs to luxury ecolodges.
Dorm beds start from $6 per night, while private rooms range from $20 all the way up to $250!
Best places to eat in Monteverde
The streets of Santa Elena downtown are lined with restaurants, bars and cafes offering all types of cuisine and taste. You can find everything from healthy vegetarian restaurants to taquerias, Italian and traditional Costa Rican food.
Prices are slightly higher in Monteverde compared to other destinations in Costa Rica. The reason for this is that the transportation of the ingredients to the mountainous town can be a little tricky.
Don’t worry, though, you’ll still get a lot of value and absolutely delicious dishes if you visit one of our three favourite places to eat:
Orchid Coffee — colourful bursts of flavour and great coffee
Bursting with colourful and delicious ingredients, the food at Orchid Coffee is like a rainbow on your plate.
The unsuspecting cafe flourishes when it comes to breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes. You’ll be able to try a variety of salads, waffles, crepes, paninis, pitas, casado and omelettes. Honestly, the mouth-watering list just goes on and on!
And all of this coupled with some of the best coffee in town!
Treehouse Restaurant — it literally has a tree going through the middle
Treehouse is one of the most popular restaurants in Monteverde, mainly due to its extravagant and unique interior. The restaurant is set around a fig tree that literally goes straight through the middle.
The portions are large, something we all like to hear, and the food will leave you feeling full and satisfied. The restaurant serves predominantly Costa Rican dishes, with a focus on tasty seafood dishes.
Morphos — one of the best views in Monteverde
Ask somebody what their favourite thing about Morphos is, and they’ll probably tell you about the amazing sunset views. Then very closely followed by the flavourful food and friendly staff.
The small restaurant often provides live entertainment that perfectly compliments the stunning views. A great way to end the day! Morphos has an extensive cocktail list and a whole host of Costa Rican dishes.
Getting around Santa Elena Downtown is easy. It’s only a small town that is within walking distance of most accommodations. Venturing further afield will require different forms of transport.
Despite Monteverde being pretty steep and hilly, it’s a beautiful and welcoming area to walk around. Pretty much every path around town offers spectacular views of the rolling clouds against the mountains. Walking gives you time to fully appreciate this!
The town of Santa Elena is pretty small, and most accommodations will be within walking distance.
If you’re travelling by yourself or you just want to save some money, then the bus may be the best option for you.
It’s a slower mode of transportation, but the local bus can still get you to the ever-popular Monteverde Cloud Forest. The bus runs from 06:00 to 15:00 and only costs $1 each way.
You can hop on the bus at the main square of Santa Elena.
There are plenty of taxis in town. They tend to roam around the main square, but you’ll also be able to find them on most other streets.
You can recognise the local taxis by their red exterior. A lot of them won’t have a meter, so make sure to agree on a price before you get in.
To give you an example, from Santa Elena downtown to Monteverde Cloud Forest should cost around $10 and to Santa Elena Cloud Forest, $13.
Having a car can be useful in Monteverde. It allows you the freedom to visit sites on your own time schedule and not have to worry about organising transportation. It also makes getting to and from Monteverde considerably easier.
If you’re travelling to Monteverde during the rainy season (May to October), we’d recommend having an SUV. The road leading to Monteverde is steep and rocky, and so are some of the roads around the town. It’s nice not to have to worry about whether your car is going to make it the whole time! SUVs available for rent in Monteverde start from $33 a day.
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Monteverde. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in Monteverde. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Monteverde.
Our favourite places to stay in Monteverde
Hotel & Spa Poco a Poco – Treating yourself
This place is a real treat. You can even book a room that has its own private jacuzzi. If you don’t want to splash out too much, you can still enjoy their covered heated pool, spa and beautiful gardens.
After a long day of exploring, head to their onsite restaurant offering super tasty dishes. They combine both local products from Monteverde and exotic ingredients to create exciting and delicious flavours. The rooms, as well as their staff, are both fabulous too.
If you’re looking for complete relaxation, Calathea is the perfect place for that! It’s situated slightly further from the main town, but still only a walk away from the main town. That means ultimate peace and quiet.
The rooms are bright, open and comfortable. All with a private patio or balcony where you can sit back and watch the wildlife. The staff are super friendly, and will help to organise your activities in Monteverde. They also provide a superb breakfast to set you up right for the day.
Eddy’s Place in a unique and unforgettable place in Monteverde. This small family-run hotel only has 4 rooms, with Freddy the main host, making you feel at home immediately. His breakfast every morning is delicious, very filling and an experience.
The rooms are nice and big, with exceptionally comfortable beds. You’ll definitely be getting a good night’s sleep here. In the morning you’ll wake up to an array of wildlife in the jungle around the hotel.
Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Aleksandra is a writer and editor who recently moved from Hong Kong to London. She’s worked and studied in four countries (and counting) and picked up a new hobby in each of them. She’s a big fan of long train journeys so you can count on her to take the scenic route, finding a few hidden gems along the way.