Located in the Central Valley, San Jose is the most common starting point to one of Costa Rica’s most iconic destinations – Monteverde. Monteverde cloud forest is the perfect break from the country’s many beautiful beaches.
With its lush mountains forever touching the clouds, Monteverde is rich in flora and fauna – 2,500 species of plants, 400 types of birds, and 100 varieties of mammals! This district is green, moist, and beautiful all year round, but if you want to explore it with a bit of sunshine, time your visit in summer (June to September).
How to get from San Jose to Monteverde
The driving distance from San Jose and Monteverde (Puntarenas) is 135 km (84 miles). You can travel this distance by shared minivan (2.5-3 hours), private car (2.5 hours), or by taking a public bus from San Jose station to Monteverde (5.5-6 hours). Ticket costs range from ($5.50) – ($146).
3 ways to get from San Jose to Monteverde (Sorted by popularity)
The minivan is a shuttle service that brings you in 2.5-3.5 hours to Monteverde. Tickets include free pick up and you can also book a minivan that picks you up at San Jose Airport.
Travelling in a group? Depending on the number of people you travel with, booking a private transfer can be cheaper than a minivan ride. Rates start already from $146 (88,000 CRC) for a private shuttle from San Jose to Monteverde.
On a budget? The public bus is a popular option with locals and backpackers because it is cheaper than a minivan. It’s worth noting that because of traffic and its many stops, it is also the slowest. Travel time from San Jose to Monteverde can take around 5.5 hours. On top of that, be aware of your belongings. There have been reports of stolen luggage on buses in Costa Rica.
New to Monteverde? Our compact Monteverde guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Monteverde!
Taking a van from San Jose to Monteverde is an easy and comfortable way to get there. The air-conditioned van drive will take 2.5-3.5 hours depending on the company you book with.
The most popular minivan companies are Paradise Shuttle, Interbus and RideCR. The tickets with the RideCR minibus already start from $42 (25,000 CRC), but the journey will take longer than with Paradise Shuttle and Interbus.
Pick-up and drop-off
All minivans provide free pick-up from your hotel in San Jose. After a 2.5 to 3.5-hour scenic trip, you will be dropped off at your destination in Santa Elena and Monteverde area.
Paradise Shuttle also has 2 vans that leave from San Jose Airport. If you book this option, a driver will be waiting for you at the arrival hall with a sign with your name on it.
BookAway is our preferred booking website for its top-notch customer service and availability of all mentioned minibus operators.
San Jose to Monteverde by Private Transfer
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: $146 (88,000 CRC)
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: $146 (88,000 CRC)
Travelling in a group?
You can already book your private transport from San Jose to Monteverde/Sante Elena from $146 (88,000 CRC). If you travel with 3-4 people this is often a better option because you don’t need to wait on picking up other travellers.
If you travel with a larger group, you can also book a minivan with a capacity of 6, 10 or even 18 people. A 10-seater minivan can already be booked for $198 (120,000 CRC). This means the journey would only cost about $20 per person if you have a full van.
Keep in mind the high number of stops, making the journey last longer.
PRO TIP: Local travel links, including the bus station in San Jose, can attract thieves, so keep your belongings in sight. Don't board the bus until your bigger bags are inside the luggage compartment, and be sure to get your luggage ticket. It's best to keep smaller bags, containing your valuables, in front of you or between your feet, instead of in overhead storage.
A ticket for this public bus costs $5.50 (3,000 CRC) when you buy it online through the Transmonteverde website. We highly recommend booking online for guaranteed seats.
If you’re willing to take the risk of tickets being sold out, you can buy them directly at the bus station in San Jose downtown for $1 cheaper on the day of your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I travel straight from San Jose Airport to Monteverde?
Yes, there are two transportation options to travel straight from San Jose Airport to Monteverde.
Paradise Shuttle perates shared shuttles from San Jose Airport from $55 (33,000 CRC). The driver will be waiting for you at the arrival hall with a sign with your name on it.
What is the airport code for San Jose Costa Rica?
The official airport code (IATA) for San Jose, Costa Rica is “SJO”. This IATA code is derived from the official name of San Jose airport: “Juan Santamaría International Airport”.
Note that San Jose, Costa Rica airport is often confused with San Jose airport in California, which is officially named “San Jose International Airport”, but has the ITATA code SJC.
What is the best time to visit Monteverde?
To start with, when visiting Monteverde don’t expect a bright blue sky with high temperatures. Due to Monteverde high altitude at 4,662 feet (1,440 m) above sea level, temperatures are colder than in the rest of Costa Rica. Temperatures in Monteverde are around 24 degrees (75°F) all year round, but it can cool down significantly overnight.
If you want to visit Monteverde with less rain, we recommend going in the dry season which is between November to May. The rainy season lasts from June to October, but you can still be lucky to find some good weather in July and August. Same for the dry season, even during these months, you might even experience heavy rainfalls outside of the rainy season.
Don’t let the weather put you off, though. The misty clouds forming Monteverde cloud forest are a sight on its’ own. The mysterious clouds and animal sounds will give you a true jungle experience that you won’t find in Costa Rica’s coastal towns.
Which destination to visit after Monteverde?
After heaving visiting Monteverde’s cloud forest, many travellers continue their journey to La Fortuna with a 4-hour minivan.
Other popular destinations besides La Fortuna are the beach towns Tamarindo and Santa Teresa.
If you can’t get enough of visiting Costa Rica’s rainforest, also consider visiting Manuel Antonio which offers a beautiful mix of rainforests and stunning beaches.
Can I visit the Arenal Volcano from Monteverde?
In theory yes, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Although the direct route from Santa Elena/Monteverde to Arenal Volcano is only about 115 km, the road is full of bumps and in bad condition.
We would rather recommend taking the minivan to La Fortuna that we mentioned above. La Fortuna offers lots of fun activities to experience and is one of our favourite destinations in Costa Rica.
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 that much, you can still enjoy their covered heated pool, spa and beautiful gardens.
You don’t have to leave the hotel as their onsite restaurant offers super tasty meals. 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.
If what you’re looking for is complete relaxation, then here is the place! Calathea Lodge is situated slightly further from the main town, but still only a walk away from the main town.
The rooms are bright, open and comfortable. All coming with a private patio or balcony where you can sit and observe nature. The staff is super friendly and will help you organise your activities in Monteverde. They also provide a superb breakfast to set you up right for the day.
Eddy’s Place in Monteverde is a guarantee of good value for your bucks. 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 and very filling.
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 awake to an array of wildlife living in the jungle around the hotel.