Renowned for its lush landscapes and abundant wildlife, Monteverde is a paradise for both nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. From the moment you set foot in its vibrant surroundings, Monteverde will mesmerize you with its extraordinary biodiversity, unique climate, and a multitude of exhilarating activities. Read my guide on the best things to do in Monteverde and beyond!
Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast craving an adrenaline rush or a nature lover yearning for tranquillity amidst the vibrant flora and fauna, Monteverde offers an unforgettable tropical escape. It is truly a hidden gem nestled in the misty cloud forests of Costa Rica.
Things to do in Monteverde Costa Rica | Planning tips and attractions
Where is Monteverde located? How to get to Monteverde Costa Rica?
Monteverde is located in the mountainous Northwest region of Costa Rica, in the province of Puntarenas. It’s about a three to four-hour drive from the capital, San Jose, offering a scenic route that winds through rolling hills and breathtaking landscapes during your Costa Rica holiday.
How to get there? You can choose to drive or take one of the many shuttles that operate regularly between major cities and Monteverde.
Alternatively, for an even more adventurous route, one could opt for a boat-taxi-boat service from the Arenal Volcano area to Monteverde, combining a serene lake crossing with a minivan transfer.
Once in Monteverde, the options are endless. From zip-lining through the towering canopy to hiking along suspension bridges overlooking waterfalls and gorges, there’s something for everyone.
The town is also home to several wildlife reserves and sanctuaries where visitors can spot a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the elusive quetzal bird.
For those looking for a more relaxed experience, Monteverde offers plenty of opportunities to simply soak in the stunning natural beauty and relax.
You can take a leisurely stroll through the lush green forests or enjoy a cup of locally-grown coffee while taking in mountain views – there’s no shortage of ways to unwind and recharge in this serene town.
Here are all of the amazing Monteverde attractions to add to your Costa Rica itinerary.
1. Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde’s absolute best is the world-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
A biological wonderland of tropical biodiversity, this reserve covers about 26,000 acres and is known for its spectacular collection of orchids – with over 500 known species calling it home.
The reserve is a paradise for birdwatchers – it’s one of the few places in the world where you can spot the resplendent quetzal, a bird revered by many civilizations throughout history. It is home to 400 species of birds, 120 different species of amphibians and reptiles, and 3,000 different species of plants.
Walking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is like stepping into a dream. The towering trees, wrapped in a perpetual cloak of clouds, create an otherworldly atmosphere.
The reserve features eight different ecological zones and offers a well-maintained network of trails, allowing visitors to explore this cloud forest at their own pace.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh, crisp air as you venture along the winding trails. You can also opt for a guided tour, where knowledgeable guides will enlighten you about the intricate ecosystems and fascinating creatures living within the cloud forest.
Remember to visit the Hummingbird Gallery near the reserve entrance – it’s a magical place where you can see and hear dozens of hummingbirds fluttering about.
After a day of exploring, relax and enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants nearby, making your day in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve an unforgettable experience.
Pro tip: This place gets very busy, so I recommend starting super early in the morning, and then spending time as long as you like there.
2. Spot Colibries at Colibri Cafe
Speaking of hummingbirds, no visit to Monteverde is complete without a stop at the Colibri Cafe. This charming cafe is dedicated to these tiny winged creatures and offers visitors a chance to see them up close while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.
The cafe features multiple feeders that attract an array of hummingbird species, creating a mesmerizing sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. You can also learn more about the different hummingbird species and their unique characteristics at the cafe’s educational exhibit.
But it’s not just about the hummingbirds – Colibri Cafe also serves up some of the best coffee in Monteverde, made from locally sourced beans. Pair your cup of coffee with a homemade pastry or sandwich for the perfect mid-day treat.
And while you’re there, don’t forget to grab a souvenir from the cafe’s gift shop – all proceeds go towards supporting local conservation efforts.
So, whether you’re a coffee lover, bird enthusiast, or just looking for a unique experience in Monteverde, make sure to stop by Colibri Cafe and support sustainable tourism in this beautiful destination.
3. Visit Santa Elena Cloud Forest
One of the must-visit places in Monteverde is the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. This stunning reserve offers visitors a chance to explore over 760 acres of pristine cloud forest, home to an incredibly diverse range of plant and animal species.
It is home to over 100 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, and 2,500 species of plants.
Walking through the cloud forest is like stepping into a living, breathing fairy tale – misty pathways twist and turn, leading you through a lush undergrowth teeming with life. The towering trees adorned with moss and ferns create a verdant canopy, often enveloped by clouds, giving the forest its name.
Here, you can hike through lush trails, discover hidden waterfalls, or even go on a guided night walk to spot the nocturnal creatures that come alive after dark. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot the ethereal resplendent quetzal, one of Costa Rica’s most famous bird species.
The reserve also offers educational programs and workshops, making it a great destination for families or those interested in learning more about the unique ecosystem of cloud forests.
Pro tip: Remember to pack a raincoat, a pair of sturdy shoes, and your adventurous spirit when you head to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.
4. Zip line through Monteverde’s Cloud Forest Canopy
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Monteverde offers some of the best ziplining in the world. Soar above the cloud forest canopy and take in breathtaking views of this natural wonder as you zip through the air.
Monteverde is home to several zipline tour companies, each offering a different experience and route. Some even have platforms that allow you to stand or sit while ziplining, giving you a different perspective of the forest.
But it’s not just about the thrill – these zipline companies also prioritize sustainability and conservation. They often partner with local organisations to support reforestation efforts and educate visitors about the importance of protecting this fragile ecosystem.
So, not only will you have an exhilarating experience, but you’ll also be contributing to the preservation of Monteverde’s cloud forest.
Top tour: Book your zipline tour here
5. Go bungee jump in Costa Rica
For the adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers, Monteverde has something special in store – the highest bungee jump in Costa Rica!
Located at Selvatura Park, this exhilarating experience will see you jumping off a platform 143 meters above the ground, surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views.
The jump is done with a certified operator using top-notch equipment and safety procedures, so you can feel confident and secure as you take the leap.
And for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Selvatura Park, including ziplining through the cloud forest, hanging bridge tours, and a butterfly garden.
6. Experience the Wonder of Selvatura Park
The enchanting Selvatura Park is a must-visit. This eco-adventure park offers visitors the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s cloud forests from entirely new perspectives.
From walking along the park’s expansive network of hanging bridges that offer a unique tree-top view, to gliding through the forest on one of Central America’s longest zip-line tours, you’re sure to find something to ignite your adventurous spirit.
The park is also home to the largest butterfly garden in the Americas, housing more than 30 species within a climate-controlled habitat. You have the chance to observe these beautiful insects up close as they flutter around, adding a splash of color to the lush greenery.
For nature enthusiasts, Selvatura Park’s hummingbird and orchid garden is a true delight. Featuring over 14 species of hummingbirds and countless orchid species, this is a great opportunity to appreciate the smaller wonders of the forest.
Don’t forget to explore the herpetarium too, where you’ll come face to face with some of Costa Rica’s most fascinating reptiles and amphibians.
7. Visit the Hanging Bridges at the Sky Adventures Monteverde Park
The Sky Adventures Monteverde Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica, and for a good reason. This park offers a unique opportunity to take a guided tour through the cloud forest canopy on suspended bridges that offer unmatched views.
Called the SkyWalk, these suspension bridges will take you through lush Monteverde forests, along natural trails, and across hanging bridges.
As you cross these hanging bridges, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this forest home. You may spot monkeys, sloths, and even rare bird species like the Resplendent Quetzal.
And for those looking for an extra adrenaline rush, there’s also a zipline tour that takes you through the forest at high speeds. In fact, you will find 8 ziplines and a sky tram here.
Get tickets from the official site here
8. Check out the Frog Pond Ranario
For a unique and educational experience, head to the Frog Pond Ranario in Monteverde. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to learn about Costa Rica’s diverse frog species and even watch these colorful amphibians from up close.
The exhibit is run by passionate conservationists who are dedicated to protecting the frogs’ natural habitats and educating visitors about the importance of these small but vital creatures. There are about 25 native species of frogs that you can learn about!
You can also explore the surrounding gardens and see a variety of exotic plants and flowers.
Not only is this a fun and educational experience, but your visit to the Frog Pond Ranario also supports their conservation efforts. So, make sure to add this unique attraction to your itinerary when visiting Monteverde.
The entrance fee is about $12 per person.
9. Discover Monteverde’s Coffee Culture
Costa Rica is known for its high-quality coffee, and Monteverde is no exception. Take a break from your adventures and immerse yourself in the local coffee culture by visiting one of the many coffee plantations in the area.
Learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee beans, as well as the different roasting techniques used to achieve that perfect cup.
And of course, no visit is complete without a tasting session where you can savor various blends and flavors while taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding coffee plantations.
10. Visit Café Monteverde Farm and join a roastery tour
For a fully immersive coffee experience, the Café Monteverde Farm is a must-visit. This family-owned coffee farm and roastery offers visitors an in-depth look at the process of growing and harvesting coffee beans, as well as artisanal roasting techniques.
You can book a comprehensive 2.5-hour tour which will allow you to witness the remarkable journey from seed germination to farming, harvesting, processing, and roasting. This in-depth experience promises to captivate and enlighten. Book it here
You’ll also get to taste different blends and learn about how they are developed and roasted to perfection. This interactive tour allows you to see firsthand the hard work and dedication that goes into producing every cup of coffee.
At the end of the tour, you can relax in the cozy café and try some delicious treats made from locally sourced ingredients. And don’t forget to take home a bag of your favorite coffee beans as a souvenir.
11. See the famous Ficus La Raiz tree
The Ficus La Raiz tree, also known as the Strangler Fig, el Puente Raiz or the Root Bridge, is a must-see attraction in Monteverde for nature lovers. This unique tree species starts its life as an epiphyte, growing on other trees until it eventually takes over and strangles its host.
You can hike through the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve to see this impressive tree, which can reach heights of over 15 to 20 feet. The intricate root system creates a mystical atmosphere that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
It is a free attraction, and you are allowed to climb up for amazing shots! On Google Maps, enter – Ficus La Raiz – to get to the location, and then follow directions.
Make sure to add the Ficus La Raiz tree to your itinerary and experience the wonder of nature in Monteverde.
12. Visit Monteverde Butterfly Gardens
Another must-visit for nature enthusiasts is the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. This educational and interactive exhibit allows visitors to learn about the diverse butterfly species found in Costa Rica and their crucial role in pollination.
As you walk through the lush gardens, you can observe these beautiful creatures up close and even witness them emerging from their chrysalis.
The knowledgeable staff will also teach you about the different stages of a butterfly’s life cycle and their importance in maintaining the ecosystem. Guided tours are offered in English and Spanish.
The gardens are located about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Monteverde. The closest town is Santa Elena, which is about a 20-minute walk from the garden. Keep in mind that there is no public transportation to the site, and a rental car is a must (parking is available onsite).
Visiting the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens is not only an enjoyable experience, but it also supports their conservation efforts to protect these delicate creatures.
13. Visit the Sloth Sanctuary
For a chance to see the slowest mammal on earth, head to the Sloth Sanctuary in Monteverde. This privately owned rescue centre is dedicated to saving and rehabilitating injured or orphaned sloths before releasing them back into the wild.
You can take a tour of the sanctuary and learn about these fascinating animals from experienced guides. You may even get lucky and see some sloths up close as they roam freely in their natural habitat.
Different types of tours are available, such as the Buttercup tour (1 hour) or the Insider’s tours (2+ hours). These tours can be booked online here
Support a worthy cause and experience the charm of these gentle creatures at the Sloth Sanctuary in Monteverde.
14. Watch the sun go down at Mirador Valle Escondido Preserve
End your day in Monteverde with a stunning sunset view at the Mirador Valle Escondido Preserve. This private nature reserve (family-run) offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
You can also take a leisurely hike through the preserve’s trails and encounter various bird species and other wildlife. The preserve is open 24 hours a day!
For a truly magical experience, consider booking a stay at the on-site eco-lodge and wake up to breathtaking views of the sunrise over the cloud forest.
15. Discover more wildlife species during a night tour
The cloud forest truly comes alive at night, and one of the best ways to experience this is through a guided night tour. A knowledgeable guide will lead you on a hike through the forest, pointing out different species of nocturnal animals such as bats, frogs, insects, and maybe even an elusive jaguar.
Choose from one of these unique experiences to explore Monteverde’s wildlife in a whole new light and gain an appreciation for the importance of preserving this delicate ecosystem.
Where to stay in Monteverde Costa Rica?
After a long day of exploring the wonders of Monteverde, you’ll need a comfortable and relaxing place to rest. Luckily, there are plenty of accommodation options in the area to suit every budget and preference.
From eco-friendly lodges nestled in the heart of the cloud forest to luxurious villas with stunning views, Monteverde has it all. You can also opt to stay with a local family and get a taste of the traditional Costa Rican way of life.
Some popular lodging options in Monteverde include
- Los Pinos – Cabañas & Jardines: This eco-friendly property boasts abundant gardens and well-appointed cottages offering mesmerizing mountain views. Los Pinos Cabins & Reserve features a private terrace, a flat-screen TV, and a fully equipped kitchen complete with a microwave and fridge. Guests can luxuriate in the en suite bathrooms, which are equipped with a hairdryer and complimentary toiletries.
- Tityra Lodge: Trinity Lodge offers a delightful retreat complete with a charming garden. Each suite features a private bathroom equipped with a shower, complimentary toiletries, and a hairdryer. If you’re eager to explore the area, there are ample opportunities for hiking in the beautiful surroundings.
- La Casa de la Montaña: Featuring a garden, terrace, shared lounge, and free WiFi, La Casa de la Montaña is a delightful accommodation located within a 5-minute walk from Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary. Every room at La Casa de la Montaña is thoughtfully appointed with a wardrobe and a private bathroom, ensuring a comfortable stay for every guest. Start your day with a delicious continental breakfast, served fresh and available daily at La Casa de la Montaña.
Jaguarundi Lodge – Monteverde: Jaguarundi Lodge – Monteverde is an affordable accommodation. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve can be reached in a 10-minute drive. The comfortable and rustic-style accommodations have a balcony overlooking the surrounding jungle site and a full bathroom.
- Cabinas Vista Al Golfo: Cabinas Vista Al Golfo offers accommodations with stunning views of the Monteverde mountains and the Nicoya Gulf from its lodge balcony. Guests can indulge in a complimentary breakfast and enjoy free WiFi access. The rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV featuring cable channels. Additionally, there is a fully equipped community kitchen complete with a refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and coffee maker. The reception staff is not only friendly but also serves as knowledgeable tour agents, ready to share their expertise on Costa Rica and assist with any travel arrangements you may need.
Monteverde is a paradise for nature lovers, offering unique and unforgettable experiences. From interactive exhibits, and cloud forest reserves to stunning natural wonders, there is something for everyone in this enchanting destination.
So, make sure to add these must-visit attractions to your itinerary and immerse yourself in the wonders of Monteverde. Also, don’t forget to support the local conservation efforts and responsible tourism practices during your visit.