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Map of Northwest Costa Rica

How to get to Monteverde

The first step in your adventure is reaching your destination. Whether you're heading to Monteverde, Costa Rica for a little indulgence, a forest adventure, or to experience Costa Rican culture, it's always nice to know how to get to where you're going. This article offers you detailed options for reaching Monteverde, Costa Rica from some of the country's other popular destinations. Don't forget, not only helps you select and book accommodations and fun tours, you can also add transportation options which include leaving the driving to local professionals who are accustomed to Costa Rica's rugged roads.

P.S. Get a head start on learning the lay of the land with these Costa Rica maps...

Travel by bus:

From San José: Buses to Monteverde leave San José at 6:30 AM and 2:30 PM. The stop — which is known locally as the old Puntarenas bus stop — is located at Calle 14 and Avenida 11 and 9. The morning bus passes by Sardinal around 9:00 AM and arrives in Monteverde at 11:00 AM. The afternoon bus passes by Sardinal at 4:45 PM and arrives in Monteverde at 7:00 PM. Travel time is approximately 4.5 hours (although it will take somewhat longer during the wet season); the cost is $5 USD.

From Puntarenas: There are two buses to Monteverde. A 1:00 PM bus (via Las Juntas) passes by La Irma at 2:30 PM and arrives in Monteverde at 5:00 PM. A 2:00 PM direct bus passes by Sardinal at 3:00 PM and arrives in Monteverde at 5:00 PM.

From Guanacaste, Liberia, northern Costa Rica: There are buses from Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playa del Coco, Montezuma, Samara, Hermosa, the Nicaraguan border, and Liberia. Taking one of these buses, you can go to Lagartos or La Irma and then hop a bus to Monteverde.

From Southern Pacific beaches: If traveling from the Ballena National Park, Uvita, Dominical, Matapalo, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Jacó, or Herradura, take a bus to Puntarenas and then catch another bus to Monteverde.

From La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano): A bus leaves at 8:00 AM for Tilarán. This ride takes 3 hours. From Tilarán, the bus to Monteverde leaves at 1:00 PM and arrives in Monteverde at 3:30 PM (although it takes longer during the wet season). In total, the bus ride from La Fortuna to Monteverde takes 8 hours (during the dry season; longer in the wet season). There are, however, alternative ways to get between these destinations. Click on this link to find out more: Shortcuts Monteverde / Volcano Arenal.

Costa Rica bus schedule.

Travel by car:

From San José: Get onto the Pan-American Highway, going north. This will take you through Alajuela towards the town of San Ramon. Continue north through Miramar and keep an eye out for a restaurant called the “Caballo Blanco.” This restaurant has a large white horse on its sign and is along the right side of the road. Here, there will be signs on the right for Monteverde, Sky Trek and Selvatura. Follow these signs towards a turnoff along the right side that is just beyond a gas station. The road is paved for a few kilometers and then turns into a dirt road. From here on out, the road is bumpy and windy and continues to go up. Stay along this road and follow the signs to Monteverde (including signs to Sky Trek and Selvatura). Eventually, you will pass a cemetery. 30 minutes past this cemetery, the road will be paved and lead you into Santa Elena.

This trip will take around 3.5 hours.

From Arenal: Get onto the road that leads away from La Fortuna and toward the Arenal Volcano. Driving around the north side of the volcano, you will pass several hotels. Continuing on this road, you will cross the ICE Dam. Stay along this same road for another hour and a half. As you make your way around Lake Arenal towards Tilarán, the road is windy. Once you get through Tilarán, follow the signs toward Santa Elena and Monteverde. You wind your way up the mountain along a bumpy dirt road. You will pass many signs for hotels and canopy tours; keep going until you come to a large plaza with a soccer field on the right side. Continue straight, and when the road splits, take a right to head into downtown Santa Elena.

This trip will take around 4 hours.

From Liberia: From Liberia, take the Pan-American Highway south towards San José. Along the way, you will pass through Bagaces and then Cañas. Continue on for approximately 25 minutes until you see the entrance to "Las Juntas.” Turn left here and proceed for an hour and a half until you get to Monteverde. Alternatively, instead of taking the Las Juntas turnoff, you can continue further south to the entrance of Sardinal and then turn left. This route takes slightly longer, but the road conditions are much better.

This trip will take around 3 hours.