Central America & Mexico

How to Spend 2 Days in Monteverde, Costa Rica

A district in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica, Monteverde is a popular tourist spot on any Costa Rica itinerary. Monteverde is famous for its Cloud Forest and is located about a 2.5-hour drive from San Jose, the country’s capital.

On my recent trip to Costa Rica, I knew I had to add Monteverde to my itinerary. It was also an easy destination to add to my first stop in La Fortuna as they offer so many jeep-boat-jeep options for you to easily get there. The area is so lush and green with forest thanks to the regular rain, and moisture-filled clouds that hover over the horizon on a regular basis (hence the name “Cloud Forest”).

The area has seriously so much to offer. There are a ton of activities for families, adventure-seekers, or nature-lovers. Although 2 days is never enough time to do everything, you can definitely cover some ground in the area when you’re short on time. Here is my recommendation on how to spend 2 days in Monteverde…

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Day One


Start your day by getting some early morning fuel. Of course, Costa Rica is known for its coffee production, so get yourself some java and a hardy breakfast before you get ready for a busy morning of exploring. We ate the included breakfast at our hotel, Camino Verde B&B, every morning because they started serving breakfast nice and early, however, here are some other breakfast spots you can check out if you are located centrally to the downtown area:

Monteverde Cloud Forest

After breakfast, I would book a tour guide at the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Of course, like any nature hike in Costa Rica, you can go to the park yourself, buy a ticket, and walk yourself around the forest too. You don’t need a guide, but if you want to spot wildlife and learn more about what you’re actually seeing, then a guide is always the way and highly recommended.

Cloud Forest’s only account for 1% of the world’s woodlands, they are definitely rare, so for sure worth seeing if you’re in the area. You can book tickets and tours right on the reserves website here. The best time to visit is early in the morning when it’s cooler, and when you’re more likely to see wildlife. There are a ton of different trails in the reserve so even if you book a guide, you can always stay and explore on your own after too. But before you leave, I recommend stopping for a coffee or tea at Cafe Colibri which is just outside the gates of the park. They have a ton of hummingbird feeders so you can sit and enjoy your coffee while enjoying the countless birds that will come visit.

Tip: If you are driving yourself to the park, you’ll notice a lot of people parking along the road for free, which is allowed but not secure so don’t leave ANYTHING in your car if you do this. Alternatively, there is a secure parking lot that you can pay to park in for about $5 USD.


Once you get back to the central area of Monteverde, I’d recommend that you take some time to enjoy a delicious lunch. There are some great restaurants all within walking distance if you are in the Santa Elena downtown. Here are some I’d recommend checking out:

Tip: If you are on a budget and want to eat really authentic Costa Rican food, look for any restaurant called a “soda” they are usually small, locally owned, and delicious. You won’t find anything fancy here, and the menus usually rotate but they’re cheap and delicious.

Choose your own adventure:

Okay, everyone’s preferences are so different, and you’ll want to use your limited time wisely. So I’d suggest that you pick and choose out of the below activities for how you’d like to spend your afternoon. Anything nature related is usually better to do in the morning, so if you’re booking organized tours, you won’t be able to find many (or any) that depart later in the afternoon. However, you can still go explore Curi Cancha Reserve, Hummingbird Garden, or Monteverde Butterfly Garden yourself and hire a guide there directly.

Some more recommended things to do in the afternoon are:


To end a very busy day, I recommend that you book a gourmet dining experience that you will not forget! San Lucas Treetop Dining Experience is next level. I booked it just wanting to splurge on a fancy dinner on vacay but was not expecting for it to be as amazing as it was. You pay for a prix fixe menu and you dine in a private glass treehouse that you can enjoy the views in. Book far in advance as they only have 8 tables!

Tip: I’d highly recommend trying to get a sunset reservation at San Lucas Treetop Dining. The views are spectacular. However, if only later times are available, it’s still worth it. If you opt for a sunset activity above, then you can easily swap this dinner activity with day two’s itinerary.

Day Two

Day two, and your final day in this amazing area of Costa Rica. Today you can craft your day based on the activities I mentioned above that you may have not had time for. Here are some options to personalize your day. In full transparency, on my recent trip we had 2 nights, and only 1 full day in the area, so what we did was primarily based on the day one itinerary, however, the below is how I would’ve spent a second day in the area.


Refer to the above recommendations for where to enjoy breakfast before another busy day.

Bird Tour in Curi Cancha Reserve:

Hire a guide to go birding in the Curi Cancha Reserve. Although I’m not super into birds, Costa Rica has some incredible, colourful birds to try and spot. You can book tours right on their website. The morning is always the best time to go to spot the most wildlife.


Time to refuel! Refer to the above recommendations of where to have lunch today.

Choose your own adventure:

Again, pick and choose what looks the most appealing to you for the day from the below activities:


If you didn’t visit San Lucas on day one, here is your chance. Otherwise, pull one of the spots from the lunch list above or some additional options are:

Night Walk:

Lastly, you can’t leave the area until you do a night walk. These night tours will allow you to see nocturnal animals that only come out when it’s dark. We did our night tour in La Fortuna, so we didn’t opt to do another one, but if you have the time, every night walk is different because you can never be guaranteed what you will see. You can book a tour here and they basically run every night in high season.

Alternative Day Two

One thing I really wanted to do in this area, but I simply needed another day, was the El Tigre Waterfalls. It looks like a gorgeous experience but it’s recommended you go in the morning as the hike is about 5.2KM then you are met by horses that take you another 35 minutes, then you’ll get lunch. Throughout the trail, you’ll see 4 big waterfalls, and 9 hanging and natural bridges. It really looked beautiful but I just couldn’t fit it into our one full day in the area. This is a good option, however, as your second day in the area if bird watching, or the other adventure activities don’t appeal to you.

You can book a tour and organize a shuttle to pick you up right on the El Tigre website here


How do you get to Monteverde? This is obviously dependent on where you are coming from but if you flew into San Jose airport, Monteverde is about a 2.5-hour drive. You can either rent a car at the airport or you can book a shuttle to get to Monteverde. Another option is the public bus which leaves at 6:30 am and 2:30 pm daily. More details here. If you are coming from neighbouring, La Fortuna, the quickest way is by taxi-boat-taxi. You can easily book this through any hotel for around $50 USD.

Where should I stay in Monteverde? There is everything from fancier hotels and lodges to B&B’s like where I stayed (Camino Verde B&B) or hostels. There are also some amazing Airbnbs like this cliffside home with incredible views.

How do I get around Monteverde? Many people think they need a car in Costa Rica but it’s not true. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in a foreign country like me, then you can survive without one. We booked shuttles to each major destination on our trip, then we booked tours that included transportation for any of our activities, lastly, there are cabs that are easy to get and relatively inexpensive to take you everywhere nearby.

Did I miss something you’d recommend? Share below in the comments!

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