Last updated on February 25th, 2022
Monteverde is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica for its rich biodiversity. This small town is a nature lover’s paradise, with year-round temperate weather and breathtaking scenery. Offering a variety of outdoor activities, including ziplining through the cloud forest canopy, night hikes, and visiting waterfalls, there’s no shortage of things to see and experience in Monteverde.
With so many activities to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to do while in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Whether you’re spending one day or a week here, this list of 15 things to do in Monteverde will help you plan your Monteverde itinerary.
15 Things to Do in Monteverde
Here is a list of fun things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This list is especially for those who love the outdoors and adventure activities but has something for everyone.
Visit and Climb “The Tree”
The tree, as known by locals, is a tall ficus tree in the jungle outside of downtown Monteverde. Standing 66 ft tall, the tree is a hallowed out ficus tree, which you can climb up from inside. A unique thing to do in Monteverde, climbing the tree is an unforgettable experience.
During my visit, I climbed as high as I could do safely, while others were able to climb right up into the tree canopy. If you choose to climb the tree, please do so safely. Only climb as high as you can manage.
Whether you climb the ficus tree or not, it is a good walk and a fun photo opportunity.
Drive the Windy Roads Leading to Monteverde
Driving along the windy roads leading to Monteverde can be a scenic and wild adventure. The roads leading to Monteverde are dirt roads and often narrow. Be safe while driving through the mountains and watch out for potholes. Take it slow and enjoy the view of the Costa Rican mountains.
It is best to use a 4×4 to reach Monteverde by vehicle. Don’t end up like me and damage your rental car while driving to or from Monteverde.
Explore the Most Biodiverse Conservation in Monteverde
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a nature conservation in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Located 1500 meters above sea level, the reserve is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. There are over 3000 species of plants and over 600 types of animals throughout the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Visitors come from around the world to see the unique flora and fauna found nowhere else.
Cloud forests make up 1% of all forests in the world. Visiting the cloud forest is a must-do activity in Monteverde, whether by visiting the Cloud Forest Reserve, by going zip-lining or both.
See Snakes at Serpentario de Monteverde
Serpentario de Monteverde is a zoo and serpentarium located in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The zoo features multiple species of reptiles and amphibians, including snakes, turtles, lizards, and frogs. Visitors can learn about the reptiles from exhibits and observe them up close. Serpentario de Monteverde offers visitors a chance to see these often feared creatures up close in a safe environment.
Note: Since my visit, the Serpentario de Monteverde has permanently closed. You can still see snakes on your night hike in Monteverde.
Go Canyoning and Rappel Down Waterfalls
Canyoning is an outdoor sport that involves descending cliffs and canyons using ropes, rappelling gear, hiking, and swimming. It is a great way to explore the hidden corners of a canyon and get a glimpse of the natural world from a different perspective.
Monteverde is an ideal location for canyoning because of its rugged landscape and abundance of waterfalls and pools. The canyon offers a variety of challenges and is perfect for adventure seekers looking for a unique outdoor experience.
While canyoning in Monteverde, you will rappel down six waterfalls of varying heights up to 40 meters high. Guides will be there to ensure your safety during the tour. Being in good physical condition is recommended to enjoy canyoning.
Relax and Enjoy a Delicious Hot Beverage at a Cafe
Costa Rica is world-famous for its coffee and chocolate. In Monteverde, there is Choco Cafe Restaurant & Coffee Shop, where coffee and hot cocoa are some of the most popular items on the menu. Choco Cafe is one of the best cafes in Monteverde. You can enjoy a drink with your friends or order up for yourself.
Whether the weather is hot or cold, there is nothing like relaxing a delicious hot beverage. You can also pick some hot cocoa powder to bring home for a souvenir.
Go Bungee Jumping in a Jungle
Bungee jumping is a great way to release your adrenaline and enjoy an unforgettable thrill. The canyon provides stunning views of the cloud forest and valley below, and it’s an exhilarating experience to leap from the bridge into the abyss. At 143 meters, this bungee jump is the highest in Costa Rica and Central America. It is known as the craziest bungee jump in Costa Rica.
To go bungee jumping in Monteverde, you can visit Monteverde Extremo Park. A special cart takes you along a cable system to reach a platform from which you will bungee jump. Enjoy the view and the thrill!
Learn About Butterflies at the Monteverde Butterfly Garden
The Monteverde Butterfly Garden is a beautiful place to visit and see butterflies in their natural habitat. For more than 30 years, the Monteverde Butterfly Garden has been a center to admire and learn about butterflies and insects and how they live. Across four climate-controlled habitats are 30 kinds of butterflies and 20 species of insects and arachnids.
There are both in-person and virtual tours available. A guided tour of the Monteverde Butterfly Garden takes approximately 1-hour. After your guided tour, you may continue to explore the gardens and admire the butterflies. Virtual butterfly tours will start in May 2022 and last 45-minutes.
Explore a Biodiverse Wildlife Reserve
The Curi-Cancha Reserve is a private wildlife reserve that is open to the public. Spanning 205 acres it is a great place to visit to see a variety of animals, including monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds. Home to more than 200 species of birds, the Curi-Cancha Reserve is a popular choice with bird watchers.
Within the reserve, you can do a self-guided tour or book a guided tour based on what you wish to see. Tour options include night, bird watching, or natural history tours. If doing a self-guided tour, you will have access to approximately 7-miles of trails through the cloud forest. Reservations are required to visit the Curi-Cancha Reserve.
When planning a visit to the Curi-Cancha Reserve, check out the helpful resources on their website, including a reserve map and a list of birds to watch.
See Live Bats Interact in a Simulated Jungle
The Bat Jungle is an interactive bat exhibit in Monteverde. Operated by a bat biologist, you can see bats in a simulated jungle environment. Home to 90 bats from eight species, the Bat Jungle is unlike anything else in Monteverde. Guided tours of the exhibit are available and last 45 minutes.
A feature of the exhibit is a special microphone that allows you to hear the biosonar communication of the bats. Visiting the Bat Jungle is an unusual and unique thing to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Zipline Through the Cloud Forest Canopy
Ziplining is a must-do activity when in Monteverde. With years of experience, ziplining companies will take you on an adventure through the Costa Rican rainforest as you fly through the trees on sturdy cables. You’ll get to see the rainforest from a whole new perspective, and it’s an adrenaline rush like no other.
Zipping over the lush forest is an exhilarating way to explore Monteverde’s beauty. You’ll feel like Tarzan as you fly through the treetops on your first zipline adventure!
For my zipline tour, I chose Monteverde Extremo Park. I had a great experience and would recommend them.
For more information, check out my Ziplining Monteverde Guide, where you can learn which companies offer tours and read about what it was like to zipline through the cloud forest.
Hike to Waterfalls
Hiking to the waterfalls of Monteverde is one of the best things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica. There are a few different waterfalls to choose from: El Tigre, Catarata Los Murciélagos, and Quebrada Cuecha. There are hiking trails that lead down to each waterfall.
El Tigre Waterfalls is a nature park that features four large waterfalls and nine bridges. You can swim in the waterfalls, so bring a swimsuit if you wish to swim. There are two options available to visit this park: hike 8km or walk 5km and ride horses for the last 3km.
Catarata Los Murciélagos, known as Monteverde Waterfall, is a short hike to a quiet waterfall. You can swim at the bottom of the waterfall, so wear a swimsuit if you plan to swim.
Quebrada Cuecha is a 1.6km hike to a waterfall in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. A guided tour is available.
Go Birdwatching for Exotic Birds
Home to more than 400 species of birds, Monteverde is a bird lover’s paradise. Within Monteverde, you will find resplendent quetzals, blue-throated goldentails, collared trogons, and many other tropical birds. There are a few different places to go birdwatching, including but not limited to the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Curi-Cancha Reserve. The Curi-Cancha Reserve is known as the best place to bird-watch in Monteverde.
Multiple companies in Monteverde offer bird watching tours and guide you to spot as many types of exotic birds as possible during your tour. There are no shortages of bird-watching options in Monteverde.
See the Tiniest of Orchids in a Beautiful Garden
The Jardín de Orquídeas Monteverde is a must-see for those who love and admire orchids. The garden features 450 species of orchid with 120 species in bloom at any given time of the year. The Monteverde Orchid Garden is the largest collection of orchids in Costa Rica.
You can take a guided tour to see the entire garden and walk along the 300 meters of accessible trails. A guided tour is 45-minutes and allows you to see every orchid in bloom while learning about different orchid types and how to care for them.
Take a Guided Night Hike
A guided night hike is one of the best ways to see the diverse flora and fauna of Monteverde in its natural setting. Go out into nature at night, when various animals come out too that you would not be able to see otherwise. During your night hike, you tour through the forest, searching for sleeping tropical birds, snakes, and even tarantulas, all at a safe distance, of course.
For my night walk tour, I chose Kinkajou Night Walk. I had a good experience and would recommend them. I saw snakes sleeping in trees, toucans and other birds, and a giant tarantula. You use a flashlight to see where you are walking and spot animals.
Bring your camera, you will want to snap some photos of these animals in the wild. A fun and memorable thing to do in Monteverde, there are a few different tour operators to choose from for your guided night hike.
How to Get to Monteverde from San Jose, Costa Rica
To get from San Jose to Monteverde, you can take a minivan, a public bus, a private transfer, a taxi, or drive a rental car. To get to Monteverde, it will take 2.5 – 5.5 hours, depending on your method of transportation.
Taking a public bus is the cheapest method by will take the most amount of time to travel. Taking a minivan, private shuttle, taxi, or driving a rental car will cost more but save you time.
During my visit to Monteverde, we drove a rental car. Renting a car gave us freedom in our schedule and gave us the ability to detour to see other things along the way.
Choose the form of transportation you prefer and fits your budget, and plan your way to and from Monteverde ahead so you can plan your Monteverde itinerary accordingly.
How to Get to Monteverde from Liberia, Costa Rica
To get from Liberia to Monteverde, you can take a public bus, a private transfer, a minivan, a taxi, or rent a car to drive. To get to Monteverde from Liberia, it will take 2.5 – 3.5 hours, depending on your method of transportation.
If you’re looking for a fun and unique Costa Rican experience, be sure to add Monteverde to your itinerary. This beautiful town is nestled in the cloud forest and is known for its stunning scenery and diverse wildlife. There’s something for everyone in Monteverde, from ziplining and nature walks to coffee plantations and horseback riding.
Here are three ways to spend 2 days in Monteverde:
Monteverde Itinerary – Option 1:
Day 1 – Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Climb “The Tree”, Guided Night Hike
Day 2 – Ziplining, Orchid Garden
Monteverde Itinerary – Option 2:
Day 1 – Zipline and Bungee Jump, Guided Night Hike
Day 2 – El Tigre Waterfall with Horseback Riding
Monteverde Itinerary – Option 3:
Day 1 – Butterfly Garden, Bat Jungle, Curi-Cancha Reserve
Day 2 – Canyoning
Use one, mix and match these itineraries, or create your own with this what to do in Monteverde list to plan your perfect 2-day Monteverde itinerary. The combinations are endless and customizable to what you like to do and want to experience.
Monteverde is a perfect addition to your trip to Costa Rica. This lush, green region is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Central America and offers so many things to do. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure-filled vacation, Monteverde has something for everyone. Enjoy your time in nature.
Hope this information helped you find things to do in Monteverde and plan your Monteverde itinerary.