If you’ve enjoyed the outdoor activities and superb landscapes of Arenal and La Fortuna, then the chances are that you’ll also love Monteverde, which is often the next stop for many visitors to Costa Rica. There are some great opportunities in Monteverde to see completely different landscapes, flora, and fauna, and it’s also a world away from the beaches of the coastline. Getting between these two major locations in Costa Rica is pretty simple. And there are several options for transport between Arenal and Monteverde, but what’s the best way to go from Arenal to Monteverde? And what are the options for traveling to Monteverde from Arenal? Here’s our guide on how to get to Monteverde from Arenal.
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Where is Monteverde
Monteverde and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is found in the Cordillera du Tillaran in both the Puntarenas and Alajuela provinces of Costa Rica. Monteverde is 225 kilometers (140 miles) north of Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose.
How to Go from Arenal to Monteverde – Transport Options
The distance between Arenal and Monteverde, as the crow flies is short, but the presence of Lake Arenal, the Arenal National Park, and the Bosque Eterno de Los Ninos means that the distance to travel from Arenal to Monteverde by road is about 120 kilometers (75 miles). The road to Monteverde is also somewhat bumpy, and rutted, and if you’re driving it’s best to have a four-wheel drive.
There is no airport in Monteverde or La Fortuna, so it’s not possible to fly from Arenal to Monteverde. You have several options to travel between Arenal and Monteverde. The most fun way is to take the bus, boat, or bus shuttle, but in this guide on how to go from Arenal to Monteverde, we’ll cover the fastest way to travel go from Arenal to Monteverde, the easiest way to go to Monteverde from Arenal, and the cheapest way to get to Monteverde from Arenal. Our guide on the best things to do in Monteverde is here.
Where to Stay in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Most of the places to stay in the Monteverde area are in the town of Saint Elena, this is also where you’ll find transport, places to eat, and small supermarkets.
There are heaps of places to stay in Saint Elena and there are some places that get amazing reviews. Here are the best places to stay in Monteverde, no matter what budget you’re on.
If you’re looking for luxury and some amazing facilities at a great price, then you can’t go far wrong with the Senda Monteverde Hotel – rooms here come with a private seating area, free WiFI and the most stunning views. The rooms are just stunning. Service here is exemplary. Reserve this amazing place here.
For a super option on middle of the range budgets, then La Guayaba is fabulous. This Monteverde B&B provides private bathrooms and some have patios. There’s a breakfast served each day too. This great Monteverde bed and breakfast is in a fabulous location in Santa Elena. You can reserve a room and check dates here.
The Cabinas Al Vista Golfo is a truly great budget Monteverde option. We stayed here and had a fabulous time. There are amazing views from the multiple patios and terraces, breakfast is fabulous and the rooms are spacious and comfortable. There’s free WiFi and there’s a fully equipped community kitchen with everything you need should you choose to self-cater. Bag a great room here.
How to get to Monteverde from Arenal
For transport from Monteverde to Arenal, then you have several options. You can take a shuttle-boat shuttle from Arenal to Monteverde. You can take a direct shuttle – roads all the way – from Arenal to Monteverde, you can take a taxi or private transfer, or you can rent a car and drive from Arenal to Monteverde. If you do decide to rent a car, then we recommend Discover Cars, and you should rent a 4WD to drive this route.
We’ll start with, what I think is the best way to go to Monteverde from La Fortuna and Arenal, taking the combined Bus-Boat-Bus route.
Take the Van Boat Van from Arenal to Monteverde
This route to Monteverde from Arenal is easy and there are two departures each day. Minivans or shuttles pick you up from your accommodation and take you to where the boats that cross Lake Arenal depart from. On the other side of the lake, there will be another van waiting to take you on the bumpy road to Monteverde.
You’ll be sharing the transport with other travelers and this is the best way to go from La Fortuna to Monteverde. The first van to Lake Arenal leaves at around 8:10 am, and the last van to Lake Arenal leaves at around 2:30 pm. There are only two departures a day on this route. The full van- boat – van route to Monteverde from Arenal takes four hours.
- Check availability for the 8:10 am departure from La Fortuna / Arenal to Monteverde
- Check availability for the 2:30 pm departure to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal
The van from La Fortuna and Arenal to Lake Arenal takes about 30 minutes. This van takes you to the boats docked at Lake Arenal. The boats are covered and travel in all weathers. The boat across Lake Arenal takes about 30 minutes. When you reach the other side of Lake Arenal, then another van is waiting to take you to your accommodation in Monteverde.
You can opt for a private transfer at both ends, but you’ll have to share the boats with other travelers. Shared vans are cheaper, but will add a little time to your journey, depending on what order you’re picked up and dropped off at both ends.
We took a shared van, boat, and then another shared van between Monteverde and Arenal and it’s a great way to travel this route. You’ll be notified the day before of what time your pick up is.
If you like using water based transport, then you’ll love details of our Yangtze River cruise.
Shuttle Bus from Arenal to Monteverde
It’s about 120 kilometers (75 miles) by road from Arenal to Monteverde. And the bus from Arenal to Monteverde is the cheapest way to go from Arenal to Monteverde. The shuttle buses that go to Monteverde from Arenal can be booked for groups of people and you can check the prices here.
The shuttle/minivan to Monteverde from Arenal takes about 3 hours.
Drive from Arenal to Monteverde
Driving in Costa Rica is pretty safe and driving this route gives you the chance to set off at your own time, and the chance to stop off and see things along the way You’ll need a valid international driver’s license, to rent a car here. We recommend Discover Cars for car hire. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, it’s the perfect option! Get a price for a rental car in La Fortuna here.
The route from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde is easy and is as follows
- Take Route 142 to Lake Arenal and follow the road along the edge of the lake.
- It will take you around 2 hours to get to the town of Tilaran.
- When you arrive in Tilaran, you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient gas to make the journey.
- In Tilaran take route 145, which has some unpaved sections, and wind your way up the mountain.
- Route 145 turns into Route 606 which takes you all the way to Monteverde.
Plan your route so that you arrive in Monteverde by 6 pm at the latest, as it’s best not to drive after dark.
If you need to rent a car in Costa Rica we recommend Discover Cars for car hire. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, it’s the perfect option! Get a price for a rental car in Costa Rica here.
Map of the Route from Arenal to Monteverde
You can also see the map of the route from Arenal to Monteverde here
The quickest way to get from Arenal to Monteverde
The quickest way to get to Monteverde from Arenal is to take a private transfer. It takes about 3 hours to drive to Monteverde from Arenal and you can book a transfer from Arenal to Monteverde here.
The easiest way to go to Monteverde from Arenal
The easiest way to get from Arenal to Monteverde is to take a shuttle or private transfer, you can check the costs of shuttles from Arenal to Monteverde here.
The cheapest way to go from Arenal to Monteverde
The cheapest way to get to Monteverde from Arenal is to take a bus, and you can book your seats here.
The best way to go from Arenal to Monteverde
The route of the van – boat – van to Monteverde from Arenal is, I think, the best way to travel. You’ll get a shorter time in a van, and yes, some of it is rather bumpy, but the trip in the boat across Lake Arenal is glorious. Check availability and reserve your place here.
Popular Routes Around Costa Rica
Here are our guides to some of the popular routes around Costa Rica.
- How to go from La Fortuna to Monteverde
- How to go from Monteverde to Nicaragua
- How to get from SJO Airport to San Jose
- How to go from San Jose to Manuel Antonio
Travel Tips for Exploring Costa Rica
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
- Book the best Costa Rica tours and guides on GetYourGuideand Civitatis
- Book fabulous Costa Rica Foodie experiences with locals through Eatwith
- Save money in Costa Rica with a Wise debit card
- Book Buses in Costa Rica with Bookaway
- Book accommodation in Costa Rica with Booking.com and Hostelworld
Final Words on How to Go from Arenal to Monteverde
Taking the boat across Lake Arenal is a great way to cut the road miles you need to do to get between La Fortuna and Monteverde. And the vans on either side are a pleasant enough way to get to and from the lake. If you don’t fancy a boat ride, then shared or private shuttles between Monteverde and Arenal are also available. Of course, for the ultimate flexibility, you can also rent a drive (make it a 4WD) and take your time.
Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.
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