Nestled within the lush hills of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica lies the charming town of Monteverde, known for its breathtaking cloud forest, diverse wildlife, and adventurous outdoor activities. Located at an elevation of 4,600 ft above sea level, this picturesque town offers cooler temperatures that average around 64°F, with a misty microclimate where clouds form and roll down the mountain sides in a spectacular display of natural beauty. Known around the world as a hub for ecotourism, Monteverde is a perfect destination to experience some of Costa Rica’s most impressive natural splendor. Whether you're a nature lover, a thrill-seeker, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, Monteverde promises an unforgettable experience for those of us with an adventurous spirit. Read on to find our list of the very best things to do in Monteverde.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most famous and renowned cloud forests in the world. The reserve covers over 26,000 acres of pristine and biodiverse land, making it home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Visitors can wander through the misty forest and marvel at the unique sights of orchids, ferns, and bromeliads. Guided hikes are available, which are essential when it comes to spotting wildlife. The Reserve is home to many rare bird species like the Resplendent Quetzal, the Three-wattled Bellbird, and the Emerald Toucanet. Unique opportunities like tree climbing tours and the other adventurous activities make the cloud forest a must-visit while you’re in Monteverde.
The Sloth Sanctuary and Butterfly Garden in Monteverde is a perfect place to experience the extraordinary wildlife of Costa Rica. The sanctuary offers visitors a chance to see the beloved sloth up close and personal. With their gentle natures, molasses-slow movement, and adorable perma-grins, sloths are a true joy to behold. Visitors can take a tour of the sanctuary and walk through areas where sloths cling to trees nearby. The sanctuary was specifically designed to bring sloths closer to people without causing the animals stress. You’ll love every minute of this unique encounter, as you observe the sloths, learn about their natural habitat and the challenges they face in the wild, and become a part of the conservation efforts that are in place to protect them.
In the butterfly garden, you’ll find over 30 of the most colorful species of Costa Rican butterflies, including the unique Owl Butterfly and the Morpho Butterfly, which has recently become Costa Rica’s new official national symbol. As you enter the 50-foot tall domed pavilion, a gorgeous variety of butterflies flit and flutter throughout the gardens, which are brimming with flowers and lush rainforest flora. At 90 feet wide and 300 feet long, the pavilion is an impressive space full of wonders. A naturalist guide will join you on your stroll, sharing their vast knowledge of the butterflies, their life cycles, and the vital role they play in Costa Rica’s ecosystem. Don’t be surprised if a butterfly lands on you during your adventure!
While Monteverde is well-known for its stunning natural beauty, you might not realize that it is also home to some of the most incredible canopy ziplines and hanging bridges in Costa Rica. Ziplining through the cloud forest is an awe inspiring experience that allows you to soar through the trees at adrenaline-pumping speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The longest zipline cable in the area is almost a mile, offering views and thrills that are truly breathtaking.
The hanging bridges are another incredible attraction, providing the opportunity to walk through the canopy and witness the rainforest from a different angle and a slower pace. The series of suspension bridges in Monteverde provide the perfect vantage point to catch amazing photographs while you soak in the atmosphere and scan the treetops for the incredible wildlife that call the cloud forest canopy their home. Best of all, you don’t have to decide which of these two exciting tours you’d rather do. Combo tours are available and combine the canopy ziplines, the hanging bridges, (and even some high-altitude gondola rides), into a single day excursion.
Monteverde offers a range of delicious dining options that cater to a variety of tastes and dietary requirements. For adventurous spirits looking for something truly unique, make your reservations at the San Lucas treetop dining experience, where visitors can enjoy a delicious meal while perched high up in the trees. If you’re looking for traditional Costa Rican food, El Sapo restaurant is a popular choice, serving up hearty dishes such as casados and ceviche.
If you're in the mood for a lighter meal, there are several cafes in town, such as Cafe de Monteverde, which serves delicious wraps, scrumptious desserts, and incredible vegan cinnamon rolls. Those looking for a hearty breakfast or brunch can try Orchid Coffee, serving up fantastic breakfasts of delicious crepes, waffles, pancakes and eggs and some of the best local coffee in town. Additionally, there are several restaurants that cater to special diets, including The Green Restaurant, which offers international, healthy cuisine with plenty of vegetarian options, or Cafe OM, a vegetarian restaurant with vegan dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
Monteverde is the perfect destination for travelers seeking adventure, excitement and a oneness with nature. With exhilarating ziplines, gravity defying hanging bridges, abundant wildlife and delicious cuisine, your trip to the cloud forest of Monteverde will be an experience you cherish for a lifetime. From adrenaline-packed activities to stunning natural beauty, your adventurous spirit will feel right at home here.