Last updated on February 23, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Costa Rica

Where to stay in Monteverde Costa Rica – Best 4 AREAS and hotels

If you’re wondering where to stay in Monteverde, Santa Elena Town may be just the perfect area to be, especially if you are visiting for the first time.

This is where you will find most of the restaurants and cafes, including bars and live music too. There is an ATM in case you need some cash and a good size supermarket (Megasuper) where you can stock up on water and small supplies, in case you cook your own breakfast or dinner.

But there is more than Santa Elena, especially if you are renting a car in Costa Rica and you are more flexible. In fact, you can get better value for money outside of town, besides finding larger accommodations that work better for groups of friends or families. Not to mention the amazing views.

In this guide, you will find the 4 best places to stay in Monteverde, with all the pros and cons of each area, besides a handy map and a quick table that compares these areas. Really all you need to know before visiting Monteverde.

Where to stay in Monteverde map - Best 4 areas
Where to stay in Monteverde map – Best 4 areas

Where to stay in Monteverde – Key Points

Here is the quick comparative table. Click on the area name to jump to the full description including all the pros, cons, and a few suggested hotels and accommodations.

On a mobile, swipe left or right to see all the columns.

Area/TownIdeal forProsConsAccessibilityRestaurantsFamiliesNature of the area
Santa Elena TownFirst-time visitorsVariety of dining, lively, easy accessBusy during peak, it may be not as quietGood by bus and carExcellentGoodUrban center with local charm
Monteverde VillageNature loversProximity to forest, quiet, authentic Limited dining, fewer accommodationsModerate by busLimitedExcellentPeaceful, contemplative, connection to nature
Orquídeas & Valle BonitoBudget travelersProximity to Santa Elena, views, valueTough walk to bus, mostly hostelsModerate by busGoodGoodBackpacker area with forest views
Perro Negro & the NorthFamilies and big groupsAwesome views, value, natureFar from center, need a carCar requiredVery limitedExcellentWilderness landscape, big accommodations

If you are in a hurry, here are my 3 suggested places to stay in Monteverde and around.

Driving in Costa Rica is honestly not as complicated, however, you do not need a car if you plan to visit Monteverde and join a couple of tours exploring the area. They will pick you up from your accommodation and guide you through the best spots.

However, if you prefer to be more independent and explore what you want when you want then renting a car in Costa Rica is going to be the best decision that you can take when visiting this amazing country.

And it’s not just about Monteverde. I had so much fun discovering hidden beaches, remote waterfalls, and lots of places otherwise difficult to reach with public transportation, if even possible.

I usually book my car with DiscoverCars, a great comparative website with transparent quotes (by the way, watch out for the insurance scam in Costa Rica) where I can even have full insurance for just $7/day.

Santa Elena Town – Best place to stay in Monteverde for first-time visitors

  • Best place to stay in Monteverde for first-time visitors

Pros

  • Variety of dining options
  • Lively local scene
  • Easy access to Monteverde Cloud Forest and other attractions
  • Handy if not renting a car

Cons

  • Can be busy during peak seasons
  • Less tranquil than other areas in Monteverde
  • Limited luxury accommodations

Santa Elena is the heart of Costa Rica’s Monteverde region, a blend of local charm and convenience, and possibly the best place to stay in Monteverde on a first trip there.

Unlike the more tranquil village of Monteverde, Santa Elena is more of an urban center with restaurants, bars, and cafes, besides a supermarket and a few shopping options. Don’t think anything big but still the right size for this part of Costa Rica.

You can even find sushi and live music at the newly open Noga, a place to visit for the great ambiance, the locally made beer, and the food, including vegan options too.

Of course, you will also encounter plenty of lovely cafes around, sometimes hosting an in-house roastery spreading around town that nice smell of roasted coffee. Some have a terrace area with a beautiful view of the forest. Great places to chill out on an easy day.

You should have a look at Café Monteverde, pointed out by the locals as having the best coffee in town. True or not, you will find a fantastic latte or cappuccino with a small selection of pastries too. You can also decide to join one of the Farm & Roastery Tour which will give you a great introduction to the coffee world.

Santa Elena is of course a gateway to adventure, with numerous tour operators right within the town offering excursions to nearby attractions. Whether it’s ziplining through the cloud forest or embarking on a guided night walk to explore nocturnal wildlife, adventure is always just around the corner.

Most of the tours will pick you up from your accommodation, which is perfect if you are visiting the area with public transportation.

Breathtaking view of hanging bridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest - Costa Rica
Breathtaking view of hanging bridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest – Costa Rica

Accommodation options in Santa Elena cater to every budget, with choices ranging from economical hostels to mid-range hotels. Although there might be limited luxury stays, the charm of Santa Elena lies in its affordable and hospitable lodging options.

For those who enjoy a bit of nightlife, Santa Elena offers a handful of bars and pubs to unwind after a day of exploration. Unfortunately, they may be some loud music at night, although rare, so try to select your accommodation carefully (my suggestion below are typically quiet)

Santa Elena’s allure is in its blend of accessibility, local flavor, and proximity to nature. It’s a place where you can enjoy a bustling cafe’s ambiance and find yourself in the midst of a cloud forest within moments.

Often contrasted with the serene Monteverde Village, Santa Elena provides a vibrant base with a touch of local life and urban amenities’ comfort.

If you’re looking for action, convenience, and a mix of local culture during your Monteverde adventure, Santa Elena is a choice that ticks all the boxes.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Santa Elena:

Koora Hotel-a Cloud Forest Resort ($$$$): The boutique choice with stunning views, friendly staff, amazing food, and exceptional comfort

Cabinas Eddy B&B ($$-$$$): Cozy atmosphere with animals around, friendly staff, and central location. Great breakfast and activities

OutBox Inn ($$-$$$): Cosy lodging amidst lush nature, central location, friendly staff, comfortable rooms, captivating common areas, and a delightful terrace.

Typical country houses around Santa Elena
Typical country houses around Santa Elena

Monteverde Village – Best Area To Stay In Monteverde For Nature

  • Best place to stay in Monteverde for nature lovers

Pros

  • Proximity to Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Tranquil environment
  • Authentic Costa Rican village feel

Cons

  • Limited dining and no shopping options
  • Fewer accommodations

The village of Monteverde is primarily known for its proximity to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The village is just made of a few houses spread in the forest along the Ruta Nacional 620 with the center that gravitates around the Café Monteverde (the flagship cafe that branched off later also in Santa Elena).

This is where you will find two of the best cafe-restaurants in the area, Stellas and Casem Coop. Keep in mind that they both close in the mid-afternoon. For dinner, head instead down the road to El Bosque or Tramonti, both offering yummy local food.

There is also a local Cheese Factory offering ice cream and locally-made cheese. They used to organize also factory visits but they stopped during the pandemic. Hopefully, they will start again soon.

And that’s pretty much it.

If Santa Elena is a lively hub for tourists and adventures, Monteverde is its peaceful, contemplative counterpart. Here, the streets are quieter, the pace is slower, and the connection to nature is profound.

Whether it’s exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest, bird-watching for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, or hiking along the misty trails, nature enthusiasts will find their paradise here.

From Monteverde, you can walk directly to the Bat Jungle, to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, to the Curi-Cancha Reserve, the Los Murciélagos Waterfalls, and I could keep going. It will be you and the nature around you.

Accommodations in Monteverde lean towards cozy and personal, ranging from family-run guesthouses to eco-friendly lodges. You will have fewer choices than in Santa Elena. I really suggest booking well in advance if you are looking for a place in the middle of the forest, especially between Christmas and mid-January.

In conclusion, Monteverde is for those who are drawn to the simplicity and the allure of nature and they do not mind being far from the busy center of Santa Elena

Here are 2 of the best hotels in Monteverde Costa Rica:

YerbaBuena Modern Stay ($$$-$$$$): Nestled in Monteverde’s heart, this villa offers modern rooms with garden views, free WiFi, BBQ facilities, and nearby attractions.

El Bosque Lodging ($$-$$$): Nature-filled retreat with comfortable Monteverde property, diverse cuisine, and friendly staff. Convenient for cloud forest explorations and enjoyable on-site trails.

Valle Escondido Nature Reserve Hotel ($$-$$$): Nestled within a nature preserve, this hotel offers stunning views, vibrant trails, and a serene atmosphere for an unforgettable stay.

Incredible nature landscape of Monteverde at sunset
Incredible natural landscape of Monteverde at sunset

Orquídeas & Valle Bonito – Best place to Stay In Monteverde On A Budget

  • Best place to stay in Monteverde on a budget

Pros

  • Proximity to Santa Elena
  • Amazing views
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • The walk to the bus station can be tough
  • Mostly hostels

Orquídeas & Valle Bonito are two neighborhoods southwest of Santa Elena center, within walking distance from most restaurants, bars, and shops (around 10-15 minutes).

This is where you will find the highest concentration of Hostels and low-cost accommodations, some of them actually pretty cool, with an amazing view over the forest too.

It’s a great backpacker area with a small drawback though, the walk to the bus station with your rucksack can be a tough one (around 20 minutes) and you have to consider a small climb.

Besides that, all of the tours will be happy to pick you up from your accommodation for any kind of day trip.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations on a budget in Orquídeas & Valle Bonito:

Hostel Cattleya ($): Superb staff, clean rooms, and excellent value. A great base for exploring!

Montefresco Boutique Hostel ($): Comfortable stay with attentive staff, spacious rooms, and delicious breakfast. Great value!

Another beautiful day in Monteverde
Another beautiful day in Monteverde

Are you looking for a great Costa Rica Travel Guide? Here is the best FREE trip handbook dedicated to first-timers.

Perro Negro & the North – Where to stay in Monteverde for families and groups

  • Best place to stay in Monteverde for families and big groups

Pros

  • Awesome views
  • Great value for a big house
  • Plenty of nature around

Cons

  • Far from Santa Elena Town center
  • You need a car

If you are driving around Costa Rica with your family or a group of friends, you should check out Perro Negro and the North of Santa Elena, probably the best area in Monteverde if you are looking for a big accommodation, 2 bedrooms or more, to share with you travel companions.

Here you will find some amazing homes, nothing super fancy, but right in the middle of nature, perfect to experience the real vibe of this part of Costa Rica.

The accommodation value is pretty good, if you consider you will be sharing the place with other people, and the space will be so much bigger than anywhere else in the Monteverde region.

There are a couple of drawbacks though. There are basically no restaurants and cafes around, except one or two options like Bon Appetit!, famous for its pizzas. And you will be not really within walking distance from Santa Elena, which means you must have a car.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations in Perro Negro and the North:

Nature house ($$): Cosy 3BR mountain accommodation, superb hospitality, and stunning nature views. Friendly hosts, exceptional breakfast. Ideal for families, nature enthusiasts.

Finca Terra Viva ($$-$$$): Set amidst natural beauty, this Costa Rican lodge offers 2BR and 3BR with stunning mountain views, comfortable rooms, and warm hospitality.

Wilderness landscape in the Santa Elena and Monteverde area
Wilderness landscape north of Santa Elena

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should you stay in Monteverde?

Stay in Santa Elena for lively surroundings and more amenities or in the village of Monteverde for tranquility and a closer connection to nature.

How many days should you stay in Monteverde Costa Rica?

A stay of 2-3 days in Monteverde allows time to explore the cloud forests, wildlife, and local culture.

Should I stay in Santa Elena or Monteverde?

Both destinations are 2 of the best places to stay in Costa Rica. Santa Elena has more activities and dining options, meanwhile, in Monteverde you will find a peaceful, natural environment.

Where is the best view in Monteverde Costa Rica?

The best view in Monteverde can be found from lookout points in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Is the Night Walk in Monteverde worth it?

Yes, the Night Walk in Monteverde offers a unique opportunity to see nocturnal wildlife and experience the forest in a different way.

Is Monteverde walkable?

Monteverde’s smaller size and natural surroundings make it walkable, though some areas might require transportation due to steep terrain.

Should I spend more time in Arenal or Monteverde?

Spend more time in Arenal for volcanic landscapes and hot springs, or Monteverde for cloud forests and bird-watching.

Where is the best cloud forest to visit Monteverde?

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve offers one of the most iconic and biologically diverse cloud forest experiences in the region.

I am tired of hiking, what surfing town do you suggest next?

I have a few. Tamarindo works great if you are searching for some nightlife. Santa Teresa is perfect if you love nature. Jaco works well if you like to go back to civilization. Finally, Uvita is the place to go for some seclusion by the beach. These are great spots to start surfing in Costa Rica.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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