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How To Get From Monteverde To San Jose

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Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Monteverde to San Jose, Costa Rica, every year. 

I have personally done this trip hundreds of times over the last decade, and I have helped dozens of people do it through my travel agency, Monteverde Tours Online

In this post, I will share the best ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose, as well as the pros and cons of each option to determine which one suits you best. 

Let’s dive right in:

There are four ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose. You can take the public bus, go on a group shuttle, hire a private transportation service or rent a car and drive. In general, the first two options are more affordable but the latter more convenient.

Riding the public bus is the cheapest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose, while driving is the fastest way to travel there.

On the other hand, getting a private transportation service is the easiest option, while going on a group shuttle gives you the best balance between cost-effectiveness and time efficiency. 

Keep scrolling to find out how each option ranks against each other based on its pros and cons, and learn a few tips and recommendations to help you make the best out of your trip from Monteverde to San Jose. 

What’s The Cheapest Way To Get From Monteverde To San Jose?

a passenger bus that is parked on the side of a road

As mentioned above, there are four ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose, and the price for each of these options varies substantially, which begs the question; what’s the cheapest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose?

The cheapest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose is to use the public bus.

How Much is the Bus From Monteverde To San Jose?

The bus from Monteverde to San Jose is 3,000 Costa Rican colones, which is approximately $6 per person. This price includes the entire trip from the bus station in Monteverde to the terminal in San Jose, as well as a 15-minute bus stop halfway through to use the restrooms or grab something to eat. 

Here is a comparison chart to see how affordable it is to ride the public bus compared to all the other ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose: 

Most Affordable Ways to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Bus $6 – $7
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $50 – $60
Private Transfer $80 – $100

Notes:

  • The above rates do not include the 13% IVA tax.
  • These prices assume there is a minimum of two travelers.
  • Renting a car consists of the base rate, insurance, and fuel.
  • Prices can fluctuate throughout the year based on the market conditions and demand.

Keep scrolling for more detailed information on what each service entails and how they work.

How To Get from Monteverde to San Jose by Bus?

Riding the public bus from Monteverde to San Jose is the perfect option for low-budget trips, backpackers, and solo travelers. If this is your case, here is how to get from Monteverde to San Jose by Bus;

There are three steps to get from Monteverde to San Jose by bus. First, you need to look for the current bus schedule to plan your trip. Next, you need to purchase the tickets online as soon as possible. And then, you need to check-in at the bus station at least 15 minutes before the departure time. 

Bus Schedule and Tickets to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

As mentioned above, it’s essential to check the bus schedule ahead of time to plan your trip accordingly. Checking the bus schedule is vitally important as it changes from time to time based on several factors such as user’s demand, tourism season, and holiday schedules.

Below is the current bus schedule from Monteverde to San Jose, which my team updates whenever the bus company announces a change through their social media channels. If you notice a discrepancy, please let us know to update it to help other fellow travelers.

Once you have planned your trip, you can purchase the tickets at transmonteverde.com.

Public Bus Schedule to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Day Departure Times
Monday 5:30 am
Tuesday 5:30 am
Wednesday 5:30 am
Thursday 5:30 am
Friday 5:30 am, 2:30 pm
Saturday 5:30 am, 2:30 pm
Sunday 5:30 am, 2:30 pm

Where is the Bus Station in Monteverde?

As mentioned above, it’s vitally essential to arrive at the public bus station 15 minutes before the departure time, so you can check-in.

The bus station in Monteverde is at the entrance of the Monteverde Shopping Mall, called “Centro Comercial Monteverde.” You will quickly see the bus station on the right-hand side of the shopping center when you are coming from Santa Elena, right next to the pharmacy and the local bakery.

Here is the map to get to the bus station at the Centro Comercial Monteverde:

Cons of Riding the Public Bus from Monteverde to San Jose

Even though riding the bus from Monteverde to San Jose is very inexpensive, there are a few significant disadvantages of using this means of transportation to get to San Jose. 

The Bus from San Jose to Monteverde Takes a Long Time

The main disadvantage of using the public bus to get from Monteverde to San Jose is how long the process takes. The ride on the public bus to San Jose takes between 5 and 6 hours. 

The morning bus leaves Monteverde at 5:30 am and gets to San Jose at around 10:30 am, while the afternoon bus leaves at 2:30 pm and arrives at around 8 pm. The afternoon bus usually takes more time because the traffic on the road is significantly heavier. The bus takes route 1 to get from Monteverde to San Jose, which is generally pretty busy in the afternoons. 

The Bus from Monteverde to San Jose Can Be Uncomfortable

Another disadvantage of using the public bus to get from Monteverde to San Jose is the discomfort you can experience during the trip. There can be babies crying, people talking, and even kids throwing up in the seat in front of yours (I have been in that position twice). And what is probably worse, you may end up traveling standing for the entire time. 

The bus to San Jose can hold up to 70 people, out of which only 50 passengers can go seated, while the other 20 passengers will need to travel standing. Now, the bus doesn’t always get full. Almost everyone will get a seat on an average bus ride, but a few users will need to travel standing from time to time. For example, it’s common to see people traveling standing on weekends during the high tourism season, from December through April.

I experienced what it’s like to travel standing for 5+ hours on the way to San Jose a few times when I was working for IBM back in 2015, and I had to travel to San Jose 2 to 3 times per week. It’s not dramatic, but it is pretty uncomfortable. 

Warning: You can buy the Monteverde bus tickets online, but that will not guarantee a seat. Purchasing your tickets online guarantees that you will get one of the 70 spots, but it will not ensure that you will get a seat. The online reservation system the bus uses does not show real-time availability. It only lets 70 people purchase a ticket. Then the administration needs to check who booked first and assign a seat to the first 50 people.

That’s why I recommend you call the terminal before buying the tickets to check on seat availability

Bus From Monteverde to San Jose – Quick Summary

  • The public bus is the cheapest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose. 
  • The bus from Monteverde to San Jose is $6 per person.
  • Link to Purchase Tickets for the Bus from Monteverde to San Jose
  • Buying the tickets online does not guarantee you will travel seated. 
  • You need to call the office to find out if they have seats available. 
  • Number to Call the Office (They only speak Spanish): +506-2645-7447. 

What’s The Fastest Way to Get from Monteverde to San Jose?

a highway with a mountain in the background

Driving is the fastest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose, which will take between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. You can use a combination of route 27, route 1, and route 606, which will take about 3 hours. Or you can take only routes 1 and 606, which will take approximately 4 hours. 

Compared to all the other ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose, driving is the fastest way, as shown in the below comparison table:

Fastest Ways to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving (Car Rental)* 3 – 4 Hours
Private Transfer* 3 – 4 Hours
Group Shuttle 4 – 5 Hours
Public Bus 5 – 6 Hours

*Going on a Private Transfer will be faster than Driving if you’re not used to driving in Costa Rica.

Cons of Driving from Monteverde to San Jose

As a general rule, driving is the fastest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose, but driving also has a couple of caveats you should consider before you decide on renting a car to make your way from Monteverde to San Jose. 

There Are No Car Rentals Based in Monteverde

The main problem with driving from Monteverde to San Jose is that there are no car rental agencies based in Monteverde. There are car rental agencies in other touristy destinations nearby like Arenal, but that will not be helpful if you are in Monteverde because it can take up to three hours to get to Arenal, even though it’s less than 30 miles away.

Keep the above in mind when planning your trip to Monteverde. If you decide that you want to drive a vehicle from Monteverde to your next destination, you will need to have come to Monteverde by car in the first place. If you are already in Monteverde and you don’t have a car, go ahead and skip the rest of this section, as it will not apply to you.

Driving is Not Always the Fastest Way to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Driving is not always the fastest way of getting from Monteverde to San Jose. As mentioned above, on average, it takes between 3 and 4 hours to drive from Monteverde to San Jose. However, these averages are more realistic and applicable to those used to driving in Costa Rica. They do not necessarily apply to foreigners. 

The Google Maps average time from Monteverde to San Jose bases its calculation on real-time traffic speed. However, most tourists drive at a significantly slower pace than locals. You will experience this if you decide to rent a car for your trip to Costa Rica. More likely than not, you will drive more slowly than Costa Ricans, and that’s because you will probably want to enjoy the incredible scenery, while the average local will be rushing to get home from work. 

As a general rule, I recommend adding 30 to 60 minutes to the estimated driving time the GPS device/app gives you. I also recommend you use Waze, the most popular GPS traffic system used in Costa Rica. I drive approximately 50,000 kilometers per year (about 31,000 miles), and in my experience, Waze tends to be more accurate than Google Maps. The only drawback is that you need internet data to use Waze, so you will want to buy a chip with internet data if you want to use it.

Driving is Not the Easiest Way to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Driving from San Jose to Monteverde is simple, but it’s not always easy. There are crazy local drivers, unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, and narrow roads in bad shape. 

As mentioned above, you will notice Costa Ricans drive significantly faster than foreigners. In addition to this, since we know the roads, as locals, we can make risky moves that might scare someone who has never driven in our country before. 

For example, on highway 1, one of the main routes to get from San Jose to Monteverde, you might see someone going at full speed, passing multiple vehicles at once on a relatively narrow road. If you live in Costa Rica and have been through that route thousands of times, you will not see anything particularly wrong with this. But if you come from a developed country where the roads are much broader, and there are usually multiple lines on all the highways, you might see such a move as imprudent. 

On the other hand, you have the unpredictable weather conditions of Costa Rica. You might be driving with a clear sky when suddenly a cloud forms ahead, and it’s pouring rain all over the place. Driving under changing weather conditions might not be such a big problem during the summertime from December through April, but it can get extremely challenging during the rainy season. 

In Costa Rica, the rainy season is not so bad from May through August and in November. However, it can get scary sometimes during September and October, especially if you stumble upon a storm while driving. These are the top 2 rainy months and the top months for accidents on the road. 

The rain also causes a lot of damage to the roads, which worsens during the rainy season. Lots of potholes come to life during this time of the year, and then it takes a couple of months for the government to repair the cracks. 

The main problem with potholes for a tourist is that they can make a vehicle’s tire explode. Exploding tires do not usually cause a significant number of accidents in Costa Rica. However, they can easily create a trip very stressful for a tourist, who will need to phone in the car rental to get another vehicle and then file the insurance paperwork. It’s not dramatic, but it can ruin a few hours of your dream vacation time. 

Over the last few years, the problem with the road condition, specifically the main road that leads to Monteverde, route 606, has gotten much better after the government paved the road back in 2019. However, even though that road is much better, it still has potholes threatening your driving experience. 

What’s The Easiest Way to Get from Monteverde to San Jose?

a group of people posing for the camera

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Monteverde to San Jose. With a private shuttle, you can arrange a specific time and place, and a transportation company will pick you up there and take you to your lodge in San Jose. 

Compared to all the other ways to get from Monteverde to San Jose, hiring a private transportation service, also known as a private transfer, is the easiest way. You don’t need to worry about carrying your luggage around or catching a bus in the middle of the public road, compromising your safety and belongings. 

You also don’t need to worry about driving in a foreign country with roads that might differ significantly from the streets you’re used to riding back home. Instead, you arrange the time and place, and a local professional driver will pick you up with a modern vehicle to take you from your departure place in San Jose to your destination in Monteverde. 

The only disadvantage of hiring this type of transportation service is the price. Going on a private transfer is the most expensive way to get from Monteverde to San Jose. It’s the most comfortable, convenient, and easiest option, but it’s also pricey. 

Depending on the pickup place, getting from Monteverde to San Jose on a private transfer will cost between $160 and $200 for 1 to 4 passengers. The pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, if you arrive at the SJO Airport late at night (usually after 10 pm), the prices might get $20+ higher for this service. 

Prices for private transfers are also subject to increase as demand rises, especially during the busiest days, so I would recommend that you book ahead of time. 

There is one scenario where hiring a private transfer will not be the most expensive option to get from Monteverde to San Jose. That’s when your party is 3 or 4 passengers. For example, if you have three adults in your party, you are heading to the SJO Airport, and you book ahead, most of the time, the price will likely be $160 for the three of you. That comes to approximately $53.50 per person, which is less than riding a group shuttle, which I will explain in the next section. Getting a group shuttle from Monteverde to San Jose will cost $57 per adult, so the total for three adults would be $171. 

The same would apply if you had a party of 4 adults, in which case, taking the group shuttle would cost $228 while taking a private transfer would be $160 to $200. 

So, in these scenarios, it’s not only more comfortable and convenient to hire a private transfer, but it’s also more economically efficient. If this sounds like a good option and you need help arranging a private transfer, feel free to get in touch with us, and our team will happily get a quote for you. 

Using a Group Shuttle to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

a van parked on the side of a road

A group shuttle is a daily door-to-door shared transportation service from Monteverde to San Jose. A modern Van with A / C will pick you up at your lodge in Monteverde and take you to your destination in San Jose. 

As a general rule, taking a group shuttle, or a “shared shuttle,” as the locals call it, is the most recommended door-to-door way to get from Monteverde to San Jose for most travelers. Group shuttles are convenient, and they provide the best balance, saving time and money for travelers in most cases.

On a group shuttle, you share the shuttle service with fellow travelers, and you also share the cost, which is usually the best option for solo travelers and couples. Using this option to get to San Jose will be far more convenient than riding the public bus and significantly less expensive than hiring a private transfer. 

Using a group shuttle is also be a lot easier and less stressful than renting a car and driving yourself. The price can change depending on the seasonality and demand, but it’s usually around $57 per person per way. 

With my travel agency, Monteverde Tours Online, I’ve used the group shuttle services thousands of times over the last decade, bringing customers from San Jose to Monteverde, or the other way around, taking them from Monteverde to San Jose. If you are heading to these routes, you can use the following links to book this service: 

About the Author

Daniel Lalinde holding a mountain bikeDaniel Lalinde

I am the founder of Monteverde Tours Online. I live in Monteverde, and I love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time in the outdoors and dining out in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, no coffee shop, and no restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!

We love helping visitors, connecting them with the different tours and activities to have a memorable experience in Monteverde.

If you need help planning things to do in the area, send us a message, and we will happily assist you! 

 

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