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How To Make A Day Trip To Monteverde From La Fortuna / Arenal (Or Vice Versa)

How To Make A Day Trip To Monteverde From La Fortuna / Arenal (Or Vice Versa)

Last updated on June 7th, 2022 at 04:26 pm EST

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Our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., has La Fortuna / Arenal tour discounts and Monteverde tour discounts. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida!
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Is it worth it to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal (or vice versa)?

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica and you don’t plan on lounging around a beach the whole time, chances are you’ll venture into the northern inland region, where some of the nation’s best nature and adventure tours explore the rainforest, the cloud forest, volcanoes, rivers, and canyons. The anchors of the northern inland region are La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde, two destinations divided by a 3-hour drive. While it’s best to visit both of these diverse areas during your time in the country, if you only plan to park yourself in one, you may be wondering if it’s possible to make a day trip to the other, essentially experiencing both places in one swoop. While our answer to this question is “Yes, it’s possible to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or a day trip to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde” (below, we explain three ways to accomplish this), the more important question to ask is: “Is it worth it to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or a day trip to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde?”

Let’s cut straight to the point. In our opinion, no, it isn’t worth it to try to cram in a visit to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or a visit to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde over the course of one day. Despite harboring a deep love for each of the two destinations and highly recommending visits to both during your time in Costa Rica, the reality is, day trips between La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde aren’t quick, aren’t cheap, and don’t leave much time to actually enjoy your visit. Day trips made between La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde can also be awfully tiring; they require a minimum of 6 hours of driving time, a lot of which is conducted over bumpy or curvy roads.

Though we feel that making a day trip between La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde isn’t the best use of vacation time and trip funds, assuming you want to make the trip anyway, our article below explains how.

Our two recommended itinerary plans

Before we outline how to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde, we’ll briefly cover what we’d prefer to see you do instead.

Itinerary #1: Spend a few days and nights in La Fortuna / Arenal AND Monteverde

The number of days and nights you should spend at each destination is up to you, but we’d love to see you commit to traveling to, staying overnight at, and exploring both La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde during your vacation. This itinerary plan involves adding both places to your trip itinerary as separate stops. If the amount of time you have to spend in Costa Rica is limited, go with itinerary option #2.

Itinerary #2: Spend a few days and nights in either La Fortuna / Arenal OR Monteverde

The number of days and nights you should spend at the destination you choose is up to you, but commit to traveling to, staying overnight at, and exploring either La Fortuna /Arenal or Monteverde during your vacation. This itinerary plan involves adding only one of the two places to your trip itinerary.

Trying to decide between visiting La Fortuna / Arenal or Monteverde? Don’t miss our related blog post:

How To Decide Between La Fortuna / Arenal Or Monteverde (Or Why You Should Visit Both)

Want more information about La Fortuna / Arenal? Don’t miss our free La Fortuna City Guide:

Must-Know Info About La Fortuna Costa Rica From Longtime Residents

Want more information about Monteverde? Don’t miss our free Monteverde City Guide:

Must-Know Info About Monteverde Costa Rica From Seasoned Visitors

Three ways to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal (or vice versa)

If you absolutely must make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde, here’s how to make it happen.

Option #1: Reserve an organized, full-day, guided tour to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal

A handful of La Fortuna-based tour operators run organized day tours to Monteverde, meaning you’ll get picked up and dropped off at your La Fortuna / Arenal hotel but you’ll explore Monteverde for a few hours during the day. More specifically, the tours depart from La Fortuna / Arenal early in the morning, include one or two activities in the Monteverde region during the late morning and/or early afternoon, and return to La Fortuna / Arenal in the late afternoon or the early evening on the same day. Here are some pros and cons to consider with this option:

Advantages to reserving an organized, full-day, guided tour to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal

  • This option requires little effort and organization on your part beyond simply choosing and reserving your preferred full-day Monteverde tour.

Disadvantages to reserving an organized, full-day, guided tour to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal

  • Full-day Monteverde tours are typically quite expensive because they need to cover city-to-city transportation expenses in addition to expenses that pertain to tour guides, food, and/or activities.
  • Tour operators usually require a minimum number of tour participants (typically 4 people) to run full-day Monteverde tours in order to cover all of the operating expenses. This minimum participant requirement can be difficult to meet during the low/rain/green season, or by independent travelers or small travel groups.
  • Full-day Monteverde tours have predetermined, set tour durations and travel times. This means you’ll have little say in the tour departure time from La Fortuna / Arenal, the amount of time you’ll get to spend in Monteverde, and the return time to La Fortuna / Arenal.
  • Full-day Monteverde tours include predetermined, set activities. This means you’ll have little control over the type of activities you’ll experience while in Monteverde.

Option #2: Plan your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using the popular van-boat-van service

With this option, you can create your own custom full-day tour to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or vice versa by relying on the convenient van-boat-van service that connects the two destinations across Lake Arenal. (See our related blog post Best Ways To Travel To Monteverde From La Fortuna / Arenal (Or Vice Versa) for an explanation of what the van-boat-van service—also called the jeep-boat-jeep service or the taxi-boat-taxi service—entails.) Since the 3.5-hour van-boat-van service departs from La Fortuna / Arenal and Monteverde twice daily (around 8:30am and 2:30pm from each destination), you can give yourself approximately 2.5 hours of free time in Monteverde by taking the round-trip service in one day. While in Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal, you can choose to experience an activity that interests you among those that can be experienced in the short amount of time you’ll have to explore the area.

Advantages to planning your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using the van-boat-van service

  • Since the van-boat-van service is a relatively affordable mode of transportation, this option is less expensive than Option #1 described above.
  • Since you’re not joining an organized tour, you won’t need to meet a tour operator’s minimum participant requirement. There may still be a minimum participant requirement for the specific activity you choose to experience in La Fortuna / Arenal or Monteverde, though.
  • This option provides moderate freedom; you’re free to choose the activities you wish to experience while in Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal.

Disadvantages to planning your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using the van-boat-van service

  • Moderate effort and organization is required to reserve the van-boat-van service in two directions, as well as whichever activity you’d like to experience.
  • Since van-boat-van services have set departure times, you have little control over departure and return times.

Option #3: Plan your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using alternative transportation services

This option offers the greatest flexibility. It allows you to create your own custom full-day tour to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or vice versa that utilizes a mix of transportation services that provide you with some control over departure and return times. Possible transportation types include van-boat-van services (see Option #2 above), shared shuttle services, private transfer services, and/or a rental car.

As described with Option #2 above, if you rely on round-trip van-boat-van services to travel between Monteverde and La Fortuna / Arenal, you’ll have little time at your chosen destination to experience its sights. Alternative types of transportation services, however, can provide you with more time to explore. For example, while creating a day trip from La Fortuna / Arenal to Monteverde, if you book a private transfer service—a mode of transportation that allows you to select your own departure time—with a departure time from La Fortuna / Arenal at 7:00am and a departure time from Monteverde at 7:00pm, you’ll have roughly 6 hours to explore Monteverde’s top attractions. Renting a car to drive yourself to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal (or vice versa) is another possibility, and if you head out on the road early in the morning from one destination and late in the evening from the other, this will also help you maximize the day-trip experience. You can also mix and match transportation services; consider using a one-way shared shuttle service in the morning and a one-way private transfer service (scheduled at the departure time of your choosing) back to your home base late in the day.

Advantages to planning your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using alternative transportation services

  • This option offers ultimate flexibility and freedom; you can choose the transportation services you prefer to use, the activities you wish to participate in, and the duration of the day trip.
  • Since you’re not joining an organized tour, you won’t need to meet a tour operator’s minimum participant requirement. There may still be a minimum participant requirement for the specific activities you choose to experience in La Fortuna / Arenal or Monteverde, though.

Disadvantages to planning your own full-day tour to Monteverde or La Fortuna / Arenal using alternative transportation services

  • Depending on which transportation services are used (especially if private transfer services are considered), this option can be the most expensive.
  • Moderate effort and organization is required to reserve your desired transportation services in two directions, as well as whichever activities you’d like to experience.

Map of La Fortuna / Arenal Costa Rica

Map of Monteverde Costa Rica

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you made a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal or to La Fortuna / Arenal from Monteverde? How did it go?

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How To Make A Day Trip To Monteverde From La Fortuna / Arenal (Or Vice Versa)
Article Name
How To Make A Day Trip To Monteverde From La Fortuna / Arenal (Or Vice Versa)
Description
We outline three ways to make a day trip to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal (or vice versa) and explain why doing so isn't a good idea.
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The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog
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