Puerto Rico   Travel Guide

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3 tourist places in puerto rico

26 Epic Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's must-visit attractions range from the adventurous (like daytrips to the jungles of El Yunque , zip line tours , camping in the mountains of Jayuya, and exploring the Cueva Ventana, a mostly undeveloped cave with guided tours) to the

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3 tourist places in puerto rico

Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay (Vieques) Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay (Vieques)

This south Vieques beach might not sound like much, but it's one of travelers' favorite experiences in Puerto Rico. During the day, Mosquito Bay is nothing special as Caribbean beaches go. At night, the waters emit a blue glow from organisms called dinoflagellates that live in the waters and light up when disturbed by boats, paddles or hands dipped in the water. Hundreds of thousands of bioluminescent dinoflagellates live in each gallon of bay water, and the light show put on by these tiny creatures provide is truly a (natural) wonder to behold.

Avoid visiting the bay during a full moon, since the moonlight somewhat spoils the display. Recent travelers recommended going out in a kayak to get the full effect of the glow. Some note that the bay isn't as bright as they hoped.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Old San Juan Old San Juan free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Many visitors flock to Old San Juan for nightlife, but you'll find more locals in La Placita de Santurce, a farmer's market by day that hums with music, dancing, dining, and drinking at night. – Robert Curley

Viejo San Juan is home to a variety of top attractions, including the Castillo San Felipe del Morro (a.k.a. El Morro ) and the Castillo San Cristóbal , the two centuries-old forts guarding the walled city of San Juan. Within the walls you'll find Calle del Cristo, one of Old San Juan's most popular shopping and entertainment districts, and Calle de la Fortaleza, which regularly has art dangling from above. While most visitors take advantage of seeing the historic and iconic sights, wandering the narrow streets and plazas of Old San Juan is an experience in itself. Many of the best tours in Puerto Rico include strolls through the old town's cobblestone streets to view the historic, colorful architecture and experience Puerto Rico's vibrant culture. No need to leave for lunch: Old San Juan is bursting with street vendors and restaurants ready to satiate your appetite. At night, the city comes alive and is filled with a bustling nightlife known for its drinks and Latin dancing.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

El Morro (El Castillo San Felipe del Morro) El Morro (El Castillo San Felipe del Morro)

El Morro, which sits within the San Juan National Historic Site, juts out of San Juan harbor and beckons to cruise ships. Construction of the hulking, six-story fortress started in 1539. It was originally built to deter sea attacks, and went on to withstand two world wars and several other battles under the control of the Spanish and, later, the United States. Now, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro (known simply as El Morro) is Puerto Rico's go-to tourist attraction, both for its extensive history and its outstanding vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. You can also walk through the fortress' depths, which include a maze of tunnels, barracks and prison cells. Exhibitions and a park film offer a more in-depth look at the fort's history, and park rangers are stationed around the site to answer questions and lead interpretative programs. A photo in one of the fort's iconic watchtowers is the ultimate Puerto Rico selfie stop.

You'll enjoy exploring more if you wear comfortable walking shoes, as the fort is quite large: it can take up to three hours to explore the whole place on foot. Travelers tend to agree the El Morro is worth visiting whether you're a history buff or not but for a little guidance on the fort's history, consider signing up for one of the best tours in Puerto Rico .

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Culebrita Culebrita free

If you really want to get away from it all, and a trip to Vieques or Culebra doesn't quite scratch that itch, consider a visit to Culebrita. This mile-long coral island, the easternmost point of Puerto Rico, sits offshore of Culebra. Part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, the island is largely uninhabited other than by pelicans, green sea turtles and other wildlife. Daytrippers who come over from Culebra to bask on the Culebrita's half-dozen or so beaches, including the aptly named Playa Tortuga, home to nesting sea turtles. The beaches typically have clear waters and soft white sand. The island also has a number of tidal pools that are popular swimming holes for visitors who disembark from tour boats at a dock on West Beach; Turtle Beach is about a 15-minute walk from the boat dock.

Culebrita Lighthouse is one of the few manmade objects on the island; raised by the Spanish in 1886, the now decommissioned beacon guided ships through the Virgin Passage and Vieques Sound.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Flamenco Beach Flamenco Beach

On the island of Culebra, which sits about 20 miles east of Puerto Rico, visitors will find a beach perfect for families, snorkelers and those looking for a remote spot that boasts a delightful aesthetic from nearly every angle. Flamenco Beach's 1-1/2-mile strip of sand is the most popular on Culebra and is often recognized by travelers and experts as the most beautiful in all of Puerto Rico.

Facilities like bathrooms and showers can be found on-site, and the beach's white sand is peppered with kiosks selling refreshments or offering chairs and umbrellas for rent (about $10 each). Amenities and tranquility are part of the allure of Flamenco Beach, but above all else, travelers simply can't stop raving about the beach's beauty. Some travelers do complain that Flamenco Beach's popularity means it can get a bit crowded on the weekends (despite a lack of upscale resorts or restaurants).  One unusual highlight of the beach is several rusting battle tank hulks in the surf — a reminder that Culebra was once a bombing range for the U.S. military.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Casa Bacardi and other rum tours Casa Bacardi and other rum tours

U.S. News Insider Tip:  The piña colada cocktail was born in 1954 at San Juan's Caribe Hilton . Visitors to the hotel's Caribar can order the original recipe drink as well as more modern takes on this classic poolside refresher. – Robert Curley

A visit to Puerto Rico wouldn't be complete without tasting one of its best-known beverages: rum. The spirit, derived from sugar cane, is one of Puerto Rico's top exports and the island is often referred to as the "rum capital of the world." There are many kinds of rum from traditional white rum to dark rum as well as several producers, including Bacardí , Don Q , Ron de Barrelito , and PitoRico , a smaller brand.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Cabo Rojo Cabo Rojo free

Nicknamed for a notorious Puerto Rican pirate, this town on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico is known for the unspoiled and protected beaches of the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and the 5,000-acre Boquerón State Forest, both of which have hiking trails as well as beautiful shorelines. Combate Beach in Boquerón is a particular favorite for sunsets and jumping off the pier.

The picturesque Los Morrilos Lighthouse (located in the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge) was built by the Spanish in 1882, is still operational. The lighthouse can be seen from the crescent of La Playuela beach, one of the best on the island, and visitors say the short hike to the lighthouse is more than compensated by the great clifftop views.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Sun Bay (Vieques) Sun Bay (Vieques) free

Mosquito Bay is popular in the evenings, but the island of Vieques' daytime beachcombers like the chalky sands and serene vantage point of southwestern Sun Bay. It's also the only beach on Vieques with public facilities: The approximately 2-mile beach has lifeguards, showers, bathrooms and a small area to purchase food. Plus, the town of Esperanza (and its restaurants and bars) is just a short walk away.

While San Juan's beaches have a distinctly urban vibe, travelers appreciate Sun Bay's comparative seclusion. Reviewers said there's plenty of room to spread out along the beach and it is relatively uncrowded, save for a herd of wild horses. The on-site amenities were also a bonus. In addition, beachgoers say Sun Bay a great family beach; the waves are calm, too. If you're an avid snorkeler, however, you may want to skip these waters as there's not much marine life to see here.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Cueva del Indio Cueva del Indio free

Aricebo is best known for its incredible observatory , but the north coast town has an interesting attraction below the earth, too. The Cueva del Indio is a natural cavern used by indigenous Taino people who left behind a series of paintings on the cave walls. The artwork is estimated to have been made sometime between 1200 and 1500.

Located on the Caribbean coast, the cave entrance is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and arches (the Siete Arcos), one of which is said to resemble the face of an ancient Taino man. In addition to walking through the cave, visitors can explore the cliffs and beach. The caves have appeared as a location for several movies and TV shows, such as the miniseries "Treasure Island" (2012).

3 tourist places in puerto rico

El Yunque National Forest El Yunque National Forest free

The El Yunque National Forest, or simply El Yunque, is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. It's also a particular favorite for vacationers who like to hike, but even if nature really isn't your thing, travelers urge you to make the trip about 30 miles east of San Juan.

Remember to wear layers that can get wet (the highest elevations can receive up to 200 inches of rainfall annually) and pack a water-resistant camera to capture some of the area's splendor. In the evenings, Puerto Rico's tiny coquí tree frogs begin their unmistakable serenade.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Castillo San Cristóbal Castillo San Cristóbal

Spanning 27 acres, Castillo San Cristóbal was built to protect Old San Juan from land attacks. It doesn't receive as many visitors or as much adoration as its sister fortification, El Morro , but visitors are typically just as amazed by the majesty and significant history of the site. Allow several hours to visit both sites.

The forts' stellar shoreline views (not to mention the occasional iguana) draw travelers to the sprawling site. Though the fort tends to draw crowds (especially cruise ship passengers), recent visitors said that due to the sheer size of the complex touring San Cristóbal never feels cramped.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Calle del Cristo Calle del Cristo free

Shoppers should come to Old San Juan prepared to let go of a few dollars. The city's Calle del Cristo is a haven of restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. In addition to popular stores, those walking the street can discover local crafts and artisan shops.

If you're looking to skip shopping altogether, Calle del Cristo is still a worthwhile spot to get a feel for the beauty of Old San Juan. Past travelers routinely praised the churches and centuries-old colonial residences and commercial buildings that line the cobblestone streets.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Camuy River Cave Park Camuy River Cave Park

The Camuy River flows through the third largest cave system in the world — so extensive, in fact, that it underlies parts of three towns: Camuy, Hatillo, and Lares. Accessible via the main entrance in Camuy, the small fraction of the caves open to the public can be explored on guided walking tours offered by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, which manages the nearly 300-acre Camuy River Cave Park. Highlights of the tour include the largest stalagmite in Puerto Rico, glimpses of the underground river (and maybe some bats), and a 450-foot deep sinkhole that allows light from the surface to penetrate the cave.

Daily visitors are limited at the cave, so make reservations in advance; day-of tickets are limited. A number of visitors complained about being turned away from the cave because tours were at full capacity. Also, while many praised the beauty of the caves, others noted that the experience requires a great deal of walking, including up some steep hills. Finally, note that the Camuy River Cave Park may be a bit more rugged than some other "show caves" you may have visited. That said, make sure you wear closed-toed shoes.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Located in the bustling Santurce neighborhood of San Juan, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico houses more than 1,000 works of art created by Puerto Ricans. The collection showcases pieces that date back to the 1600s and includes sculptures, photographs, paintings, drawings and more. The 24 exhibition galleries are housed across two wings. The west wing is a neoclassical building designed in the 1920s, while the east wing is a modern structure designed by Puerto Rican architects. The east wing also features a stained-glass piece by Eric Tabales called Taíno Sun Rising.

Visitors rave about the museum and say that its exhibits helped them better understand the island's history and culture, with an impressive collection despite its relatively compact size.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Condado Beach Condado Beach free

If you're staying in San Juan and want to stretch on the sands, you won't need to venture farther than Condado Beach. For many sun-lovers, that's just fine. Condado is framed by a string of high-rise hotels and resort complexes, plus it's ground zero for water sports and beach bars. Families, however, sometimes forego these sands for one of the government-run beaches, or balnearios — notably Playita del Condado — because Condado beach's tide is often too strong for young swimmers.

According to past travelers, you won't be disappointed with Condado, as long as you recognize it's not a remote strip of sand, but rather a beach that sits alongside a bustling city. But its proximity to so many hotels and resorts makes it all the more tourist-friendly.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Carolina Beach (Balneario de Carolina) Carolina Beach (Balneario de Carolina) free

Located near the Isla Verde resort district in the metro area, lengthy Carolina Beach is a popular public beach among both visitors and locals. Families especially love its white sand, warm water, the on-duty lifeguard and on-site paramedics. What they're not so thrilled with are the crowds. The beach tends to get busy during the weekends, but you can avoid crowds to some extent by visiting during the week.                                                         

There are plenty of vendors nearby selling food and renting water sports equipment. The beach has a volleyball court and a playground for children. It also has a team dedicated to helping wheelchair users, though this service is available Monday through Friday only and must be requested in advance . Another minor drawback is that Carolina Beach's proximity to the airport means you may hear a bit of loud noise from airplanes overhead.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Cayo Icacos Cayo Icacos free

The Reserva Natural Cayos de la Cordillera is a national park that protects the Cordillera Cays, a series of small, uninhabited islands off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Cayo Icacos, aka Icacos Island, is one of the most popular islands thanks to its location just a mile and a half off the mainland coast and its exceptional beaches.

Most visitors come to swim or snorkel for the day — overnight visits are prohibited — and the island's location close to Fajardo makes access easy. For a fee of about $60, water taxis take visitors from Fajardo's Las Croabas neighborhood on the short trip over to Cayo Icacos, making multiple round trips daily from early morning to late afternoon. The island is also a popular stop for charter catamarans doing snorkeling trips. The latter typically supply all you'll need for a fun day on Cayo Icacos, but if you go the water taxi route be sure to bring cash for payment as well as beach necessities (blankets, sunscreen, water and more) since there are no facilities on the island – and that includes restrooms.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Crash Boat Beach Crash Boat Beach free

Despite its name, you won't need to worry about sinking ships at this beach in Aguadilla. Snorkelers regularly trek to Crash Boat Beach for its clear waters and multitude of fish. The beach and its pier are also beloved by sunbathers, fishermen, volleyball players, scuba divers and daredevils who love to jump into the water from the pier. After a day in the sun, stop by one of the area's many food kiosks to refuel or take a short drive to one of Aguadilla's restaurants.

It's no wonder this western beach is one of Aguadilla's most popular spots for travelers of all ages. Repeat visitors said the beach is smaller after Hurricane Maria, but tourists loved the beach's turquoise waters and ample activities. The near-constant crowds don't seem to bother many travelers, but if you're looking for a quiet environment this may not be the beach for you.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Luquillo Beach (Balneario la Monserrate) Luquillo Beach (Balneario la Monserrate) free

The resort beaches in Condado and Isla Verde are beautiful, but if you tire of the same old scenery, take a 30-mile drive east from San Juan along Route 3 to Luquillo Beach. Families flock to this beach for its reef-protected calm waves, and you'll also see a lot of day-trippers fresh from a jaunt in the nearby  El Yunque National Rainforest .

Luquillo Beach isn't usually crowded, but some visitors say cleanliness can be an issue, both on the beach and in the changing rooms and bathrooms. The natural beauty, however, cannot be denied.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

San Germán San Germán free

Puerto Rico's second oldest city is a miniature Old San Juan in the sense that it has street after colorful street of historic colonial-era buildings dating back to the 16th century. Highlights of the historic district include the Porta Coeli, a convent and church dating to 1609 that's now a museum of religious art — one of many art and history museums in the city — and the Iglesia San Germán de Auxerre, consecrated in 1688. The Museo de Arte Religioso Porta Coeli is open Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Because it's located in the mountains and not on the coast, San Germán sometimes gets overlooked by visitors seeking fun in Puerto Rico's Caribbean sun. But the city once rivaled San Juan in importance as the seat of government for the western half of the island. Visitors can experience local culture at the Fiestas Patronales de San German Auxerre, a July festival celebrating the city's patron saint.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Observatorio de Arecibo Observatorio de Arecibo

The Arecibo Observatory has a rich history. Scientists used the site's massive telescope to collect data about Earth's atmosphere, the solar system's planets, comets and more since its debut in the 1960s. Though Puerto Rico may seem like an odd place for this important device, it was the perfect location. Situated near the equator, the telescope was in the ideal spot not only to study the Earth's ionosphere (its original purpose) but also to study planets. In addition, Puerto Rico could accommodate the space needed for the telescope's reflecting mirror: The dish is 1,000 feet in diameter and 167 feet deep.

In 2020, cables holding the central platform broke and the platform collapsed into the dish, damaging the dish. In 2022, the National Science Foundation announced it plans to open a STEM research facility on-site but funding would not include rebuilding the telescope.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Museo Castado Serrallés Museo Castado Serrallés

Set on a hill overlooking Ponce's historic district, the former home of rum baron Don Juan Eugenio Serrallés houses a museum focusing on the sugar industry and rum production. Additionally, because the city of Ponce purchased the mansion with most of its furnishings, visitors get a glimpse of life in a Puerto Rican estate home in the 1930s.

Built in Spanish Moroccan style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Serrallés mansion presides over a 2.5-acre property with formal gardens and an oblong pool. The museum complex also includes a Japanese garden and the Cruceta del Vigía, a 100-foot-tall hilltop crucifix with a horizontal sky bridge served by elevators offering scenic vistas of Ponce.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Piñones Piñones free

Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine draw visitors to Piñones, a small community within the town of Loiza. Settled by formerly enslaved people from the African Yoruba tribe in the 16th century, Loiza is famous for its Festival of St. James, with parades featuring dancers wearing traditional vejigantes masks made from coconuts. But even if you can't make it in July, Piñones makes a great lunch stop on the way to El Yunque , Loquillo or Fajardo. Visitors come to sample frituras like green banana and taro root fritters, seafood pancakes called b acalaí tos and other local food at hundreds of food stands in the seaside community.

Piñones isn't just about food: it's a center for a cherished part of Puerto Rican culture called chinchorreo , gathering where friends and family meet for food, drink and dancing. Loiza lacks the big resorts that are typical elsewhere in this part of Puerto Rico, and it's no accident: locals are fiercely protective of their culture and low-key community life.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Guavate Guavate free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  If you can't make it to Guavate but want Puerto Rico's famous roast pork, head to Naranjito or Trujillo Alto, respectively located southwest and southeast of San Juan. Both are less than 25 miles from San Juan. – Robert Curley

For a deep dive into Puerto Rican culture and cuisine, follow la Ruta de Lechón (the "Pork Highway") into the mountains to the barrio of Guavate (in Cayey), home to a string of l echoneras serving roast pork right off the spit with crispy skin and juicy meat. The communal feast is accompanied by live music; cold beer; sides of mofongo, rice and pigeon peas; and other traditional food.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park

An admission fee of just $5 gains you entry to what has been described as the most important archeological site focusing on the Taíno people in the Caribbean. The Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park is located in the mountain town of Utuado and has a small museum, with visitors also welcome to walk around the excavated remains of stone monoliths, plazas, and ceremonial ball courts, and to view petroglyphs dating to as early as the 13th century. The park also features recreated bohios , thatched-roof homes typical of those built by the Taínos.

The Caguana ball courts, where the traditional game of batey was played, have been designated a National Historic Landmark. The game, played with a rubber ball, was similar to soccer in that all parts of the body other than the hands could be used. Games were also culturally significant in that the games helped Taínos resolve disputes and make important decisions.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Toroverde Adventure Park Toroverde Adventure Park

The town of Orocovis in Puerto Rico's central mountains is home to this high-energy adventure park, located about 40 miles inland from San Juan. Attractions include multiple zip lines, the roughly mile-long Beast (a zip line that attaches you to a harness so you can fly like Superman) and the Monster, a 1.5-mile zip line. High-altitude tours feature multiple zip lines plus crossing suspension bridges.

The park's ToroBikes operate on the longest cable bike system on earth, more than 1,000 feet long. It's just like it sounds: you pedal a bike across a cable suspended in the air. Other attractions include climbing walls and the ToroRoller, a cross between a zip line and a rollercoaster where visitors are suspended from an overhead track.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

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20 Best Places to Visit in Puerto Rico — From Uninhabited Islands to Bioluminescent Bays

With incredible beaches and historic cities, Puerto Rico is a must-visit island destination.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

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Everyone from  reggaetoneros  hunting out Bad Bunny's favorite party places to starry-eyed honeymooners drawn by posh beach resorts can agree: Puerto Rico easily lives up to its name as the  Isla del Encanto , the Island of Enchantment. A slew of new  flights to the island offered by Delta  and other major carriers are kicking off this winter, making it easier than ever to enjoy a trip to this tropical paradise —  no passport needed .

Part of the joy of a visit to Puerto Rico comes from scouting out its hidden beaches, visiting tiny, white-sand islets, and hiking to the jungle waterfalls that other travelers missed. With the help of locals and insiders from PADI, Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, and Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, we've assembled a list of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico, from the best surf spots to winding cave systems and the best places to chow down on  local dishes like  alcapurrias  and  mofongo . 

Related:  Travel + Leisure 's Guide to Visiting Puerto Rico

Old San Juan

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The historic heart of Puerto Rico's capital, Old San Juan is vibrant beyond its colorful colonial architecture or its iconic "Umbrella Street," Calle de la Fortaleza. Stroll down cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old mansions before arriving at Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a Spanish fortress crowning the western tip of the historic neighborhood and offering spectacular ocean views. End a day of exploring with local bites at one of the neighborhood's countless rooftop restaurants or with a drink at  La Factoría , named the best bar in the Caribbean in 2023.

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The oceanfront Condado neighborhood is the place to be in San Juan, with upscale apartments, the city's best restaurants, and plenty of fantastic shopping. Visit La Placita de Santurce, a favorite destination with locals and visitors alike, for frequent cultural events, street parties, and  Puerto Rican bites  at local spots like La Alcapurria Quemá.

Condado is also home to some of our readers' favorite resorts in Puerto Rico . Among them shines the Condado Collection of hotels and resorts, including  La Concha Resort ,   Condado Vanderbilt Hotel , and  Condado Ocean Club , nestled along some of the most beautiful beachfront in San Juan.

Dorado Beach

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Those looking to enjoy a retreat from energetic San Juan without traveling far will love the palm-fringed, pristine beaches of swanky Dorado Beach. Stay at  Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve , perhaps Puerto Rico's most exclusive resort. Known for its championship golf courses and the sanctuary-esque Spa Botánico with treehouse treatment rooms, it offers the bespoke luxury experience you'd expect from a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property.

El Yunque National Forest

The only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System,  El Yunque National Fo rest  is one of the island's natural gems, crisscrossed by hiking trails and home to endless rivers and hidden waterfalls. While El Yunque makes for a popular day trip from San Juan, there's much more to explore than a day trip allows, including  natural swimming holes  like Charco El Hippie and the over 1,500-foot-tall Yokahú Observation Tower with its panoramic canopy vistas. Finish your visit with a stop for farm-to-table Puerto Rican cuisine at nearby  Bacoa Finca + Fogón . 

Related:  T+L's Guide to the Underrated Region of Eastern Puerto Rico

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There are no stoplights on the island of Vieques, just untouched beaches and dreamy boutique accommodations on the largest island off the coast of the Puerto Rican mainland. The most popular attraction on Vieques is the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, which glows blue at night as visitors kayak through its waters filled with phosphorescent plankton. Enjoy a day trip to the island or spend a few nights at  Finca Victoria  in one of 14 unique cabins, treehouses, or guesthouses amidst the lush vegetation of the island's interior.

La Parguera

Discover Puerto Rico

Travelers who can't make it to Vieques to experience Puerto Rico's most famous bioluminescent bay should head to  La Parguera . Located on the island's southwestern coast, La Parguera is home to the only bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico where visitors can swim through the glimmering waters, so make sure to bring your suit. Drive in for the experience, or spend a night in one of the small guesthouses in town and spend the day visiting nearby keys for snorkeling and paddleboarding among the mangroves.

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Located off the eastern shore of the main island of Puerto Rico, the laid-back island of Culebra is tiny but packs a serious travel punch. Home to less than 2,000 permanent residents, it earned a spot on our list of our  readers' favorite islands in the Caribbean in 2023 . Culebra's famed Flamenco Beach often appears atop lists of the world's most beautiful beaches. The abandoned, graffiti-covered U.S. Navy tank at one end of the shore is simultaneously an Instagram icon and a dark monument to the island's past use for naval gunning and bombing exercises.

From Culebra, jump on a 15-minute water taxi ride to the even more remote islet of Culebrita. Impressive beaches with impossibly clear water are the main draw to this speck of an island. Tortuga Beach, named for the numerous sea turtles that nest here year after year, is considered one of the  best beaches in Puerto Rico .

Cayo Icacos

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Yet another of the white-sand keys located off the island's eastern coast,  Cayo Icacos  is an increasingly popular day trip destination in Puerto Rico that beach lovers won't want to miss. Take an excursion from Fajardo to Cayo Icacos by booking a catamaran trip to enjoy the untouched beaches and shallow waters of this uninhabited island for the day.

Río Camuy Caves

Escape the heat of the Caribbean sun at Río Camuy Cave Park  in northwestern Puerto Rico. These limestone caverns have been carved out over centuries by the immense underground river, Río Camuy. While geologists have identified at least 220 caves and 17 miles of natural tunnels, much of the area remains unexplored. Reservations are required, so make sure to book in advance with a registered tour company.

Palomino Island

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"Forget the Maldives, I'll stay in Palomino," muses Bad Bunny in his hit song, "El Apagón." There are no overwater bungalows here, but the white sands and clear seas at Palomino Island certainly warrant a comparison to a Maldivian atoll. The 100-acre, uninhabited island off the eastern coast of the Puerto Rican mainland is for the exclusive use of guests of the  El Conquistador Resort , located just a short ferry ride away.

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On the island's western shores, the town of Rincón reigns supreme as one of the best destinations for surfing in the Caribbean. Numerous beaches offer waves for surfers of all levels, though Domes Beach is where you'll find the massive swells that host an international surfing competition every year. October through February is the  best time to visit Puerto Rico  if you're scouting out waves, but Rincón has plenty to offer year-round, even for those who prefer to stay on the shore.

Desecheo Island

Puerto Rico is home to an impressive array of diving destinations, but few are as famous as the uninhabited Desecheo Island, located just off the island's western coast. With an intricate cave system offering memorable swim-throughs and a dive site so colorful it's known as “Candy Land,” visitors will have plenty to see while enjoying what  PADI  considers some of the best underwater visibility in all of Puerto Rico.

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Surfers and travelers scouting out the best beaches on the island will love Aguadilla, located on the island's western coast. Aguadilla's Crash Boat Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the island, with an intoxicating mix of white sand, water sports, and a party atmosphere fed all day by beach bars and food trucks serving up tropical cocktails and local fare. While the beach offers great visibility for snorkeling, take care when getting in the water; towards the north of the beach is Gas Chambers, one of Puerto Rico's most famous surfing breaks.

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Many travelers skip over Mayagüez, the largest city on Puerto Rico's western coast, and head directly for the area's smaller beach towns. However, Mayagüez can be a convenient base for exploring the best of the western side of the island; its charming historic center and booming culinary scene certainly don't hurt. Mayagüez is also known as the "City of Pure Waters" for its proximity to some of Puerto Rico's best diving destinations, including Desecheo Island and Mona Island.

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Isabela is Puerto Rico's ultimate laid-back beach town, boasting shores that attract everyone from backpackers and surfers to the San Juan elite looking for a weekend escape. Trace the coastline and visit Isabela's most beautiful beaches by renting a bike and hitting the Paseo Lineal de Isabela, a 4.5-mile oceanfront route perfect for morning jogs or contemplating the sunset. Or, head inland to Guajataca State Forest for miles of lush, forested trails, hidden caves, and camping.

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Puerto Rico's second-largest city tends to be overlooked by travelers, but the "Pearl of the South" has the historical charm and cultural weight to warrant a trip. Explore the city's historic plazas and numerous museums, or escape to the countryside for a visit to  Hacienda Buena Vista , a coffee hacienda (among countless others) that once brought Ponce both wealth and fame.

Casa Bacardí

Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

It wouldn't be a trip to the Caribbean without sampling some of the best local rums. Puerto Rico is home to a few different distilleries, though  Casa Bacardí , located just across the bay from Old San Juan, is the number one destination on the island for visitors curious to learn more about the Caribbean's most famous beverage. An impressive visitors' center and panoramic views of the city make for a great tasting and tour experience, though the unmatched rum selection is the real star of the show. 

Related:  5 Best Tours to Take in Puerto Rico

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Located just 45 minutes west of San Juan, the coastal town of  Manatí  feels a world away from the big city. Come here for stunning, less-crowded beaches like the half-moon-shaped crystalline bay at Mar Chiquita or Los Tubos Beach, known for its perfect surfing pipes. 

Valerie de Leon/Travel + Leisure

Puerto Rico's  Capital del Sol (Capital of the Sun) is fittingly home to some of the island's most beautiful beaches. Luquillo Beach and Balneario Monserrate are the most popular playas in the area for their size and extensive public beach amenities, but there are several beaches in Luquillo to choose from. Head to Luquillo after a day spent exploring neighboring El Yunque National Forest, or use this town as a base for exploring less-visited areas of the rainforest.

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45 Places To Visit In Puerto Rico In 2024 (Attractions & Destinations)

  • Places To Visit

Puerto Rico has many places to visit, including multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

The first Spanish settlement was built in 1508 near Old San Juan. Since then, Puerto Rico has developed into a unique destination that welcomes millions of visitors each year. 

I was born in Puerto Rico, and have traveled extensively across the island. 

In this article, I will cover the 45 best destinations, attractions and places to visit in Puerto Rico.

1. El Morro, San Juan

Located at the northwestern most point of Old San Juan. 

The Castillo San Felipe del Morro — better known as “El Morro”, is one of the most popular places to visit in Puerto Rico. 

image of Castillo San Felipe del Morro

The iconic fortress is permeated with 500 years of ancient and modern history and is one of the National Monuments of Puerto Rico.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of El Morro:

Learn more in our article El Morro  – All You Need To Know .

2. Paseo de la Princesa, San Juan

You can’t leave San Juan without taking a stroll through this picture-perfect promenade. 

image of the famous fountain in Paseo de la Princesa

Adorned with beautiful lamp posts and striking fountains, El Paseo de la Princesa is one of the most historically renowned landmarks of the island.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Paseo de la Princesa:

Learn more by reading our article Paseo de la Princesa – All You Need To Know .

3. Calle San Sebastian, San Juan

Famous for holding Puerto Rico’s largest festival.

image of peope having fun during a festival in Calle San Sebastian

Filled with music and joy, Calle San Sebastian is full of restaurants and bars where you can appreciate a lot of Puerto Rican culture and customs.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Calle San Sebastian:

Learn about more activities in San Juan in our article 40 Best Things To Do In San Juan .

4. Las Sombrillas Exhibit — Calle Fortaleza, San Juan 

You’ll love the whimsical look of the hanging umbrellas in Calle Fortaleza.  

image of the La Fortaleza Umbrella Street

Visit this colorful exhibit and take a walk through the cobblestone street admiring the beautiful architecture of the adjacent shops and restaurants.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Calle Fortaleza:

Learn more in our article Old San Juan – All You Need To Know .

5. La Perla, San Juan

The most scenic neighborhood of Old San Juan. 

Located near El Morro, La Perla (The Pearl) is the go-to night spot for people of all ages.


Visit its small rustic bars and enjoy a night of dancing and singing in La Perla.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of La Perla:

6. Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Quincentennial Plaza), San Juan

The Quincentennial Plaza is located at the northern point of Old San Juan.

image of Quincentennial Plaza in San Juan

Meant as the symbol of the new world, a 40-foot-tall tower stands tall in the middle of this commemoration of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Plaza del Quinto Centenario:

7. El Yunque Rainforest, Rio Grande

Home to over 240 tree species, El Yunque is rich in flora and fauna. 

image of a waterfall in El Yunque National Forest

Explore its hiking trails and magnificent waterfalls of the only tropical rainforest of the National Forest System.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of El Yunque National Forest:

Read more in our article about El Yunque – All You Need To Know .

8. Flamenco Beach, Culebra

Even for the locals, Flamenco Beach is the perfect getaway. 

image of Flamenco Beach

Complete with white-sand beaches and waveless cerulean water, Flamenco Beach lives up to its reputation as one of the best beaches in the world.

Below is a video touring Culebra:

Flamenco Beach is Located on the Island of Culebra, 20 miles off the coast of Fajardo. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Flamenco Beach:

Read more in our article Flamenco Beach – All You Need To Know .

9. La Placita, Santurce

La Placita de Santurce is another historical landmark of Puerto Rico. 

image of La Placita de Santurce

But you should know that La Placita has a split personality! 

During the day La Placita is a marketplace, but after sunset, it turns into one of the most popular party places where patrons go to restaurant/bar hopping.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of La Placita:

10. La Guancha, Ponce

The picturesque seafront boardwalk of the south.

image of La Guancha, Ponce

Take a stroll along La Guancha’s kiosks and restaurants and enjoy the Caribbean flavor of cocktails and food.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of La Guancha:

Learn more about the area in our article Ponce – All You Need To Know .

11. Charco Azul river, Vega Baja

Cave diving in Charco Azul is a must-do!

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Alex Nieves (@alex_78)

Photo Credit: @alex_78

This hidden gem includes a breathtaking view that you can enjoy while swimming in the lake. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Charco Azul:

12. Rio Blanco Campground, Naguabo

A camping ground to relax. 

If you are looking to connect with nature and relish the impressive views all around you, Rio Blanco Campground is what you’re looking for.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Rio Blanco Campground:

13. T-Mobile District

T-Mobile District is an entertainment setting.

image of colorful district

There is no other place in Puerto Rico where you can watch a movie, enjoy a delicious meal in a fine restaurant, catch a concert, and zipline all in one place!

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of the T-Mobile District:

14. Mar Chiquita, Manatí

This jellyfish-shaped natural pool is one of a kind. 

image showing the aerial view of Mar Chiquita Beach

Visit Mar Chiquita and relax in aquamarine waters while trying a delicious Puerto Rican fish taco.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Mar Chiquita Beach:

15. La Playuela (Playa Sucia), Cabo Rojo

One of the most popular beaches in the southwest. 

image of La Playuela in Cabo Rojo

Visit this natural wonder and you will get a perfect tan while admiring the majestic view.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Playa Sucia:

16. Crash Boat Beach, Aguadilla

Crash Boat Beach is known as the island’s party beach. 

image of Crash Boat Beach

The water is excellent for swimming and snorkeling, and the sand is great for dancing as you jump from one kiosk to another.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Crash Boat Beach:

Read more about Crash Boat Beach here.

17. Castillo Labadie, Moca

El Castillo Labadie is one of the historical landmarks of the island.

image of El Castillo Labadie

Take a tour of this century-old structure and learn about Puerto Rico’s culture and history.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Castillo Labadie:

18. Luquillo Kiosks, Luquillo

Only 11 minutes from the El Yunque Rainforest.

image of Luquillo Kiosks in Puerto Rico

Walk through this row of over 50 kiosks where you can eat all kinds of seafood, enjoy refreshing drinks, and buy beautiful souvenirs.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Kioskos de Luquillo:

Learn more in our article Luquillo – All You Need To Know.

19. Balneario La Monserrate, Luquillo

Located just steps from the Luquillo kiosks.

3 tourist places in puerto rico

This beautiful beach includes camping and picnic areas as well as bathrooms and showers.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Monserrate Beach:

Read more in our article about Luquillo Beach.

20. La Parguera, Lajas

La Parguera is a waterfront block located in the southwest of Puerto Rico.

image of La Parguera

Walk through its streets sipping a refreshing Mojito Beach while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of La Parguera:

Later at night you can swim or snorkel in its bioluminescent bay.

Learn more by reading our article Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays .

21. Poblado, Boquerón

One of the most popular weekend destinations.  

image of a street in Poblado, Boquerón

Located in the southwest of Puerto Rico, this fishing village is lined with restaurants where you can enjoy the best tropical seafood.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Poblado de Boquerón:

22. Casa Bavaria, Morovis

Beautiful restaurant with a striking view.

image of the foods served in Casa Bavaria

You will not find another place in the world where you can have mofongo and schnitzel in the same place.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Casa Bavaria:

View their menu here.

23. La Cara del Indio, Isabela

This imposing rock sculpture is located at the entrance of the town of Isabela.

image of the famous rock sculpture in Isabela, PR

This monument was carved in honor of Cacique (Chief) Mabodamaca, who fought fearlessly to protect his people during the Spanish and European invasions.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Cara del Indio:

24. Playa Peña Blanca, Aguadilla

A perfect-picture beach.

image of Peña Blanca beach

This secluded beach is a captivating natural scenery. 

If you want to relax you will enjoy the serene waters during summer, but if surfing is your thing best to visit during winter.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Peña Blanca Beach:

Learn more by reading our article Peña Blanca Beach – All You Need To Know.

25. Toro Verde Adventure Park, Orocovis

This adventure park holds one of the longest ziplines in the world.

image of Toro Verde's zipline

If you are an adrenaline junkie come and fly over one of the most amazing forests at over 90 mph. 

“The Monster” is a 1.5-mile-long zip line and the main attraction of Toro Verde Adventure Park.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Toro Verde Adventure Park:

Learn more in our article 12 Best Zipline Adventure Parks In Puerto Rico .

26. Cerro de Nandy, San Lorenzo

This restaurant sits at the top of a hill! 

image of Cerro de Nandy's entrance

Go up the hill on their 4×4 truck and enjoy a delicious meal while admiring hundreds of miles of splendid forests. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of El Cerro de Nandy:

Get more information by visiting the Cerro de Nandy Facebook page.

27. Cavernas de Camuy National Park, Camuy

Explore this cave system of over 10 miles of wondrous caverns.

image of Rio Camuy Cave Park

Take the Rio Camuy Cavern Tour and discover more than 200 caves and the third-largest underground river in the world.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Cavernas del Rio Camuy National Park:

Learn more in our article 12 Best Caves In Puerto Rico.

28. Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Site, Utuado

Learn about Puerto Rico’s indigenous culture.

image of Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Heritage Center

The Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Site is the Caribbean’s most important archaeological site. It preserves numerous monoliths and petroglyphs of the indigenous inhabitants of Puerto Rico.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of the Caguana Ceremonial Indigenous Heritage Center:

29. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Santurce

Enjoy the exhibits of contemporary art of Puerto Rico’s community.

image of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) cultivates a new view of contemporary art. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico:

Learn more on the museum’s website .

30. Mirador de Guajataca, Quebradillas

This lookout point presents the most amazing views of the north coast.

image of Mirador de Guajataca

Don’t forget your camera!

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Mirador de Guajataca:

Learn more in our article Mirador de Guajataca – All You Need To Know .

31. Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park (Hacienda Carabaí), Luquillo

This adventure park/ranch is loaded with activities for the whole family.

image of the horses in Hacienda Carabalí

Visit Hacienda Carabalí and spend the day horseback and ATV riding.

You can also enjoy their mouth-watering steaks and seafood.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Hacienda Carabalí:

Visit the Carabali Rainforest Park website to learn more.

32. Puente Hamaca, Adjuntas

Visiting the Hamaca bridge of Garza Lake is a unique family adventure.

image of the swinging bridge in Puente La Hamaca

Puerto Rico is full of beautiful forests and landscapes and Puente Hamaca is visually captivating.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Puente Hamaca:

33. Museo de Arte, Ponce

This renowned museum includes over 4,500 works of art.

image of Museo de Arte

The Museo de Arte de Ponce includes sculptures, paintings, photographs, and Puerto Rican folk art that dates from the IX century. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Museo de Arte de Ponce:

Note: As of late 2022, the main galleries of Museum of Art of Ponce are currently closed for renovations.

Contact [email protected] or call 787-840-1510 for the most current information.

34. Piñones, Loiza

This ocean drive is lined with kiosks where you can enjoy Puerto Rican cuisine.

image of Piñones Beach

Try the best food and drinks in Puerto Rico hopping from kiosk to kiosk while enjoying a day on the beach.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Playa Piñones:

Learn more about the 30 Best Puerto Rican Street Foods.

35. Las Croabas, Fajardo

This park sits in front of the Fajardo bioluminescent bay.

image of Las Croabas

Surrounded by restaurants, Las Croabas is the departing point of many kayaking tours.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Las Croabas:

Learn more about the area in our article Fajardo – All You Need To Know.

36. Playa Jobos, Isabela

This beach is one of the summer favorites.

image of Jobos Beach

Ideal for surfing and paddleboarding, this arch-shaped beach is surrounded by bars and restaurants.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Playa Jobos:

Learn more about the area in our article Isabela – All You Need To Know.

37. Plaza de las Delicias, Ponce

Visit the main Plaza of Ponce.

image of Plaza de las Delicias

Located in the center of the town of Ponce this plaza includes many historic buildings like the Parque de Bombas and Teatro Fox.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Plaza Las Delicias:

38. Castillo Serrallés, Ponce

Take a tour of Castillo Serrallés Museum.

image of Museo Castillo Serrallés

Learn the history of rum in Puerto Rico in a guided or virtual reality tour.

This setting is also perfect for weddings and social events.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Museo Castillo Serrallés:

39. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Vieques

This wildlife refuge contains more than 17,000 acres of land.

image of La Chiva Beach 

Learn about endangered plants and animals like the Calyptranthes Thomasiana and the Antillean Manatee.

To learn more in our article Vieques – All You Need To Know.

40. Black Sand Beach (Playa Negra), Vieques

Black Sand Beach (Playa Negra) is one of the most unique beaches in Puerto Rico.

This beach has dark black sand.

If you go to Vieques island you can’t skip visiting this beach.

image of blak sand beach

During heavy rains, volcanic material washes down and ends up at this beach creating a stunning effect.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Black Sand Beach:

41. Toro Negro State Forest, Orocovis

This extensive forest is the perfect venue for hikers.

image of Toro Negro State Forest

More than 10 miles of trails, natural pools with waterfalls, and mesmerizing views.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Toro Negro:

42. Plaza Colón, Mayagüez

Another historical landmark.

image of Colón Plaza

Visit this 182-year-old town square and enjoy its monuments, and statues and learn the history behind them.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Colón Plaza:

43. Isla Verde, Carolina

At only three minutes from SJU airport the most popular beach in the metro area.

image of Isla Verde

  This 3-mile-long beach is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and fast food venues.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Isla Verde:

44. Condado, San Juan

This luxurious oceanfront has been the setting of many Hollywood movies.

image of Condado Beach

Condado is the heart of the nightlife of the metro area. 

Hotels, casinos, exclusive shops, nightclubs, and restaurants define the area. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Condado:

Learn more by reading our article about Condado .

45. Casa Bacardí Tour, Cataño

The largest rum distillery in Puerto Rico.

image of Casa Bacardí

Take a guided tour and learn the history of rum Bacardi.

Activities include a virtual mixology class.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Casa Bacardí:

FAQ section

Where should i visit in puerto rico.

The best areas to visit in Puerto Rico are San Juan for touring, Culebra for the best tan, Isabela for surfing, Orocovis for adrenaline junkies, and Lajas to see the bioluminescent bay.

What is the prettiest place in Puerto Rico?

Not even the locals can agree on which is the prettiest place in Puerto Rico.  El Yunque and Flamenco Beach are good places to start.

What part of Puerto Rico is most popular?

The Metro area is the most popular, and known as the center of everything.

What is a popular site in Puerto Rico?

San Juan is the most popular place to visit for tourists and locals alike.

Final thoughts

If you are visiting the San Juan metro area, Old San Juan and Condado are great places to explore.

Cabo Rojo, Culebra, and Vieques offer some of the more secluded beaches.

For hikers and outdoor explorers, don’t miss El Yunque and ziplining opportunities .

I also recommend that you check out the bioluminescent bays that Puerto Rico has to offer.

45 Places To Visit In Puerto Rico In 2024 (Attractions & Destinations)

Dimary Hernández Soto

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I have lived in Puerto Rico my entire life. When I’m not writing, I work in the healthcare industry as a Quality Control Specialist. After Hurricane Maria, my teammates and I were responsible for ensuring that life support equipment reached patients in need around the island. 

Find the best things to do by interest

Outdoor adventures, food & drinks, history, culture & art.

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15 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

By Alicia Kennedy

Puerto Rico El Yunque National Forest

Whether you're a city person or a country person, a beachgoer or a hiker, an art lover or an adventurer, Puerto Rico has something—many things, in fact—for your every desire and persuasion. Parties, farmers’ markets, galleries; from the expansive collection at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico to a cave through which to view the rainforest below, to farms ready to welcome you in like you're part of the family, the island makes the most of its 3,500 square miles. Here is a sampling of the many ways you can spend your time during your next trip to Puerto Rico.

Click the link to read our complete Puerto Rico guide .

Editor's note: Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hours and accessibility of many places are fluid and subject to change. We advise you to contact businesses directly for updated safety guidelines and hours of operation before visiting.

Puerto Rico Cueva Ventana

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Cueva Ventana is a cave atop a limestone cliff in the mountainous town of Arecibo about an hour from San Juan . Its name translates to “cave window.” One hikes up and looks through for a gorgeous view of mountains and river. Head over on a weekday, when non-resident tickets are $19 for a 90-minute guided tour. Although the cave isn't recommended for anyone with mobility issues, adventurous travelers who aren't afraid of heights will love it.

Puerto Rico Publica

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Pública Espacio Cultural is a large gallery, open to the public, with rotating exhibitions, usually featuring Puerto Rican artists. The spacious gallery provides ample light and room for browsing. Political programming, such as events about sustainable agricultural in conjunction with similar efforts in New York City , help broaden the public's understanding of the Puerto Rican diaspora. They feature occasional fashion and food market pop-ups, and are now the home to Radio Red, a local internet radio station featuring DJ sets and podcasts.

Puerto Rico El Yunque National Forest

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The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, El Yunque National Forest is home to an incredible amount of biodiversity—even after Hurricane Maria (although while recovery continues, only about 40 percent of the forest is open to the public). There are 240 tree species alone, making it a must-see on any nature-lover's itinerary. One need not worry about big wildlife, but lizards and frogs—like the island's coqui mascot—abound. Hike the rather easygoing trails to see all the vegetation, small animal life, and waterfalls.

Puerto Rico Restaurant La Estacion

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The moment you walk into La Estación, a quirky gas station-turned-restaurant off the highway in Fajardo, you know you're in for a wild ride. It's a little tiki and a little industrial-chic, with indoor tables, outdoor tables, grungy automotive paraphernalia, and leafy jungle vibes. (And the whole place smells like Texas BBQ .) The food here is just as eclectic—you'll find everything from delicate, bright, catch-of-the-day ceviches to fried chicken with mac 'n cheese. But the barbecue is the real showstopper: slow-cooked beef brisket, smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and juicy pulled pork, all stuffed into a plantain "canoe."

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La Placita de Santurce Arrow

On weekends, La Placita de Santurce farmers' market is a packed-to-the-gills party featuring small bars and restaurants. The central market is housed in a historic building, giving the revelry a truly escapist feel. But the real joy here is getting a rum drink in a plastic cup and walking around while taking in the sights. There are excellent restaurants on the outskirts, as well, including Jungle Bird , Santaella , and Mai Pen Rai.

Puerto Rico Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

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Once a hospital, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico was restored and given new life in 1995. The grand building houses the work of the island's artists dating from the 17th century to the present day. The museum, located in the Santurce neighborhood, is a San Juan institution. The permanent collection includes more than 1,000 works ranging from painting to sculpture to installations. Rotating exhibitions, often with a political undercurrent, are part of the appeal. The exchange project Repatriation , for example, showcased the work of Puerto Rican artists living in Chicago .

Puerto Rico Castillo San Felipe del Morro

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Puerto Rico—the iconic lookout is even on the island's license plate. The fortification dates back to the 16th century, during Spanish rule. There are no guides, but you can hire someone to show you around Old San Juan, including a stop at El Morro. Anyone bored by history or who can't be out in the sun too long should skip it, but the scale and longevity inspire awe among most visitors.

Puerto Rico San Juan Farmers Market

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The Mercado Agricola Natural farmers market takes place on Saturday mornings in the big plaza of the San Juan Museum. Local farmers and makers bring their fruits, produce, and artisanal wares. Because the island imports 85 percent of its produce, supporting local purveyors is an important act of solidarity. Be sure to pick up some of the kombucha, which is made with fruit grown nearby.

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Vaca Negra is a local maker of fine aged cheeses. They offer tours, for which they gather a small group to learn about what they do, have a cheese tasting, and then make their own cheese that will be available in two months. Make the reservation for brunch here as well as the tour, for the full experience. Most of the people who come to Vaca Negra will be a fan of their cheeses already, or interested in how it's made. The focus on local, agroecological ingredients stands out.

Puerto Rico Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy

Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy Arrow

Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy, a natural limestone cave system, is a family-friendly natural wonder. And the Río Camuy that runs through it is the third-largest underground river in the world. It's a grand experience that provides a lot of photo ops, particularly Clara Cave, which you need to visit via a ticketed trolley tour. If you're visiting Puerto Rico for the island's outdoor sights and adventures, don't skip this.

Puerto Rico Playa La Pocita

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The beach Playa La Pocita is close to Piñones, the long line of kiosks serving traditional Puerto Rican cuisine like alcapurrias and pastelillos. The low price of food and drinks, the free access to the beach, and the fact that an Uber from the city won't cost more than $10 makes this an extremely worthwhile way to spend a day—so long as you have all the beach gear you need with you.

Puerto Rico La Factoria

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Dark, dim, and a little grungy, with its scuffed checkerboard floors, worn old couches, peeling walls, and chalkboard menus, La Factoria feels like a clandestine underground speakeasy. The bar is famous for taking Puerto Rican mixology to the next level and the cocktails are refreshingly simple but masterfully made. The signature drink, the Lavender Mule—a mix of vodka, ginger beer, and homemade lavender infusion—is the perfect way to kick off the night.

Boqueron Puerto Rico

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This small town on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico is a great reprieve from the busier cities of Rincón , Aguadilla, and Isabela. Here, the water is calm and shallow—so family-friendly—and the kiosks selling oysters and clams, as well as local bars on the main strip, offer relaxed entertainment and sustenance. Don't miss Balneario de Boquerón, one of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico . The water is calm; there are trees for shade; and parking and places to eat are not a far walk. This is the spot for those who love a calm day at the beach, as well as snacking on fresh seafood.


Te.ta's Arrow

At Te.ta's you'll be among a crowd of families and friends, usually locals making a day trip out of the San Juan metropolitan area for some fresh air. Te.ta's is a destination; no one simply stumbles upon it. This is comida criollla , or Puerto Rican homestyle cooking, made with local ingredients and a bevy of options for those with dietary restrictions. The portions are big and designed for a hearty appetite or sharing among friends. The house cocktails are impeccable but you can also ask for a classic. There is a housemade sangria available by the pitcher, too. Make a reservation for the weekend, with a big group or as a date, and go expecting to drink, eat, and relax. Because it's off the beaten path, it will impress anyone with an adventurous spirit.

Tamarindo Beach Puerto Rico

Tamarindo Beach Arrow

While the shore is a bit rocky, this is a quiet and secluded beach and a snorkeler's delight. Turtles and tropical fish abound. This is also the water to visit with a kayak or paddle board. The vistas, too, are picturesque—visitors feel like they've stepped into a postcard. This is a beach for those who have brought their own supplies or have rented them elsewhere on the island. It's a more rugged beach for those who love the outdoors and wildlife. Those who love calm beach life need to visit Culebra, which is a short trip from the east coast of Puerto Rico by ferry or a quick plane ride from San Juan. 


El Pretexto

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Divergent Travelers

What to Do in Puerto Rico (28 Activities, Attractions & Places You Cannot Miss)

As one of the largest islands in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico has a lot to offer visitors. From sun-drenched beaches to remote tropical islands and diverse coral reefs, Puerto Rico can be a tropical dream for vacationers.

It’s a place for adventurers, water sports lovers, divers, and beach lovers and every day it’s possible to try new activities or to explore a new and ever more beautiful part of the island. There is truly no shortage of epic things to do in Puerto Rico. 

The island is home to some of the best-preserved forests in the Caribbean and the mountainous, rugged interior of Puerto Rico offers hikers and explorers an interesting escape from the beaches.

Culture lovers will find themselves at home in the cities, with the streets of old San Juan being colorful, historic and vibrant.

Anyone looking for good food or a party need look no further than Puerto Rico either, especially rum lovers, as the island is home to some of the world’s most favorite distilleries, including Bacardi.

There’s a lot of activities and attractions to experience on this Caribbean Island , so to help you plan your holiday, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Don’t leave home without:   Lonely Planet Puerto Rico (Travel Guide)

Puerto Rico Highlights Map

Table of Contents

HOW TO USE THIS MAP:  Above you’ll find a map of our highlights in Puerto Rico. Click on the top left of the map to find separate layers marking the route and points of interest. You can hide and show different layers, or click icons on the map to see the names of places we mention in this travel guide. “Star” the map to save it to your own Google Maps, or open the map in a new window for a larger version.

28 Best Things to do in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a large territory, and as such, there really is something for everyone here. There’s more than just the main island to explore, with several smaller islands within easy reach of Puerto Rico itself.

There are beaches, caves, and mountains to see, but don’t miss out on San Juan, the capital, as this is where the best cultural experiences and historical sights can be found.

1. Check Out San Juan

San Juan

San Juan is the vibrant, colorful and at times chaotic capital and largest city of Puerto Rico. This is the territory’s transport hub, the seat of government and most populated and bustling area.

This is where you can really see Puerto Rican life, the good and bad, and it’s where you will start your holiday on the island.

Sail the calm waters of San Juan Bay at sunset during a 2-hour catamaran cocktail cruise . Watch the island coastline glide by as the sun sinks toward the horizon.

Sip a complimentary rum punch or sparkling wine with your family and friends and listen as your captain points out landmarks like El Morro Fort, the Governor’s Mansion and San Juan Gate. 

If you are looking to experience the historic side of Puerto Rico you must check out these tours:

  • San Juan Done Right!
  • Colonial Tour Old San Juan

2. Wander Around Old San Juan

Old San Juan

San Juan is today comprised of many different districts, but the most interesting area for tourists, or at least for those looking to learn more about the history of the city and the people, is Old San Juan.

This is the oldest continually inhabited part of the island and is found separated from the rest of the city, on a small island off the coast.

It’s a wonderful, ramshackle place, full of museums and colonial architecture dating back to the early days of Spanish settlement.

Get a taste for the local flavor and culture of Puerto Rico on this small-group Old San Juan food tour featuring several local eateries.

Join your guide for a culinary exploration of island staples like plantains and sofrito, all with the colorful facades of the city’s oldest neighborhood as your backdrop.

If you are looking for a great walking tour, look no further than this Old San Juan Walking Tour . Explore the colorful buildings and charming streets of Old San Juan in a small group.

Your knowledgeable guide will help you discover the area’s key historic sites and gain new insight into Puerto Rican culture.

3. Go to El Morro

Things to do in Puerto Rico

El Morro is the most important sights to visit within Old San Juan. It’s a vast, stone fortress, that dates far back to the very early 16th century.

It’s the most historically significant building in Puerto Rico and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you will see just one of the historic attractions in Puerto Rico, make sure it’s El Morro.

Float past hundreds of years of history and picturesque scenery during a 2-hour sunset sailing excursion in Old San Juan Harbor.

As you sail, you’ll enjoy up-close views of Old San Juan sights like El Morro fortress, La Fortaleza, Paseo la Princesa and more, all set aglow by the fading late afternoon light.

If you are not into sailing and are looking for a tour with other activities and more catered to exploring by foot, check out the  Old San Juan Half-Day Sightseeing Tour .

Explore the atmospheric streets, amazing architecture and intriguing history of one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in the world on this half-day Old San Juan tour.

Old San Juan is simply stunning from the air , this 3-hour heli tour will give you views of San Juan that normal tourists don’t get to see.

4. Explore El Yunque National Forest

Things to do in Puerto Rico

Found in a large area of the island’s northeast, El Yunque is a beautiful area of the Caribbean rainforest. In fact, it’s the only area of the Caribbean rainforest protected by the US forest service.

There are many beautiful hiking trails, walks, waterfalls and scenery to explore and have fun activities within this exceptional area, and many people will visit Puerto Rico just to see this unique place for themselves.

Spend an adventurous half-day or full-day exploring Puerto’s most incredible natural wonders.

If you are interested in exploring in a small group setting instead of adventuring on your own, discover the natural wonders of El Yunque rainforest on this laid-back half-day exploration from San Juan.

Enjoy a walk to a beautiful waterfall, incredible views and see more than 240 species of plants and animals that call this sub-tropical habitat home. 

If you are looking to experience Puerto Rico’s great outdoors you must check out these tours:

  • El Yunque Rainforest Half-Day Trip from San Juan
  • El Yunque Rainforest Off the Beaten Path and Bio Bay Kayaking Combo Tour

5. Visit the Camuy River Cave Park

Rio Camuy Cave Park, the world's largest subterranean cave networks located in Puerto Rico.

The Camuy River Cave Park showcases to visitors one of the world’s largest subterranean cave networks.

This vast underground cavern stretches far beneath the surface of the island, and it’s possible to visit on guided tours that delve deep into this unique environment.

Get an insider’s look at two of Puerto Rico’s most massive attractions, the Arecibo Observatory and Rio Camuy Caves Park, on this 9-hour day trip from San Juan .

Descend inside a million-year-old cavern (one of the three largest underground river systems in the world) on your Camuy cave tour.

Then prepare for an out-of-this-world visit to the world’s largest radio telescope at Arecibo, a giant concrete bowl wedged in the hills of Puerto Rico’s northern coast.

6. Take a Trip to Vieques Island

Old tank on the beach on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico - Things to do in Puerto Rico

Located just a few miles off the eastern coast, Vieques is Puerto Rico’s second-largest island, although it’s still very much a small affair. It’s a spectacular place and the perfect destination for anyone looking for a quiet break.

Things here are much less developed, and the scenery and the beaches are raw and rustic. There are plenty of lonely stretches of white sand to explore as well as a large, protected wildlife area.

Take a Vieques Island day trip from Puerto Rico to ease the stress of figuring out your own itinerary.

This tour will take you to Fort Conde Marisol (the last fort built by the Spaniards in 1840), where you will learn about the history of Vieques and the impact of the Spanish/Americans on the island.

Then we will venture into the rainforest for a short stroll. After the beach, visit the dramatic Black Sand Beach to stroll along the shore & have close encounters with wild horses. 

Do you love beaches? If so you must check out these top tours:

  • Deserted Island Catamaran Day Sail from Fajardo
  • Full-Day Culebra and Flamenco Beach Snorkeling from San Juan

7. Marvel at Mosquito Bay at Night

Mosquito Bay at Night on Vieques Island

Mosquito Bay is one of the untouched beaches on Vieques Island, but as well as being utterly spectacular, it’s also famous for the rare Bioluminescence that occurs here.

This strange and bright natural phenomenon is caused by organisms in the water. At night, you can see the entire waterfront can be lit up in a bright shade of blue. It’s a wonderful experience that’s found in a few other places around the world. This is truly one of the unique attractions you can see.

You can still enjoy activities here like paddling through the waters of the BioBay, a luminescent bay outside of Vieques, on a nighttime kayaking tour .

With provided kayaking equipment and instruction, simply follow a guide through the florescent waters and learn about this natural phenomenon.

These Bioluminescence tours are simply amazing and must be at the top of your must-do adventure list then visiting Puerto Rico.

  • Night BioBay Kayak Tour from Vieques
  • Private Bioluminescent Bay Boat Experience from San Juan (all-inclusive) ** Taking a trip like this will allow you to get some amazing photos. **

8. Sample Some Bacardi Rum

Bacardi Rum in Puerto Rico

No trip to Puerto Rico can be complete without a trip to the local Bacardi Rum factory, which produces thousands of bottles of this internationally famous spirit for export around the world every day.

Raise a glass of the finest Puerto Rican rum during a 90-minute tasting session and distillery tour at San Juan’s world-famous Casa Bacardí.

Taste the diverse styles of rums in the Bacardí family as you sample a range of vintages, including reserve bottles not sold anywhere else.

You’ll also explore the rum-making process on a Bacardí distillery tour.

Interested in learning how to make some classic cocktails with rum? Enjoy a taste of the Caribbean with a 1.5-hour cocktail-making master-class at Casa Bacardí in Cataño, the Puerto Rican home of Bacardí rum. This one of the activities here that rum-lovers would definitely enjoy.

Sip a complimentary welcome cocktail, then learn to make classic cocktails like Cuba Libre, Mojito, and Daiquiri with a demonstration from an expert mixologist.

If your looking for more of a local experience you should check out these local farm tours:

  • Eco-trolley Farm Experience and more!
  • Coffee Plantation Tour from San Juan

9. Get Historical at the Museo de las Americas

Museum of the Americas' courtyard view, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA.

Puerto Rico has a fascinating history, so rather than just visiting for the beaches or the islands, you should take the time to learn more at the excellent Museo de las Americas.

Located in an old colonial-era army barracks in the historic part of San Juan, the museum hopes to promote multiple aspects of Puerto Rican heritage, culture, and history that are often overlooked.

Museo de las Americas has permanent exhibitions on traditional, indigenous folklore, conquest and colonization, and African heritage and history in Puerto Rico.

Looking to experience the historical side of Puerto Rico, check out these top tours:

  • Old San Juan Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
  • Casa Bacardi and Old San Juan Tour

10. Learn About Local Traditions at El Cemi Museum

Ancient carved figures Piedra Escrita in Jayuya Puerto Rico.

If you want to delve deeper into local culture and folklore, one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to visit El Cemi Museum. This unique museum is located in the mountainous town of Jayuya, right in the center of the island.

The museum’s focus is the Cemi, traditional indigenous artifacts said to hold Cemis – or spirits. You can discover more archeological finds in the museum as you learn about the often forgotten indigenous people of Puerto Rico.

  • Caguas Cultural Day Trip from San Juan Including Botanical Garden and Lunch
  • City Tour San Juan historic, modern, beach and street art sightseeing

11. Visit the Indian Carvings at Cueva del Indio

Aerial view of Cueva del Indio. Rock formation. Hatillo. Puerto Rico.

If you have an interest in pre-Hispanic history, one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to visit the ancient Indian rock carvings at Cueva del Indio.

Located along the coast of Arecibo, the cave artwork dates back centuries. It is thought to have been produced by the indigenous Taino people who populated the island before the arrival of Columbus in the 15th century.

Looking to experience the Indian carvings at Cueva del Indio, check out these top tours:

  • North Coast of Puerto Rico from San Juan: Arecibo Observatory and Cueva del Indio
  • Cueva Ventana and Indian Cave Combo Tour from San Juan

12. Enjoy the Views From La Cueva Ventana

The Views From La Cueva Ventana window in Puerto Rico.

Also found in the Arecibo area is La Cueva Ventana, one of Puerto Rico’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Cave Window is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico; this large cave hewn into the rock face offers unparalleled views over the surrounding countryside.

There are 2-hour trips that allows you to just experience a slice of this amazing area or there are 6-hour trips that allow you to dive deep into this amazing area.

A short hike leads through the fields and up into the rocky hills, where you can enter this enormous cave. La Cueva Ventana is found inland, just off the highway leading from Arecibo.

13. Stargaze at the Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Also located within the mountainous inland areas of Arecibo is the fascinating Arecibo Observatory. For many years, this was the largest telescope in the world, although it has since been surpassed.

The observatory has worked on many notable astronomical projects, including the SETI project, which searches for signs of alien life!

It’s a stunning sight in itself, and you can learn more about the history of the telescope and its projects at the visitor’s center.

Get an insider’s look at the Arecibo Observatory and Rio Camuy Caves Park, on this 9-hour day trip from San Juan .

14. Sunset Sail in San Juan

Sunset Sail in San Juan

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to join a sunset sailing tour off the coast of San Juan .

Offering superb views over the Old Town of San Juan, as well as the iconic El Morro fortress, you can sit back as you watch the sunset over the Caribbean.

Enjoy a few drinks, some classic rum cocktails, and relax on the water after a long day of sightseeing.

15. Swim at El Charco Azul

El Charco Azul swimming hole - Pond at Patillas, Puerto Rico

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico if you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the tourist crowds is to take a swim at EL Charco Azul.

This beautiful freshwater swimming hole is a verdant green and turquoise color, and you can jump in for a refreshing dip in the fresh water.

A short hiking trail leads through the forest, along the river, and opens up by this natural swimming hole in the jungle.

16. Party at Ponce Carnival

Ponce Carnival - Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans are well known for their love of a good fiesta, and every town and village across the island has its own unique celebrations throughout the year.

One of the best festivals – and one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico! – is held once a year in Ponce, in the south of the island.

Ponce Carnival celebrates the lead up to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. It’s a time to let loose and enjoy the festivities before the more somber religious period begins, in the build-up to Easter.

Expect music, street parties, parades, food, and plenty of drinks!

Before the party starts in Puerto Rico we suggest learning how to salsa dance by a local .

17. Visit Beautiful Flamenco Beach

Beautiful scenic Flamenco Beach with white sand and clear blue water on Caribbean island of Isla Culebra in Puerto Rico

No trip to Puerto Rico is ever complete without at least one day spent at the beach. One of the best beaches to visit is located on Culebra Island, just a short ferry ride away from the mainland .

Flamenco Beach is long, beautifully sandy, and drenched in sunshine for most of the year. The shallow water is protected by the bay, offering a perfect, calm area for swimming.

18. Explore Culebra National Wildlife Reserve

Culebra National Wildlife Reserve - one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the USA. Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach is found bordering the equally spectacular climes of the Culebra National Wildlife Reserve.

This protected area covers coastline, forest, and coral reefs, and it actually has the distinction of being one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the USA.

There are empty beaches to hike to, nesting sea turtles to discover, and miles of outdoor scenery and beautiful vistas waiting to be explored.

Looking to experience Culebra and Flamenco Beach, check out these tours:

  • Culebra Island Kayak and Snorkel Morning Adventure
  • Culebra Day Trip by Catamaran from Fajardo

19. Isolate at Isla Culebrita

Culebrita, Puerto Rico Culebra Island

If Culebra Island is too big or touristy for you, take a boat trip across to Isla Culebrita , which is just off the coast. Little Culebra is peaceful, quiet, and full of wildlife.

It’s uninhabited by humans, but you can take a day trip here to escape the rest of civilization for at least a few hours!

20. Visit the Coast at Fajardo

A lifeguard post stands in front of a calm turquoise bay at Seven Seas Beach near Fajardo, Puerto Rico

One of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to spend some time along the coast at Fajardo. This is Puerto Rico’s original beach destination, where you can find laid back resorts, lovely coastline, and plenty of great activities.

Fajardo is a great hub for day trips to the surrounding islands. From here, you can organize tours or take the local ferries across to Culebra Island and the many other Caribbean gems off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Fajardo is simply stunning, check out these popular tours:

  • Snorkeling Tour to Vieques Island
  • Snorkeling tour to Culebra Island

21. Visit the Monkeys on Cayo Santiago

Monkeys on Cayo Santiago (Monkey Island) Puerto Rico.

Off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, you can find Cayo Santiago, a small island that is home to a large population of monkeys.

Otherwise known as Monkey Island, Cayo Santiago is completely ruled by the monkeys. Humans aren’t allowed to set foot on the island, only to cruise past in boats and watch the monkeys from afar.

It’s an important place for wildlife research, and a boat trip here will be an educational one.

Looking to experience Monkey Island (Cayo Santiago), check out these tours:

  • Monkey Island Kayak EcoTour
  • Private Snorkel Charter tour around Palominos, Icacos, Lobos Island

22. Visit Beautiful Cabo Rojo

Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico

You can enjoy the most beautiful coastal regions in Puerto Rico on the southwestern side of the island. Cabo Rojo isn’t as developed as the eastern coast, and it offers you the chance to really get back to nature.

There are several national parks and wildlife refuges, both on and offshore. Hike through the forest, lounge on the beaches, or snorkel the coral reefs.

The only way to experience Cabo Rojo is on these tours:

  • Southwest Day Trip Puerto Rico
  • West Side Experience Puerto Rico

23. Scuba Dive Shipwrecks in Rincon

Tugboat wreck while Scuba Diving Shipwrecks in Rincon Puerto Rico.

Also on the western shore, you can visit the shipwrecks of Rincon, where snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities abound.

This was a treacherous area of the sea for Spanish galleons and shipping in centuries past, and many found themselves sinking on the coral reefs.

If you are looking to get into the water and go scuba diving in Puerto Rico you must check out these tours:

  • Fajardo 2 tank dive (only for Certified Divers)
  • No Certification Required Guided Scuba Diving Tour

24. Explore Mayaguez

Architecture detail showing Roman influence with the particular Caribbean touch. University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Puerto Rico.

Mayaguez is the hub for tourism along the west coast. Exploring this magnificent part of the island is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Mayaguez is home to some intriguing museums and art galleries. It’s an excellent base for getting out along the coast and into the nearby national parks.

25. Stroll Through Colonial San German

The Porta Coeli Church in San German, Puerto Rico is the oldest church in the Americas.

To see a different side of western Puerto Rico, take a trip to colonial San German. A visit to this charming provincial town is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico if you’re interested in history.

This was the second town to be founded by the Spaniards after their arrival in the 15th century.

Much of San German – especially the central area – has been remarkably well preserved, with colorful colonial buildings and cobbled streets just begging to be explored.

  • Old San Juan Murder Mystery Tour
  • Architectural Treasures of Old San Juan

26. Hike in the Rio Abajo State Forest

Rio Abajo State Forest hiking trail in Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for some excellent walking trails, one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to hike through the Rio Abaja State Forest. 

This forested area is found in the mountainous interior, offering rugged, challenging, yet rewarding hikes through unspoiled nature.

For the active travelers you need these tours:

  • Hiking to a Hidden Waterfall Adventure
  • Body Rafting, Caving and Hiking Adventure in Puerto Rico

27. Hike Guanica State Forest

Playa de Guanica (Gilligan's Island) in Puerto Rico - Guanica State Forest

Another great place for hiking in Puerto Rico is the Guanica State Forest. It’s located along the southern coast of the island. If you’re looking for a more off the beaten track state forest, hiking in Guanica is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

  • El Yunque Off the Beaten Path Hiking Tour
  • JungleQui Zipline Park at El Yunque National Forest

28. Conquer Los Tres Picachos

The view while hiking up Los Tres Pcahos in Puerto Rico - The highest peak.

If you’re looking for an outdoor challenge, one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico is to tackle Los Tres Pcachos, the highest peak on the island.

Rising to just over 1000 meters, there are superb views over the entire island from the summit. It’s a tough, sweaty hike, but the vistas are well worth the struggle to the top!

  • LED Night Kayak – Condado Lagoon
  • Luquillo Beach Horse Ride from Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park

You might also like:

  • The Perfect Puerto Rico Itinerary
  • 15 Cool Things to Do in St Thomas USVI
  • 7 Exotic Places to Travel Without a Passport
  • Roatan Honduras: Everything to Know Before You Go
  • 9 UNREAL Things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize
  • 21 Bucket List Things to do in Antigua
  • 40 Bucket List Things to do in Barbados
  • 25 Bucket List Things to Do in Cuba

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Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

1 thought on “What to Do in Puerto Rico (28 Activities, Attractions & Places You Cannot Miss)”

My friends and I are planning to go on a trip to Puerto Rico and try their infamous snorkeling trip service because this will be a great way to spend a nice and exciting vacation. Well, I’m glad that you also shared here the advantage of visiting the San Juan bay where I and my girls can enjoy a 2-hour catamaran cocktail cruise. You’re also right that it would be a great idea to have a glimpse of the early 16th century by visiting the El Morro.

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Divergent Travelers- Adventure Travel Blog

42 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico – Top Attractions & Places To Visit

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: June 15, 2019  - Last updated: October 17, 2023

Things To Do In Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for things to do in Puerto Rico, you should know that the list is huge.

There’s a reason why Puerto Rico is considered one of the best vacation spots in the Caribbean.

Not only does it offer tons of attractions, but it also boasts a dual nature that has been fascinating visitors for centuries.

On one hand, Puerto Rico is a mecca for vacationers and honeymooners. There’s sun, surf, rum and adventure around every corner.

You can swim in beautiful beaches and zipline through exotic rainforests; you can jump from towering cliffs and descend into creepy underground caves.

There’s no limit to cool experiences to have on the island.

On the other hand, there’s a deeper side to Puerto Rico.

It has some of the oldest, most carefully-preserved architecture in the world, and it’s filled with landmarks of great cultural and historical value.

You can learn a lot about pre-Columbian civilization with a trip to its museums, galleries, churches, cathedrals and military fortresses.

Which Puerto Rico do you want to see? What kind of trip do you want to have in the Caribbean?

If you’re wondering what to do in Puerto Rico, here are just a few ideas!

Table of Contents

1. Flamenco Beach

Flamenco Beach

Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico, you want to go to the beach. That’s a fact.

No one flies to Puerto Rico to see its air-conditioned government buildings. You want fun in the sun.

The good news is that Flamenco Beach will live up to your daydreams and then some.

Not only does it offer white sand and blue water that shimmies on the horizon, but it also boasts bathrooms, lifeguards, food kiosks, volleyball nets and tourist stations where you can rent equipment for things like snorkeling and scuba diving.

It’s a tropical paradise that will give you just about every vacation experience that you could want in Puerto Rico.

Are you keen to test yourself against the waves? Hit the horseshoe bend for great surfing opportunities.

Are you traveling with family? Let the kids build sandcastles while mom and dad sip piña coladas under the shade of a lounge chair.

Flamenco Beach is such a picture-perfect destination that it’s often ranked as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean by travel guides.

If you’re looking for amazing places to visit in Puerto Rico, grab your towel and do the flamenco.

2. Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo de San Felipe del Morro

FER737NG / Shutterstock

There’s a bloody history of conquest behind the bright, rum-soaked beaches of the Caribbean.

Everyone wanted a piece of the New World, and everyone was willing to fight to get it. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Castillo San Felipe del Morro .

Known to locals as “El Morro,” the Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a gargantuan citadel that was built in Puerto Rico in the 16th century to defend the island against pirates, soldiers, slavers and anyone else who wanted to test their strength against its massive walls.

It has an entire assembly of cannons, turrets, bunkers, sentry towers, lighthouses and other places of interest.

Today, of course, it’s a lively tourist attraction where people take selfies while kids play hide-and-seek in the hidden nooks of the great stone garitas.

Families fly kites on the grass. Vendors sell snacks.

Once upon a time, however, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro was the most important fortress in Puerto Rico, and its huge walls will take your breath away when you realize how much history that they’ve seen.

Address:  501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

3. The Pork Highway

Chopped Parts of Lechon or Suckling Pig

Crystal Eye Studio / Shutterstock

Officially known as La Ruta del Lechón, the Pork Highway is exactly what it sounds like: a three-mile stretch of road where every restaurant specializes in pork.

The most popular type of pork is lechón, a special dish in Puerto Rico that involves spit-roasting an entire pig with a blend of sauces and spices.

It’s considered the main attraction of the highway, so be prepared to see all kinds of open-air smoke pits with whole pigs slowly turning on skewers.

If you don’t like lechón, the Pork Highway has other tasty items to offer as well.

You might enjoy morcilla (blood sausage) or arroz con gandules (rice and beans), or you might be tempted by various stews, sandwiches, casseroles and veggie dishes.

If it’s made in Puerto Rico, the Pork Highway probably has it.

Another draw of the Pork Highway is its festive atmosphere. The restaurants are loud and crowded, and there’s always drinking and dancing to go along with the roasted pig.

It’s one of those places where you can make a dozen friends before you finish a single meal.

The Pork Highway is basically one big block party. If you want to cut loose in Puerto Rico, drive down the highway and prepare yourself for a great time.

4. Toro Verde Adventure Park

Get your blood pumping with a trip to the Toro Verde Adventure Park in central Puerto Rico.

It offers ziplines, rope courses and rock climbing challenges that are guaranteed to make you pee your pants a little when you realize just what you’ve gotten yourself into!

The park’s main attraction is “The Beast,” which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest zipline in the world.

You’ll be strapped into a horizontal, full-body harness that will send you careening through the open air for 4,745 feet.

Other attractions include “The Wild Bull,” a series of hanging rope bridges that will sway in every direction as you cross them, and “Escape If You Can,” an adventure course that includes everything from ziplining to rappelling down a rock wall.

Thrill seekers won’t want to miss Toro Verde Adventure Park. Puerto Rico is a crazy place, but some of its vacation spots are even crazier.

If you laugh in the face of danger, this is definitely one of the top things to do.

Address:  PR-155, Orocovis, 00720, Puerto Rico

5. Old San Juan

street in old San Juan

emperorcosar / Shutterstock

With cobbled streets, busy plazas and colorful homes that stack together like building blocks of yellow, blue, green, orange and turquoise, Old San Juan is one of the most vibrant places to visit in Puerto Rico.

It’s technically a historic district, and you can see evidence of its past in the abundance of churches, cathedrals and colonial homes.

There are even tourist attractions in the form of ancient tombs that hold the remains of famous Spanish explorers.

If you’re a history buff, this is one of the most educational places in Puerto Rico.

Most visitors, however, come to Old San Juan for commerce. There are shops and museums; there are casual sidewalk cafes and fancy candlelit restaurants.

A free trolley rambles through the neighborhood if you want to hop between destinations.

Old San Juan tops our list of best places to go in Puerto Rico.

Whether you’re headed there for the markets or the memorials, you definitely won’t want to miss it!

6. Isla Culebrita

Isla Culebrita

There’s a certain charm to the lively, rowdy crowds of Puerto Rico, but no one will blame you if you need to escape the noise every once in a while.

This is why places like Isla Culebrita exist.

Isla Culebrita is an uninhabited island off the coast of eastern Puerto Rico. It’s only about a mile long, and access is restricted to ferries and water taxis.

Many tourists don’t even realize that it exists.

Its isolation, however, makes it one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico. The beaches are neat and clean; the shopping centers don’t have long lines.

You can dive for coral reefs or wade through tide pools without anyone else around.

There are also fun landmarks to explore on Isla Culebrita, including an old-fashioned lighthouse and a special beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.

You can take your time with these attractions since there won’t be busy crowds hurrying you along.

If you need a break from the chaos of the mainland, consider jetting off to Isla Culebrita.

It’s one of the hidden treasures of Puerto Rico, and in the true spirit of a pirate, it’s yours for the taking.

7. Museo de Las Americas

Museo de Las Americas

Borrie / Shutterstock

There are many museums in Puerto Rico, but only a handful are actually about Puerto Rico. The Museo de Las Americas is one of these precious places.

It has artifacts, tokens and textiles from dozens of indigenous groups that lived in Latin America before it was colonized, and it can take you on a multi-continental journey through history.

One of the coolest things about the Museo de Las Americas is that it’s housed in a series of old army barracks.

In the 1800s, the doors led to bedrooms, kitchens, cafeterias and jails; today, they lead to art galleries and recreated scenery rooms.

Another fun thing about the museum is that it’s more than just a series of objects behind glass. They don’t celebrate it as an exciting attraction in Puerto Rico for nothing!

There are interactive stations where kids can touch and hold things; there’s an audio-visual room where adults can learn more about tribal traditions through short, informative films.

The Museo de Las Americas has a lot going for it. Not only will you be awed by its location, but you’ll also take in the important people and places of Caribbean history.

The Museo de Las Americas is one of those places in Puerto Rico that will be both entertaining and educational.

Address:  Calle Beneficencia, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico

8. Mayaguez

If you like to eat, Mayaguez is the city for you.

It’s home to everything from fine dining establishments to open-air cafes with big, colorful umbrellas, so you’ll have plenty of options when your stomach starts growling.

A fun fact about Mayaguez is that it’s known for the creation and production of several famous dishes in Puerto Rico:

  • Brazo Gitano is a type of sweet dessert roll made with jelly-filled sponge cake.
  • Sangria de Fido is an alcoholic drink made with rum, fruit juice and burgundy wine. The creator was offered $250,000 to sell his recipe to a big-name liquor brand, but he refused.
  • The coffee of Puerto Rico is known around the world for its rich, smooth flavors. The beans are harvested in volcanic soil with a perfect amount of shade and rainfall, so they’re in high demand as a luxury product.

Mayaguez will let you enjoy all of these delights, and it has a few other intriguing menu items, too.

If you’re looking for good places to chow down in Puerto Rico, stop by Mayaguez.

9. El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque national forest in Puerto Rico

Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock

Covering more than 28,000 acres, the El Yunque National Forest is a lush, humid rainforest where dense foliage covers everything from slithering snakes to croaking tree frogs.

It’s the only tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico, and visitors come from all over the Carribean to witness both its beauty and biodiversity.

Hiking is the most common activity in El Yunque National Forest.

It has all kinds of sightseeing trails for rivers, crags, waterfalls, meadows and mountains, so your camera will get a nice workout as you go exploring.

Maybe you can start a Puerto Rico scrapbook!

If you want a little more excitement than just walking around, consider camping, swimming, biking or picnicking in one of the forest’s designated recreational areas.

You can also stop by the visitor’s center for information on any tours or nature walks that are on schedule.

Oh, and if you’re looking for Puerto Rico travel hacks , here’s one that could save your life:

Don’t travel to El Yunque National Forest during the rainy season!

It already gets a ton of precipitation to sustain its flourishing ecosystem, so during the rainy season, the area can become downright flooded.

The best time to visit the forest is during the drier months of Puerto Rico.

10. Los Morrillos Lighthouse

Faro Los Morrillos lighthouse

Photo Spirit / Shutterstock

Located in the city of Cabo Rojo on the southernmost tip of Puerto Rico, the Los Morrillos Lighthouse is one of those gorgeous places that you can only find in the Caribbean.

It’s perched on top of white limestone cliffs that are surrounded by salt marshes and lagoons, and the waves crash against the cliffs with a violence that’s startling but beautiful.

The lighthouse itself is a simple structure; you’ll find many just like it in Puerto Rico.

However, the views from its observation deck are top notch, and the friendly staff will take you on a tour anytime.

You can also explore the grounds surrounding the lighthouse. The sea is a good 200 feet below the cliffs, and there are no guard rails to hold you back.

Venture close enough to the edge and you can even see where parts of the limestone have crumbled beneath the feet of past visitors.

It’ll be too dangerous for the kids, but daring adults can toe the cliffs and test their luck. Make a memory of Puerto Rico that you’ll never forget!

Address:  Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

old town of the city of Ponce

Aneta Waberska / Shutterstock

Ponce is a bustling city in Puerto Rico where you can find everything from pink houses to pineapple ice cream shops.

It has such a vibrant, colorful atmosphere that it’s been called “the most Puerto Rican city in Puerto Rico.”

What makes Ponce so special?

For starters, it’s filled with some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Whether you’re a fan of parks, plazas, museums, shopping malls, restaurants, monuments or movie theaters, Ponce will keep you busy.

Another great thing about Ponce is that it hosts dozens of festivals throughout the year.

Some of them are local carnivals and parades that showcase the art and culture of the Caribbean; others are international marathons and music events that draw massive crowds.

Ponce is definitely one of the best places in Puerto Rico. If the tourist attractions don’t reel you in, the local culture will.

12. Cayo Santiago

Cayo Santiago is a small stretch of land off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.

From a distance, it looks like any other tropical Caribbean landscape filled with hills, beaches and cliffs.

When you get closer, however, you’ll see the furry little heads peeking through the tree canopies, and you’ll realize why “Cayo Santiago” translates to “Monkey Island.”

Cayo Santiago was created when a group of monkeys was imported from India to Puerto Rico in the 1930s.

Researchers wanted to study their behavior without human interference, so they let the monkeys run wild on an unclaimed island.

They probably didn’t expect the monkey population to swell to 1,000, but that’s the circle of life for you.

Humans aren’t allowed on Cayo Santiago, but you can go snorkeling or kayaking in the surrounding waters for a closer look at the curious little creatures.

There’s also a sunken barge nearby for further diving fun.

The best things to do in Puerto Rico are the ones that you can’t experience anywhere else. They’re unique to the island and its inhabitants.

Cayo Santiago is one of these unforgettable places, so call up your travel planner and ask them to perform some monkey business.

13. Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

horses on a beach Vieques in Puerto Rico

Sasha Fenix / Shutterstock

If you’re willing to travel a little outside of the actual island of Puerto Rico, hop on a ferry and visit the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge .

Hundreds of species call it home, including birds, lizards, monkeys, manatees and sea turtles. There are even wild horses roaming the shoreline!

As for activities, you’ll have your choice of fun things to do and amazing places to visit on both land and sea.

If you want to splash around, you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive; if you prefer to stay dry, you can go hiking, biking or horseback riding.

You can also check out the visitor’s center for cool exhibits of seashells and manatee skeletons.

Lots of people wonder what to do in Puerto Rico, but only a few realize the potential of a destination just a bit off the coast.

Don’t be afraid to go beyond the boundaries of your map and visit the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.

Address:  State Rd 997 km 3.2, Vieques, PR 00765, United States

14. Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory radio telescope

You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate the world’s largest radio telescope.

Towering more than 1,600 feet above the lakes and fields of Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory is a testament to the power of man and the importance of scientific research.

It operates 24/7 and transmits data to people from all over the globe.

It’s one of the best places in Puerto Rico for scenic views, too.

You can take a tour of the observatory through the science and visitor center, and when you’re done learning about its value to everything from radar astronomy to atmospheric science, you can end your visit with a climb to the observation deck.

You’ll be so high that the birds will be below you!

There’s a reason why the Arecibo Observatory has been featured in films and shows such as GoldenEye, The X-Files and Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

It’s a sight that manages to be both humbling and empowering, and it’s a top-tier destination in Puerto Rico.

Address:  PR-625, Arecibo, 00612, Puerto Rico

15. Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique isn’t like any other restaurant in Puerto Rico. If you’re looking for unique dining establishments, this one takes the whole empanada.

The first thing to know about Jose Enrique is that it’s based in a simple green house without any signage.

If not for the enticing smells wafting from the windows, you could walk right past it without even realizing that it’s there.

It also has a relaxed, informal atmosphere where locals and tourists mingle freely. Reservations aren’t accepted; it’s first come first served.

The menu is written on a whiteboard that the waiters carry from table to table, and it changes every day, so you might be eating almojábana on Monday and plátanos maduros on Tuesday.

Some people might not like the casual setting of Jose Enrique, but it’s one of the best places to experience Puerto Rico like a native.

If you aren’t one to stand on ceremony, you can find the house, kick off your shoes, order something delicious and even bring your own beer.

Jose Enrique welcomes anyone who can appreciate good food and a festive atmosphere.

Address:  176 Calle Duffaut, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

16. Guajataca Tunnel

Are you afraid of the dark?

Known to locals as “The Black Tunnel,” Guajataca Tunnel is a pitch-black underpass carved into the side of a river canyon that stretches for more than 500 feet.

It used to belong to the national railway system, and in its heyday, it connected several different regions of Puerto Rico for the quick, easy transport of things like sugar cane.

Today, Guajataca Tunnel is a ghost site that’s been forgotten by the transportation department.

It’s become something of a tourist attraction as people dare each other to walk through its completely lightless caverns.

If you can make it to the other side, you’ll be greeted with dazzling views of Guajataca Beach.

If you lose your nerve, you’ll have to double back and take one of the outdoor walking trails.

Guajataca Tunnel is one of the more low-key things to do in Puerto Rico, so don’t expect it to provide hours of entertainment.

It’s just a fun challenge for anyone who is already traveling through the area.

It’s the kind of thing that can become a great story when you’re back home from your trip to Puerto Rico; you just have to be brave enough to attempt it!

Address:  Av. Noel Estrada, Isabela, 00662, Puerto Rico

17. Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center

Ceremonial Park of Caguana

Christopher Garrick / Shutterstock

Before it was “discovered” by explorers, Puerto Rico was home to a number of indigenous tribes. They had their own art, culture, tradition, medicine and athletic games.

The Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center ensures that none of it will be forgotten.

Founded on 800-year-old soil, the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center carefully preserves the landmarks of the area while also inviting visitors to take a walk in the shoes of the people who came before them.

Its most famous attraction is the collection of “ball courts” where the Taino people played games among large, carved stones decorated with monoliths and petroglyphs.

There’s also a small museum filled with artifacts and a botanical garden where traditional Taino plants are grown.

History buffs won’t want to miss the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center.

The Caribbean wasn’t always a boozy tourist destination, and it’s important to remember the native people that nurtured the land before anyone else had even heard of Puerto Rico.

Address:  Carr.111 Km. 12.4, Utuado, 00641, Puerto Rico

18. Plaza Las Americas

Plaza Las Americas

It’s okay to experience a little dizziness when you walk into Plaza Las Americas .

Not only is it the biggest shopping mall in Puerto Rico, but it’s also the biggest shopping mall in the entire Caribbean!

Three stories are home to everything from upscale fashion boutiques to modest phone kiosks.

There are more than 300 businesses in total, and they’re spread across a staggering 2.2 million square feet of retail space.

There are stores, restaurants, offices and fountains; there’s a food court filled with menus from all around the world; there’s even a cineplex that runs both English and Spanish movies.

Speaking of languages, you’ll find the Plaza Las Americas to be very accessible to tourists who are new to Puerto Rico.

While a lot of the signage is in Spanish, many of them have English printed right below it, and the logos of famous brands tend to be universal anyway.

If your pesos are burning a hole in your pocket in Puerto Rico, make a stop at the Plaza Las Americas.

You’ll end the day with your arms filled with shopping bags and your heart filled with the joy of retail therapy.

Address:  525 Av. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, San Juan, 00918, Puerto Rico

19. Gilligan’s Island

Gilligan island in Puerto Rico

SVongpra / Shutterstock

Yes, you read that correctly!

Though it’s officially named Cayo Aurora, this small piece of land is more commonly known as Gilligan’s Island, and it can provide a real-life taste of the tropical paradise that you saw on TV.

Gilligan’s Island is one of the lesser-known islands of Puerto Rico. It’s located off the coast of Guanica, a more popular beach destination, and it’s quite small.

You can explore the entire thing by foot.

What the island lacks in size, however, it makes up in beauty. The waters of Gilligan’s Island are breathtakingly clear, and the waves are always calm and mild.

It’s one of the best places in Puerto Rico to observe marine life.

Whether you’re swimming, snorkeling or kayaking, you can see every shade of the colorful fish darting below the surface.

You’ll also enjoy the solitude of Gilligan’s Island.

It’s never as crowded as the big beaches, so you can teach the kids to swim or cuddle up with your sweetheart by the mangrove trees without any interference from loud tourists.

Take a three-hour tour with the Gilligan’s Island of Puerto Rico.

You won’t find the Professor or the Skipper here, but you’ll enjoy plenty of other Caribbean delights!

20. San German

Porta Coeli Church in San German

John Kershner / Shutterstock

San German is the second-oldest city in Puerto Rico, and as soon as you see its cobblestone streets and square-cut colonial buildings, you’ll realize that it never really left its past behind.

Hundreds of historical sites might make it obvious, too.

San German is a premiere destination for travelers who are interested in the history of Puerto Rico.

It boasts churches, cathedrals, museums, plazas, cemeteries and cultural centers as far as the eye can see.

From preserved art collections to authentic stained glass windows that depict important religious events, San German has it all.

Another nice thing about San German is that it’s very walkable.

Most of its important landmarks are within 30 minutes of each other, so you can take a stroll and visit all of the best places in a single afternoon.

San German isn’t for everyone. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, for example, you might want to look for more death-defying things to do in Puerto Rico.

But if you’re someone who enjoys ancient scrolls and scrubbed tombstones, San German will be right up your cobbled alley.

21. Mosquito Bay

Located just off the coast of Puerto Rico, Mosquito Bay is one of the most stunning sights in the world.

It’s home to thousands of bioluminescent organisms that make the water sparkle like bright blue gemstones!

The exact science of Mosquito Bay is something of a mystery, but it’s thought that the organisms have a natural luminescence that thrives in the nutrient-rich waters of Puerto Rico.

There are two other bays like this around the island, but Mosquito Bay is the brightest.

You might question the wisdom of visiting places with names like “Mosquito Bay,” but rest assured that the title has nothing to do with bloodsucking insects.

It comes from an old pirate named El Mosquito who used the bay as a hideout.

You won’t get stung or bitten when you visit, and you’ll enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you paddle through its bioluminescent waters.

The one downside of Mosquito Bay is that you’ll have to paddle; swimming isn’t allowed, so you’ll need to take a kayak ride to get close to the sparkles.

The best time to visit is at night. The moon will light up the glittering blue waves like something out of a movie.

If you’re looking for amazing things to do in Puerto Rico, put Mosquito Bay at the top of your list.

It’s one of the rarest sights in the whole Caribbean, so it’s worth going a bit out of your way.

22. Palmas del Mar


Are you visiting Puerto Rico for more than a weekend or spring break? Are you looking for cool places to see that won’t require extensive travel away from your hotel?

You might want to consider a long-term vacation rental in Puerto Rico, and you might want to look into places like Palmas del Mar.

Palmas del Mar is a sprawling resort community that covers more than 2,500 acres.

It has all of the traditional fares like beaches, restaurants, tennis courts, golf courses and horse stables, but it also offers essentials for everyday living like schools and banks.

People aren’t just tourists in Palmas del Mar. They’re residents.

If you choose to join the community, you can either buy or rent from the network of vacation homes and beach villas in the area.

It’s the long-term solution for people who aren’t just in the Caribbean for short-time fun.

If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Puerto Rico that aren’t single-serve hotels, consider Palmas del Mar.

It will offer all of the amenities that you need for a great tropical trip.

23. Casino del Sol

Gambling is completely legal in Puerto Rico, and you can’t throw a rock in places like San Juan without hitting a hotel or resort with a casino attached.

The only question is which casino will give you the highest chance at a jackpot!

While not the biggest or grandest building in the area, Casino del Sol has a good reputation as a gambling establishment.

It offers more than 14,000 square feet of slot machines and card tables, and that isn’t even getting into its raffles, lotteries and off-track horse betting.

There’s a little something for everyone no matter how they like to roll the dice.

Casino del Sol is also just a heartbeat away from the famous Picante Lobby Bar and Lounge of Puerto Rico, so when you’ve worked up a thirst at the blackjack table, you can step aside for a minute and enjoy a cocktail at the bar.

You might even be able to catch a night show with a singer or salsa band.

Sink your feet into the plush carpets of Casino del Sol and take advantage of the lax gambling laws of the Caribbean.

You won’t be able to enjoy this experience anywhere else, so it’ll be exclusive to your Puerto Rico vacation!

Address:  7012 Calle Avenue Boca de Cangrejos, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico

24. Cueva del Indio

Cueva del Indio Rock formation

Mia2you / Shutterstock

History can take many forms, including artwork carved into cave walls between the years of A.D. 1200 – 1500. This is what you’ll see when you visit Cueva del Indio.

Located in La Piedras, Puerto Rico, these caves are a prehistoric rock site where history comes alive in a series of paintings, sculptures and petroglyphs.

Not only will you get to venture deep into the moss-covered tunnels that make up the cave network, but you’ll also be able to look at genuine artwork left behind by the indigenous people of Puerto Rico.

Another nice feature of Cueva del Indio is that it won’t cost you a dime.

It can be put on your list of “free things to do in Puerto Rico” for the days when your budget is stretching a little thin.

If you enjoy art, culture and indigenous history that dates back to pre-Columbian times, consider a visit to Cueva del Indio.

It’s one of those beautiful places that has to be seen to be believed.

Address:  Arecibo 00612, Puerto Rico

25. Playa Sucia

Playa Sucia

LeanneMarie1215 / flickr

Consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Playa Sucia is so pristine that you might feel guilty about laying down your towels and drink coolers.

You’ll need to get over this instinct if you want to fully experience a beautiful Puerto Rico destination!

The water is the first thing that you’ll notice.

It’s so clear that you can see every grain of sand between your toes, and it’s perfect for swimming, snorkeling, wading, diving and paddle boarding.

There are some fun places beyond the beach as well.

A lighthouse is within walking distance, and a wildlife reserve is a short drive into southern Puerto Rico if you can tear yourself away from the water.

The single best thing about Playa Sucia, however, is its paradore.

Paradores are old-fashioned Spanish inns that will treat you like royalty, and Puerto Rico has strict guidelines to keep them authentic.

Being able to bunk in a paradore is a real treat, so it’ll be the icing on the cake of your exotic beach vacation!

Another quick travel hack: “Playa Sucia” occasionally goes by the name “La Playuela,” so you might see it listed differently on maps of Puerto Rico.

It’s just a regional thing. It’s the same beach.

26. Casa Bacardi

Casa Bacardi

Irina Mos / Shutterstock

You aren’t really vacationing in the Caribbean until you’re sipping on a fruity cocktail with an umbrella stick. Fortunately, Casa Bacardi can turn these daydreams into a reality.

Casa Bacardi is the distillery of the world-famous Bacardi brand. It offers tours, tastings, mixology classes and other special events that celebrate their passion for liquor.

Visitors can take the afternoon and learn all about the secrets of a good daiquiri or the history of the mojito.

Famously, the Casa Bacardi tours will get you buzzed from the moment that you step into the building.

The first drink is complimentary, but you’ll be tempted with all kinds of cocktails and coconut drinks as you complete the tour.

If you take a mixology class, you can even drink your creations when you’re done!

There’s no shortage of good-time drinks in Puerto Rico, but if you’d like to taste some of the very best that the island has to offer, consider a trip to Casa Bacardi.

Address:  PR-165, Cataño, 00949, Puerto Rico

27. Las Cascadas Water Park


Las Cascadas Water Park used to be the largest aquatic park in Puerto Rico.

It might still hold that title, but it’s hard to be sure with the rise of so many luxury attractions in the greater Caribbean area.

Either way, Las Cascadas Water Park will definitely keep you cool on a hot day.

You can splash in rides, rivers, tunnels and kiddie pools, and refreshing drinks and frozen desserts are only a kiosk away.

If you feel like testing your bravery, you can strap in for El Laberinto (“The Maze”) or El Torbellino (“The Twister”).

If you’d prefer something calmer for the kids, try Rio Tropical Pasivo (“The Tropical Lazy River”).

Visit Las Cascadas Water Park for some good old-fashioned summertime fun.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s the biggest aquatic park in Puerto Rico.

It will still let you throw yourself down a gigantic purple water slide, and that’s the most important thing.

Address:  2 Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Pueblo, Aguadilla 00603, Puerto Rico

28. Humacao


Mtmelendez [ CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

You can tour local churches and museums; you can hike to the top of an astronomy tower; you can dive into the depths of its snorkeling sites.

If you’re looking to have the best time in Humacao, however, you’ll wait until the festival season.

The city transforms itself every year with celebrations that draw people from all over Puerto Rico.

The Breadfruit Festival is probably the most famous.

Held every September, it celebrates the versatility of this exotic Caribbean fruit by dishing it up in every way that you can imagine.

There are savory breadfruit skewers with meats and veggies; there are tart breadfruit desserts that will jolt your tongue with every bite.

The festival will also keep you entertained with arts, crafts, games and sports that celebrate Puerto Rico.

Another big festival is the Fiesta Patronal held in December.

Originally a religious occasion, it’s evolved in recent years to become a fun, festive event that includes everything from live concerts to flower parades.

If you like rubbing shoulders with partygoers in Puerto Rico, you won’t want to miss Humacao.

It’s a hot spot for cultural celebrations, and you might even form some new friendships that will last when your vacation is over.

29. Charco Azul

charco azul

Rafael Torres / flickr

Go off the beaten path in Puerto Rico with a trip to Charco Azul.

It’s located deep within a forest in the Cayey region, and you’ll need to walk down several trails and across a series of bridges before you reach it.

Literally translated as “blue pond,” Charco Azul offers a bit more than its name suggests.

It’s a freshwater swimming hole that extends a good 30 – 40 feet across, and it can reach depths of 10 – 15 feet in the center.

You’ll be able to swim, dive, float, tube and observe the fish with ease. You’ll also be able to relax in a quiet, natural setting.

While it’s true that Charco Azul isn’t a grand destination in Puerto Rico, it’s one of those beautiful and tranquil places where you can enjoy an afternoon splash without any stress.

A small waterfall will provide gentle background music as you swim, and a couple of boulders will act as diving spots if you’re feeling courageous.

Many tourists can’t even find Charco Azul on a map of Puerto Rico, and the locals would like to keep it that way.

If you’re planning a trip to this aquatic oasis, keep it hush-hush!

30. Kikita Beach

kikita Beach

Puerto Rico is home to hundreds and hundreds of beaches, so it takes something amazing to make one shoreline stand out from the rest.

Kikita Beach has that kind of shoreline.

Known as the surfing paradise of Puerto Rico, Kikita Beach is heaven for anyone who wants to practice their aerials and alley-oops.

It’s surrounded by cliffs and rocks that give it amazing waves, but the water itself is clear and mild, so it’s the perfect setting for finally nailing those tricks.

Swimming is discouraged at the beach because of the choppy nature of the waves, but the rest of your family doesn’t have to sit in silence while you surf.

They can explore the rocks, observe the marine life, play in the sand and eat some seafood at the local dining establishments.

Kikita Beach might be known as a surf spot, but it has other amenities to offer as well.

Are you looking for cool, natural places to visit in Puerto Rico? Consider Kikita Beach.

If you can’t master a cutback there, you can’t master it anywhere.

31. Hacienda Buena Vista

Hacienda Buena Vista

Jcastro521 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hacienda Buena Vista is an agricultural complex built around a 19th-century coffee plantation where history, culture and java all come together in a heavenly-smelling brew.

Once upon a time, Hacienda Buena Vista was one of the most important coffee plantations in Puerto Rico.

It harvested beans that were shipped all around the world; even the Vatican couldn’t get enough.

Today’s coffee farms operate differently.

They tend to be impersonal, high-volume areas meant for the mass production of future lattes, and that “original touch” element has been lost everywhere except for specialty farms like Hacienda Buena Vista.

Instead of conforming to the new standard, it still operates the same old-fashioned machines that it did in 1833.

Visitors to Hacienda Buena Vista can walk the grounds, crank the machines, feed the livestock and learn more about traditional coffee harvesting in Puerto Rico.

They can also enjoy authentic, freshly-brewed Spanish coffee until they burst.

Hacienda Buena Vista is one of the best places in Puerto Rico if you need a fix.

Not only will you enjoy its brews, but you’ll learn a little something about where they come from as well.

Address:  Km 16.8, PR-123, Ponce, 00728, Puerto Rico

32. Pinones

street food in Puerto Rico

Jennifer Cachola / flickr

Pinones is one of the most unusual places to go in Puerto Rico.

It’s not a city, and it’s not really a neighborhood. It’s mostly just a strip of land along a local highway where people go to eat.

What makes Pinones different from other stomach-patting places?

It specializes in chinchorros or roadside food stalls where you can find all kinds of traditional Caribbean dishes.

From sweet fried bananas to sticky rice bowls filled with pork and pigeon peas, chinchorros serve it all.

The locals have even turned them into a verb: to chinchorrear means to wander from stall to stall and enjoy various foods and snacks.

Pinones isn’t the only region in Puerto Rico where you can chinchorrear, but it’s the best.

It’s absolutely packed with tables, chairs, grills, fire pits, smokehouses and food trucks.

You’ll have your choice of menu items, and you’ll get to enjoy a festive atmosphere to boot.

Consider a trip to Pinones if you’re looking for memorable things to do in Puerto Rico.

You’ll never forget the time that you ripped into a platter of meat skewers under a dirt-stained umbrella while little kids ran around your feet to the sounds of their grandmother’s old-fashioned radio.

33. Camuy River Cave Park

Rio Camuy Cave Park

Tinapat Kotumrongsak / Shutterstock

Say goodbye to the sunlight with a trip to Camuy River Cave Park .

As the largest underground cave system in Puerto Rico, Camuy River Cave Park is one of those places that feels forgotten by time.

As you venture deeper and deeper into the complex labyrinth of tunnels, caverns and sinkholes, you’ll hear the flutter of bat wings and the pitter-patter of water dripping from stalagmites and stalactites.

The sunlight will slowly fade and disappear. The rocks will become bigger than humans.

It’s perfectly safe, of course; there are lights and walkways for visitors, and tour guides are everywhere to point out sights that you might have missed.

You can even take a trolley ride through the caves if you’re tired or disabled. Puerto Rico is always accommodating.

The amenities don’t take away from the atmosphere, however.

They don’t dim the jaw-dropping beauty of an underground cave network that’s more than 45 million years old.

If you want to marvel at the scenery that’s straight out of Batman, consider a visit to Camuy River Cave Park.

Address:  Quebrada, Camuy 00669, Puerto Rico

34. Seven Seas Beach

Seven Seas Beach near Fajardo in Puerto Rico

Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock

Located in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, the Seven Seas Beach is a great place to string up a hammock.

In addition to white sand, blue water and pink alcohol, you can also use the location as a central hub for further travel.

You see, Fajardo is a well-connected city. It’s right on the eastern shore of Puerto Rico, so it’s a viable launching pad to dozens of other islands and islets.

It’s also the home of Puerto del Rey Marina, the largest marina in all of the Caribbean.

As for the Seven Seas Beach, it will offer tons of opportunities for water adventures in Puerto Rico.

It’s only a few miles from well-known snorkeling and scuba diving sites, and it’s home to cool tourist attractions such as lighthouses, luxury resorts, mangrove fields and sugar cane refineries.

You might not want to spend your entire trip at the Seven Seas Beach, but if you’re just looking for good places to drop your bags before you go exploring deeper in Puerto Rico, it will serve you well.

35. Guanica State Forest and Biosphere Reserve

Guanica Reserve in Puerto Rico

Christian Ouellet / Shutterstock

A trip to the Guanica State Forest and Biosphere Reserve is one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Rico.

It’s located within the “rain shadow” of its mountainous landscape, so instead of being a humid, muggy rainforest, it’s a “dry forest” that receives very little precipitation throughout the year.

What does this mean for the views?

They’re still beautiful, but they look different from other nature reserves. They have a stark, craggy appearance with rocky cliffs and dry fields of cactus-like shrubs.

You might forget that you’re in Puerto Rico when you’re standing in the middle of a desert!

One flaw of the Guanica State Forest and Biosphere Reserve that it can get pretty hot; temperatures can climb as high as 100°F in areas without shade.

The best time to visit is during the early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t blazing directly overhead.

You’ll enjoy a more moderate climate, and you’ll get to see the sunset over the hills as well. The glow will look different than anywhere else in Puerto Rico.

36. La Guancha Boardwalk

La Guancha Boardwalk

Alberto Loyo / Shutterstock

Maybe you like munching on shaved ice as you stroll down the beach.

Maybe you like playing arcade games or pushing your kids on a swing set.

Maybe you like salsa dancing with complete strangers!

Anything can happen at La Guancha Boardwalk, so it’s easily one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico.

As its name suggests, La Guancha Boardwalk is a boardwalk that faces the Caribbean Sea.

For the people just passing through, it sells snacks and souvenirs from kiosks and food stalls; for visitors who want to sit down and kick up their feet, there are bars, cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.

There are also fun, active things to do at this Puerto Rico boardwalk.

You can feed the tarpon at a special pier where they gather in numbers; you can rent a pedal boat to go exploring in the water.

You can play games at the arcade or the playground. You can watch a sidewalk artist work his magic or join an outdoor jam session with a street band.

Some boardwalks can be hit or miss in Puerto Rico, but La Guancha Boardwalk is a home run.

Whether you’re looking to eat, drink, shop or just people-watch, it’s one of the top things to do on the island.

Address:  Calle C, Ponce, 00716, Puerto Rico

37. Cemi Museum

Cemi Museum

https://www.flickr.com/people/ganbei/ [ CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

They can have all kinds of faces and forms, including ones that are quite animal-like; the most important part is that they’re created with reverence.

The Cemi Museum takes this idea and ramps it up to 11.

The entire building is shaped like a cemi: Its front doors open in the mouth, and visitors walk through the face and into the humpbacked, frog-shaped body.

Once inside, you’ll be treated to a collection of indigenous murals and artifacts that date back centuries.

Some of the more uncommon objects include things like carved tongue depressors that were used in religious ceremonies with ritual vomiting.

The Cemi Museum is one of the more obscure destinations of Puerto Rico, but that’s exactly what makes it worthwhile.

Where else can you examine vomiting instruments while standing inside of a gigantic stone god from hundreds of years ago?

The Cemi Museum is an unusual but awesome attraction in Puerto Rico.

Address:  PR-144, Jayuya, 00664, Puerto Rico

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Brian P Egan / Shutterstock

Rincon means “corner” in Spanish, and the city is tucked away in the northwestern corner of Puerto Rico.

It isn’t mentioned in a lot of travel guides. It isn’t considered one of the major points of interest of the island.

If you like to wander off the beaten path, however, you’ll find Rincon to be a hidden gem of Puerto Rico.

The major draw of Rincon is surfing.

It hosted the World Surfing Championship in 1968, and once surfers realized that they’d been missing out on the wild waves of Puerto Rico, they started flocking to Rincon in droves and never stopped.

Rincon is also a great observation spot for the annual migration of humpback whales.

The best time to visit is between January and March; hundreds of these majestic creatures will pass by the beaches of Puerto Rico as they move into different Caribbean waters for the season.

Rincon isn’t one of the boisterous places of Puerto Rico. It’s quiet and calm, and it will let visitors enjoy a tropical getaway without the noise and traffic of a major tourist town.

If this describes your ideal vacation, put Rincon on your list of potential destinations!

39. Santurce


Juan Cristobal Zulueta / flickr

Puerto Rico is known for its crazy, colorful locations, but Santurce takes the cake.

Graffiti is sprayed on buildings and bridges with elaborate, larger-than-life murals; houses come in every shade of the rainbow.

Old shipping containers are painted with bright colors and converted into food trucks.

If it sounds trendy, you’re absolutely right.

Santurce has been called everything from “a hipster haven” to “the Brooklyn of Puerto Rico,” and it’s known for being hip, stylish and artistic.

Things weren’t always this way.

Santurce used to be a poor, unsafe neighborhood, and you can still see the remnants of harsher times in its run-down buildings and cluttered strip malls.

Travel tips often advise tourists to be careful walking around Santurce at night.

For the most part, however, Santurce has been gentrified to the point of becoming one of the major points of interest of Puerto Rico.

It’s a neighborhood where art lives on the walls and bars have salsa dancers spilling onto the streets.

It’s loud, happy, boozy and genuine, so it’s worth a visit if you want a taste of authentic Spanish culture in Puerto Rico.

Horse-back riding in Ciales

The Eloquent Peasant [ CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

It doesn’t look like much on a map, but if you’re willing to peer a little closer, you’ll realize that it has many neat opportunities for tourists.

For example, did you know that horseback riding is alive and well in Ciales? People ride their ponies right through the town square.

This kind of thing isn’t possible in the busy, crowded streets of major Puerto Rico cities, but it doesn’t raise an eyebrow in a quiet town like Ciales.

Ciales is also a nice pit stop on the way to other Caribbean adventures.

It’s right on the route to the famous Yuyu Cave, and it’s just a short drive from Tres Picachos State Forest where you can hike through the vegetation to reach beautiful, picturesque waterfalls.

You don’t have to do wild things in Puerto Rico to have a good time.

You can enjoy your trip with nothing more than a good coffee cafe or a pet to a friendly horse, and Ciales can provide that.

It’s one of the best places on the island for lazy, leisurely fun.

41. Rio Abajo Forest Reserve

Rio Abajo Forest Reserve

Jennifer Stone / Shutterstock

Covering more than 5,000 acres of central Puerto Rico, the Rio Abajo Forest Reserve is one of the craziest places in the Caribbean if you enjoy unusual geography and topography.

It’s basically several forests packed into a single area, and depending on your compass, you might wind up in a dry cave, humid rainforest, barren sinkhole or lush ravine.

It’s recommended that you hire a tour guide for your trip to the Rio Abajo Forest Reserve.

While there are some places in Puerto Rico that are safe to explore on your own, the ever-changing conditions of this particular forest can make it hard to navigate without help.

If you’re willing to put in the effort, however, the Rio Abajo Forest Reserve is definitely one of the coolest places in Puerto Rico.

It’s even home to several different endangered species.

Because of the diverse environmental conditions of the area, things like parrots, boa constrictors and broad-winged hawks can share the same land.

The forest is one of the only places to see these rare creatures in the wild, so grab your camera and click that shutter!

42. San Juan Catamaran Sunset Sail

San Juan Catamaran Sunset Sail

IM_photo / Shutterstock

As the curtain closes on your vacation in Puerto Rico, say goodbye to the island with the San Juan Catamaran Sunset Sail.

It’s the perfect way to bid adios to all of the places that have brought you joy, wonder, excitement and buzz.

You’ll start your sailing adventure by boarding a 37-foot catamaran in the bay.

The captain will offer you complimentary beverages of beer, punch, sparkling wine or rum and coke.

Once you’re away from the shoreline of Puerto Rico, he’ll cut the noisy engine and let the sails do the rest of the work, propelling you through the wind and water as the sun sets over San Juan.

The views will be incredible.

You’ll pass everything from El Morro to the Governor’s Mansion, and it will sparkle with the reflection of the water and the warm glow of the sunset.

You might even spot a few dolphins swimming along the side of the catamaran.

Say a gentle farewell to your vacation with the San Juan Catamaran Sunset Sail.

It’s a beautiful, peaceful activity, and it’ll be the perfect way to end your trip to Puerto Rico.

Start Planning Your Trip To Puerto Rico

These are just a few ways to live it up in Puerto Rico.

Whether you’re interested in thrill-seeking adventures or quiet explorations of historical sites, there’s a little something for everyone on this famous Caribbean island.

If you’re wondering how to plan a trip to Puerto Rico, start with these suggestions!

7 Days in Puerto Rico

Day Trips from San Juan

Things to Do in San Juan

Free Things to Do

Natural Attractions

Where to Go Hiking

Best Beaches

Best Shopping

Top Museums

Foods to Try

Best Restaurants in San Juan

Nightlife in San Juan

Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Best Places to Go

Puerto Rico's Airports

Best Hotels in San Juan

48 Hours in San Juan

3 Days in Puerto Rico

A Weekend in Puerto Rico: A 3-Day Itinerary

3 tourist places in puerto rico

John and Tina Reid / Getty Images

So you've decided to spend a weekend in Puerto Rico. Three days is enough to see plenty but nowhere near enough to see it all. How should you allocate your time? Relax; we've got you covered.

This three-day itinerary lets you enjoy a few different sides of Puerto Rico. You'll start off in Old San Juan, the historic and cultural center of the island, and home to some of its best museums, monuments, shops, restaurants, and hotels. Day Two will take you out of the city, to a tropical rainforest, a beautiful beach, and a unique, finger-licking dining adventure. Your last day is reserved for the beach, the shops, and the casino.

Remember to pack the following:

  • At least one good pair of shoes: the trails in the rainforest require good walking shoes, and you'll want to be comfortable as you explore the old city.
  • Light, summer clothes: It's almost a sure bet that you won't need coats and sweaters here.
  • Sunblock: whether you're walking the streets or lazing by the ocean, sunblock is your friend in Puerto Rico.
  • Your camera: You'll be happy you did.

Day One: Old San Juan

Unless you're really trying to avoid it, you'll be flying into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, which is located in Carolina, about three miles away from San Juan. Assuming you get here in the morning, you'll be checked in and ready to start your vacation before noon. And your first stop will be Old San Juan.

  • Maximize your time in the Old City by taking a walking tour .
  • When you're ready for lunch, you'll have a myriad of options to choose from. If you want to eat like a local, head to La Fonda del Jibarito on Sol Street for cantina-style Puerto Rican specialties.
  • Spend the rest of the day in the Old City, where there is never a dearth of things to do. Browse through one the city's many art galleries; shop for arts and crafts, jewelry, or fashionable clothes; visit one of the many ​museums; or simply walk around and enjoy the ambiance of a city that was prospering before The Mayflower set sail.
  • If you're not too tired by the evening, book yourself on a tour of "Night Tales of San Juan" with Legends of Puerto Rico . This is a fun, two-hour evening romp through the city's streets and buildings, full of historical anecdotes, folklore, and ghost stories. At night, the streets take on a different vibe, and Guide Debbie Molina brings them to life.
  • You can eat very well in San Juan. Walk down Fortaleza Street. Many of these hotspots have a roaring bar and lounge scene after hours.
  • If gambling is your thing and you're staying in the old city for the night, head to the Sheraton Old San Juan.

Day Two: Getting Out and About

Day Two has you getting out of the city and seeing a whole new side of Puerto Rico. And there is no more dramatic change of scenery than the one from San Juan to the El Yunque National Rainforest .

  • Pick up your rental car (you can take a guided tour, but the flexibility of having your own car will come in handy). Don't forget to bring your bathing suit!
  • Take Route 3 east until it intersects with Route 191. You'll see signs for the rainforest. (By the way, on the road to the rainforest, in the town of Palmer, you'll pass by the Palmer Bakery; this is a good place to pick up sandwiches and pastries for a picnic lunch.)
  • Make your first stop in the rainforest the El Portal Visitor Center, where you can pick up maps and hiking trail information.
  • Take the La Mina Trail to the La Mina Falls, where you'll have the deliciously refreshing opportunity to wade through a shallow pool and dive under a natural waterfall.
  • Enjoy El Yunque , ("The Anvil," so-called for its flat plateau) at your leisure, but be prepared to leave by mid-afternoon.
  • Make your way back to Route 3 and continue east until you see signs for Luquillo Beach. This beautiful, palm-tree-lined beach is extremely popular with the locals both for its unspoiled view (there's not a high-rise in sight) and its excellent facilities. After the dense canopy of the rainforest, it's another dramatic change of scene.
  • Heading back onto Route 3 towards the city, you'll soon come to a line of Kiosks. Do not drive on! Stop at this famous roadside institution and have a blast going from stall to stall, sampling all kinds of fried goodies and other snacks.
  • Recharge for a bit and then hit the nightlife in Isla Verde. Mist Rooftop Bar + Kitchen, the rooftop lounge at The San Juan Water & Beach Club and Brava, the club at the El San Juan Hotel, are two of the best places to go after the sun goes down.

Day Three: Rest, Relaxation, and Retail

And on the Third Day, He (or She) Rested.

Your last day in Puerto Rico is a time to take it easy, and the best way to do that is to hit the beach in the morning. It's also a good idea to do this early, so you can shower, check out of the hotel, and go out to enjoy shopping for souvenirs, jewelry, clothes, or anything else that catches your eye.

  • You have a few choices on which beach to hit in San Juan. If you're staying in Puerta de Tierra, you'll be best served by the El Escambrón public beach nearby. For those of you staying in the resort strip of Condado and Isla Verde, or in the Ocean Park neighborhood, the choice is easy, because the beach is right in front of you. You can't go wrong with either option, but I'm partial to the Ocean Park Beach for its ​laid-back ambiance. Nearby, Punta Las Marías Beach is a haven for surfers.​
  • For your last lunch, try to make it out to La Casita Blanca , a short cab ride away but well worth the trip for authentic Puerto Rican home-cooking. Closer to home are Pinky’s in Ocean Park for health-conscious wraps and shakes and Ceviche House in Isla Verde for Peruvian specialties.
  • Spend the remainder of your day getting some shopping done. If you're looking for a souvenir, check out this listing of recommended shops . If it's jewelry you're after, head to Fortaleza and Cristo Streets in Old San Juan. For high fashion, stroll along Ashford Avenue in ritzy Condado.
  • If you hate shopping, there is always a casino ready to welcome you. In Isla Verde, head to the Ritz-Carlton.

7 Days in Paradise: An Itinerary for Your Puerto Rico Vacation

Your Trip to Puerto Rico: The Complete Guide

Terrific Tours in Puerto Rico

How to Get Around in Puerto Rico

Where to Go Kayaking in Puerto Rico

San Juan Neighborhoods: Guide to Isla Verde

Restaurants to Try in Isla Verde, San Juan

Is It Safe in Puerto Rico?

Top Points of Interest and Attractions in Puerto Rico

Fun Activities for Kids in Puerto Rico

Where to Eat Puerto Rican Food in San Juan

48 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico

This Hotel in Puerto Rico's Ritzy Palmas del Mar District Is a Must-Visit

8 Best Romantic Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Spend a Weekend on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico

Romantic Getaways in 2019: Go Here, Not There


14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Written by Lana Law Updated Jan 12, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

San Juan is a beautiful capital city with soft-sand beaches, a multitude of cultural attractions, and a vibe that could easily make it a destination for an entire vacation. Historic forts, colonial architecture, fine dining, museums, and many more things to do are all within easy walking distance. Beachfront luxury hotels and resorts can be found right in San Juan and neighboring districts.

Colorful buildings in Old San Juan

At the heart of the city is Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site , where colonial architecture mixes with contemporary Puerto Rican culture. The old buildings are now home to many of the city's attractions and tourist establishments.

San Juan is also a major cruise ship destination and is known for being one of the largest home-based cruise ports in the world . Depending on the number of cruise ships in port, the city can either be very quiet or extremely lively.

Plan your sightseeing with our list of top attractions in San Juan.

See also: Where to Stay in San Juan

1. Old San Juan (San Juan Viejo)

2. fuerte san felipe del morro (el morro), 3. castillo de san cristóbal (fort san cristóbal), 4. paseo de la princesa, 5. san juan cemetery (santa maria magdalena de pazzis cemetery), 6. san juan cathedral (catedral de san juan), 7. museo de las américas, 8. condado and ocean park beach, 9. isla verde beach, 10. la fortaleza, 11. museo de arte de puerto rico, 12. san jose church (iglesia de san josé), 13. puerto rico museum of contemporary art (museo de arte contemporáneo de puerto rico), 14. plaza las americas, map of tourist attractions in san juan, puerto rico, where to stay in san juan for sightseeing.

A square in front of El Convento Hotel

Wandering the streets of Old San Juan is the main attraction of a visit here. It may be historic but it never gets old.

Showcasing almost 500 years of history, the area is a window to the past, with historic forts and Spanish colonial architecture setting the scene. This World Cultural Heritage Site is the second oldest city in the Americas and the oldest city under the US flag.

The seven-square-block area contains more than 400 beautifully restored 16th- and 17th-century colonial buildings, many of which contain shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, and other public buildings.

Old San Juan (San Juan Viejo)

The most dramatic feature, and the real showpiece of Old San Juan is the Fuerte San Felipe del Morro , known more commonly as El Morro , set out on a point of land overlooking the sea in the San Juan National Historic Site.

Experience the city's real charm by simply wandering the streets, admiring the old architecture, and enjoying a meal on an outdoor patio. Other highlights are Fortaleza , the San Juan Cathedral , and Castillo de San Cristóbal .

As you stroll, be sure to pop into some of the museums, many of which are worth stepping into just to appreciate the architecture of the structure housing the collections. This whole area can be explored on foot, although the walk out to El Morro fort adds considerably more to the length of a walking tour.

Fuerte San Felipe del Morro (El Morro)

Protecting the entrance to San Juan Bay, the fort, commonly referred to as El Morro, is dramatically perched above the sea on a point of land jutting out into the ocean.

A designated National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site , El Morro was built in 1539. Construction continued for another 250 years to make it one of the largest Spanish forts in the Caribbean. A majority of the additional construction took place between the 1760s and 1780s, when many of the walls you see today were added.

Entrance to Fuerte San Felipe del Morro (El Morro)

The fort today is a maze of ramps, outposts, barracks, dungeons, and tunnels, dotted with small, circular sentry boxes called "garitas." These garitas are unique to Puerto Rican forts and have become a national symbol.

The area approaching the fort is an open lawn looking out to incredible views on every side, either back towards San Juan, including a view to San Juan Cemetery, or out to sea. This huge space is a popular area to fly kites in the steady breezes off the ocean.

El Morro is a National Park and an admission is charged to enter.

Castillo de San Cristóbal (Fort San Cristóbal)

While El Morro gets all the fame, Castillo de San Cristóbal is equally fascinating and well worth a visit. San Cristobal is bigger than El Morro, and is the largest fort the Spanish ever built in the New World.

Spread over 27 acres, it features five independent units connected by moat and tunnel, each designed to be self-sufficient should the others fall. The fort was built between 1634 and 1790 to guard the eastern gate to what is today, Old San Juan. It was designed to protect against a land attack , making it quite different from El Morro, which was designed to guard against attacks by sea.

Depending on how hot it is, you can walk from El Morro to Castillo de San Cristobal in about 25 minutes . If it's too hot for you, plan on a lunch stop along the way. One option we like, if you're looking for an authentic vibe is La Verguenza restaurant . Head up the stairs to the balcony area for amazing views out over the ocean while chowing down on fish tacos.

Your national park admission is good for here and El Morro.

Paseo de la Princesa

This pleasant walkway winds its way along the bayfront and provides exceptional views out over the water. With its wide sidewalks, the Paseo de la Princesa, dating from 1853, is the perfect place to visit for a stroll after spending time in the narrow streets and alleys of Old San Juan.

Paseo de la Princesa

Along the way, you'll pass by tinkling fountains with impressive statues. If the heat gets to be a little too much, cool down under large trees that provide welcome relief from the sun. On one side of the street is the bay and on the other, the steep city walls.

San Juan Cemetery (Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery)

Positioned along the coast, adjacent to El Morro , and high above the ocean, is the beautiful San Juan Cemetery. Elaborate tombstones, statues, above-ground graves, and a circular red-domed Neoclassical chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene are some of what makes this cemetery. Most outstanding though is the captivating seaside setting.

San Juan Cemetery and El Morro behind

You can gaze over the cemetery in the distance from El Morro. This is one of the most fascinating views from the fort, looking out over the entire shore, including the cemetery. You can also look over the cemetery from above by walking down Cemetery Street and crossing the lawn.

The chapel in the cemetery dates to the 19th century, and many of Puerto Rico's earliest colonists are buried here.

Interior of San Juan Cathedral (Catedral de San Juan)

Dating back to 1540, the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, also known as the Cathedral of San Juan, is one of the most important religious sites in Puerto Rico . The church is famous for being the final resting place of Ponce de Leon, the Spaniard who undertook the quest for the Fountain of Youth.

San Juan Cathedral (Catedral de San Juan)

One of the lesser-known facts about the church is that it is the second oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere . However, the church has aged well, with the generous support of its parishioners. Inside it's immaculate, and the stained-glass windows glow as brightly, if not more so, than the day they were created.

The Catedral de San Juan Bautista is a working church and the seat of the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico.

San Juan Cathedral (Catedral de San Juan)

You can appreciate the view of the building from a bench below the shady trees in the small Plaza de la Catedral, just across the street. Or, if you happen to be staying at El Convento Hotel, also across the street from the cathedral, you can enjoy a great view over the structure from the pool deck.

Address: Calle del Cristo #151-153, San Juan

Courtyard of Museo de las Américas

Housed in former army barracks dating from 1880, the Museo de las Americas, in Old San Juan, explores the history of Puerto Rico, with a focus on the art, the ethnic groups, and the colonization of the country. Permanent exhibits offer a solid overview of the country's history, but temporary exhibits round out the experience, with interesting themes that include anything from contemporary art to traditional practices. This museum is a good place to start before embarking on a tour of the country's cultural and historic sites.

Fountain and flowers in front of the Museo de las Américas

In front of the museum is a lovely space with flowers, grass, and a fountain that looks out to El Morro and the ocean. At the front of the grounds is a statue of Don Ricardo Alegria.

Address: Calle Beneficencia, San Juan

Condado and Ocean Park Beach

The Condado district lies on a piece of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Laguna Condado. The district was originally developed as San Juan's first tourist zone in the 1950s, creating a mini Miami Beach on the doorsteps of the city.

This is a modern area and a real contrast to Old San Juan. The main reason to visit Condado is for the beach or dining.

The main axis of the town is Avenida Ashford, along which stand a number of luxury hotels and resorts. Condado offers a broad selection of accommodations and facilities in all price ranges.

In the eastern area of the district is Ocean Park, a one-mile-wide beach encompassing residential homes and beach retreats. The white-sand beach is clean and very popular with locals. There are no facilities or change rooms here.

Condado is also home to the huge Convention Center , with shopping, theaters, restaurants, and space for festivals and exhibitions.

Isla Verde Beach

If you want to step off a plane and be on the beach in mere minutes, Isla Verde is the place to stay. A gorgeous Blue Flag-certified beach of golden brown sand is protected from the large waves by a large offshore reef. Hotels and condos line the beach and finding a place to stay is easy.

If you are staying in Old Town and are looking for a day on the beach, this is one of the best places to come, head to Carolina Beach, chair and umbrella rentals are available and parking is easy to come by in the large lot. If you are looking for pools and more of a vibe, the Vivo Beach Club is located nearby.

Isla Verde Beach is located east of Condado and Ocean Park, count on a 15-minute ride from Old San Juan.

La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza was completed in 1540 as a defense against the Carib Indians and other foreign invaders. It was occupied twice by invaders; first by the Earl of Cumberland in 1598 and then by the Dutch General Bowdoin Hendrick in 1625 when fire damaged the building.

The Fortaleza eventually lost its military value and became the residence of Puerto Rican governors , a role it still maintains today. La Fortaleza is the oldest governor's mansion still used as such in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 150 governors having lived or stayed here. The building itself has undergone many changes in its long history. The result is a blend of 16th-century military architecture with the refinements of the 19th century.

You can only visit the museum on a tour. Check at the Visitor Information Center for tour details. La Fortaleza and the surrounding streets are sometimes closed to the public without notice. Barricades are erected and security will stop you from going anywhere near the building.

Address: 52 Calle Fortaleza, San Juan

Museum of Puerto Rican Art

The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is one of the highlights of San Juan, and is a prominent player in the Caribbean cultural scene. The building, which was opened in 2000, was constructed around a 1920s hospital building. The older portion of the building displays the museum's permanent collection and is the first thing you will see as you enter.

The main focus of the permanent collection is work from the 17th century through to contemporary works . A good way to get a better understanding of all the cherished pieces is to take one of the free tours offered on Saturday at 10am or Sunday at 2pm.

The newer portion (the east wing) is a five-story structure containing a multi-story atrium, a theater with seating for up to 400 people, a sculpture garden, and a popular restaurant. Other rooms are available for workshops and exhibitions. In total, the museum contains more than 130,000 feet of space used to display the excellent permanent collection in 24 halls and to host temporary exhibitions.

Address: 299 Avenida de Diego, Santurce

San Jose Church (Iglesia de San José)

Dominican friars built the Iglesia de San José in 1532, making it one of the earliest examples of Spanish Gothic architecture in the Americas. Unlike the San Juan Cathedral, this church is quite small, with a modest façade, but the vaulted interior gives it an airy feel.

For almost 300 years, the Spanish explorer Ponce de León was buried here until his body was moved to the San Juan Cathedral in 1913. The 18th-century Puerto Rican artist, José Campeche, is also buried here.

Plaza de San Jose beside Iglesia de San José

Beside the church is Plaza de San José , a pleasant open area with a few tables and umbrellas for eating.

You can walk from the church, past the Galeria Nacional Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquena, and through the Plaza del Quinto Centenario, which looks out over the ocean. The plaza has an interesting clay and granite totem pole called El Tótem Telúrico . Created by Puerto Rican artist Jaime Suárez, it celebrates the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the New World.

From here you can walk down Cemetery Street to see the cemetery, or out to El Morro.

Address: Calle San Sebastián, San Juan

Founded in 1984, this museum is the place to see the work of Puerto Rico's finest modern-day artists. Changing exhibits showcase the museum's collection of modern island-made prints, paintings, posters, and sculptures. Some of the most notable artists to have their work on display include Myrna Baez and Naomi Ruiz, among many others.

Located far from the Old City inside Sacred Heart University in the Barat building, the museum can be tricky to find. As the exhibits change frequently, be sure to contact the museum or visit their excellent website to find out about the most current exhibits.

Address: Edificio Histórico Rafael M. Labra, Ave. Juan Ponce de León, esquina Ave. Roberto H. Todd, Parada 18, Santurce

Plaza las Americas

When the culture, beaches, and heat of San Juan have taken their toll and it's time for a little escape, the Plaza las Americas might be the answer. This modern indoor shopping plaza is the place to come for a little retail therapy or to pick up something that was left at home or lost at the airport.

This is not the place to find traditional Puerto Rican souvenirs and trinkets; this is a large mall with US chain stores, the latest fashions, American restaurants, movie theaters, and some unique stores. It is considered by Puerto Ricans to be the best mall in Puerto Rico. Although it might not be at the top of the must-do list, this is a great rainy-day option.

Address: 525 Ave Franklin Delano Roosevelt, San Juan

We recommend these charming hotels, near top attractions and the cobbled streets of Old San Juan:

  • Condado Vanderbilt Hotel : This 5-star luxury beachfront hotel is one of the best hotels in the city. Created in Spanish Revival-style, it offers butler service, an ocean-view pool, and a deluxe spa. Located in Condado, it's just a short drive from Old San Juan.
  • Decanter Hotel : This mid-range hotel in Old San Juan is set in a 19th-century colonial-style building with a rooftop terrace and 24-hour concierge.
  • CasaBlanca Hotel : For something a little quainter, try this affordable boutique hotel. Its decor is Moroccan themed, and the property features a rooftop deck with soaking tubs. This is a great choice for a romantic getaway.

Puerto Rico - San Juan Map - Tourist Attractions

More on Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Travel Guide

13 things to know before you head to Puerto Rico

Amaya García

Nov 30, 2023 • 10 min read

3 tourist places in puerto rico

Don't just dive right in! A little local knowledge can help you on your way to a perfect trip to Puerto Rico © Stephen Frink / Getty Images

With breathtaking oceanfront vistas, lush, breezy mountains, tropical rainforest, some pumping nightlife and one of the coolest food scenes in the Caribbean, a Puerto Rico vacation is all about enjoying the ride.

Learning a few of the island's unspoken social rules will go a long way to helping you enjoy the vibe and understanding what makes Puerto Rico such a memorable spot for your vacation.

So whether you're hiking, surfing, zip-lining, boogie boarding or heading to one of the island's many festivals, here are our top tips on planning, etiquette and health and safety in Puerto Rico.

1. Check the visa rules and passport requirements

While Puerto Rico is its own country, and local laws and customs differ from those of the United States, the island is still a Commonwealth of the USA. This means US citizens don’t require a passport or a visa for entry.

Flights from the US are considered domestic, so you won’t go through customs when you arrive on the island and you won’t need to present a visa or pay a departure tax when you leave.

However, visitors must still pay the local tax of 11.5% on goods and services and you’ll be required to pass through the US Department of Agriculture channel at the airport before you leave, just to make sure you don’t bring fruits or vegetables or open food packets back into the US.

Non-US citizens taking a trip to Puerto Rico may need to apply for a 90-day visa before arrival, but countries that are part of the US Visa Waiver Program won’t need a visa thanks to international agreements. Check out this list to see what countries are part of the program and which have visa requirements.

Person in silhouette looks out through the mouth of a cave to the green valley below

2. Rent a car for long-distance road trips when traveling in Puerto Rico

When planning a trip to Puerto Rico, it's necessary to know that public transportation often falls short. Keep this in mind when planning how long you want to stay.

The bulk of the San Juan metropolitan area – comprising the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamón, and some parts of Carolina – is served by buses run by Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA), but the routes and pick-up times are unreliable.

A road trip to the beautiful central mountain range, the beaches of the northwest, or the southwestern desert requires a rental car. 

Cars can go up or down in price depending on the season , but you’ll get more out of your trip if you’re driving as you can make all the stops you need to take photographs at the amazing miradores (lookout points) sprinkled along Expressway 22 in the north or Route 66 in the northwest.

Two young women kayaking in a bioluminescent bay, Peurto Rico

3. Don’t expect to see the whole island in one trip

Puerto Rico is 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, but don't let that fool you – the geography is anything but small in scale and there are many things you'll want to do while you're there. The island has a surface area of 3515 sq miles, and white, sandy beaches are only one of the natural wonders you’ll experience in Puerto Rico.

Visitors can marvel at bioluminescent bays, caves that are thousands of years old and adorned with Taino hieroglyphics, and a wealth of rivers, canyons, high mountain peaks, and salt flats. 

While a lot of tourist attractions and popular bars are in San Juan, real Puerto Rican culture is often best encountered in places outside of the metropolitan area. It can take up to three hours to get from one side of the island to the other, and there are bound to be some roads that are either closed or temporarily closed for repairs.

Traveling from one end of the island to the other can be a breeze if you use the expressways, or it can be a long rollercoaster ride via the island’s beautiful backroads.

Expect delays due to construction and improvement work along major highways, and be prepared for epic traffic jams during the peak commuter hours, from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm.

People sit and drink cocktails at La Factoria, Puerto Rico which has a green and white tiled floor and a bar

4. Pack bathing suits and your Sunday best

As a former Spanish colony, Puerto Rico was left with a legacy of Spanish colonial practices, including widespread Catholicism, also common in other nearby Latin American countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic . 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Puerto Ricans tend to be quite conservative when it comes to dress codes and the places where these apply. In Old San Juan – where the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza is located – it’s common to see workers in full suits or long shirts regardless of the tropical heat.

Flip flops are usually reserved for the beach or super-casual situations, such as trips to kiosks and beachside restaurants, or riverside walks. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you show up at the main mall, Plaza las Américas , in your swimsuit.

Some clubs have dress codes too, requiring men and women to wear smart shoes. Pack your bathing suit and flip flops, but also bring some dressy outfits for going out at night and clothes that cover the knees and shoulders if you plan to visit any religious sites. 

5. Buy tickets ahead for tours and attractions

If you’re planning to join a snorkeling trip, go on a catamaran tour, or eat at the 1919 Restaurant in the Vanderbilt Hotel , book your spot ahead of time. Trust us, planning ahead will be a game-changer.

6. Don’t expect everyone to speak English

Regardless of Puerto Rico’s modern political status, Spanish remains the language most widely spoken on the island. While you’ll find plenty of Puerto Ricans who speak near-perfect English, you're most likely to meet these people in the metropolitan area and peripheral cities such as Caguas, Bayamón, Guaynabo, Carolina, and Trujillo Alto.

Even in Old San Juan, where restaurant and tourism industry workers will speak to you in English without a problem, it’s considerate to ask someone if they speak English before continuing. If you're venturing outside of the main tourist zones, brush up on your Spanish, be patient and courteous and you’ll make fast friends with island residents.

Man playing an accordion in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

7. Discuss politics with care   

Conversations about the island's political situation can get heated and emotional – the subject of the islands' status is a controversial one, and Puerto Ricans' views vary widely.

The best approach is to come to these conversations with an open mind and remember that Puerto Rican politics and US politics are incredibly different. There's much to be gained by just listening to Puerto Ricans' stories and hopes for what they want to see the island become in the future.

Man holds up a plate of food, he is wearing a baseball cap, and a blue plastic hygiene glove, Puerto Rico

8. Be ready to sample the full range of Puerto Rican cuisine

Don’t let the tasty street snacks – pernil (roast pork), alcapurrias (stuffed, fried fritters), and bacalaitos (codfish fritters) – steal all your attention. While these traditional and delicious foods are prevalent, Puerto Rican cuisine is vast and complicated, with influences that range from West Africa to Spain and Asia.

You’ll find vegetarian-friendly restaurants such as vegan cafe El Grifo in Caguas and 100% HP in San Juan. Then there's the fine dining experience at the internationally renowned 1919 Restaurant inside the Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado or the French restaurant Trois Cent Onze .

Puerto Rico has a host of extraordinarily talented home-grown chefs and wonderful influences from other countries, such as the island's ubiquitous Puerto Rican-Chinese restaurants, which are typically family-run and cozy. Come for the mofongo (mashed fried plantains) and pernil , but stay for the surprising breadth of culinary experiences that await in Puerto Rico.

Woman jumping in the air at the shoreline of a beach in Puerto Rico

9. Be ready for the real “island time”

It’s tempting to think of Puerto Rico as a laid-back escape where the majority of the time is spent going to the beach or hanging around in the sun. The reality is that the island is centered on a busy, metropolitan city, with people rushing to work early in the morning, and traffic jams at the end of long workdays.

If you need to do any errands, plan ahead, because government offices, fast food restaurants, bakeries, and supermarkets will almost always have long lines. Making a scene or looking exasperated because the cashier took a little bit more time than usual will most likely earn you some dirty looks. 

You’re on vacation; enjoy the slower pace and go with the flow. You’ll soon learn the art of Puerto Rican small talk and taking a breather while you wait.

A family runs out of the sea at the wild Caracas Beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico

10. Be aware of the hurricane season

Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1 to November 30, and while Puerto Rico isn’t typically hit by hurricanes, when they do hit, they can be devastating. When booking hotels and plane tickets during hurricane season, always check with your airline about their natural disaster policies.

If you get stuck in Puerto Rico during a hurricane, your hotel will likely have an emergency plan. Tourists are well taken care of on the island, so ask your lodging about contingency measures before you go.

This is not to say you can’t travel during the hurricane season – indeed, June to November is one of the most wonderful seasons on the island. Just keep an eye on the news and monitor your favorite weather app for warnings of approaching storms.

Colourful buildings by the sea in San Juan, Puerto Rico

11. Exercise caution on Puerto Rico's beaches 

Beaches in Puerto Rico are beautiful, with crisp white sand and crystal clear waters for all to enjoy. However, there are usually no lifeguards on duty, and if you’re staying on the Atlantic coast in the north, the ocean tends to be choppier compared to the mild waves of the Caribbean in the south. 

You can usually spot rip currents and whirlpools by the appearance of the surface of the water, which will look different from the water where waves are moving towards the beach. 

Don’t panic if you do get caught in one – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends conserving your energy and swimming parallel to the shore until you get out of the current. While rip currents can be deadly, they rarely pull people under the water, just away from the shore.

Exercise caution when swimming with children and if you see a patch of water or a beach that’s completely empty, that’s usually for a reason. This could be jellyfish, spiky sea urchins, or strong undercurrents. 

When visiting the beach, don’t bring flashy jewelry, expensive cameras, or leave purses out in the open, as pickpockets can be an issue on high-traffic tourist beaches such as Ocean Park and Isla Verde.

Blurred people walk past the exterior of Patio de las Flores cocktail bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico

12. Exercise the same caution you would use in a big city back home

Puerto Rico is generally safe for travelers but keep an eye out for risks such as dark, empty streets in Old San Juan and other San Juan neighborhoods . In particular, exercise caution when venturing out to clubs in Santurce – this is a high-crime area at night.

Some beaches in urban areas aren’t safe to hang out at night either. There’s no police presence and these beaches tend to be hidden behind hotels and residences with little to no lighting, providing an excellent opportunity for petty crime.

Research the area where you’re staying and try to speak to someone who already lives there or has visited to gauge safety levels.

Back view of a woman sat in a chair on the beach, in the shade, with a sun hat on

13. Don’t skimp on sunblock and bug spray

Caribbean sunlight can hit hard if you’re not used to it. The islands are close to the equator and get hit directly by the sun, with noon to 4pm being the most punishing hours of the day. Don’t skimp on sunblock – aim for SPF50 or higher – and you'll avoid nasty burns.

Any local will tell you that bugs – especially mosquitoes – are a nuisance on summer nights. In the worst cases, they can also carry tropical diseases such as dengue fever, Zika, and chikungunya.

Your best protection against bugs is to wear a lot of DEET-based bug spray, especially in areas close to bodies of sitting water, such as mangroves, lagoons and lakes. 

This article was first published May 23, 2022 and updated Nov 30, 2023.

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12 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico

L ocated approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Miami , Puerto Rico is a popular Caribbean island with American travelers. Leave your passport at home and head to year-round summer, piña coladas, and occasionally getting caught in the rain. It's all part of the charm of being in the tropics.

Puerto Rico is best know for its abundance of places to unplug, unwind, and explore the unknown. The island is filled with secluded wonders, from beach coves and clear waters to tree swings with panoramic mountain views. It's also a place to eat, drink, and be merry. A half dozen brands of local rum collectively back Puerto Rico's claim to the title " Rum Capital of the World ."

If you want to discover Puerto Rico beyond the San Juan cruise port, consider renting a car or hiring a guide to reach lesser-known destinations. Here are 12 of the best things to see and do in Puerto Rico.

1. Eat your fill of pork in Guavate

There's a pork trail in Guavate that is a meat lover's dream come true. Only 40 minutes from San Juan, the town within the mountain municipality of Cayey is most active on weekends when you'll also find live music and street vendors. There are lechoneras lined up one after another, small shops specializing in roasted pork-one of several essential Puerto Rico dishes to try.

How the lechoneras came to exist depends on who you ask : One account attributes them to the need to serve locals driving from San Juan, while another claims there used to be a penitentiary nearby, and that visiting families needed somewhere to eat; the prison had a farm that raised hogs. No matter their origin, the lechoneras in the area are a beloved part of the community, each serving their own version of pork-pair your cut of choice with arroz con gandules , a yellow rice and pigeon peas side item that is a Puerto Rican staple.

2. Experience natural waterslides at Las Paylas

Ever thrown yourself down a waterslide carved into giant boulders by the flow of a river? Las Paylas is a series of natural slides and pools located in a resident's backyard in Luquillo, about 45 minutes from San Juan. The slides are a three-minute walk from the driveway turned parking lot. Spend the morning in nature's playground, rope swing optional. Exercise caution and tuck in your elbows while going down the slides. If you work up an appetite, stop by the local kiosks for an empanada and chilled fresh coconut on your way back.

3. Marvel at pink lakes in Cabo Rojo

Cabo Rojo is only an hour from the airport in Aguadilla for those flying into the west side of the island. The area is a draw for its natural wonders, including salt flats that look like a vast span of pink lakes in the right light. While this phenomenon is not unique to Puerto Rico (other examples from around the world include Lake Tyrrell in Australia and San Francisco Bay's salt ponds), it's a rare sight and one that's largely unobstructed and unmonitored here.

There's a small, volunteer-run information center, but the salt flats are not officially labeled or advertised as a tourist destination. There are no designated entry points or tickets for admission. You can park by the side of the main road and enter for free. You'll find the salt flats en route to La Playuela, commonly referred to as Playa Sucia , a popular white-sand beach surrounded by large cliffs on which you can hike or bike.

4. Taste savory ice cream flavors at Heladeria Lares

Creative flavors and community connection are family traditions at Heladeria Lares , a small ice cream shop nestled in the small town of Lares in the center of Puerto Rico. The recipes are created in-house and can range from sweet potato to cilantro flavored. The ice cream shop makes the perfect stop after exploring the nearby cave system at Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy.

5. Meet "Flaming June" at the Museo de Arte de Ponce

The well-known painting Flaming June portrays a sleeping woman in a vibrant saffron dress. You can see this work by by Frederic Leighton ar the Museo de Arte de Ponce . The museum opened to the public in 1959 and houses an estimated 4,500 works of art, including pieces from Puerto Rico and Latin America.

6. See Ponce's Gaudí-style architecture

Located in the southern part of Puerto Rico's main island, Ponce is full of delights for art and architecture lovers ; the Parque de Bombas is a visually striking former fire station and one of the island's most notable landmarks, while Casa Weichers-Villaronga is a neoclassical mansion that doubles as an architecture museum.

Enjoy the city's own style of architecture, called Ponce Creole, which incorporates fantastical elements-think intricate, ornamental decorations on rooftops, stately columns, and exterior crown molding. Notable buildings with this style include Casa Weichers-Villaronga, the Museo de la Música Puertoriqueña, and Casa-Font Ubides .

7. Go ziplining at Toro Verde

" The Monster " at Toro Verde is one of the longest ziplines in the world. It's hung between the trees in Orocovis, a mountain town toward the center of the island about 90 minutes from San Juan. The 1.57-mile-long line takes an adrenaline-packed two minutes to fly from one end to another, Superman-style. Other zipline options are available for those seeking moderate to mild thrills. You can make reservations online ; there is a restaurant and bar on site if you want a drink in celebration of your bravery afterwards.

8. Taste local rum at Ron del Barrilito

Puerto Rico has no shortage of rum distilleries . Opened in 2019, the Ron del Barrilito factory offers guests the option to tour the building, Hacienda Santa Ana, for $40, or attend a mixology class or partake in a premium tasting tour for $80 each. Here you'll also find Ron del Barrilito 5 Star, a collector's edition aged up to 35 years and more than $700 per bottle.

You will also spot a special "freedom barrel" on your tour, undisturbed since 1942 and reserved for consumption by the people of Bayamon in the event Puerto Rico one day declares independence.

9. Explore Old San Juan with a food tour

Those looking to experience Old San Juan in a new way should consider a food tour around the city with Spoon . The area is walkable and the tour includes history about the city's plan and design. From freshly brewed coffee to avocado stuffed with pork, you'll taste the classics while simultaneously supporting small businesses.

For an upscale dining experience, head to Marmalade Restaurant and Wine Bar , which offers international dishes like a harissa-seasoned ahi tuna tartar.

10. Try river tubing at the Tanama River

The Tanama River in the town of Utuado offers a twist on the traditional lazy river; it'll float you into a pitch-black cave. The reward at the end of this adventure, which accommodates large groups, is a free facial thanks to a large supply of river clay. The word "Tanama" is Taino for "butterfly," so expect to see many of them on your visit.

11. Kayak in a bioluminescent bay

There are three places to find bioluminescence in Puerto Rico: Fajardo, Lajas, and Vieques. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest of them all, and several companies offer evening kayak tours on glass-bottom boats. Go with Bieque Ecotrips if you want a smaller group tour; Aqua Sunset Tours is an operator to consider if you want a fully clear kayak versus just a glass bottom. Plan your visit during the new moon to see the brightest contrast possible, and make reservations ahead of time as spots fill up quickly.

12. See Taino petroglyphs at Cueva del Indio

Cueva del Indio is about 25 minutes north of Cueva Ventana. If possible, aim to see both caves on one trip. Cueva del Indio is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's so scenic it's been featured in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides . There are a number of Taino petroglyphs on site dating back nearly a thousand years. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes as the terrain is rugged and explore at your own risk.

This article originally appeared online on March 30, 2021; it was most recently updated on October 14, 2023, to include current information.

Visit Guavate to indulge in Puerto Rico's lechon.


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