15 Incredible Ways To Spend Your Vacation in Puerto Rico
Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
Read full bio
Puerto Rico enjoys a very unique place in the world because it’s a U.S. territory and a Caribbean island at the same time. The island has a laid-back vibe with beautiful beaches and a fascinating history that feels a world’s away. This top travel destination offers wonderfully warm 80-degree year-round weather and affordable accommodations. Since the public transportation system here leaves a few things to be desired, the best way to get around is by renting a car to explore all parts of the island. It’s easy to visit Puerto Rico’s most alluring spots because it’s only about 100 miles long and 35 miles wide! These are just a few of the most unbelievable places to visit in Puerto Rico.
However, wandering the steep, colorful streets of Old San Juan is a must when visiting Puerto Rico, and is best explored on foot. So hop off your bike and go for a leisurely stroll. The architecture here is vibrant, and you can find some great hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Some spots have happy hour specials too on mojitos and other favorite cocktails.
San Juan is most famous for its historic forts, so no trip to the island would be complete without visiting a couple of them. The Castillo San Cristobal fort was built by Spain to protect the city and is part of the San Juan National Historic Site. When you buy admission to the fort, the fee also gets you into Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which dates back to the 16th century and features a lighthouse, garitas, and cannon water battery.
Puerto Rico is full of idyllic postcard-perfect coastlines that are just begging to be explored. There’s no better way to soak up the sunshine in Puerto Rico than with a sunset stroll at one of the beautiful beaches. The Isle Verde area is popular, with fun places to go out nearby and a convenient location near the airport for when you make your journey home.
You’ll find accommodation in all forms in Puerto Rico that cater to all budgets and styles. Hostels are plentiful in San Juan and Condado and are budget-friendly, however, they become a bit sparser when you leave the cities and begin to explore the villages and countryside. You can from Airbnb accommodations for a local experience. There are also family-friendly hotel options, lavish all-inclusive hotels and luxury resorts.
Parque de las Cavernas Del Rio Camuy is a beautiful park that offers guided cave tours following a trolley ride to see a huge sinkhole, stalactites, and ancient rock formations. The worthwhile tour lasts about 1.5 hours and is available in both English and Spanish.
Santurce is known as a blue-collar and bohemian party neighborhood in San Juan, and it’s a great place to find traditional Puerto Rican food and drinks and just sit back to people-watch. Plaza del Mercado is a market square that sells produce during the day and is a gathering place for locals on weekend nights. Grab a glass of homemade sangria and take it to an outdoor table to listen to live music from the neighborhood bars and mingle with other travelers and locals.
The city of San Juan is home base for many travelers to Puerto Rico and definitely worth exploring during your time here. The city has been making efforts to become more bike-friendly, and there is a great bike lane between Condado and Old San Juan. Just keep in mind that bike lanes here aren’t continuous, so you’ll need to be comfortable riding on streets, bridges, and the occasional sidewalk to get around too.
El Yunque is a rain forest in the northeastern corner of Puerto Rico and home to hundreds of species of trees and flowers. Take the steep, winding back-roads to drive here from Fajardo for a unique glimpse at village life. The hike to the summit is a moderately-strenuous 5-mile hike that takes 3-4 hours round-trip and ends at an observation tower.
Iguanas are commonly seen around the fort areas and are a favorite photography subject for tourists. But apparently, Puerto Ricans have viewed the infestation of iguanas as a nuisance species that chews native plants and burrows under roads.
Nearly every authentic Puerto Rican restaurant serves at least some variety of the mofongo. It’s a dish made with mashed plantains, filled with meat, seafood, or vegetables, and topped with sauce. Try a mofongo at a couple of different restaurants around the country to compare and pick your favorite!
Ponce is along Puerto Rico’s southern coast, and this boardwalk is a festive place to shop, listen to music, rent a kayak, or take a boat ride. It’s a family-friendly spot where kids pass the time feeding sardines to large fish and tourists climb to the top of the observation tower for views of the marina.
There is plenty of accessible coastlines all around Puerto Rico – some in the form of beaches and others more like rocky outcroppings. Take a break from the crowds and enjoy the peacefulness of nature when you pack a picnic lunch and watch the waves come crashing in.
The nightlife scene in Ponce is centered on the city’s downtown square, which is lively on weekend evenings. But with a line down the block, this ice cream shop is the most popular spot in town. Try tropic flavors like passion fruit, coconut, and almond.
Bosque Estatal de Guanica is a dry forest in southwest Puerto Rico, and the Fort Trail extends about 6 miles round-trip to give you a taste of the island’s diverse terrain. Fort Capron is a small watchtower that offers lovely views of the rolling hills, sea, and village down below.