Puerto Rico is the epitome of a Caribbean paradise that has it all. From the shimmering waters with picturesque palm trees that line the beaches to the large waves renowned for their surf breaks, families, couples, and solo travelers alike are in store for a special treat on their trip to Puerto Rico.
We’ve taken the liberty of compiling the best places to visit while in Puerto Rico. Read on to see our top picks and why we love each one!
The 17 Best Places to Visit in Puerto Rico
With hundreds of miles along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, numerous beaches feature pristine water and black sand beaches. Moreover, the water is warm year-round, providing many outdoor activities such as hiking, canyoning, surfing, ziplining, and more.
Puerto Rico is commonly referred to as an island but is actually an archipelago, with a central island, four other smaller islands, and hundreds of islets and cays.
Puerto Rico’s primary island isn’t that big, so it’s relatively easy to drive the entire length of PR in 24 hours. You might need to get yourself a vehicle to experience everything Puerto Rico offers. Below are destinations that you have to visit.
1. Old San Juan
Our first destination is full of history, food, and cultural celebrations — Old San Juan. Despite how tiny this area is, you’ll find some of the most popular things to do in Puerto Rico.
There are golf carts at your disposal for no additional cost that can transport you around the city to see some of the most popular Puerto Rican landmarks, like Castillo San Cristóbal, El Morro, and more.
Guided tours are available for visitors interested in understanding Puerto Rican culture and heritage, as well as the history behind some of the island’s oldest buildings. Some of which are half a century old and hold great significance.
Despite all of the old-time charm that history buffs are sure to enjoy, there are always parties taking place and thriving nightclubs. While in Old San Juan, don’t forget to visit attractions such as La Capilla del Cristo, El Paseo la Princesa, and San Juan’s Gate.
2. San Juan
San Juan is on a tiny island. Approximately 100 years before the Mayflower arrived in Massachusetts, colonists settled in San Juan, making it one of America’s oldest settlements. As a result, it is a perfect blend of historical surroundings and modern vibes.
The city features walls that are 15 feet thick that surround it. Although the city is rich in history, it has a complex system of flourishing neighborhoods full of quality restaurants, shopping, galleries, and incredible nightlife.
The beaches are definitely worth mentioning as well. Towards the city’s north, there are vibrant waters with excellent resorts along the shore.
3. La Parguera
La Parguera is a perfect place for individuals who love to fish. It’s a quaint fishing village along the coast in the La Parguera Nature Reserve. La Parguera coincidentally has one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the island.
Nature lovers will enjoy the mangrove forests, wildlife, and extensive coral reefs. This area offers plenty of occasions for snorkeling, biking, hiking, bird watching, and scuba diving.
Although there are no luxurious resorts or hotels in La Parguera, there’s no shortage of rustic inns or boats that have been converted into Airbnbs to allow you to soak in the simple sea life.
La Parguera boasts more than 30 islets and cays, giving you something different to observe daily. You can choose to kayak through the mangroves, walk the boardwalk for an exquisite dinner or go scuba diving at La Pared.
Ponce is Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, and many say it serves as a reflection of the true essence of Puerto Rico as a country. The deep history of Ponce is palpable when taking a stroll down the narrow streets or just by simply seeing the beautiful fountains in the square.
As you wade through traffic, the typical obstacles in modern and urban cities, you’ll see gorgeous colonial architecture, fabulous restaurants, and more than a dozen museums for you and the family to visit.
Rincón is further west along the island and is most notable for being a surf town. This place is the exact opposite of the busy city of San Juan. Interestingly, surfing is the main attraction here, and there are many spots to go to, such as Marias, Tres Palmas, and Dome, just to name a few.
Aside from surfing, there are many other activities to get into, such as snorkeling, horseback riding along the beach, and paddleboarding. You can also enjoy shopping for fresh fruits and veggies at the local farmer’s market and check out the weekend activities that locals enjoy.
6. El Yunque National Rainforest
El Yunque has the distinction of being the only tropical forest in all of the United States National Forest Organization. People who love the great outdoors will love this atmosphere which is perfect for hiking and peacefully enjoying nature.
Be sure to bring waterproof gear and clothes, as the park receives 100 billion gallons of rain yearly. The park features 13 trails which vary in difficulty from easy to hard. The trails you don’t want to pass up on are the La Mina and Big Tree Trail.
The abovementioned paths shadow La Mina River and end at La Mina Falls. You need to plan for at least two days. You can choose to camp; however, there are other viable accommodations in the area.
El Yunque National Forest is just one hour away from San Juan by car, and you can choose to take a guided tour or travel there on your own to the most coveted locations. Once there, choose between ziplining, horseback riding, or hiking as you take in the spectacular views of the forest.
7. Vieques and Culebra
You must visit Vieques and Culebra — two islands close to the main island and plenty of tourist attractions. Either of these two islands can easily be the focal point of your trip, starting with Vieques near eastern Puerto Rico.
You can take a trip to the beach, go snorkeling, scuba diving, seashell hunting, and more while basking in the sun. Culebra is a bit further from the coast, around 20 miles.
You can reach these destinations by using a ferry or traveling in a helicopter, both of which offer the opportunity to experience the land from excellent vantage points.
It’s an easy trip that can be a full day’s worth of adventure or an overnight adventure, depending on your preferences. You can choose to stay at a rental house or local bed & breakfast or camp in the designated areas of Flamenco beach.
8. Mosquito Bay
If you decide to spend significant time on that island of Vieques, most people will advise you to make Mosquito Bay your home base. The welcome isolation you feel here is part of the allure that draws people to this location.
The beach had lifeguards and public facilities and was about two miles long to boot. This beach happens to be the busiest during the evening and when sunset is imminent.
As previously mentioned, Mosquito Bay glows bright blue thanks to the microscopic bioluminescent critters visible at night. Mosquito Bay holds the official Guinness World Record title for the brightest bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico and even the world.
9. Cabo Rojo
Cabo Rojo is at the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico and boasts nearly 30 miles of beautiful coastline. Here you’ll find seascapes, nature parks, and more alongside tall limestone cliffs.
For those looking for fine dining, there are seafood restaurants to choose from, such as Downtown Boqueron. Choose between Boqueron, Combate, and other secluded and popular beaches.
Remember that they tend to become overcrowded on holidays and even weekends. So, if you have an urge to be a bit more secluded, head over to Playa Sucia.
Santurce features Museo de Arte Contemporáneo and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico along with local shops and other galleries. Santurce is about 15 minutes from Old San Juan, close to the Condado district.
Over the years, the area has become known as a culture and arts hub, with many buildings displaying beautiful murals and galleries showcasing the work of local artists.
Food is also done right in the town of Santurce. Exquisite restaurants are easily found right beside other quaint eateries. At the Santurce Marketplace, La Placita de Santurce, you can find live music, authentic local food, culture, and other forms of entertainment.
Here you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, local dishes, and flowers sold by local farmers during the day. Be sure to take advantage of the block party-style celebration each weekend.
11. Distrito T-Mobile
Nicknamed the Caribbean Time Square, this location in San Juan is known for having several entertainment venues where you can grab a bite to eat, get drinks, and dance the night away.
There are more than twelve eateries, multiple event spaces, an adventure park, and more. Begin your journey by taking a trip through the main plaza with tons of bright lights that make the space festive and enjoyable.
Additionally, some venues feature hosts and lovely entertainment. There’s also a sports bar, the Arena Medalla, that advertises local artists and Puerto Rican sports figures, has excellent local brews, and neon lights everywhere.
You can watch sports games on numerous large televisions, reserve one of the private rooms for a night of karaoke, and much more. There are also foosball tables, pool tables, and card games going on all night.
If you want to turn it into a family event, try Todo Verde.
This recreational park offers rock climbing, ziplining, virtual reality games, classic arcade-style machines, and more. Additionally, you will find plenty of excellent dining establishments featuring all types of cuisine, from burgers to pasta, tapas, and authentic Puerto Rican dishes.
12. Cayo Icacos
One of the best places to visit when you travel to Puerto Rico is Cayo Icacos. It’s another one of the beautiful beaches near the main island of PR. It might seem odd to focus on one beach when there are so many options, but this incredible location is worth it.
It’s about a half-hour from the small city of Fajardo, toward the northeastern tip of the archipelago. You can find Cayo Icacos in La Cordillera Nature Reserve. There isn’t much here regarding modern developments, so it’s pretty much deserted.
However, that’s the allure that brings most tourists to this destination! Consider an island tour on a massive catamaran that will transport you to this serene beach, provide lunch and drinks, and allow for socialization with the other passengers.
It lasts about seven hours daily, from 9 AM- 4 PM. You also get to stop and go snorkeling along the offshore coral reef toward the end of the tour.
13. Isla Verde
If you’re more interested in all-inclusive locations with a suitable beach not too far from the airports, you’ll love Isla Verde. You get sunbathing, delicious foods, gorgeous resorts, multiple tourist attractions, and more right at your fingertips.
The It thing you’ll be missing out on is the authentic experience of Puerto Rican culture.
The waters are warm and calm, the weather is tropical, and the palm trees are abundant. Isla Verde is a suburban area in San Juan, and you get to experience a bit of city life and off-the-path scenery not too far from one another.
14. Rio Camuy Caves
Take a trip to the Rio Camuy Cave Park, which has a massive cave path covering nearly 300 acres. Many people deem it one of the largest cave systems globally.
You can take a trolley bus to explore the deep cave (200 feet), or Curva Clara Empalme, which was previously a sinkhole and has now become a preserved area. There are several rooms in the cave. Some have stalactites, stalagmites, high ceilings, and rushing rivers throughout.
A tour guides visitors around the area and gives a brief presentation on how the indigenous peoples used the caves years before. The primary entrance to the cave systems is in the Quebrada area.
15. Guanica State Forest
Guanica State Forest is the best place to visit if you love and appreciate nature. As of 1981, it became a Biosphere Reserve and amongst the best dry forests in the Caribbean. Over 50 percent of the bird population also call this location their home.
You’ll find nearly 40 miles of hiking trails and over 750 plant species, of which almost 40 have become endangered.
Guanica State Forest is nearly 1000 acres wide and receives around 30 inches of rain annually. So there’s no shortage of lush greenery to enjoy with your binoculars!
Luxury hotels, resorts, major department stores, fine dining eateries, and beach views are waiting for you in Condado. Sunsets on the Atlantic Ocean look stunning and never get old, no matter the viewpoint.
This community features chic boutiques and many activities like yoga classes, paddleboarding, surfing, and more. Condado also boasts aqua fitness classes, Zumba, recreational areas, playgrounds, spacious parks, and much more for families and solo travelers alike.
There are tons of fun attractions to get into in Manatì. It’s not among the most popular locations or highly publicized by travel agencies, but it’s worth visiting.
If you enjoy natural pools, biking and hiking trails, gorgeous beaches, water springs, and lakes, don’t hesitate to leave San Juan and take a trip to Manatì.
This small town has a lot of cultural and historical relevance and significance to the people of Puerto Rico, and it’s fantastic to observe the greenery. There are massive green vines, limestone hills, and a more disconnected and calm life outside of San Juan.
Things to Consider
Here are a few points to consider before traveling to the island of Puerto Rico:
Getting Around Puerto Rico
It depends on where you visit when deciding whether you want to rent a car to get around Puerto Rico. If you stay within the confines of San Juan and Old San Juan, the city is walkable, and you shouldn’t need much more than local public transportation.
However, no one recommends just staying in one place when there’s so much more than these notable areas. If you plan to venture out a bit, minibusses, taxis, intercity buses, and miniature golf carts are also available to carry you around town.
You’ll want to book a tour or two on a cruise ship or catamaran to get the best out of being surrounded by so many fantastic beaches.
When visiting Puerto Rico, you won’t need a passport or additional documentation beyond your standard identity card. The currency in PR is the US dollar, so you don’t have to exchange money.
Since it’s a US territory, you’re welcome to go as if traveling to any other state. There are also talks that Puerto Rico could soon become the 51st state of America!
Legal Drinking Age
In Puerto Rico, you’re allowed to drink at 18 years old. They have the largest and best rum distillery, Casa Bacardi, which is worth checking out if you want an authentic taste of their signature alcoholic beverage.
Bugs & Weather
While the weather is beautiful in Puerto Rico and every bit as tropical as you’d imagine, there are still many days when it rains. You don’t want to forget your umbrella on the trip, as it rains frequently depending on the season.
Also, with tropical weather comes bugs, and mosquitoes, to be exact! So don’t leave your hotel or resort without bug repellant, or you’ll be paying for it the entire time and even when you return home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the responses to the most commonly asked questions regarding places to visit in Puerto Rico:
Is Puerto Rico expensive?
Puerto Rico is one of the costlier Caribbean archipelagos. While several free activities involve nature and enjoying the scenery, you’ll still pay a pretty penny for their car rentals and hotels compared to other Latin American countries.
You can venture out to some areas that are further away from the mainland, where you might be able to find lower prices for hotels and food.
How many days do I need in Puerto Rico?
It’s best to plan a vacation in Rome for seven to ten days. If you’d like to explore the surrounding islands and primary tourist events and attractions, this is the lowest number of days you should book.
Ideally, two weeks is the perfect amount of time to experience everything the islands have to offer without feeling rushed.
When is the best time to visit Puerto Rico?
It’s best to visit Puerto Rico from December through May. This period is when the weather is consistently tropical, and it’s the dry season. Keep in mind that you have to pay higher prices, but this is when you have a greater chance of beautiful weather with less worry about rain and hurricanes.
Will a US cell phone work in Puerto Rico?
You don’t have to worry about the reliability of your cell phone service when visiting PR from the United States.
You shouldn’t have to change your carrier or phone plan, and you should get pretty good reception around the island. Most major cell phone companies offer coverage in Puerto Rico as part of their domestic plans.
Are people friendly in Puerto Rico?
Many visitors have expressed that Puerto Ricans are incredibly hospitable, social, friendly, and family-oriented. Using a little Spanish here and there goes a long way in PR!
So, What’s the Best Place to Visit in Puerto Rico?
San Juan or Old San Juan are amongst the most popular destinations to visit in Puerto Rico. Not only are there top tourist attractions in these places, but you can experience the best beaches, water activities, historic locations, and more in these towns.
Puerto Rico is a beautiful Caribbean island you’ll love when you arrive, so have a safe trip and enjoy!