10 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico: Best Time To Visit In 2022
Welcome to Puerto Rico! This beautiful island is in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, not far from the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Also known as the ” Island of Charms “, Puerto Rico has won the hearts of travellers for many years with its colonial architecture, irresistible tropical climate, inescapable landscapes, beautiful coasts, and gastronomy. Don’t miss the best beaches in Puerto Rico!
The climate is warm and welcoming, typical of the Caribbean islands. Puerto Rico offers its tourists a temperate and irresistible environment, and those who want a bit of adventure will have plenty of things to do.
Walk the cobblestone streets that wind through the colourful and crowded houses of the cities of Puerto Rico, where residents dance in the streets on weekends or shop at the markets.
In this guide, we’ve listed some of the must-see things in Puerto Rico in the hope that your next trip will be unforgettable. Make the most of this fabulous opportunity and make the most of your vacation:
Here are the best things to see in Puerto Rico:
10 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico:
1. San Juan: The Capital
Despite the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, San Juan continues to be one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Puerto Rico. From the fantastic beaches to the nightlife that continues until the first light of dawn, your stay on the island will be greatly rewarded if you decide to stay in the city, where you can breathe a magical Caribbean atmosphere.
In addition to Old San Juan, the historic district of San Juan, which we will talk about later, the city has a lot to offer to all those curious to put on a pair of comfortable shoes and decide to venture on this extraordinary trip.
Start with the essential things, like the food: venture into one of the fondas (the typical local restaurants, where you eat mainly appetizers) and come and enjoy the classic and famous mofongo, a typical dish made with mashed bananas.
Suppose you want to discover Puerto Rico from a culinary point of view. In that case, you cannot miss one of the many local rum distilleries, such as Ron del Barrilito, where you can enjoy this delicious nectar on its own or as an accompaniment to drinks. Exceptional like Piña Colada – after all, this cocktail was born in San Juan!
2. Old San Juan (San Juan)
The Old San Juan has recently entered the main destinations in Puerto Rico for being the setting of the video one of the main slogans of the story: the famous song “Despacito”. Since then, Old San Juan has become a mecca for lovers of picturesque and exotic places.
The Old San Juan perfectly reflects the long Spanish colonial history of the island of Puerto Rico. Here you will not find beaches or luxury hotels or a large number of unspoiled natural landscapes as in the rest of the island: it is like living in the past.
With almost 500 years of history behind it, Old San Juan is the place to be if you want to immerse yourself in the island’s local culture. Stroll through the city’s cobbled streets, among the colourful buildings with a tropical flavour that will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean of yesteryear.
There is nothing that cries out louder than the history of Puerto Rico than the ancient ruins of the El Morro fortresses and the Castillo de San Cristóbal, which today are among the most popular destinations for tourists with a passion for history.
Come and admire the walkways where enemy ships were once gunned down and be amazed by the complex defensive structure of the island that it has maintained for centuries.
The Paseo de la Princesa is a wide path that goes from the port to the city, reaching the delicious Fuente de Raíces. Enjoy the breeze and stroll among the people for a 100% Puerto Rican experience.
Also, stop at the Cathedral of San Juan, an extraordinary masterpiece of local architecture dating from 1521.
Come and enjoy quality food in the restaurants on Calle Fortaleza, where the atmosphere accentuates any local flavour and makes you feel as if you were in another era.
Another street not to be missed is, without a doubt, Calle Sol, named for its constant exposure to the sun. This street is the key to avoiding the crowds of tourists without losing the city’s very essence.
Sit in one of the many bars or restaurants, enjoy the colonial architecture of the place and admire the glimpses of daily life on the island, strolling through the churches and old houses.
When you arrive at La Rogativa, a historic statue in the centre of the square, look for a limber, an ice lolly with frozen fruit in the typical interior of the island. A true delight!
3. El Yunque National Forest
Located in eastern Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest is the tropical rainforest under the jurisdiction of the United States National Environmental Protection Service. Known all over the world for its incredible biodiversity, you will be surprised by the impressive beauty of its trees and the unique birds of the place.
Although it is one of the smallest rainforests globally, its habitat is home to some species that only live here. Although a hurricane destroyed it, El Yunque remains one of the most beautiful destinations for true nature lovers.
Put on a pair of walking shoes and go on an adventure in the lush greenery. Among the places of interest not to be missed is La Roca, in the southern part of the Park, where you can see the stone glyphs of the Taínos, some of which represent their gods, including Yúcahu, who is believed to be He is the lord of the mountain and the forest. Botanical enthusiasts will appreciate El Yunque for its great diversity – we think this forest is home to over 240 species of plants and trees, each unique and different.
And those who love bird watching cannot stop passing through here. Colourful birds, such as the San Pedrito or the El Yunque brown thrush, can be seen almost everywhere in the Park: they move in pairs, eating insects and singing happily. Those who come to Puerto Rico for the animal species cannot learn about the somewhat sad story of the Puerto Rican parrot.
At the time of Spanish colonization, in the first half of 1600, it was believed that there were millions of copies of this splendid bird. Over the years, as the human population increased, deforestation became a practice, to the point that in 1973, of the millions of parrots, only 13 specimens were counted in total.
Puerto Rican parrots have been the subject of significant efforts by environmentalists, who have struggled to repopulate the island of their famous host. After Hurricane Irma, only 31 specimens remained, and after Hurricane Maria, all efforts to locate examples of this extraordinary animal were in vain.
The Park asked the population and tourists for help to find the last possible specimens of this species, but no one has been lucky so far. Who knows: you could be the first to see it!
El Yunque National Park is also famous for the presence of frogs and, of course, mosquitoes. We recommend that you use a repellent to protect yourself, but if you do, remember not to dive into local water sources. The chemicals could compromise the already fragile local ecosystem.
There are over 13 climbing spots around here, suitable for all experience levels. You can climb to the top of the mountains from the visitor centre and enjoy simply exceptional landscapes.
4. Culebra Island
Of the two islands not far from the national territory of Puerto Rico, Culebra is the smallest that is inhabited. And as you can imagine, it is a world of its own: it will be a completely different vacation. Despite being a land of low and dry vegetation, Culebra is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean … Not to mention its past, tragic but still capable of teaching us something.
Before the arrival of European settlers, Culebra was inhabited by the Arawak and Taino populations. From the 18th century on, no trace of them remained: some traded in the slave trade, others unfortunately perished or moved to more welcoming islands.
At that time, Culebra became an ideal destination for pirates, who were swept away by the Spanish crown only after 1880. To this day, the cemetery where the first settlers of the island rest can still be visited and must be included in your Culebra itinerary.
After the hard blow of the hurricanes, Culebra has recovered thanks to tourism: thousands of travellers come here every year to enjoy a good break by the sea and appreciate the place’s natural beauty. Visiting Culebra, in fact, also means supporting the local population, who live mainly from this and, in their recent past, have faced great difficulties.
Ponce, the second-largest city in Puerto Rico, is a fantastic alternative and a little less frequented than its famous counterpart. Also known as the jewel of the south, Ponce is renowned for its local cuisine and fabulous old town. The city was founded in 1692 and is as rich in history as the rest of the island.
Wide squares, fountains, old houses and many architectural wonders feast your eyes. Don’t miss the Cathedral, built in the 17th century, or the Plaza de las Delicias, an incredible centennial public square. And those who come to Ponce cannot miss the Parque de Bombas, a red and black striped building that was once the fire brigade’s operations centre. Today it is a museum.
6. La Mina Waterfall (El Yunque National Forest)
If you are passing through Puerto Rico and want to go on a hike, La Mina Waterfalls are the best that El Yunque National Park offers.
The walk lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, with a slight height difference. Although only suitable for experienced hikers, it is a gem worth exploring.
The waterfalls plunge into the La Mina River, offering an extraordinary view of the surrounding rainforest.
7. Vieques Island
About 7 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico is the island of Vieques, one of the last destinations in the world to live the Caribbean dream par excellence.
Ideal for honeymoons, the Island of Vieques is calm and offers white beaches that slope gently towards a fabulous sea, where swimming is a pleasure.
We recommend that you come here and spend a day in Puerto Mosquito, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.
In addition to being an important centre for coastal tourism, Rincón is a town on the west coast of Puerto Rico famous for its magnificent sunsets.
In Rincón, you can admire the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Although it is trendy in magazines, this place has never been particularly popular with tourists.
A real gem! If you pass through here, you cannot miss the Punta Higüeras Lighthouse, where you can admire an extraordinary view.
9. Beaches of Puerto Rico
History is essential. However, why not pack a bathing suit and prepare for a swim in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea? Puerto Rico offers beautiful beaches.
There are more than 300. Still, we recommend some of them: Playa Flamenco (Culebra), Playa Sucia (Cabo Rojo), Crash Boat Beach (Aguadilla), Cayo Icacos (Fajardo), and Playa Domes (Rincón). You will be speechless!
10. Ocean Park Beach
Another beach in the Condado neighbourhood that is a bit more secluded than Condado Beach itself is Ocean Park Beach. Ocean Park Beach, located at the eastern end of a community initially developed in the 1950s as a Miami Beach-style area and San Juan’s first resort town, is a popular white-sand destination with locals.
The beach stretches for a mile and has no bathrooms, changing rooms or showers, so it attracts fewer day-trippers than other beaches in the area. From the side of the island in the Atlantic Ocean, the water here is quite a dark blue with aquamarine streaks.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico
Should I bring cash to Puerto Rico?
This makes spending money a breeze for U.S. tourists, who will also have access to American banks and ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s smart to bring cash and smaller bills for tips and restaurants outside of San Juan.
What is the best time to visit Puerto Rico?
The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer. Spring weather is also very pleasant, barely escaping the mid-80s on most days.
Do Puerto Rico have all inclusive resorts?
Puerto Rico, including the capital of San Juan, does not have any true all-inclusive resorts that bundle rooms, meals, activities, and gratuities into one price, such as those found in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Which side of Puerto Rico has the best beaches?
Outside San Juan, the best beaches for swimming are probably Guánica’s Playa Santa and Caña Gorda beaches in southwest Puerto Rico. The water is extremely warm and absolutely calm year round, and both spots boast wide, white-sand beaches with vistas of nothing but Caribbean Sea and hilly coastline.
Is San Juan Safe?
There are safety concerns, however. A recent change in administration turned violent, with demonstrations in Old San Juan. Like Mexico and some other Caribbean islands, there’s a high level of gun crime, drug trafficking and gang activity, and the homicide rate is relatively high.
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