Puerto Rico… The Island of Enchantment… The Land of a Thousand Blessings…
We are fortunate to have all the beauty of Puerto Rico and a long list of things to do and places to visit year-round. It is an honor to share the best of Puerto Rico and help you plan an unforgettable stay. We travel the island and speak to travelers in order to put together an objective, useful, fun, and inspiring guide. The great thing about Puerto Rico is its size, at only 100 x 35, no place or activity is too far from your hotel. If you don’t want to worry about logistics, you’ll find that hospitality shines in our tour guides adding to the experience.
On This Guide - Things to Do List
This guide includes a variety of activities presented by categories
Adventure in Nature
– Explore the Enchanting Rainforest of El Yunque
– Explore the Amazing Caves of Puerto Rico
– ATV / Off-Road Adventure
– Dare to Zipline the Monster of Fly Over Rainforest Canopies
– Go Horseback Riding on Secluded Beaches
– Hike the Scenic Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge
Best Things to Do on the Water
– Swim or Kayak Bioluminescent Waters
– Sail Away to Secluded Islands
– Spend a Day at Flamenco Beach
– Go Swimming with Sea Turtles
– Go Day or Night Kayaking at Manatee Reserve of Laguna del Condado
– Go Snorkeling in Puerto Rico
– Relax at Natural Pools & Watch the Strong Surf
Romantics – Best Things to Do
– Sail the Romantic San Juan Bay
– Take a Walk at Romantic Paseo de La Princesa
– Watch the Sunset in Puerto Rico (Best Places)
Cultural – Best Places & Things to Do
– Visit Old San Juan
– Go Beach Hopping to Vieques for a Day
– Experience the Vibrant Culture of Puerto Rico
– Visit a Rum Distillery
– Visit a Square in the Historic Districts
– Eat Pork, Shop & Dance at Guavate
History Buffs – Best Places to Visit & Things to Do
– Explore Five Centure Old Castles
Art Lovers – Best Sightseeing Places
– Visit Art Museums
– Immerse Yourself in the Colors of Puerto Rico
Learn to Live the Island life
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Most of the tourists arrive at the San Juan International Airport, the majority will choose a hotel in the capital city and nearby tourist districts. Some of the most impressive sights are in the capital city of San Juan, however, those wanting to experience the true magic of Puerto Rico should check out our list of places beyond the city. We’ve had long conversations with thousands of visitors, the ones truly enchanted by the island venture out of the tourist hot spots, mingle with locals, and experience the true spirit of the island. We have included a variety of activities, places, and experiences to show you the enchantment of this beautiful island, its vibrant culture, and its interesting history.
El Yunque National Rainforest, one of the world’s natural wonders is within your reach. El Yunque National Rainforest is one of the reasons this island is called The Island of Enchantment, the forest captivates and transports visitors to more ancient times, free of development, cement structures, and stressors of everyday life. Cool, clean crisp air, sights of lush green canopies of giant ferns and ancient trees, and bursts of colors from flower petals adorning the rainforest… the sounds of birds, coquis singing, and splashing of waterfalls in the distance… the feel of cool fresh water from waterfalls that Taino Natives considered sacred. This is El Yunque.. a place to get lost in unadulterated beauty to renew body and mind… From easy hikes to more challenging and adventurous excursions, there’s something for everyone in El Yunque, and enthusiastic and professional tour guides are happy to show you with pride their beloved rainforest in Puerto Rico. You may also explore on your own if you have more time to plan your visit, visitor’s center will help you with a map and information.
Planning your visit
Getting to El Yunque: The rainforest in the town of Rio Grande, in the eastern region of Puerto Rico. Driving Distance from San Juan is 45 minutes. You must make a reservation in order to enter the park if you’re driving there. The most popular and hassle-free way to visit is by booking a tour that takes care of all logistics. See our guide for planning your visit and best tours.
Itinerary Recommendation: A wonderful day trip is going to El Yunque and later going to Luquillo Beach, the most popular beach on the east coast. In Luquillo, you can eat traditional fritters and great drinks at the beach kiosk or nearby famous Luquillo Kiosks.
Puerto Rico has some amazing caves to explore from the world-famous Camuy River Cave Park to the popular Cueva del Indio, to gorgeous beach caves. For the more adventurous, Puerto Rico has a variety of caves requiring more challenging hikes, cave tubbing, and rappelling.
See our guide to caves in Puerto Rico to plan a wonderful adventure.
There are many experiences we don’t want you to miss… and off-roading is one of them, is part of the island life. Go on an off-road jeep adventure on dirt roads only locals know… leading to secluded beaches, scenic overlooks, and natural treasures on the mountainside. If you don’t want to get away from the Puerto Rican coastline… just minutes from San Juan and Isla Verde, there are fun Can-Am Off-Road tours available to rugged beaches without crowds. Hacienda Campo Rico, just 10 minutes from San Juan and Isla Verde, is a great place offering ATV / Can-Am off-road tours, horseback riding, and ziplining.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush and wish to experience the green lush side of Puerto Rico free like a bird, ziplining is the best way to do it. If you’re a zipline lover or this is your first time, there are various adventure parks offering unforgettable zipline experiences tough to match elsewhere in the world. For years, The Monster in Toro Verde Park held the record for the longest zipline cable in the world (Jebel Jais Flight has the current title). The Monster is currently the longest in the Americas, the ride is 7,234 feet long, or 28 football fields, and about 1,200 feet high, get ready to reach a flight speed of up to 152.8km/h.
You can also choose from zipline adventures in El Yunque Rainforest combined with relaxing hikes. See our ziplining guide with popular zipline parks with detailed information so you can make the best choice that meets your challenge desire and budget.
You’ll swim, relax, and snorkel on the beaches of Puerto Rico… but one of the most romantic ways of seeing the coastline is by horseback. Unlike many Caribbean destinations with coastlines dotted with resorts, you’ll find naturally landscaped beaches as nature intended free of development, the perfect environment to go horseback riding.
Tours & Places to Go Horseback Riding in Puerto Rico
- If you’re staying on the west coast, you’ll be happy since the best horseback riding tour in Puerto Rico is in Isabela, the coastline is spectacular.
- If you’re in vacationing in San Juan or Isla Verde, just minutes from the city you can go horseback riding at Hacienda Campo Rico.
- If you’re staying in Rio Grande or the east coast, you can go horseback riding on the beach with Carabali, a well-known tour agency.
This activity is among the best things to do in Puerto Rico, and we hope you make the trip to the west coast to experience this amazing place.
This is one of the best day trips you can take in Puerto Rico, and practically free, all you need is a car rental to get here. Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge is the most scenic spot on the island, located on the very corner of the southwest of the island in the town of Cabo Rojo.
The Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge is an eco-traveler paradise offering 4 attractions; hiking along nature trails with scenic vistas, Las Salinas / The Salt Flats, and La Playuela Beach, one the prettiest beach coves on the island. After visiting Los Morrillos Lighthouse, hike along the limestone cliffs with breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. A few minutes into the hike, you’ll get to Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge / Arch) one of the most photographed places, in the vicinity, you’ll admire beautiful rock formations and caves where Roberto Cofresi, the real pirate of the Caribbean that as legend tells, used to hide his treasures.
More things to do while here: After exploring, head to Boqueron for dinner and great sunset. If you still have some energy, head to Lajas to swim on bioluminescent bay waters at La Parguera. Yup, this will be a day full of beauty, adventure, and magic… Bring the whole family, this itinerary can be done relaxed and does not require strenuous activity.
This world-wonder has been included by many travel experts as one of the “things to do before you die”, and one of the most romantic experiences in nature. You may have seen bioluminescence in scenes of movies such as Avatar and Nim’s Island… it really does look like magic on the water. You can experience bioluminescence by kayak, boat, and in one location where you can actually jump in and swim in the glowing waters. Laguna Grande, located in the town of Fajardo is the most convenient option for visitors staying in the San Juan, Isla Verde, and east region of the island. Mosquito Bay is located in Vieques and is the brightest in the world, but you must stay overnight on the island. On the west coast of the island, there is a bioluminescent bay in La Parguera, the only one allowing swimming, it is also the one with the least crowds. We were the first to write an extensive guide on the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, we have been to all of them and we encourage you to please read it before you book a tour so you can plan the best experience and avoid disappointments.
If you dream of escaping… of sailing away to a secluded island where you can pretend to get away from the modern world and be transported to a place, Puerto Rico can fulfill those dreams. Puerto Rico is an archipelago, with a number of secluded islands and cays where you can sail away…
If you want a place where fewer visitors go head to Piñeros Island with Janise Sailing Charters, a five-star charter with an excellent reputation. Among the most visited islands is Cayo Icacos, a secluded cay surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with fish, you may find yourself swimming along with dolphins often seen here. If you’re on the west coast, head to La Parguera to swim on the crystal clear waters of Caracoles and Mata La Gata, not far is Gilligan’s Island in Guanica. If you wish to escape longer than a day, we invite you to spend a few days in Culebra or Vieques, like most visitors, it will be very hard to go on a beach vacation anywhere else after.
There are other places where you can sail away to a secluded island, be sure to check our sailing in Puerto Rico guide.
Simple Perfection… As soon as arrive at Flamenco Beach, you’ll understand why it is one of the most glorified beaches in the world.
Flamenco Beach is located on the sleepy island of Culebra, located off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Be sure to make the day trip to Culebra, or better yet, split your vacation by spending a few nights there and you’ll have bragging rights to visiting one of the best beaches on the planet.
Getting to Culebra: The most convenient way to spend a day in Culebra is by booking a catamaran cruise ahead online. If you wish to spend more than a day in Culebra, taking a short flight from San Juan Airport is the most convenient way. You may also drive to Ceiba Airport for a shorter and more budget-friendly flight. You may also go to the Ceiba Ferry and spend the day in Culebra.
Top Rated Tours to Culebra Puerto Rico
Being on a beach is a great experience, but putting your head down where noise is canceled and your senses are introduced to a new world where sea turtles gracefully glide in tempered waters… are among the experiences that make Caribbean life so enviable. You may think that you have to go to a secluded, out-of-the-way beach in order to swim with sea turtles, but you’ll be happy to know that there are a handful of beaches where you have a pretty good chance of seeing them.
Tamarindo Grande Beach in Culebra is the best spot in Puerto Rico to swim with sea turtles, a protected cove with calm water offering easy access to the snorkeling site where you can observe them swim over and play on grass beds. If you are staying in Culebra you can book this tour. This beautiful beach is a popular spot for kayaking, you can paddle out to Luis Pena Marine Reserve where you can snorkel on the reefs, the scenery is breathtaking and the sand is covered in polished pebbles. If you’re staying in San Juan or the east region you’ll have to drive to the Ceiba ferry terminal to get to Culebra, this tour includes the ferry tickets.
Balneario El Escambron in San Juan – Yes! Right in the city you can swim with sea turtles. The beach is located a short drive from Condado and Old San Juan.
Most Popular Experience at Condado Lagoon
The Condado Lagoon is one of the most beloved places for residents and visitors with scenic views of the city yet surrounded by mangroves. Laguna del Condado is the best place in San Juan to kayak, ride a water bicycle or paddleboard (SUP) over clear water where one may encounter a friendly manatee swimming by. LED Night kayaking is one of the most popular activities at Laguna del Condado, resembling the bioluminescent bay. The lagoon has become a popular spot for romantic couples to surprise their loved ones with a floating picnic, you may be witness to engagement proposals while on a tour. The water of the Condado Lagoon is calm, making it a safe activity for families. If you don’t wish to be on the water, take a walk along the Condado Lagoon, with scenic walking and bicycle path.
With hundreds of beaches of course Puerto Rico has great snorkeling… If you have a longer vacation you can rent a car and bring your own snorkel gear to visit the best snorkeling spots. If you only have a few days in Puerto Rico, we encourage you to allow one of the passionate tour guides in Puerto Rico to take you on a wonderful snorkeling excursion. We are happy to make your planning easier, we were the first to create an in-depth guide to all the best snorkeling beaches in Puerto Rico, complete with top-rated snorkeling charters.
That may sound nearly impossible, but it actually is… and it is one of our favorite ways to totally relax on the island. One of the most mesmerizing and relaxing sounds nature has gifted us is the melodic ocean waves. Where there is strong surf, there’s no calm water, but in Puerto Rico, we have some very special places where you can sit on the soft sandy bottom and you can watch the surf crash into coral walls creating a non-stop wave show… The breeze is salty, the waves go so high they seem to blend in with the clouds, and the sounds of the crashing waves quiet any stressful thoughts. These places attract beach lovers that wish to get away from the crowds and during busy beach days, attract families with toddlers so they can play safely in shallow waters. Most of the time, you’ll be sharing these natural pools with a few couples or families.
A romantic way of seeing Old San Juan is aboard a sailboat, especially during sunset. As the sailboat turns around the San Juan Bay, you’ll get to see the most spectacular views of the walled city, and sights of the most impressive UNESCO landmarks that protected the city; La Fortaleza, and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Enjoy the experience with complimentary drinks. The cruise is by East Island Excursions, one of the most reputable tour companies in Puerto Rico.
Top Rated San Juan Bay Sailing Charters
A walking tour of Old San Juan ought to begin at Paseo de la Princesa, 19th-century walkways outside the city walls along the San Juan Bay. Walkthrough gardens, let your children play on the playground along the historic city walls, shop for unique authentic souvenirs sold by local artists, have a refreshing piragua or cup of Mavi, walk into the historic La Princesa building, take a picture on the elegant Raices fountain. Typically during weekends and holidays, there is live music, so be sure to stop and dance. Paseo de la Princesa has been referred to as “One of the most scenic walkways in the world”, so hold hands with your loved one, pause for a kiss, and head towards the La Puerta de San Juan (San Juan Gate) to begin your walking tour of the Old City.
For sunset lovers, Puerto Rico will satisfy your soul’s desire to end the day watching the sun go down on the Caribbean Sea. We are happy to share the best places to watch the sunset in Puerto Rico sure to wow you.
West Coast of Puerto Rico
- Head to Rincon for the beaches and stay until the end of the day for the sunset. The beaches of Domes, Balneario de Rincon, and Punta Higuero Lighthouse are great spots.
- The town of Cabo Rojo is wonderful at sunset, the very best spot is Balneario de Boqueron. Other great spots are the beaches of Combate and Buye.
In San Juan, sunsets at San Juan Bay are mesmerizing as the sun sets behind Isla de Cabras and gives the city walls a golden glow. The best spot to watch is from the grounds of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Paseo de La Princesa and then there’s the ultimate experience of sailing at sunset.
Walk the Streets, See the Sights, Taste the Flavors & Dance to the Rhythms of Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the cultural epicenter of Puerto Rico, an open living museum that houses over 500 historic buildings. As you walk around Old San Juan you can tour five-century-old castles, churches, relaxed squares, restored buildings turned into interesting shops, excellent restaurants, and casual cafes. Old San Juan is constantly changing, offering something new and interesting to repeat visitors. Relax, ditch the map, take in the sights, sit at a square and have a cup of coffee, forget dieting and try traditional foods, dance to the music playing, and enjoy the company of your party… that’s what Old San Juan is all about. You can do a self-guided tour, but if you wish to get the most out of your visit, we recommend you book a guided tour.
Featured Tour: Winner of Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best 2020 – #3 on Top 10 Experiences in the Caribbean – Flavors of Old San Juan Food Tour – Small group tour – Walk around the streets of Old San Juan and sample the best traditional dishes of Puerto Rico. It is the perfect tour to get acquainted with the historic city and get to know the culture.
On your own: If you’re short on time and you’ve never been to Old San Juan, be sure to visit at least one of the forts, then walk the streets and simply do what catches your eye, that’s how you find YOUR special place in Old San Juan.
Time Needed in Old San Juan: At least one full day, but two nights is perfect to get a feel for the old city.
Top Rated Old San Juan Tours
Go Off-Road on a Jeep Adventure
Vieques must be the best beach-hopping destination in the Caribbean. The island is only 21 x 5 miles making it easy to explore many beaches without wasting precious vacation time driving. Driving is a fun adventure on its own, with no highways or street lights, just narrow dirt roads surrounded by lush flora with views of the Caribbean pulling you toward its shores. Once in Vieques, you’ll be in awe at how many beach coves there are to explore, each with its own personality, impossible to say which is best. If you’re short on time, head to the Wildlife Refuge on the south side, where the calmest and clearest water beaches are hidden. If you only have a day in Vieques, you can walk from Esperanza Beach to Sun Bay.
Top Rated Vieques Tours
While you’re visiting Old San Juan, the epicenter of culture, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the vibrant culture of Puerto Rico. From learning to dance salsa and plena, attending fun events, visiting a distillery, and tasting the best cuisine, San Juan is a great starting point to immerse yourself in the culture that is often called the happiest in the world. If you’re short of time, we highly recommend a guided tour with the perfect combination of sightseeing, food, and culture with a knowledgeable and friendly guide.
Top Rated Cultural Tours
To observe the best architecture and European charm of Puerto Rico, visitors ought to visit a plaza (square), considered the center of each municipality. At the plazas, you’ll find a Catholic church, the Alcaldia (Mayor’s Government Office), local shops, cafes, and small restaurants typically serving traditional Puerto Rican food. The best part of visiting a plaza is seeing locals just sitting down and speaking to friends over a cup of coffee. Be sure to stop by the table of dominos where abuelitos (grandpas) enjoy the most beloved game, dominos, they’re happy to chat and show off their game.
Our favorite plazas are Plaza de Armas, in Old San Juan, Plaza Colon in Mayaguez (west region), the plaza in San German (the only town with two squares), and the plaza in the town of Dorado, one of the few remaining traditional plazas left on the island.
Puerto Ricans love pork, it is served in just about every major festivity, especially Christmas. Up in the cool breezy mountainside town of Cayey, you’ll find a spot called Guavate, a famous place for delicious pig roasts. You’ll be driving past many restaurants competing for the title of best pork on the island. The best time to go is on the weekends, where you’ll find a lively crowd, live music, and dancing in some establishments. A good indicator of the best places to eat pork is the crowds. You can get there by renting a car or booking a tour with a knowledgeable guide, tours include more interesting places in the itinerary.
Explore Five Century Castles at San Juan National Historic Site
While in San Juan, you can’t miss the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes two of the most spectacular landmarks in Puerto Rico, the forts of Castillo San Cristóbal & Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
- Castillo San Felipe del Morro (known as El Morro) is one of the most beloved landmarks on the island rich in history, where many cultural events are held. Most Puerto Ricans have fond memories of flying a kite on the lawn, a must-do while here.
- Castillo San Cristobal is the largest of the two, a lot of fun for kids as they tour the tunnels, the views are spectacular.
If you wish to tour both forts, you can follow our Calle Norzagaray Walking Tour.
Time to visit San Juan National Historic Site (Both forts) – At a relaxed pace, you can tour both forts and walk along Calle Norzagaray in a full morning/afternoon. You’ll need about 1.5 hours at each fort.
Top Museums in Puerto Rico
- Museo de Arte de Ponce – Museo de Arte de Ponce is the most prestigious art museum in Puerto Rico, and one of the most well-known across the Caribbean. The museum is located in the southern region of the island in the town of Ponce. You’ve probably seen the breathtaking painting “Flaming June”, the Museum of Art in Ponce is its home. You’ll also be able to admire the works of Francisco Oller and Jose Campeche.
- Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico – This museum is located in the capital city of San Juan, it is among the best art museums on the island. The museum features permanent artwork from the 17th century to changing exhibits featuring today’s contemporary artists. Walk through 24 galleries, a romantic elegant garden, and the kids can enjoy a craft area.
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico – This museum of contemporary art is also located in San Juan.
- Museo de Las Americas – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican people, often called the happiest people in the world, certainly love color… one of the best ways to get to know their culture is through art murals you’ll find throughout the island. While many cities have a graffiti problem, in Puerto Rico art murals are a form of bringing joy and hope to a town and giving local artists an opportunity to shine. Through art murals, Puerto Ricans show their love for the island, its culture, traditions, people, and history.
From mosaic tile art walkways in San Juan to colorful wall murals, to entire old neighborhoods turned into a colorful canvas… art lovers will have interesting places to go sightseeing, and most are located in historic districts safe for walking. See recommended places to visit and map.